Last summer Funcom released their modern day MMORPG The Secret World. What Funcom had hoped would be a smash hit ended up being a niche game that has developed a core following but nowhere near what the developer had hoped. Initially released with a subscription based business model TSW quickly transitioned to a buy to play model. While you will never have to pay again to play the core game after you buy the box you will have to purchase DLC if you want to play the new missions. The initial conversion to B2P swelled TSW's numbers back to respectability but it is highly unlikely they will ever break any records with concurrency.
I threw myself into The Secret World heavily for the first month the game was out. I spent many hours streaming it on our MMORPG.com stream channel. While the PvP was lacking and turned into a Merry-go-round for control points, and everywhere you looked people seemed to complain about the combat animations (they never really bothered me), I thought the game was innovative enough to overlook these flaws. I still think the 5-man dungeons in the game are some of the best I have ever played. They contain very little trash, and the packs they do have prepare you for a mini-boss or boss fight. Also the boss encounters themselves feel like they are not constant rehashes of fights we have seen one hundred times before in other MMOs. Toss that in with a unique setting that offers an alternative to anything else that was out there and you have an instant winner. I was not alone in my praise for TSW, it even received a good review from this site. But as most of us know a good review doesn’t guarantee a huge commercial success.
Like a lot of you, I stopped playing TSW not too long after the first month. I completed all of the nightmare mode 5-mans and decided I did not want to stick it out just for the gear grind. On release one of the selling points for TSW is that they would have monthly content updates. Funcom was never were able to make good on that promise and I went astray. A lot has happened since then though. Issues 5 and 6 have been released and with them we have seen the introduction of the auxiliary weapon wheel. With the auxiliary weapons players have gained access to the Rocket Launcher, Whip, Chainsaw, and Quantum weapon. In a recent interview with Joel Bylos we learned that Issue 7 will bring the Flame Thrower and the first vehicle that players can drive, the snowmobile.
These issues add more than just a few new weapons and extra abilities to the game. They add new storylines to engage the player. Issue 5 is The Vanishing of Tyler Freeborn. A local blogger in Soloman Island, Tyler has drawn the attention of all three societies for the investigations he has been conducting. You are tasked with tracking Tyler down and finding out what he has uncovered about the fog surrounding his island. Issue 6 takes a less ominous approach and has fun with themes that we all should know from Indiana Jones. The Last Train to Cairo allows you character to don a fedora and earn the auxiliary whip weapon. Replace Nazis with Atens and you can pretend you are George Lucas directing Harrison Ford in your own action movie extravaganza.
One thing that I believe Funcom still does well is create interesting NPCs to help tell their stories. I will be haunted by Andy in Kingsmouth for the rest of my days and he is now joined in his memorable cast of characters by Nassir. When you first run into Nassir he is dancing to his own beat by a tent in a desert camp. Nassir has a predilection to “blowing shit up.” The stories he tells you will ensure he will not be a person you soon forget. The price of these DLC missions are pretty reasonable as well. Depending on what type of account you have the Issues cost in the neighborhood of $10 USD. While that may seem steep to some to put that in perspective a lot of games are starting to charge players anywhere from $20 USD for a mount to $40 as seen recently in Neverwinter. Comparatively these missions come at a bargain.
While I believe the DLCs are worth their price I think Funcom could do a better job of allowing people to purchase them. It took me over an hour to figure out how to buy the issues. I tried to search for them with Funcom’s in-store search feature but returned no results. I knew the name of the DLC so I searched by, Tyler, Train, keywords from the titles, I even searched for them by their full title. I read through Funcom’s forums and found out how to turn on the DLC autobuy but not how to buy issues that had already been released.
I finally found where the DLCs are located by asking another player in general chat but I am still left wondering if the process could have been simpler. (Protip: If you want to find the DLC in the store use the keyword Mission). The DLCs are in the store under Boosts, and then under account. I also found out that if I had spent less time searching and more time staring at the store that the 7th of 8 splash screens would have showed me the DLC. If I would have just been jumping back into TSW for fun I never would have put forth this much effort. At most I would have spent 10 minutes looking and then gave up and moved on to the next MMO on my harddrive never to check TSW out again. I cannot imagine I’m the only one that feels this way. I would recommend keeping the mission DLCs on the front of the store or make a new tab for them that is more intuitive than boosts.
Overall TSW is a good game that has made some very positive steps forward since their initial release. If you have not played TSW since they added the auxiliary weapons do yourself a favor and check out Issue 5, it comes free with the game. If you have never played TSW before and are looking for a fun diversion that is unlike the other MMOs out there I still strongly believe TSW is worth the box fee just to play through Kingsmouth alone. If you are looking for a long term MMO home however, you might be better suited to look elsewhere.
Robert Lashley / Robert Lashley is a Staff Writer and Online host for MMORPG.com and RTSGuru.com. Rob's bald and when he isn't blinding people from the glare on his head talking in front of a camera you can chase him down on twitter @Grakulen