More Secret World impressions
The second beta weekend for The Secret World is ongoing at the moment. With a bit more time with the game there are a few more impressions to add from my previous post, as well as looking a bit more at the skill system (ehh, abilities system) of the game.
First of all, a few people in the TSW forums were a bit disappointed with the content, or perhaps rather that there was not enough new content compared to the previous weekend. The added content were pretty much what they had described in the announcement of the 2nd beta weekend. However, many people (including myself) had hoped there were more content included beyond what was explicitly mentioned, e.g. more portions of the skill/ability wheel unlocked. This was not the case though.
Personally I mainly missed the lack of more advanced skills in the skill wheel – the skill and crafting systems are some thing one will learn and master over a long time, while story and environment content is not something I would want to spoil too much of at this stage.
That being said, I did pick up a couple of missions and completed them and started to look at some more. But I also ran around a bit just exploring the area. There are many places to just explore and see if there is something interesting – I did find a few things, although some things I will perhaps not have use for – yet.
Some of the new missions provided were from Ms Radcliffe and Harrison Blake, working for the Orochi Group. They are just hilarious to listen to when they talk about the situation (the occult outbreak) and their work related to Condition 17…zombies.
The northern part of the area contains some of the tougher enemies it seems, with some pretty fairly fun enemies. I enjoyed fighting quite a bit – with a bit of practice I got better at using a combination of the skills/abilities that I had picked, chaos magic and fist weapons. Possibly a combination of a bit better gear but I think also a bit better in using the skills and have a decent combination of skills helped. Some of the enemies I could not take down before, at least not with some consumables to help, were now possible to defeat without too much trouble.
So with that lets go a bit more into these progression systems.
Digging into the progression systems
Two key elements for the progression for combat and gear are the Skill Points (SP) and Ability Points (AP). There is an XP bar at the bottom of the screen – for every third of that XP bar being filled up, one gains 1 AP. For every time the XP bar fills completely, one gets 1 SP. Worth noting is that it always require the same amount of XP to fill the XP bar – not like typical level-based MMOs where the amount of XP increases every time. But the amount of XP one gains as one advances will actually increase, so the XP bar will fill upp quickar and quicker.
However, the amount of SP and AP to use will also increase. APs are used to buy abilities – there are either active or passive abilities of which you can have 7 of each equipped at any given time. The initial abilities in the first tier for the different weapon types are very cheap to buy, starting at 1 AP. The final Elite skill in one section costs 7 AP and to get all of the first tier abilities one has to pay 19 AP. This is quite easy to get.
Supposedly it will get more expensive to gain skills at the higher tiers, not sure how much effort it will end up to get skills there – remains to be seen.
The other part of the progression equation are the skill points (SP). These can be spent on inproving you weapon skills as well as the quality level of gear you can equip. For each weapon type there are two areas in which the weapon usage can improve. One of them is always damage and the other is one of
For each of these three there are three weapons that provides abilities and improvements in that area, see picture below.
Each skill level in a weapon type area will provide some improvement to that area. In addition to the weapon types the skill points are also used to increase the talisman skills. This essentially means the quality level of gear that one can equip. Better gear means better stats, pretty much and is also used to determine enemy and mission dificulty, it seems.
Part of the use of the abilities is to find various synergies to make them more effective in whatever area one chooses. Lead Designer Martin Bruusgaard has an interesting blog post regarding the thinking behind the system and is well worth a read. The post also covers a bit on gear and crafting, since that is also part of the progression equation.
I quite like what I have seen so far of these systems – the basic ideas behind it are fairly straightforward to understand, yet it will likely be an area one can dive into quite deep, if desired. What is missing though int he game itself is a good explanation of how this works – there is not really much help there.
Some other interesting links here, the content from these pretty much derived from Martin Bruusgaard’s information:
I played around a bit with the crafting as well and made some items. Unfortunately there seem to currently be some missing elements in what is either dropped or sold by vendors here, which may potentially make it a bit difficult to make stuff that are actually better than some of the random uncommon loot dropped. Hopefully this is something that will change, otherwise crafting will perhaps not be that meaningful that it should be, at least not in this first area.
Areas in the game
In the beta weekends so far the only area available to players is Kingsmouth Town. This is one of three areas on Solomon Island. From what I can see in the game itself there seem to be three parts of the world that will be available, aside from the hub cities of Seoul, London and New York:
- Solomon Island
Exploring Agatha, the Hollow Earth transport system, I found entrances to eight areas with names, besides the hub city entrances.
- Kingsmouth Town
- Savage Coast
- Blue Mountains
- Scorched Desert
- City of the Sun God
- Besieged Farmlands
- Shadowy Forest
- Carpathian Fangs
There were also some unnamed entrances. Given the way these are located in Agartha I think it is reasonably accurate to guess that progression through these areas is intended to be matching the skill level progression of weapon types and talismans. All these entrances are essentially ordered in a sequence.
So ones current equipped gear and weapon type skill level would pretty much determine in which area to play, I would guess.
I think there seem to be more than enough mission content in Kingsmouth so that you would not have to do everything in order to progress far enough for the area. Not every mission will be to everyone’s liking either.
Part of the fun with The Secret World I think also is to just explore the various areas. There are many nice bits an pieces, such as the “H.P. Arts & Craft” store on Lovecraft Lane, or that you can find Elm Street, Poe Cove and Arkham Avenue in Kingsmouth.
Bugs and missing stuff
While there are a lot of great things in this game, there are also bugs and missing features in these beta weekends. There is a closed beta going on in parallel to these beta weekends, so it is not quite sure if the beta weekends reflect the state of the game right now – those who are in the closed beta would know better, but they cannot talk about it yet.
I think it is certainly playable and enjoyable from what is shown in these beta weekends so far, but not without some problems. This will be Funcom’s third MMO launch – it will probably go better with this one than the launches of Anarchy Online and Age of Conan, although still be a bit rough – that is my guess anyway.
But I gladly prefer a bit rough launch which contains some potential gems and innovative ideas, than a very polished launch with some slight improvements on old familiar systems.