The Two Lures
As some of you may have noticed, The Secret World is not the only MMO I play, but it’s one I seem to have a fondness for returning to often, especially when a new update is out. Sure, I never actually get far enough in my play to actually experience most of the new content (I have some weird unresolved latency issues that make area transitions a pain in the butt), but whenever there’s some new perk or quality of life addition, I come back, I chat with people, and I just run around killing whatever’s evil enough to be in reach with gleeful abandon.
One of the main reasons why I keep coming back to TSW is the fact that it’s one of the few MMOs that comes closest to being my favorite personal escape. In games like RIFT and World of Warcraft, the acquisition of unnaturally powerful abilities is an awesome lure. In others, like Wurm Online or Darkfall, it’s the sense of struggling against the environment or against other people that motivates.
While the struggle or conflict is part of the lure, the other side of that lure is the ability to be something beyond one’s self. TSW is my favorite personal escape primarily because it allowed me the chance to imagine I’m an everyman who just got a pass out of mediocrity because an otherworldly insect flew into his mouth. Speaking of which, there’s are now even more ways in which the game tries to make me feel special: through a new announcement in the face of uncertainty, and a new contest that invites creativity.
On January 25, Game Director Joel Bylos put up a post explaining some recent goings-on in the company. For those who haven’t heard, Funcom moved its live development team to North Carolina and did some restructuring. As you can imagine, it’s a mixed bag of news, as the announcement meant that some streamlining in the people working for the company. Furthermore, it also meant that folks would have to be a bit more patient in between updates. That said, Bylos also teased Issue 6, which is a rather intriguing bit of escapism for those who love Indiana Jones movies and the Egypt zone in general.
Issue 6 brings back some familiar characters (namely Said, Nassir, Zhara, and Abdel Daoud), and also introduces a new auxiliary weapon, which might rival the chainsaw for awesomeness: the whip. *cue Devo* In addition to thwarting a cultist plot, Bylos hints at time travel, which, considering the quantum brace business in a previous issue, now seems feasible.
The post also mentions a number of other improvements, such as better cabal management and PVP matchmaking. Bylos also reiterated the commitment to incentivizing subscriptions through Veteran Reward points that can be used to acquire special items in the store, from outfits to consumables.
Another announcement on January 29 introduced a music-making contest for TSW. According to their announcement, fans of the game can come up with original compositions which they can submit to Funcom for vetting. Entries will be evaluated by Simon Poole, the game’s musical director, and winners will get their music featured as in-game musi, with everyone getting to know where to expect to hear the winning entries in the future. My personal take is that I want to join this so bad, as I love singing, but then I don’t play any instruments, and instrumentals would probably have a better shot at getting through.
Back to Point
Going back to my earliest point, I like The Secret World because, while it isn’t a full-fledged sandbox, it’s the closest game right now to feeling like an extraordinary man when you were once ordinary. Kind of like Indiana Jones, who gets to go adventuring instead of looking through dusty tomes, or a musician who gets his music featured in a game, there’s that chance to escape the doldrums of the usual, even while struggling to gain power and do something greater.
Those two lures certainly feel enticing to me. I don’t mind getting reeled in.
You can find Victor Barreiro Jr. on Twitter as @iamstillwater.