The Secret World’s Darkest Secret
As I’ve made very clear, I’m enjoying the Secret World. I’m enjoying every second of it that I play. The biggest problem I face, in fact, is the limited number of seconds I get to play it, as I have once again fallen into the foolish behavior of group leveling. Once again, everyone’s busy schedules have relegated me to only getting to play one or two nights a week. It sucks, to be frank, and more so because it makes me lose interest over all as I quite literally get out of the habit of playing.
To keep my Secret World juices flowing, I decided to run around and lore hunt. I was very successful and finding all the lore in Kingsmouth. I used a few principles; first, if you could climb something, there was probably a lore on top. The trick was just finding where to climb. Second, every named map location has something in it, so if you aren’t taken there for a quest, there’s probably some lore. Lastly, LOOK UP. Designers talk about how hard it is to get players to look up in games. This tendency is largely being remedied in FPS games, but up is still a good place to hide things.
Using these principles, I took to Egypt to find the lore I’d missed. To sum up the experience in a single word, I’d say that it was terrible.
That’s right. Terrible. Something about the Secret World was terrible.
I’ve gotten some comments and heard from a distance talk about the solo game. My old friend’s brother played TSW and didn’t like it. A friend of one of my party members played and didn’t like it. A blog friend of mine who played Star Wars with me got to Egypt and lost interest. How could these experiences be so different from my own? Simple. They played alone.
After Kingsmouth, the difficulty of the game so greatly ramps up that I probably died 15 times during a single circuit of the City of the Sun. You must be careful when running around to avoid pulling mobs; otherwise, you get stuck fighting in a very slow battle that saps your exploration time. If you’re not incredibly careful, you get a second pull, and a second pull can be lethal. This design wouldn’t normally be a problem, but there are areas so densely populated that it’s impossible not to get 2 or 3 pulls at once. That guarantees death.
I was miserable after running around the zone one time; I can’t imagine what it must be like to play alone. As much as I don’t like playing only once a week with my group, I like it a damn sight more than playing solo.
Topping off that terrible fact are the solo instances. I promised I wouldn’t bring up Star Wars’s tendency to ramp up difficulty in larger parties any more, but I’m going to one last time to say this: at least I can play with my friends in Star Wars. I really don’t get the insistence on solo instances, and I hope Funcom gets the message and puts a stop to them. They make the game less fun by separating friends, making healing and tank focused players struggle, and setting groups on different time lines: the only thing worse than being in a solo instance is being done with it and waiting on everyone else.
So there it is, The Secret World’s biggest failing. It truly is an MMO. Playing alone saps the game of fun.
In the meantime, my buddy picked up a new Steam game for me called Din’s Curse. After the D3isappointment, I thought I was basically done with the genre, but since I’d given my friend instructions to find a game that was a) less than 10 bucks b) had a co-op mode and c) was at least moderately fun (you’d be surprised by how many aren’t: Two Worlds 2), when he gifted me a copy of the game, I couldn’t really say no. However, I’ve been nothing but pleasantly surprised. The multiplayer works well, the character advancement is very open, and the game gives lots of difficulty options to make things harder and easier. I’ve really enjoyed it. I’ll do a more full review sometime in the future, but for now, if you’re looking to kill time until [Game of your choice], Dins’ Curse is a good buy.
Stubborn (and grouping)