Here are some of my impressions from playing The Secret World for a weekend of beta and a few days of the head start.
- The “investigation” quests are awesome! You can Google the answers, of course, but trying to solve them without is a trip. We’re talking old school adventure-style puzzles and riddles here. (Make sure to turn off General chat if you don’t want to see spoilers, ‘cause, you know, people are lazy.)
- You can die. You don’t really know how powerful new mobs are until you attack them. (In fact, as it turns out, sometimes you have to die to complete quests, because the ghost world can be explored too.) It’s pretty painless—all you have to do is run back to your corpse, just like WoW.
- Almost every quest is repeatable daily, so you never have to grind on mobs. (Though it is still fun to shoot zombies at random.)
- Having an out-of-combat sprint toggle is great for getting around. It’s sort of like riding a mount, and you can do it from the beginning. I wonder if you can increase the speed later on?
- The flexibility of creating your own “backpacks.” You can carry 50 things, but they can be organized into any number of bags of any size, which you can pin to the screen or not. For example, I made one to hold crafting supplies, another for things to sell, and another one pinned to the screen for healing drinks.
- Humorous NPC quest givers and great voice acting (which you can easily skip if you’ve seen them before).
- Graphical stability issues. But I don’t hold that against PC games anymore—especially MMOs—because they are almost always buggy as crap for the first month after release. But this one really does not run well on my Radeon 5770.
- Your character’s appearance never changes when you get new stuff. You can’t tell just by looking at people how long they’ve been playing or how powerful they are. Perhaps this should be filed under Misunderstandings below, but I still miss it.
- You can’t assign hotkeys to inventory items. :/ You only get seven hotkeys for your abilities and that’s it, as far as I know.
- It’s a pain to have to think of a first and last name in addition to a nickname, even though they don’t really matter.
- Your account password can only contain letters, numbers, and a dash! Gah! (A pet peeve of mine.)
- Only three character slots. But then, the only reason to have more character slots in an MMO is to play different classes (or mule items), but theoretically, each character in TSW can eventually learn *every* skill, so there is no need to use more than one slot.
- With new characters, you have to repeat the same quests/stories. In beta I mistakenly created a bunch of different characters to try different abilities, but see above where you don’t ever need to start a new character. (I am going to, though, because I thought of a better name. :)
- You can only “equip” 7 active and 7 passive abilities. On the plus side, you won’t be filling action bars with a hundred different actions you’ll never use, and scramble to find keyboard shortcuts for them, but on the negative side, you have to start making choices about what to equip pretty early on. In a typical MMO, your abilities get more and more powerful as you progress, but here it’s more like you get more and more abilities to pick from as you progress. I think I like it, but it’s a radical shift in thinking.
- “Assembly” looks like a complex crafting system for improving your equipment but I haven’t put much time into it yet.
- There is a lot of running from place to place. It’s too soon to tell whether it will be an excessively annoying amount.
Note that I don’t usually take PvP seriously in MMOs (because, obviously, the guy with the best gear wins), so I can’t comment much on TSW’s PvP except to say that it’s there and people complain about it, so I assume it must be okay. :)
On a side note, I was a bit disappointed to see Tobold’s beta impressions of The Secret World, because his opinions are usually similar to my own. He has already written off TSW as too similar to other MMOs, but I don’t see it that way at all. I also get the impression he won’t ever like any MMO that contains combat unless it’s turn-based. (He blew off Rift, too, which is a clearly superior evolution to the MMO genre.)
I’m UltrViolet on Cerberus, Illuminati faction, if you’re ever in the neighborhood.
P.S. Someone should make a “hints” site for TSW. Not a site that outright tells you the answers, like all the ones that are currently out there, but one that just gives you a nudge in the right direction, like things used to be in the olden days of gaming.