With The Secret World entering its third weekend beta I checked it out to see how the game was progressing. My thoughts post beta are a mixed bunch it seems.
The Secret World for those who don’t know is an MMORPG set on modern day Earth, featuring three main factions, The Illuminati, The Templar Order and The Dragons. In this particular beta we had access to the town of Kingsmouth and more importantly a place known as the savage coast. Also for the first time could play as any of the three main factions available in the game. After the hefty 12.6GB download and numerous login issues involving password changes and conversations with their support team, I finally got into the game and headed to the character creation screen.
So as we all know creating your identity in an MMO is possibly one of the most crucial things you do and The Secret World has this covered with plenty of options to make your character unique to you. With that sorted it’s off to the game world for you! This is unfortunately where the nice part of this preview ends as the problems start to show up in force. I will stress although I may make an at times harsh critique this game is only in beta and is subject to change and this is only an opinion on what I experienced.
So you are welcomed into the game by a cut scene showing your character coming to terms with newly discovered powers, but I was never sure just what was actually happening on screen as it is poorly explained. After getting to grips with your powers you are tracked down by your chosen faction and invited to join them. In my case this was the Illuminati who challenged me to find them as a test of my skills. And finally I had for the first time control of my character and was let loose in the world. Time to go adventuring!
So at this point it seems only right to make a brief judgement on the graphics as I’m free to roam around and look at small details finally. The Secret World even in beta stage has some mighty impressive visuals, not ground breaking but certainly above average. The game has DirectX 11 features for those with compatible cards and although not used on all surfaces those that utilise tessellation look all the better for it. At this stage it’s not clear if the game has been fully optimised but nevertheless it looks like a high end PC will be needed to pull this game off on full settings.
Now back to the gameplay, this game certainly has a work in progress feel to it as I guess it should being a beta and all. Numerous animations feel unpolished and many issues with gameplay such as combat not picking up the target right next to you as being in your line of sight leave a bitter taste. One rather amusing scenario that I encountered many times involved the zombie enemies you faced. They were your typical zombie affair however it seems that all enemies have a certain distance they can be lured away from their spawn before having to return to it. On its own that sounds perfectly innocent and fine, however, when returning to their spawn I believe they have increased movement speed which creates a line of zombies running around like something that can only resemble a scene from The Benny Hill Show (YouTube Yakety Sax).
As a lover of all things Illuminati and all that I do like the premise the game offers. Inviting you into a world where all the myths we here about are actually true sounds like a story that could well have been purposely written for me. However this never really comes across when questing. The closest thing to actual discovery the game offers is the ‘investigation’ quests that actually ask the user to use Google through the games own built in browser to try and find clues about how to progress and crack the codes. An idea that sounds fantastic but I encountered a huge flaw, well two really. Firstly there is the issue of the chat box, people frequently just asking those already passed certain quests or tiers (each quest is made up of several of these) how to solve the quest or just plainly the fastest way to move on defeating the whole reason for having these cool ideas. Secondly and perhaps more pertinent is the way Google works. Those who are first to the quests are greeted when searching to the purpose built websites full of lore and other goodies immersing them in the experience. However later participants like myself are greeted by forums of different sites regarding the game that often have the answers in the search title or in the preview of the site completely taking the challenge out of that quest without you even trying to cut corners. This is simply because those forums have become more related to the search in Google’s eyes than the original no longer as visited sites.
So overall the beta has left me feeling like Funcom has a lot of work left to do and as this will be a subscription based game I feel they have a real challenge on their hands to deliver a top MMO title that the people will be expecting. Those who are interested in getting hands on should keep an ear to the ground and try to pick up a beta key before investing into this game. I’m certainly glad I did.
If you would like a code just let me know, I only have one so first come first served.