02 July 2012

Lost in The Secret World

Howdy folks.  Yes I know I missed my news post yesterday.  Yes I know some BIG news hit last week (Guild Wars 2 launch date, etc.)  But I have an excellent reason for being "absent."  I have been knee deep in The Secret World's early release.  So far I have to say that Funcom has shed it's "Failcom" reputation and put together a very solid launch.  Is it perfect?  Far from it.  RIFT's title as "best launch ever" is still secure in my book.  But on a scale of "RIFT to Anarchy Online," I would have to rate TSW's launch somewhere below Star Wars: The Old Republic, but above pretty much everything else.  I am working on a much more in depth analysis of the launch, but I want to save that for after the "official" launch date on July 3rd, so look for that probably on the 4th.  In the meantime, here are a few "quick hit" impressions to hold you over.  And so that I don't sound like a "fanboi" again, I'll hit the negatives first.

The Wrongs

*  Mission Bugs-  There are several missions that are bugged and either cannot be completed at all, or require you to jump through unnecessary "technical" loops to finish, and this includes several of the "Investigation" type missions which are among TSW's biggest selling points.  There was a patch and maintenance early this morning though, so maybe they fixed this.  I haven't been in the game yet today to check it.

*  Cabal Functionality/Interface-  Oh my frakkin' god... the cabal interface in this game makes me want to kick puppies, club baby seals, and eat unicorns all at once.  It is easily my most hated feature in this game.  Since my guild has members spread out through many different regions and time zones, we set up "inviters" at different times of day to get everybody in.  I was made one of these to help cover the late night US "shift."  Good grief... just inviting a person to a cabal made me feel like I was pulling teeth.  Nothing about the cabal interface or functions is intuitive... nothing at all.  Frankly they'd be better off scrapping the whole thing and starting over.  It is an absolute joke.

*  Inventory Issues-  I am "OCD" when it comes to my bags, bank, and inventory.  I like to sort and store things as neatly as possible.  TSW allows a great deal of flexibility in this by allowing you to custom create bags of any size.  But for me, this is not working properly.  Every bag I create, and even my default inventory bag, will not allow me to place any items in the far right column of the bag.  So essentially every bag I create is one column "smaller" than intended.  For a "neatnick" like myself this is immensely frustrating.  I've sent in a "bug" report on it but no one else in my cabal is reporting similar problems, so I'm not sure what exactly the issue is.

The Rights

*  Client Stability-  Ok I can only report my experience, but for me the client has been 100% rock solid.  I have not had any "crash to desktop" events, lag spikes, or any other sort of anomalies.  I have played for several hours at a time and never experiences unexplained slowdowns or other issues.  I would say the client is still not fully optimized in terms of CPU/GPU utilization, but it feels much better than my last experience with the beta client.  So while there is always room for improvement, for a launch client Funcom has done an exceptional job so far.

*  Server Structure-  This seems to be the wave of the future as both this game and GW2 are taking new approaches to the concept of servers and allowing players to interact with each other.  TSW's solution is to have each player tied to a "home" server (ie. the one you created your character on) but allow you to "meet up" and join any other player on any other server.  The only aspect of the game this does not apply to is the persistent PvP zone (Fusang.)  So there is no more "Gee I'd love to play with Tommy but he's on the Unicorn Meat server and I'm on the Puppy Love server."  Rigid server structures like World of Warcraft are on their way out it would seem.

*  Moving Up-  As I said in my beta impressions a few weeks ago, TSW combat just feels good.  It did then, and it still does.  Going out and blasting zombies is just plain fun.  Yes the content in this game is more difficult than average, but even if you are looking to "relax" there are things to do and still advance your character.  For example, gaining achievements gives XP.  So running around exploring a zone or collecting lore fragments will still contribute to your overall progress aside from simply gaining the achievements themselves.  This may seem like a small thing, and to the "explorers" among us it may be irrelevant.  But it is nice to see that XP bar move every time you unlock something. 

Now that I've "come up for air" for a bit and talked about the game... I want to get back to it!  Look for more impressions later in the week.

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