It Is The Little Things That Count

The Secret World celebration fireworks

Never did figure out how to get or set these off during my trial

I took advantage of the chance to try out The Secret World MMO during its free weekend event. While I hadn’t intended to post anything about my trial, I really don’t feel I had enough time to give it a fair chance, I did come away with some general impressions and decided to share them. I will say up front that I don’t think they are entirely fair impressions given my lack of available time in the game. I think a game like this really should give a week to try it out to give people enough time to really get past the initial bumps. I tried to go back and play it some more Sunday night, but sadly I got disconnected in the middle of trying to put vague clues together and couldn’t log back in, so I called it done for this trial event.

Those bumps I mentioned… there are many of them. The learning curve on the game is steep and for someone like me, who came into it without doing any research into the game systems or features, it was playable but I found it sorely lacking in many ways. I’ll admit, I may have only thought it was lacking features when I just didn’t find time to figure out if those features existed. For example, does the game have any method of sending notes or items between characters? I never found one, it was never mentioned, and I couldn’t figure it out on my own.

I’ve basically decided that I won’t buy the game based on my latest trial, but if I get the chance to give it more of a trial, I will go back and try it again later. My overall impression is of a rich set of players, some excellent concepts, an intriguing travel system, but a high annoyance factor that I just couldn’t move past. I was left with the feeling that the game is only half finished. The structure is there, the stained glass windows are pretty, but there is no where to sit inside except the floor and the floor plan is confusing. First impressions are really important, and I don’t have enough favorable ones to feel this game is worth my money yet. I’m pretty tired of new MMOs and figure I’ll wait on this one until it has had some time to mature.

Combat felt off and even turning on options to highlight nameplates and targets didn’t make it easier to tell exactly what I was targeting. This didn’t bother me with shotgun attacks, but with single target attacks, it never clicked for me. Combat turned my husband off so fully that he didn’t even go back and play with me later on when I went back for more questing. I generally don’t let combat bother me that much, but in this game where you are exploring and wandering around among unseen dangers, combat got shoved in my face pretty frequently.

Playing with a partner, while much more survivable, wasn’t fully supported. This was starting area and introductory content, so I wasn’t expecting it to be fully duo-able, but it raised a few concerns for me.

Little things, like the crafting system and splitting items, or trying to sell “trash” items to get them out of my inventory, added a level of frustration that you just don’t want to subject your players to in a game. Little things like that should be seamless and not detract from the game experience. Instead, they left me with the impression of being half-baked and awkward. I would like to have shared the screen shot I took of my character, but sadly this is another area where you needed a guide to figure out how it worked, and my lack of research left me hanging.

The game is all about investigation and exploration, and yet the clues in many cases were so vague that, in my admittedly very limited time, I ended up “cheating” them to just go find the answers. That left me with a bad taste in my mouth. I’m willing to do a bit of trial and error, but I expect to be met more than half way when it comes to providing enough details to make things solvable without being too easy. Just don’t make them so vague that they are more frustrating than satisfying to solve. Give me some suggested authoritative sources, not just open Google and try to guess what sources our developers used. I would probably have been a lot more patient about this if I hadn’t been under the gun time-wise, but since this is one of the biggest draws to the game, I would have expected a lot more care to go into it for the starting zone.

I’m not into PVP in general, and since I had already read some reviews of PVP in the game, I didn’t waste any of my precious time trying it out.

I wasn’t fond of the fact that I didn’t realize that NPCs had a lot more to say about topics than I got selecting the topic from their list once. You had to keep clicking it to get them to tell you everything. I really wish I’d known that sooner, I had to go back and click multiple times for multiple folks, another annoyance that just added to the list.

I won’t say this was “death by a thousand cuts,” the game isn’t dead to me yet, but I will say that the little things added up into a generally unfavorable impression for me so far. I will also say that after suffering through a few game releases, I’m a lot more picky about which games I’m willing to buy brand new. For MMOs, I think I’m going to let them mature a lot before I really dive into them. Sure, I’ll miss that initial rush of enthusiasm and adventure, but quality is important and I don’t want to judge a game as bad when it is only half-finished. I’d like to judge it once it has reached its full potential, so I’m sure it is working as intended.

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