The Secret World just released its new player experience, which is a patch/update containing lots of quality-of-life improvements for players. Of special note are the ability to travel from anima node to anima node, reducing mob spawns and cutting on the time-to-kill of mobs. The latter causes some trouble for longtime players- you know, the usual “catering to the casuals” stuff. I kind of understand the problem; one of the things i liked about TSW was how it encourages group play instead of forcing it by simply making it a lot more convenient to do quest content in small groups instead of solo. So it seems this isn’t very valid anymore, but we’ll have to see about that.
But i think it is wrong to talk about “difficulty” here- the mobs in TSW weren’t difficult, they were annoying. How many comments are there in TSW-related articles on MMO websites that basically state “good game, great story and atmosphere. Couldn’t stand the combat”? I think it’ll go into hundreds if not thousands of individual players- but i don’t think the combat is necessarily the issue here. Yes, it is a simple “builder builder builder consumer” combat that makes you press one attack again and again and again sometimes, but honestly, combat in most MMORPGs isn’t great- generally, i’d say if you (can) use a macro, the combat is tedious, because either it should offer strategy and adaption (for non-action combat) or movement, positioning and ability (action combat). I haven’t seen an MMO that fit the bill, with the exception of perhaps Wildstar and/or Firefall. On the strategy side, there are a few- EQ2, Tera, Guild Wars 2, FF14 among others. TSW fits this bill, as well- the ability wheel is there to provide some strategical depth while the combat itself is somewhat action-oriented.
I think the main problem was the time-to-kill. Everytime i tried to get back into the game, mainly for story and atmosphere, as so many others, i rolled my eyes every time i pulled one of the more sophisticated mobs- it wasn’t dangerous; it was tedious.
So here we are, with the new player experience, and by the looks of it, many players (who didn’t play the game regularly last week) like what they see. I’ve not been able to take a look myself, although a new character was born yesterday late in the evening- i brought her to the sheriff’s office in Kingsmouth and logged out there.
If Funcom is able to get some players back into the game, more power to them. They have to do it, we know financials aren’t looking stellar, and personally, i think it’s a pity- here’s a small developer who cares for their players and tries its best to provide unique experiences (say what you want, but AoC isn’t exactly a WoW clone, Anarchy Online is its own beast and TSW is three steps away from what usually gets released), aren’t easily shutting down games and do have some interesting business models without exploiting them.
The Secret World’s business model aims to sell content to players- which, in my opinion, is one of the fairest business model out there- because the “hardcore” player who powerlevels through the game pays the same as someone who takes his or her time to play. Sure, there are cosmetics and other stuff in the store, but i don’t think this makes the monetization worse. But once all your current players bought every DLC, you won’t be selling much, so getting back those former players who might then buy DLC is a good idea- not only for Funcom, but also for all who like TSW for what it is- after all, it’s the money that’ll get new content made.
AoC takes a different approach- you can play just fine as f2p player, until you go into expansion territory, then you’ll have to sub up. This might not be as fair, but at least it monetizes the dedicated players and not- like all those PLEX, CREDD, REX, WoW token games those who aren’t loyal customers.
So i’d like to see Funcom succeed, in my eyes, they deserve it. I know there have been some troubled launches and player experience hickups (Tortage vs. the rest of AoC), but this is a truly independent MMO dev.
I think TSW is one of the handful of great “second MMOs” out there- for me, it would lack something to play it regularly and often, but it has its very, very strong points, as well- story and atmosphere are about the best you can get in MMO land. And it is somewhat of a “play-to-finish” MMO, you don’t need to devote everything you have into TSW to “achieve” something. One quest is good enough.
The game caters to roleplayers in a way MMOs rarely do. First of all, your role isn’t exactly the super-hero that saves the world all by him-/herself, the setting allows to roleplay in a way that you have lesser things to work around (like whispering, death and so on), you can take the RP out into the real world, as well (to Twitter, for example) or take the real world into the game world. It’s quite “easy to do” in TSW, so i might take this angle (without the twitter stuff, i don’t have time for that), but i haven’t decided yet.
What i can say is, that at least for the zombies you fight early on, they’re taking me more time to kill with my current (blood focus and assault rifle) than with my usual weapons (sword & assault rifle), but i wanted to do something different this time around and so i’ll probably go and try some kind of leeching build.