The Secret World, Log Three: The Good, The Bad And The Buggy

There are times, when playing a game, that the hours just sail past. The player becomes completely immersed in the content and time loses all meaning, buried in a haze of "just one more quest".

Then there are the times, when playing a game, that every minute is like pulling teeth. Nothing works, nothing makes sense, and the player begins to wonder just what the hell that game was ever for in the first place.

I had both of those nights this past week while playing The Secret World.

One night in particular was full of disaster after disaster. An item — a nice weapon — I had scrounged to purchase had vanished from my equipment while I was logged out, and although the customer service representative who responded to my /petition was professional and courteous, in my case there wasn't anything they could do to restore it. Meanwhile, the monster I needed to take down to complete a quest bugged out at 50 per cent health every time, unable to be killed.

But a patch applied the next day actually fixed both of the issues I'd been having. And that seems to be the pattern I'm finding with The Secret World: the game isn't always polished around the edges, and things go wrong, but the team responds to them quickly and seems to be on the case. It's like getting the food wrong at a restaurant: in a good place, they'll apologise, make sure you're tended to, and probably comp part or all of the meal. And a restaurant that does that, that provides excellent and thoughtful service even though screw-ups still happen, is a place you'll keep going back to.

My bigger complaint, on the Night of Terrible Gaming, was with the first faction quest, called "Into Darkness." All three factions assign the mission as some point, but it's different from the Templar, Dragon, or Illuminati perspective. For example, I arrived to find the place powered and had to take out a circuit box to make it dark. An Illuminati on the mission will arrive in his or her solo instance to found that some damn Templar already took out the circuit box, and it's dark.

The problem with free-form, class-free levelling, though is that it's possible for a solo instance to be unbalanced. Badly unbalanced. And that can take a game that has been about careful thought, patience, sabotage, investigation, and thinking, and suddenly make it into an incredibly frustrating unexpected roguelike.

I lost track at death number 17, on that mission. Until then, I'd never had more than two or three unintentional deaths (and yes, there is a purpose to intentional ones) in a single play session. Suddenly, the mood had changed from a sense of nonthreatening guidance to flat-out punishing me. Repeatedly. I was... not pleased. A great deal of loud cursing could be heard at my PC that night.

And yet, the next evening I went back, and everything was fine. Monsters died, quests were completable, and the dialogue leading into my first experience in a group zone was very wry and funny. The group zone, Polaris, was good fun. As is often the case with MMORPG dungeons, if you know who your main tank is and target him or her then you're good to go. And in this case, the level-free nature of the game meant that our group's main tank had top-level, end-of-game gear and skills (QL10, in The Secret World's terms) and knew the fights, so Polaris was a bit quicker and easier than it generally is meant to be the first time you try it.

Kingsmouth is lovely but I'm about ready to wrap up my last few missions and strike out to see more of the Savage Coast. But first, I need to stop in at the Fusang projects and Stonehenge. It's time to take out some Illuminati and Dragon... personally.

Kotaku's MMO reviews are a multi-part process. Rather than deliver day one reviews based on beta gameplay, we play the game for four weeks before issuing our final verdict. Once a week we deliver a log detailing when and how we played the game. (Week one; week two.) We believe this gives readers a frame of reference for the final review. Since MMO titles support many different types of play, readers can compare our experiences to theirs to determine what the review means to them.


Comments

    I logged in last night and thet had pretty much finished with their promised nvidia 3d vision compliance, a few days ago the shadows were all over the place, last night perfect.

    This is a retail box game isn't it? I mean you have to purchase the game and then pay a sub?

      Yes, though it comes with a free month of gametime. It's the standard MMO subscription cost of $15 a month, but I think you can save a few dollars if you sign up for longer (sign up for 6 months and only pay $12 a month type of thing). There's also a lifetime subscription that costs a couple hundred dollars, but I wouldn't recommend doing that.

      If you are going to get it I'd suggest buying it digitally from TSW website for only $50, which is a lot better than the $80 places like EB are asking for it.

