Secret World’s First Raid Sounds Very Secret World-y

By Nathan Grayson on November 9th, 2012 at 4:00 pm.

You there! Yes, you! Get down from that police car right this very instant. You are breaking the law.

Sometimes, it’s quite easy to forget about The Secret World. Don’t get me wrong: that’s not to call it a forgettable experience. Rather, its blend of witty wiles and bone-chilling atmosphere wasn’t enough to propel it to the same heights as comparatively household names like World of Warcraft and Guild Wars. Sadly, the main thing that’s occasionally shoved it back into the spotlight as of late has been internal turmoil at Funcom – not people finally taking notice of what is a fairly delightful (though certainly flawed) experience. And that’s a shame, because it sounds like Funcom’s chief fungineers haven’t stopped dreaming big just because of a few nightmarish turns for the worse.

Adam, of course, wormed his way into an early version of the Big Apple a couple months ago, and he came away quite impressed. Now, though, Funcom’s taken to its blog to reveal more details, and it sounds like its staying very mindful of the fact that this is, well, The Secret World – not some other garden variety MMO.

“TSW’s open skill system and unusually horizontal progression make designing a raid extremely challenging. How do you provide meaningful tank challenges when potentially everyone could be taunting? How can healing be kept meaningful over a long fight with renewable resources? We faced some of these when designing the launch dungeons, of course, but more players and higher expectations make everything harder. I think we’ve hit a good balance of requiring specific roles, and challenging all roles in various different ways through the encounters. Get ready to flex your build-making muscles.”

The idea, then, is provide mechanical difficulty instead of requiring truly high level gear. The New York raid is, after all, key to the main story, so it’ll be doable by a wider range of players (stats should be roughly equivalent to nightmare versions of early dungeons) - at least, so long as they’re skilled and smart. Thankfully, there are also rewards for higher-end players that “absolutely require perfect coordination and the best equipment available in the game,” so long-timers hopefully won’t have to snooze through their first raid.

Funcom’s still not saying exactly when it’ll be ready for primetime, but “soon” seems like a good bet given that we’re just about due for Issue 4 and the subway-spelunking raid’s been deep in development for quite a while now.

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26 Comments »

  1. KDR_11k says:

    Well, Secret World is the MMO I’ve spent the most money on (25€ at retail, I got EVE on Steam for 9€ or so and yes, both are totals because I did not subscribe to either) but the concept alone doesn’t make a game. The game part of the game was the big problem, the combat was no fun and it felt like you had ten thousand skills that all pretty much amounted to the same thing with the variations too minor to care or to add variety to the combat. At least it wasn’t grindy for the bits I played, you certainly didn’t want to fight the same monsters over and over, you’d want to sneak around them and avoid combat as much as possible because it’s dangerous, tedious and the benefits are so small they don’t matter. Doing even a simple mission rewarded about as much as 1000 killed enemies. Though I think overall the tedium was the bigger reason I avoided enemies, it was probably less dangerous to pick them off one by one instead of trying to sneak past and risking being engaged by two at once if you get spotted but it also took less time to try sneaking past and dying a few times in the process.

    I played about 2 weekends before I stopped bothering (which amounts to playing on two of the maps) so it may have gotten better or worse later on. I picked it back up during the last day of my free month but quickly quit again after realizing it’s JUST NOT FUN.

    Sorry but a game that fails at the whole entertainment aspect is pretty much doomed.

    • DarkFenix says:

      This. I got the game because I found the setting interesting, but the gameplay is the most boring I’ve ever seen in an MMO. I never thought I’d find a game that makes the WoW-esque tab-1-2-3 gameplay seem more fun, but TSW managed it with disturbing effectiveness.

      • Vizari says:

        Exactly this. I was following the game for a long time and got into the beta at just a little before the release.

        The ambience was great, the stories seemed great, the artwork was great. Overal, it seemed as if it would be very enjoyable.

        But, the combat was a huge turn off. So mind-numbingly boring.

    • revan says:

      You’re totally right. good sir. Plus, their game is barring new players from playing on account of being pricier than all the other games on offer. I know the’ve lowered the price now, but it wasn’t so when it mattered the most, that first month after the launch. I came away from my trial weekend with an insatiable need for more Lovecraftian atmosphere, so I opted to reinstall Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth instead of spilling money on a game with a great premise and tedious gameplay.

