I played The Secret World last night for the first time and thought it might be fun to compare these two betas. My approach to both betas was quite different: I knew lots of GW2 mechanics beforehand but had not spoiled any of the content to myself. My expectations were high, really high. I wasn't let down, instead my expectations were exceeded on many areas.
I was not really expecting much of TSW, afterall it is a FunCom game (for reason to my low expectations see Conan, Age Of) and I had not done much research of the game beforehand. So I was mildly interested when a beta key appeared and thought I'd give it a go. And while I did not expect too much, I was sort of sad to find out that my low expectations were met.
So come friday evening I poured some whiskey and cola, logged in. Whole character creation was nice and I created this Cho (from 'The Mentalist') sort of guy with long matrix style trenchcoat. He was ex-military guy, tough as they come. You know the type, silent (I never actually said anything in any of the cutscenes which played nicely to my character!), stern, kind of a guy that you can trust but don't really know lot about. After creating my character there were about... 30 minutes worth of cutscenes, in between there were short 'Press W to walk forward' tutorials.
Jayson "Dent" Denton. Stern, but fair. I really liked original Deus Ex.
I liked the cutscenes a lot, they were well done and really had good sense of style. I felt the world was interesting! But this whole tutorial stuff was... meh. Anyone playing this game will have played atleast some games before where you press the damn W to walk! This complaint applies to both GW2 and TSW: Developers should focus less on people that do not know how to walk forwards in your run-of-the-mill MMORPG. What they should focus on is on features that are different to your average MMO. While GW2 did pinpoint some of these features there were lots of things that I just read around the web and went 'Oh thats nice and convenient! Wonder why game did not tell me about that?' I imagine same goes for TSW, there are lots of cool things I do not know about.
Hell, if developers did tutorials based on what is different and unique in their game we could judge amount of innovation based on length of the tutorial! :)
Moving back to TSW. So after these cutscenes and tutorials I finally got to area where I got to choose my first weapon from bunch of different ones and test them on some demons hanging on the walls. It was a nice feature, again oozing with style and fitting will in the game world. After that I got to my first mission area and this is where the game started feeling boring.
Dem cutscenes. Really liked them.
Combat was not a challenge and ugliness of animations really showed itself. None of my neat katana attacks really felt like anything else than another skill with different numbers attached to a bad animation. There was no OOOMPF!-factor at all in attacks.
Quests, while done a tad differently, felt like nothing special. Wasn't long untill I started to feel bored (I even had whiskey to entertain me!) and logged out.
I blame GW2. It is kind of measuring stick I have to compare every MMO against as the amount of fun I had after pressing the 'Login' - button is second to none. And that should be main feature of any mainstream game anyway. It absolutely has it's flaws, but the fun is there so you can look past all that.
Here is a quote that kind of summarizes what TSWs world was lacking in my opinion:
"You don’t even need Dynamic Events to watch the world change. I was out in Queensdale, south of the dam (near the orchard) when I spotted this scene; http://i.imgur.com/yyOaY.jpg Note the woman cowering behind the tree, her picnic rudely interrupted by Yogi there. There were no breadcrumbs or shouts for help that lead me here, I simply stumbled upon it.
I decided to get rid of Mr. Bear, just to see what would happen: http://i.imgur.com/0izgX.jpg The woman stood up, walked out from behind the tree, and resumed her picnic. There wasn’t any dialogue or reward, but I was simply amazed that one of the developers took the time to put this little loving detail in. I only wish she said something. When I returned to this location on another character (at night) she was gone."
This was quote from nick "Retro" @ http://www.killtenrats.com/2012/05/11/gw2-the-long-game/
The whole TSW world felt like static scenery; everywhere I went there were zombies in neat pack of 3's eating corpses. Always pack of three hunching over a body. While it was visually pleasing, apart from animations it felt so damn static. Oh, and there was no sense of MMORPG. It felt like I could have been playing singleplayer game. Again, something Guild Wars 2 did differently and did well: Brought back sense of Massive, Multiplayer and Online to MMORPG genre. It has been lacking in most modern titles with ovedone instancing and game mechanics that separate players and make them play these games like they are singleplayer.
'em bastids guna get it now!
So my verdict for TSW is 43/100, 3 stars out of 7, a melon with bronze star or however you wish to digest your 'meh, didnt catch me'-opinion. There are some features that I really like but in post-Guild Wars 2 BWE world they don't really cut it. I will have to play some more today though, as there were some really interesting bits and I am sure the game will absolutely find it's audience. Also, innovation! It definatively is not your average MMORPG, not theme or mechanics wise which is always something I love to see. On to the disclaimers..
"Butbutbut the two games are so different, you can't compare apples and orange!" I absolutely can. Both taste different and I can like one more than the other.
"Butbutbut you can't judge an MMO game after 3 hours of play! Right..?" I absolutely can. Call it first impressions or whatever, but there is an opinion I have about the game. If it is usefull to 'judge' game after 3 hours and come here and write a blog entry about it, that is whole another discussion. I write this because I find writing about it fun.
"Butbutbut this wasn't a comparison between GW2 and TSW at all, you just bashed The Secret World!" Yeeeah, that I pretty much did. :)
On other news: I do not find myself awfully excited about Guild Wars 2 stress test coming this monday. I'd love to play the full game, but having one evening of play feels like waving a bag of heroin infront of drug addict and letting him just smell it a little bit. So so cruel..