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The Secret World Column: Why Don't More People Play TSW?

By Shannon Doyle on March 11, 2014

Go to any forum for MMOs and you will eventually find people bemoaning the fact that every game out there is the same. Maybe they use words like “WoW clone” or “copycat” but the idea is always the same, there just isn’t enough variety in MMOs. And yes, the industry is filled with one fantasy game after another. But there are other games that get overlooked. Whenever I see someone complaining all MMOs are the same I ask them, “What about The Secret World?” Answers range from “Ah…well, yeah...sure…there’s that one,” to “Eh, but it's Funcom.” So many people dismiss The Secret World before they even try it.

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Lets start with the biggest misdirected issue first. Yes, Funcom MMO launches have been rough. When Anarchy Online launched Funcom spent half a year working on fixing everything that was wrong with it. Age of Conan was filled with bugs, had no end game and really needed a bit more time in development. We won’t go into the little sexism issue that was swiftly dealt with. Thirteen years later, Anarchy Online is one of the oldest MMOs still running. Six years later Age of Conan is still attracting new players. If these games were bad, if these games were costing Funcom more money to run than they were worth, they would not still be going today. Especially with the recent news about Funcom’s struggling finances. And yes, even The Secret World had a rough start. The first few weeks the chat system simply didn’t work. Unfortunately that really did hit the MMO hard. The chat system was broken so badly that I left the game temporarily while it was being fixed. When I came back you could see the drop in population. So many people simply never came back. Funcom may have rough game launches, no one can deny that. But they also make games that attract hardcore fans who keep playing. You don’t have one of the longest running MMOs on the market by making a bad game.

Now that we have complaints against the developer out of the way we can dive into the actual game itself. One of the biggest complaints I see about The Secret World is the combat system. This has been a constant issue throughout The Secret World’s life. And I can absolutely see why the complaints happen. Even though there are 9 different weapons to pick from, the ones with the complaints almost always have picked up a sword. Then they run through mobs of zombies spamming one single attack over and over because, “slicey good.” Of course this is boring! But it is boring because the player makes it boring. In The Secret World you can have two weapons (excluding auxiliary weapons). You have options to make any sort of character you want. Have up to seven abilities at a time, and seven passives, from over 500 skills. But people insist on spamming just one over and over. The Secret World has a complexity in its combat that I feel like these people are all missing. Combat is as boring or as complex as you make it. And for that, The Secret World deserves praise.

The Secret World’s real strengths though are in the things that the naysayers overlook entirely. The story, the characters, and the setting are what really sell this game. Thanks to DayZ, the horror genre is getting a bit of a boost. But TSW goes above and beyond. Sure, there are zombies. There are also vampires, ghosts, evil cults, and stuff that is just downright terrifying. One does not play this game with the lights off. The Secret World makes you jump in your chair and sometimes even question the world you live in.

Without a doubt though the number one draw of The Secret World are all the interesting NPCs you meet along the way. Every zone has at least one really amazing character who shines above the rest. From Edgar, the not so bright mechanic to Hayden Montag, the deranged headmaster of the Innsmouth Academy, the writing for these characters is so good they feel like a real person, not just a script. And the voice acting! Hayden Montag is voiced by your favorite Star Trek alien guest star, Jeffrey Combs. He has played just about all of the best alien roles in Star Trek. And he has two of the best characters in The Secret World. Who else could say things like “No running in the halls, they are quite slick with gore” and have it be so serious? And Nassir! Oh Nassir. He is proof that comedy and horror belong together. If you haven’t met Nassir and need a little pick me up look for videos of him youtube. You won’t regret it.

The Secret World has so many amazing things going for it: a complex combat customization, hilarious characters, fantastic writing, and a uniqueness in the genre that is unmatched. And for that reason I will be coming back every two weeks to talk more about this amazing, and underrated MMO adventure. In the future I’ll focus more on topics that are close to the hearts of the players, but for a first go I thought I would start off with a broad topic that really impacts all fans in an indirect way. before we finish though, on behalf of all fans of The Secret World I want to know, why don’t you play TSW? Or if you do, why should others play it?

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