  2. Stevostin says:

    I am absolutely not interested with the MMO aspect of it but after recompleting Vampire Bloodlines I wondered if this one could fulfill my need of more of the same – not the gameplay (gameplay is relatively not important to me) but content wise : stories, atmosphere, writing, general flow. Is that a stupid idea or is it actually worth playing just for the story and adventure ?

    • caddyB says:

      It’s not a stupid idea at all, but the game is a bit expensive for just that, isn’t it? I mean, if you don’t care about the gameplay ( which is just bad, as many people will tell you ), you might as well read a book.

      Then again, it’s your money so you can do whatever you want with it.

      • Stevostin says:

        You have a point, I should have been more specific. I want options & choices, stuff that is pretty likely to be missing from a MMO. Is there some ?

        • KDR_11k says:

          Nope. there’s some neat puzzles but AFAIK no choices at all beyond which missions you take and which skills to use in combat.

        • caddyB says:

          Better play Swtor for the class stories. There are a lot of choices in dialogue ( but they stay in the dialogue most of the time, being a Bioware game ) and the stories are pretty good, even the planet quests are relatively interesting when you’re doing them for the first time.

          The gameplay for that is almost exactly like WoW, so it’s average.

          • Stevostin says:

            I am considering that too (I digged KOTOR) but I really can’t stand farming. I am under the impression a good deal of quest are still “kill x ys”. Am I wrong ?

            BTW I love Obsidian games but they’re highly magnified. Vampire is just packed with placement dialog options for instance, probably way more than Mass Effect actually. Same goes for New Vegas etc. (although maybe not as much)

          • j3w3l says:

            I would probably steer clear of clear of ToR, the quests are your general kill type, very little diversity and it is mostly corridor questing. I also didn’t really like the story at all.. it is mostly rather terrible and at times very poorly voiced and because they voice every single meaningless side quest it gets old… but that’s just me.

            I really like the TSW story, and the environment but the combat really is a hard slog at times.. there are some different models of quests but the those are quite a bit less than the general kill or collect. you can trial the first area now i believe so that might give you a decent look.. lots of the cut scenes are on YouTube as well

    • aliksy says:

      Play Deus Ex (1 or 3) instead. Save some money, don’t support lousy MMOs.

      • Hendo says:

        I think this might be missing the point somewhat. He likes the setting. As good as both Deus Ex 1 and 3 are, he seems to be looking for a game with the supernatural mystery to it all. Both titles you mention are different genres of story.

        • aliksy says:

          I was aiming more for “stories, atmosphere, writing, general flow” – You’re right that deus ex doesn’t have a supernatural angle, but the games have strong stories, atmosphere, and writing. There aren’t too many modern day occult games that are very good, I think. Which is a shame, since the WoD (World of Darkness, where Vampire:bloodlines is set) setting is pretty rich.

          • The Random One says:

            Obviously what the OP actually wants is a rousing game of the pen-and-paper Vampire: The Masquerade RPG.

            I’ll grab the dice.

      • Stevostin says:

        Played them. DX:HR not that good BTW, exploration of computer is incredibly boring, not one single text being remotely interesting. Also no meaningful choices, neither in gameplay neither in story. No replay value. DX1 played twice, that’s enough. Thief 1 & 2 I’ll replay at the next meaningful mod released, I guess.

    • mercury says:

      Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines is my favorite game, and after playing the five day trial of The Secret World I can say that this game is scratching the same sort of itch (which is why I just bought it). There’s only one way to do each quest and there are no Bioware-style conversation choices, but the plot and characters that I’ve encountered so far have made up for that by being really excellent. The game is atmospheric, and with all the things that go into creating atmosphere that’s probably the highest praise I know how to give a game.

      Also the combat is not necessarily bad, it’s just weird and initially off-putting. With all the complaining about WoW clones that goes on I’d have thought people would be more willing to learn a new system, but talk is cheap I guess. If the gameplay is unimportant to you I doubt it’d be an issue.

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        jrodman says:

        Speaking for myself, I would prefer a game that is less of a wow clone, than SWTOR, for example. I appreciated the slightly bewildering skill wheel system of The Secret World, although the game could have done a lot more to explain itself (mechanics and interface, both). However, I detested the actual combat mechanics so much that I was unwilling to continue playing.

