With the extension of the grace period, I’ve pretty much dived all in with The Secret World and am absolutely loving it.  I will try to keep this spoiler free as much as I can but I will apologize up front if any of what I think are general comments give too much away.  However, you’re probably more likely to find spoilers in General chat then in this post ;)

I’ve decided to go down the Blades and Pistols route and am going for the Paladin deck as that seems to suit my play-style pretty well.  I’m sure once I complete that template deck and get the cool rewards I’ll play around a bit and most likely have a tanky deck as well as a solo deck.  One thing I haven’t figure out yet is how to save skill decks of your own, but since its quite easy to make changes I’m not terribly worried about that.  I did like that there’s a way to store gear combinations which I’m sure will come in handy later on for things like PvE gear vs PvP gear vs Raid gear.  I’m starting to feel really comfortable with my survivability and have picked up a number of nice in-combat healing abilities.  I mainly use my blade attacks unless I notice they’re not doing much, then I step back and start strafing with my Pistol attacks.  While it isn’t anything terribly revolutionary, I actually do like the combat system in TSW as it feels quite dynamic and action packed, almost console-like.

I’m just about through the Kingmouth content (I think), or am at least close to many of the deeds associated with completing missions in the area and I really am enjoying the mix of content.  There’s lots of “standard” MMO kinds of quest to go kill or deliver stuff but there’s a number of these that wrap very cool storylines into them or tease you with hints of what is coming up later on.  Plus you really never know what little side quest will be a part of a bigger puzzle later on :)

One “mistake” I think I made with the investigation quests was doing them out of order, not from a story perspective but from a difficulty perspective.  I will admit I had all sorts of issues figuring out the Something Wicked line that you pick up at the Church, but cruised right on through some of the other ones.  I think if I had done them more in order, my brain would’ve been a bit more accustomed to paying attention and I might have caught some of the clues.  Early on I just wasn’t paying enough attention to things and playing TSW like other MMOs and while you can do that, you’ll miss quite a bit.  If anything I think this might be my favorite aspect of the game as you do have the chance to really dive in and try to solve these puzzles that in many instances are quite involved.  With many of these quests being so key to the game, there are many options for figuring them out.  Certainly it is quite rewarding to figure them out on your own, but sometimes either you just get stumped or are being lazy (I’ve been there for a couple tiers).  I’ve had pretty decent success with Google and many of the sites I’ve found have hints that you have to click such that you can control how much you spoil.  One in-game suggestion would be that if you ask a question in General chat, request folks message you the answer and please try to limit spoilers in General chat :)

Another aspect I love about how they’ve set up quests is that there are decoy items that will glow and try to make you believe they’re part of the quest.  Some times they’re just additional that you won’t need, and other times it will actually send you down a different puzzle line that will eventually lead you back to some previous point.  Essentially this is a way to teach players to figure things out before just going click happy without too harsh of a punishment.

During my time in-game there have been a number of memorable quests so far, but I by far my 2 favorites are:

  • Spying using a radio controlled airplane is awesome, although I was half expecting to be able to fly the plane
  • The Templar quest (part of the pre-release videos) in the parking garage was one of the best quests I’ve ever experienced as it wrapped story, game mechanics, cool graphics effects, and just an incredibly creepy environment all into one.  I believe the other factions have a quest in the same location so I’d be curious to hear what you all thought.

The next area that I really want to dive into is the PvP system as I’d like to really get my arms around how things feel and how the rewards stack up.  Even though Funcom has announced all sorts of cool updates coming up, I do think having a fun and vibrant PvP system really helps with player retention.  I know PvP is the main reason many people stayed in DAOC for as long as they did and I think TSW’s system is the closest to DAOC we’ve seen.  The big key for me is the tie between PvP and PvE as I’m sure many of you have noticed the buff you get for your faction doing well in PvP.

Over all, I’m really enjoying just experiencing this game without worrying if I’m doing it right or not.  I may at some point hit a wall that I’ll need to step back, but since many of the quests are repeatable you can go back and farm experience to re-spec.  I have a feeling that this wall will either hit during PvP or during instances but we shall see.  I will work to get some screenshots and videos going but I just get too engrossed in the game to remember to do such things Winking smile

Finally, I really wanted to give a shout-out to Funcom for their support and openness during this launch period.  They’ve been VERY active on the forums (the dev-tracker twitter handle is back working), all over twitter, and their live-chat system works like a charm.  I ran into the fun issue that applying a game code (my box finally arrived) reset my lifetime sub with a monthly one.  I imagine it took maybe 15 minutes total to resolve the issue but I just moved the chat window over and continued doing other stuff while I waited for the rep to join the chat.  For me personally, Funcom has really matured as a gaming company and seems to have learned the painful lessons from previous launches and are saying all the right things.  Of course, they still have to execute on them but they’ve started off MUCH better then many expected and on par (if not better) then many other high profile launches.