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The Secret World Column: Issue #4 - The PvP

By William Murphy on March 31, 2011

In an effort to continue discussion on the game, let’s keep analyzing the many different sections of The Secret World as we know it.  I mean really, though we’re just a couple months from beta’s anticipated beginning, there’s a lot left to discover about Funcom’s next title.  One of the many areas that’s of intrigue for me personally is the game’s Player vs. Player system.  So here’s the gist what we know.

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We know that there are three factions: The Illuminati, The Dragon, and The Templars.  Each of these will have distinct designs for how they want the world to be and while it’s still unclear whether you’ll be able to group with one another for PvE content (there was some hinting that you may be able to since you’re all three fighting the same evil overall), you will most certainly be fighting against each other in some capacities.

Originally The Secret World was going to have a region located in “The Hollow Earth” where the three factions fought over a valuable resource known as “anima”.  Now though the fine folks at Funcom were quick to point out that The Hollow Earth isn’t done for, it is being reworked and won’t exist in the early incarnation we once knew it as.  Basically, if I can interpret that for us all, Funcom meant to say: “we’re not ready to show it to you yet, so bugger off for now.”

What they are ready to talk about is the Match-Made PvP.  Now, I’ve made it clear before than I’m longing for a game to have the balls DAoC did and give us three-faction warfare on a world-wide scale.  I’m sure this is something Funcom is pondering very carefully.  In the meantime, while we wait for more details, we just have to be happy with the fact that we still have three-faction PvP even if the content is set up more like Battlegrounds/Warfronts/Scenarios. 

Since I’ve made it a habit with the first few of these columns, let’s continue the trend of bullet points.  Maybe I should just rename the weekly column to TSW: Bullet Points.  But I digress.  To the points! 

The Pros

  • Three factions is three factions.  Ups the ante on PvP mechanics, and offers a wider range of possibilities.  Especially if the design of the PvP maps is intent on highlighting this strength.
  • Skill-system will promote some crazy builds.  Sure there will be flavors of the month, but by and large 500 skills should make PvP very interesting.
  • Dressing anyway you like means no easy way to find the healer… and I like it that way. Sure you’ll eventually pick out the glowing person with a halo as your health supply (or something like that), but at least from the get go unless you know a certain name of a character everyone will be on equal ground going into the fight.  Again you’ll know certain folks eventually, but I love that the itemization system Funcom is going with promotes individuality. 
  • No levels, all skills equals lots of PvP.  If I’m reading things right, characters won’t be largely better than one another based solely on some arbitrary level system.  Instead the skills you slot into your build will determine how strong you are at different parts of the game.  No level 900s ganking a level 7.  Yes, please!

The Cons

  • Match-made is not open world.  I’m sure plenty of folks prefer match-made PvP.  But not this guy.  I want meaningful pride-driven warzones in my MMO and it’s been a long time since a new game really gave us one.  I hope The Hollow Earth still makes release and is as awesome as it once was sounding.
  • The Flavors of the Month… they’re going to be huge.  I know, I know.  I’ll just have to deal with it.  Really, given the 500 skills and the combinations thereof, I’ll gladly swallow the FotM pill.  But that doesn’t mean I have to like it.  They’re in every game and the free-form skill system is going to make for some rocky balancing, and we all may just have to realize it never will be balanced.

Well, that’s just the way I see it.  And I really can’t stress enough that this is all based off of what we know from Funcom’s reveals and GDC thus far.  I’m sure we’ll experience more in the next few months since there’s E3, PAX Prime, and such just around the corner (not to mention beta).  It’s going to be interesting to see how Funcom’s handling of a three-faction game goes and whether or not it will live up to my own (admittedly) massive expectations for PvP.

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