I started playing The Secret World in the pre-order early access (plus in the beta weekends), but until just a few days ago I never got past the Solomon Island zones. Part of the reason for that was a busy Real Life during summer, but also that NCSoft announced the termination of City of Heroes and Paragon Studios. During those three months from that announcement, I focused only on playing City of Heroes.
So after the termination it was time to resume playing again, but I postponed it a bit – partially to try out some other games also first (Planetside 2, DCUO on PC, Vanguard, Perpetuum). But once I got back into The Secret World I was initially somewhat intimidated – how was it things worked now again? But after a slow start things started to come back and after running a couple of missions I knew again why I love this game.
Before my 3 month pause of playing the game I was playing in Blue Mountains and had around 110-120 unspent AP. Thus two of my initial objectives where to finish the first story mission (Dawning of and Endless Night) and also work a bit on my Chaos/Fist build – it worked ok as-is, but had been the same for a quite some time, since early Savage Coast.
Completing the story mission was easier than I had anticipated – in the back of my head I remembered some comments about difficulties with some missions in the Blue Mountain part, but it was pretty manageable. The end raised some new questions and it was quite good in that regard – eager to find out more what is going on.
The next story mission was shorter and quicker and lead the way to Egypt, which was nice and exciting to see some new scenery. Not that I was tired of Solomon Island and Blue Mountains; in fact I quite enjoyed most of the time in Blue Mountains. I have been going back and and forth between Scorched Desert and Blue Mountains a couple of times lately, doing both new and old missions in Blue Mountains as well.
But Eqypt has been quite enjoyable as well and it is nice to see new challenges, enemies and people to interact with.
In most MMOs I am an altoholic – I create many different characters. Part of the reason for that is because I enjoy the variation, different play styles, different outfits, different roles. But since The Secret World allows most of that in one character and that I can repeat pretty much whatever mission I want in the game, all those altoholic tendencies have gone into the same character. Right now I have unlocked the whole inner ability wheel and I have a couple of different builds to work on and some skill points in a couple of different weapons.
This is contrary to what some people think is the optimal way to play the game, but as Funcom says – “you can become anything you want to be, without restrictions”. This is an approach that works for me and I am quite happy with that. Although I think I will need more Gear Manager slots…
I have some more team-oriented builds I have created, but will need to get a bit more team play with those to learn and practice, so I hope to do more dungeons. In fact, I havce only done one dungeon once so far – Polaris, which was pretty much during the first week I played. So I have a bit catching up to do in that department. Luckily I think with my Cabal conglomerate and that Funcom dropped the subscription fee will create good opportunities to play even the early dungeons in normal mode.
Right now there is an “End of days” event going on, since it is the end of the Mayan Calendar. This includes some big monsters wandering around, some dungeon and Mayan zombies that spawn wherever you go. The last part is something you really cannot avoid – as soon as you stand still in one place for a short while, a Mayan zombie will spawn and you may need to fight it. I have not looked into all the details of the event, but some of the things it drops are QL5 blue weapons (blades and hammers primarily – would not expect the old Mayans to use assault rifles…), plus drops to allow your self to change into a Mayan zombies of different types, for 20 minutes.
If you keep defeating the spawned Mayans there will be a bit tougher spawns until the final one, which conned red to me and was too tough for me to defeat on my own. The big monsters are three different Harbingers of Nameless Days. It seems one gets a mission to defeat them if you are nearby one of them and the other day I did just that with my cabal conglomerate. It was a pretty fun experience, especially since I had not played together at the same time with as many in the cabal(s) at the same time as during this occasion.
As it is now The Secret World is by far my favourite game to play now and any other games will probably suffer a bit because of that – there is only so much time for playing games.
The game City of Steam is now in the Steam Greenlight queue, which means it will be available through Steam if it gets the green light. Playing the game through Steam will provide provide some extra features, which is outline in a CoS forum post.
Since the game is browser-based and with a free-to-play payment model, anyone* can still play it though even without Steam. The game is currently gearing up for its 3rd closed beta weekend, starting this Friday/Saturday (depending on your time zone). In time for this next round of closed beta, the people at Mechanist Games have released a new trailer for the game, see below.
If you are interested in a beta key, send me a private message in the game forums (Sente), as I may have beta keys.
* anyone with a browser which is supported by the Unity3D web player.