        I find the combat mechanics of WoW to be “good enough”, though I’m bored of them and would prefer to play something else (so don’t play wow). The Secret World I found to be “not good enough”.

        Right now I’m spending time with Guild Wars 2 “somewhat good”, and very non-mmo games like King’s Bounty and Fallout 3.

        • Stevostin says:

          I would kill for a Fallout 4. Either Bethesda’s or Obsidian, I love both takes on it, but Fallout really is what tickles me. I really can’t replay the first too thus, they’re not half as good as ppl remember and they’re really too aging for me (and top down view, argh).

  3. vikingforce says:

    You get 1 month free so you could finish all the story and side quests, and play it like any other single RPG. Tons of content. By far the best single play experience among MMOs and has much better narrative than most of single RPG’s. It is mature, dark and disturbing. I just love every aspect of the game, excep for the endgame and LFG system that won’t affect you at all.

    How many options do you need? You can choose your main fraction, it afects certain progress missions and your home city hub. There are multiple endings for different choices. Every area is huge open world. There are millions of active/passive skill combinations. It that aspect, it is almost revolutionary.

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      jrodman says:

      Like any other RPG with a ticking clock! That is not how I play my games.

      • malkav11 says:

        You could always pick up a lifetime subscription. No ticking clock then!

        (Probably not a great idea for people who aren’t madly in love with the game the way I am, though.)

  4. Xyth says:

    I like TSW a lot. I like the combat. It is fun and difficult and makes you think about the abilities you have chosen for the area you’re in or the quest you are doing. It’s true that if you make a bad pull of trash mobs, you can be killed. If you don’t have the right abilities set, your fights will also be tedious. So in that sense, the game is harder than WoW or Rift, for instance.

    As far as story goes, I like it better than SWTOR. I’m not saying that it *is* better, because I understand that’s totally subjective. But I find it more original. I also like most of the voice acting better than SWTOR and I find many of the characters far more memorable (Scrapyard Edgar from early in the game, is one of my favorites). Again, subjective.

    What I don’t like and/or think needs fixing is (1) the world does seem pretty empty in the starter areas now. Maybe that’s natural, but it can be lonely playing out there and finding groups. I will have to look into the official forums to find a kabal (guild) because I don’t see any recruiting going on in game on my server; (2) pvp, especially in Fusang, is an extremely lame zerg fest where faction balance there is everything. So more more could be done with pvp for this game.

    So this game is not “perfect.” I like it, but I’m aware there are a lot of things that need to be fixed. I’m no where near endgame raiding. I hope that raiding won’t be their main focus for the future and that they will turn their attention to other areas of the game that need support.

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  6. TariqOne says:

    I’ve recently resubbed and I have to say the game is overall a delight. Sure it’s not groundbreaking or twitch combat, but I’m an old schol RPG guy and tend to prefer turn-based and other abstracted/numbers-driven affairs anyway. Viewed through that prism, I tend to take the combat as heavily abstracted and enjoy it. The skillwheel and deck-building and other very developed RPG systems around it more than make up for any failure to innovate further on the combat end. Also there’s a fair bit of emphasis on movement, and a TON riding on how you’ve selected your limited amount of equippable active and passive sills, so in fact the old “WOW-clone stand in place and press 1, 2,3″ charge isn’t accurately leveled here all (leaving aside that in fact that’s not how WOW, detestable as it is, works either).

    Other systems, like crafting, are similarly well-developed, if not amazing. Questing is roughly what one would expect, although again, there’s enough thought put in (limited quest slots, investigation missions or other missions that require reading and at least some amount of reasoning) to make it clear they care about the experience.

    Make no mistake, though: they nailed the atmosphere and the story. This is the first game in years where the majority of cutscenes aren’t laughable, execrable affairs. In fact, I actually look forward to the cutscenes, and virtually every time I’m a bit surprised at how high they’ve aimed with the complexity of language and nuance in the writing. It’s not talking down to me at all. They’ve laid out a pretty uncompromising and rich world for you to wander around in, full of people that are genuinely fun to meet and speak to (or rather, have monologue at your silent character).

    TLDR, I don’t mind pushing hotkeys, and a sub fee is not a material issue for me at this point in my life. I’m happy to pay a bit of server rent to have a genuinely surprising and entertaining creepshow to visit a few times a week.