        Make sure you take into account that it is a 15gb download. For some people that is worth an extra $30 in both bandwidth and time saved.

          15gb.. ouch..

          I think I will just wait for Planetside 2 and MWO..

          Pay2Play is just so outdated now.. I'm happy to pay a one off cost (as in Guild Wars) but not an ongoing sub.

            You do realise to get ahead in things like MWO, you will have to pay to further your progress? Much in the same way World of Tanks makes you pay to set up a premium account, that gives you +50% xp, cash etc..

            It looks like they intend to add new content every month, and it certainly does look like it's a little more unique than something like Tera,

            One thing to also consider for TSW is that they have committed to *monthly* content updates that are included as part of your ongoing subscription.

            Their first is due at the end of this month (within the first month that the game launched no less) - and while we'll have to see if they can keep up with that monthly frequency, it's a refreshing proposition and a return to the way MMOs of old used to frequently patch in new content as opposed to larger infrequent expansions.

            It's fair enough if you think Pay2Play is outdated. But you are going to be missing out on a lot of fantastic and interesting titles like this one here.

    you can do the cd key thing also.
    i got mine through code4game.com for $36 or so.

    Interesting read Kate, and I can totally empathise, (with my few nights experience with the game). Although, I'm looking for a dragon guild on Huldra that will accomodate oceanic players - without success yet..

      I got mine for $39.95 on g2play, included the game and 30 days game time - not shabby at all...

    If you're Aussie you should be Dragon. Especially on Huldra:p

    My experience with the game has been good so far, no major complaints and I put my money down for it already. Actually enjoyed the PVP too and I am never usually into that aspect of MMOs at all... but I have to say GW2 will probably take my focus away from playing TSW for anything but a few hours here and there... so many games, so little time.

    hehe listen to the lizards "ooh be a dragon" yep I love them in my sights!

    You think you have had a bad time in Kingsmouth? You'll be pulling teeth in Transylvania! all ill say is "the castle" *convulses on floor* gahh that mission is my bane

    I've heard a couple of people complain about Into Darkness, which seemed weird to me. I'm splitting my ability points between DPS and healing abilities (and also my item collection, for that matter) so I know I'm far from optimal. I died once, because I was in a corner and failed to realise that I was standing in an AOE... there's definitely areas where I've gotten killed over and over, but that wasn't one. I honestly can't work out what it is in that mission that gets people killed. They even provide a free AOE-stun item to help out!

    after I bought the game at mmoga, and started with my dragon, I began to love the Game~
    TSW is one of the most amazing mmos EVER!! ;3
    totally worth the 15$/monthly

    I'm Dragon on the Arcadia server...look for 'Spoonie' Always looking for people to party quest - dungeon crawl...I love this game, and I had 3 buddy keys that are all gone now...sorry. I wish I could get all the fence sitters in, because this truly is a game you need to experience. After only playing 2 beta's I signed up for life...which is a big cost up front, but I think I've already got my time back (can't stop playing it!).

    Buy it...like mentioned previously - you can get it for 30-50$ and that includes 30 days! That's awesome, and it's also all the time you need to fall in love with this game. They are releasing new content (and good stuff too) every month for subscribers! Also like it was mentioned at the start of this article, they are fixing stuff all the time. Bugs are common, and this baby is new..so it's gonna happen. I'll be honest and I've never had an issue I couldn't fix. The best thing about this game is, if a quest is bugged, you can pick up another one and pause that bugged quest - and then when you return you are at the same tier that you were. It's awesome. So much to do and explore.

    Oh and we need more Dragons on PVP!! It would be good to roll with some more aussie dragons.

    I'll be playing GW2 also, and have my collectors edition on pre-order (nice be ol' Charr statue!). Also if anyone wants to get in on the GW2 last beta weekend, let me know I have a spare Key...get in early so you can download and start playing early Saturday morning! Hit me up at [email protected]

    I think I tanked that run!

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