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Deep, Unique, and Entertaining This is a complex game to review. It has many different elements that appeal to different types of people, but if you’re one of those whose tastes fall right in the center, you will absolutely love it.The world is an amalgamation of conspiracy theories and horror themes. It’s a very bleak world and this is very much apparent once you’re out of the three primary cities (London, New York, and Seoul), which are very detailed and well-constructed (London being my favorite by far). If you’re a fan of Stephen King, HP Lovecraft, or Supernatural, you will probably enjoy the atmosphere. It will be even more enjoyable if you collect and read the hundreds (thousands?) of lore items scattered throughout the world that offer greater insight into specific events or groups.There are three factions, the Dragon, the Illuminati, and the Templars. They are united in their fight against the darkness, but often very much at odds over historical events. They each have their own storyline, and many of the responses to different quests are unique to the faction. The Dragon have a more eastern/philosophical outlook on things, the Templars are a bit more mystical and militaristic, and the Illuminati are very business-like and technical. The stories you encounter reflect this, as the Templar story often feels very mystical while the Illuminati story has more of a conspiracy feel to it.The dialogue is particularly entertaining. You do not get to make responses, as in SWTOR, but I found the NPCs much more interesting to listen to in TSW. They often seem like real people and make amusing or enlightening analogies. You can talk to many about a variety of topics that do not directly apply to a quest, and I’ve spent several hours doing so without realizing how much time had passed.The mechanics initially seem to be typical of MMOs, but differences become more apparent the further you get into the game. Instead of each quest being about killing 10 goblins, quests can have you trying to investigate the origins of the town, setting up defenses and fighting off attacks, or tracking down and stopping a supernatural killer (and killing 10 draug…). If the quest is fairly straightforward (kill 10 draug), you will see markers on your map and on your screen indicating where to go. However, if you’re expected to figure something out this is often not the case. For instance, you may be given a vague idea of what you’re looking for and through the use of google (there’s an in-game browser and a website for various groups in the game, such as the Kingsmouth newspaper) and in-game clues (hidden in or behind paintings, in architecture, or just about anywhere you can think of), you’re expected to figure out where you need to go and get there. Once you’ve arrived, the quest progresses to the next stage.You’re allowed to equip 7 active and 7 passive skills of hundreds purchasable using rewards for gaining experience. Some build resources, some use them. Some set certain states on the enemy (weakened, hindered, etc.), while others will exploit those states. You mix and match the 7 active and 7 passive skills to create a “build” that you enjoy and feel is effective. This can be done on the fly as long as you’re out of combat (lose a fight? swap skills and try again). The states can also be exploited by other players, so you could theoretically get with friends and work together to create builds where you exploit each others’ actions to greater effect.As for the combat, again, the mechanics initially seem typical button-mashing. The states and skills mentioned in the previous paragraph add greater variety, but there are also indicators that appear when an enemy is about to use a particularly punishing attack that allow you the opportunity to either run out of the way to avoid being hit or to use an active dodge button for the same purpose. Although avoiding these attacks can be helpful in solo-play, it becomes imperative to avoid as many as possible in instances (dungeons) where one such hit may well kill you or put anyone healing on their toes to try to keep everyone alive. Fortunately, you do not sacrifice much damage or many actions by avoiding attacks, as all combat skills are usable while moving (and many situations will leave you dead if you do not use them while moving).Armor is in the form of talismans, whether they’re rings or belts or other items that do not alter your character’s appearance. Clothing is separate and only alters appearance. There is a large clothing store in London where you can customize your character after you’ve earned some money.Although there are many servers (“dimensions”), you can play with friends on any of them. If you join a group with someone from another server, you will be asked if you want to be transported to their dimension. When you leave the group, you are returned to your own. You cannot PVP on any server but your…
One Great MMO (It should be noted that this review is based on the first 1/4 of the game. I merely writing a review for people on the fence on whether to buy this around launch day. I’ll have a more complete review once I’ve gotten to the endgame content.)Having had a chance to really sink my teeth into the game, it’s finally time for me to pass judgement on The Secret World. I’ve played several MMORPG’s in the past (World of Warcraft, The Old Republic) and have had fun with them in the past. But after spending countless hours with these MMO’s, you start to recognize similarities in the various games. This is where The Secret World really shines.The Secret World turns a lot of old ideas on their head. Leveling no longer exists, or at least not in the traditional sense. You still earn experience but instead of being greeted with a new level when you fill your experience bar, you now receive Skill Points to be spent in several areas. Along the way however, you also earn Ability Points to be spent on new abilities. You get to fully customize your character to do pretty much whatever you feel like that particular day. You can be a healer one minute and a tank the next. It’s a great system that has a ton of depth to it.Quests are also really well written. All the main quests of cinematic, fully voiced scenes. Side quests usual involve finding notes which is the only reason those aren’t voiced. The quests have a lot of variety to them as well. While it is true you’ll find fetch quests here and there, even those are done in ways that don’t feel repetitive. Something that is truly wonderful about the game is the puzzle and research quests. The game forces you to really think sometimes to solve a puzzle, while other times the game gives you just enough clues for you to research it online (and also has a built in web browser to help). It really adds to the immersion and lore of the game.Speaking of lore and story, the game really knows what it’s doing in this area as well. Sometimes it does get cheesy in areas, but most of the time it stays on course of being a phenomenal story. There are so many missions that really adds depth to the different organizations and to the world itself. It will make you want to really search the world to get every tidbit you can. The controls handle well, there is a great variety of abilities to choose from and play with, and PvP is incredibly fun. There is so much to do and explore that the game will keep you busy for a long time. It will take you months to fully max a character out. No matter what server you play on, you can still pair up with your friends and quest together. Same goes for guilds which are called “Cabals” in The Secret World.It should be said that the game does initially limit you to only three character slots. You really shouldn’t need more because of the fact that you can just load a build and be any class you want at anytime, but it should be noted. You might also find some glitchy quests or other things, but with the game just launching, it’s forgivable especially when Funcom stays on top of patches pretty well.Overall The Secret World is a great game and definitely worth a look.
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