I’ve been trying to pop into The Secret World a few times a week to see if the game has anything that’s going to draw me in. I kept hearing about how ‘different’ the game was from other MMO’s and luckily was able to pick up a copy for $10 during the Steam holiday sales. I had to find out for myself what ‘different’ meant, and whether it was ‘different good’ or just ‘different’.
I guess when I heard ‘different’, I had a certain picture in my mind of how it would be different. I figured the quests might be more puzzle-like, perhaps more story-progression oriented and less grindy. So far in my experience, this has turned out to be true. I also thought that perhaps just the environment itself: the shadowy, underhanded modern-day setting. This has also turned out to be true. Both of these I consider good things, and a reason that I feel like this game has a lot of promise.
However, there are still a few differences that I haven’t made up my mind about. Number one, the quest tracker. I didn’t realize this when I started playing, but there are a limited number of quests that you can track at a time, and it varies by type of quest how many you can track. For example, you can track only one story quest, but up to three side quests. If you try to accept another quest when your tracker is already full, one of the quests being tracked gets ‘paused’. I assume that means that your progress within that quest is not lost, but I honestly have no idea how to jump back into a paused quest. So, I probably have some paused quests hanging out there somewhere. Questing in general is also somewhat of a mystery. There is no indication if you should do any of the side quests in a certain order, or prior to the main quest, or when. Since there are no character levels in TSW, there is also no indication in the quests themselves of when you should actually try to accomplish them. They are marked with a level of difficulty, (medium, hard, very hard), but isn’t that somewhat relative based on how your character has progressed? When am I ready to take on a “very hard” quest (the answer, apparently, is not yet)? How do I even know when my character has progressed enough to be in a certain area of the map? That leads me to my 2nd “the jury is still out” difference: character progression.
Progression is pretty mysterious, as well. Instead of leveling your character, you level their skills with a certain weapon, and gain health through talismans and armour (I think….again, mysterious) Funcom has tried to make this game as sandbox-y as possible, which is a cool theory, but again, how do I know when I’m ‘good enough’. I suppose the aficionados would tell me that I just have to try a quest to find out if I’m ready for it or not. That does make some sense, but since I’m on a limited time budget I hate to spend too many nights failing quests and not progressing. Perhaps it’s the sandbox nature that makes this game difficult for me. Maybe it’s the fact that their server drops my connection about twice per night when every other MMO runs just fine. Maybe I’m just struggling with starting a new game from the beginning after being comfortable with LOTRO for so many years. At any rate, to this point the ‘different’ has just been: ‘meh, different’.