MMO News, Reviews & Opinions
MMO News, Reviews & Opinions
- Written by echelon
For Funcom, dark days are indeed coming. The Secret World is due out in just over five weeks, and my first initial impressions left me extremely frustrated, and severely disappointed with a game that I felt had so much potential. Fact is, I so very much wanted this game to succeed, and I think that adds to the frustration.
At first glance, TSW looks great, and has a strong start. Gorgeous graphics, a brief timelapse of a week to introduce your character and his/her struggles with their new found powers, and a short dialog introducing you to the first Templar who invites you to be a part of the growing organization. You're given a letter, with directions to find The Fallen King, and when you do, you're sucked into a sort of 'dream sequence' which ends up being a tutorial of sorts. So far, so good, right?
For me, that is where excitement ended. You're given a shotgun, and team up with three characters, each from the amazing cinematics that TSW released. We come to my first 'Really?' moment with the game - combat. At first, it seemed like there was potential. A couple starter skills, and hordes of zombies. I think typing that last sentence was more fun than the combat in TSW. Terrible AI, terrible AI, terrible AI, and did I mention...terrible AI? After a few waves of zombies, your NPC companions retreat, leaving you to advance on your own. A giant Zombie Hulk spawns, and my first thought was 'incoming death'. Boy was I wrong. I ended up kiting the monster back to a double stairway, divided by a wall. I proceeded to run around the stairs, kiting the monster in a circle behind me. Not only did the Hulk not ever once try to run the opposite way, but he followed me around in circle after circle, as I slowly blew his face off. I then reminded myself - this is beta - and proceeded in the tutorial. A few more waves of zombies, a brief ingame cinematic of seeing 'the great beyond' and you're back to the city streets. And, after reminding myself this was beta...I remembered that the game has been in development for close to five years. Oi.
I was then tasked with heading to the Templar Headquarters. There, I continued the tutorial, by trying out all of the available weapons and finally settling on the Elemental magic weapon. Back out to the city, and time to head to Agartha, and eventually the first real questing zone, Kingsmouth.
Agartha Conduit, dear Agartha Conduit...how you gave me a little bit of hope. I would describe Agartha as an interdimensional-subway-giant-tree-thing. The visuals here, came close to blowing my mind. Almost. The Agartha Custodian, a giant mech golem, is hands down, one of the coolest things I have seen in any game in quite some time. So after staring at the Custodian for a few minutes, I headed towards the Kingsmouth portal, and was surprised to see my character kind of disappear, and speed travel down a long branch like road to the portal. Cool. My wee bit of hope increased. And then I came to Kingsmouth.
I accepted my first quest, and was pleasantly pleased with the quest log and tracking system. Waypoints direct you to quest objectives based on what quest you are tracking at that particular time. Second 'Really?' moment incoming. The quest mechanics are the same that we've done in MMO's for the last 10 years. Kill x Zombies. Kill x Zombies by luring them in with a car alarm. Kill x Zombies by lighting them on fire with a gas can that you lit up. Find 7 pages of a missing medical document. Protect the north and south barricades of the outpost in Kingsmouth. If you are fine with the standard WoW-ish questing system, then you may like how TSW's quests are handled. Not me, I've had my fill of standard MMO gameplay (and by standard, I mean WoW's gameplay as the majority of MMO's that come out play extremely similar to WoW). The WoW model of questing/world design/interaction is outdated, and needs to move forward. The closest I think any game has come, is Guild Wars 2. Now GW2 is not perfect by a long shot, but they are moving in the right direction. I still think there are some 'kill ten rats' mechanics in GW2, but at least they make you think you're doing more than just killing ten rats.
And just a small note, but one that bugged me nonetheless. The more I did quests, and watched the short cinematics that introduce them, I started noticing something. My character had not said one word. After playing ToR and Guild Wars 2, I found that I really do enjoy when my character is speaking, and interacting with the world. My character is what represents me ingame. Pretty sure I wouldn't be a mute if I had just gotten crazy superpowers. This only added to the already large amount of frustration with TSW.
In the midst of everything is TSW's skill system. Funcom's skill system is fairly streamlined, easy to understand, and well done. I didn't spend a whole lot of time with the system, but what I saw and messed around with definitely was enjoyable. If only the combat wasn't sucking the joy out of playing.
Onward...to more terrible AI. Did I mention that TSW's enemy AI is like watching monkeys throw feces at each other? At one point I found myself hopping back and forth over a fence, avoiding a large horde of zombies as they would run around the longest route possible to just take a wack at me. I did that for about five minutes or so, and that is really when I realized that I was not having fun. TSW would benefit greatly by ditching the standard MMO targeting combat system, and replacing it with one more akin to a first person shooter. For me, that would somewhat make up for all the other areas that the game falls short. Imagine strafing around enemies, blasting them with your assault rifle, dodging attacks and actually having active combat, rather than standing there letting them beat on you while spamming your skills. Think combat more akin to Left 4 Dead 2, within The Secret World's universe. Now that, that I would play. Seriously. Sign me up.
Uninspired quest design, lackluster NPC interaction, terrible enemy AI, awful animations, and crappy combat. Follow that up with absolute infuriating frustration with the fact that Funcom has some of the richest content to pull from that has ever been put in a video game, and they ruin it by putting it in the 'WoW clone box'. With the way that SW:The Old Republic dashed my hopes agains the giant rocks of suck, you would think I would have learned my lesson, and not set high hopes for TSW. I really wanted this game to succeed. The time I have spent with the game leaves me frustrated, disappointed, and wondering how long Funcom will last after TSW is released.
I don't know how much Funcom can change the game this close to release, but there is still part of me that wants TSW to succeed. In its current state (and I know it's beta), I don't see it having staying power, unless there are some serious improvements. I've only played one faction, and only played for about 6-7 hours, but the issues I have with the game will most likely still be in the game when it is released.
And I'm just one person. If you can, play it for yourself. Decide for yourself. I so desperately wanted this game to succeed, and I will probably give it at least one more shot, and follow it up with another review. The world is so rich, and there will definitely be people who love this game. Unless there are serious changes, I won't be one of them.Discuss this article in the forums (31 replies).