|May 14, 2012, 06:23 PM||#1|
The Secret World beta
Spent the past weekend drinking in OC, watching the Lakers take game 7, celebrating Mother's Day, and play the Secret World open beta.
The game world is cool. It's still a themepark MMO and I get sick of themeparks pretty easily since they're all the same WOW gameplay mechanics with new packaging. But the game world is unique and appealing enough to draw people in on its own merits. Since it's modern day, NPC's talk about things like Google and YouTube. The world has a lot of personality and uses profanity and adult themes, which is funny and refreshing. The world design is also detailed and cohesive. Contrast this with SWTOR, where every city is just a vast superficial environment.
Exposition is the best I've ever seen in questing. Voice acting is great and cut scenes are cinematic. Unlike SWTOR where dialogue is pretty dry, I didn't hit escape and took my time listening. Some of the NPC's are too into themselves and talk too much though, but you can tell the writers were having fun.
The skill system works. There aren't any levels. There's an xp meter that cycles but you're awarded skill points at various points, not just at the end. The points also come fast enough it doesn't feel like a grind. To gain skills, you open up the skill wheel which consists of 3 tiered circles. Only the first tier was available in the beta but there's a ton of opportunity for customization via mixing and matching.
In the beta you start off in London, flashback to Tokyo, and eventually end up in a zone where you're on the branch of a giant tree which transcends space/time. The tree branches have a ton of portals to other zones. One portal was available for the beta, which sent you to a New England town called Kingsmouth. This zone is HUGE and plagued by zombies and Lovecraftian horror - there's a fog and a bunch of crap in the ocean. I explored the tree zone a little bit and there are a ton of portals that are unavailable. I'm not sure how many zones the game will have but it looks like each zone will be a real world setting plagued by a supernatural element (zombies, vampires, etc). If they're all as big as Kingsmouth and they fill out all the portals in that tree, this game will have a huge amount of gameplay packed into it.
Some of the quests require you to use your brain, which is a plus. There are investigation quests, where a riddle has to be solved. Sometimes you don't know what the hell the clue is talking about so you can bring up a real web browser in-game that lets you search the net and figure it out. It sounds lame but it's rewarding. IE, in one quest, a doctor NPC sent me to his home to get some patient records. I go in his home, turn on his computer, and it needs a password. I don't know what it is. It gives me a clue. I look on the ground, see a broken picture frame. I put 2 and 2 together, bring up the in-game browser, google the right thing, and figure out the password. This is a lot better than WoW, where the most challenging quest was to figure out Jitters was Jittery.
The only thing I'm worried about is that they release the game incomplete like they did with AoC. But if they do it right, this'll be a promising game.
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