The final beta weekend for The Secret World has now come and gone and it brought with it some great new features and some disheartening changes.
Firstly, this was pegged as the PvP beta weekend and it was indeed that. PvP was opened for the first time for testing. How did it stack up? PvP seemed okay but was made less interesting by the huge number of Templars dominating the battlegrounds – because characters were carried over from the first beta weekend Templars had a much larger presence in Fusang. As a result gameplay boiled down to running around in a large group and zerging objectives and ganking stragglers from other teams. I did see some promise in the combat systems when you found yourself one-on-one against a rival faction. Dashes, interrupts, and ranged abilities seemed very important to gameplay. Sadly ranged seemed to have a large advantage over melee at this point, but I’m sure that will be somewhat ironed out when people have had more time to create more diverse pvp builds.
On the whole PvP showed promise but wasn’t very well represented in this weekend. I’m probably not one to pass final judgment on it, anyway, as I’m not a competitive PvP player. From all I’ve read players who want to focus on PvP as the primary reason to play an MMO will probably be disappointed with TSW and should probably check out Guild Wars 2 which is focused around end game PvP.
Secondly, Funcom did a round of nerfs on the Hell Raised dungeon by making several of the bosses much easier. This weekend was the first time I had run Hell Raised so I didn’t get to experience the harder form of the dungeon, but after hearing how brutal it was I felt very let down. The nerfs to dungeons already, based upon people having difficulty with low quality gear and incomplete builds, doesn’t sit well with me. I’m sure many are happy that Funcom has been receptive to player’s criticisms during the beta weekends and implemented many changes from that feedback – active dodging, combat animations and combat text, and dungeon difficulty all saw massive changes. But I’m not.
I hate it when companies cave to forum pressure. Because a loud vocal minority wants to complain and badmouth a game all originality of the product is subject to homogenization to whatever standard MMO fair that minority wants to embrace. It’s easy to find faults in games, but that doesn’t make me feel that they need to be changed to fit my exact personal tastes. Take Diablo III for instance – I went into that game finding a lot that displeased me but I was also open minded about it and found a lot to enjoy. I’m going into The Secret World with the same mindset – not that I demand perfection but that I want to appreciate what someone else created.
If we all expect developers to cater to the majority, to only look at the bottom line and make games designed to have the broadest of general appeal, who then shall the developers please? There will be only one game, iterated endlessly, if developers follow that path. I was very happy with the difficulty and the eccentricities that The Secret World’s developers had given us. I hope that uniqueness isn’t scoured away by a group of consumers who can never be pleased.
Which brings me to a final thought: the game is good. Very good. And while I don’t know if it will be a game that I will have a multi-year love affair with, a brief one is in order. I’ve gone ahead and pre-ordered so I’ll be seeing whoever is online when early access opens on June 29th!