As of now, paying a subscription for The Secret World is no longer necessary. Everything currently in the game will be available once you purchased the game. There will be free updates, but also paid-for story oriented content, plus the regular stuff in the game store.
They have also added some XP/AP boosts it seems. One can still subscribe to the game as before, called a member. Members and Grand Masters (life-time subscribers) will get a monthly allowance to spend in in the store, as well as some perks.
As a Grand Master myself, I think it will be interesting to see how this works out for Funcom. It sounds like an attractive approach for those who want to play the game without a subscription fee, a gentle shop approach and in addition to items in the store they will charge for what is the game’s strong area – story-oriented content.
See also the FAQ for the new payment model.
The last week, after the shutdown of City of Heroes, did not end up quite as I had planned originally. I did spend a bit of time with City of Steam closed beta, which was planned. But instead of playing the other games I had on my list ended up installing and playing a completely different game – Perpetuum.
Among MMOs there is one game that stands out quite a bit in the eyes of many MMO gamers, and that is EVE Online. Progression, sandbox elements interface etc are quite different from many other MMOs. It was one of a kind – until about 2 years ago, when Perpetuum entered the scene.
With a lot of features being very similar to EVE, there was a fair amount of talk about “EVE clone”. The developer of Perpetuum most likely were quite inspired by EVE – which is not necessarily a bad thing, if it is done well.
In a previous post I mentioned that would take a look at a steampunk-inpired MMO called City of Steam. The game is currently in closed beta and this very weekend is one of their closed beta weekends, the second of them – out of four weekends. I say steampunk-inspired; the game company Mechanist games says it is rather an Industrial Age fantasy game with steampunk elements. It is certainly a mix of a Victorian steampunk world and a few industrial/technology elements seen in some other fantasy games. The setting is rather what a fantasy author living in an alternative steampunk universe would make up.
It is a browser-based MMO which uses the Unity3D engine and thus can be played in any browser that is supported by the Unity web player. This currently includes a couple of different browsers on Windows and Mac platforms.
While closed beta for some games means a non-disclosure agreement and everything being very secret, for City of Steam and Mechanist games this is pretty much the other way around it seems. The encourage people to spread the word and get people to play and help test their game and are quite open with what they do. Note though that what I write here is still from a closed beta and many things will change/improve. Thus I will try to avoid any judgement on specific features and not go into too much detail on everything.
Lead designer and producer for the game is a a David Lindsay, who is also the author of a pen&paper RPG called The New Epoch. The world setting in this RPG also forms the base for City of Steam, although it does not share the same ruleset – this has been adopted to fit the video game format. Reading the some of the background lore and information it is clear that this is not just a thin lore layer that is slapped on. Regardless of the actual setting, this is something I think one wants to see with an MMO-type game – that there is a consistency and depth to why things are the way they are.
A few minutes after 9am CET, City of Heroes server Defiant shut down for the final time.
I logged on about 2.5 hours before the end and these were some emotional hours for a lot of people, in particular the last hour. Despite the sad nature of the event people were very much focusing talking about the good parts, the memories of the game and the great community and what made this experience awesome.
It also brought a smile to see Philtrum, perhaps Defiant’s most prominent speed TF runner, starting an Imperious Task Force about 20 minutes before the end – and finishing 16 minutes later. Phil and many other veterans are also great examples of the community spirit – even though many have experienced and ran many of the task and strike forces countless time, they have also taken time and effort to help new and inexperienced players to experience to enjoy playing in large teams and various task/strike forces.
Last night on the final night and number of people gathered to do one final event toghether, a Hamidon raid. While the server has been somewhat empty in the past few weeks, this last week and in particular this final day and evening there was a lot of people returning – it was a lot of joy of many oldtimers seeing each other again.
For a number of people this was the first Hamidon raid ever, or the first experience of the “new” Hamidon raid.
With a lot of people being around, it filled up to the max size of a league (48). It took a bit of time to organize and perform, but in the end it was successful and a great way to finish the last evening in the game. Big kudos to Dark-Spider for leading and organizing the raid!
Many, including myself, still hope for some kind of resurrection at some point in time. If not, it has still been some amazing years and I thank everyone for all the great memories and experiences we have had together! In the end, this is what make it so special.
Take care everyone and may we see each other again!