Not All Is Well in The Secret World (and I’m not talking about the game’s themes!)
While I love the conspiracy themed, HP Lovecraft inspired game world Tornquist and Funcom have unleashed in The Secret World, some nagging bugs and facepalm decisions are affecting the enjoyment of many players. Some of the issues plaguing TSW are the run of the mill bugs that every MMORPG suffers at launch. No matter how long a beta cycle, and no matter how many people a developer lets sift through their code, bugs always get through. For example, I remember logging into SWTOR not long after launch and seeing my guild disbanded or members kicked. This was a maddening time and there was nothing we could do but wait for Bioware to release a patch. TSW suffers from bugs that are just as maddening, some of which I will highlight in this post.
First off, Chat. As someone that knows nothing about code (I learned some basic on a TI-99 4a years ago) I would think a chat client in an MMORPG would be one of the more simple elements to incorporate in a game. I guess I’m wrong because here we are two weeks after launch and the chat system is a mess. The game forgets my chat tabs, chat tab channels, and chat tab channel subscriptions. Not only does TSW not remember my settings, but I have to re-establish my chat channels several times a session. Honestly to me this is a minor nuisance, but for people new to the genre or unfamiliar with PC game mechanics, I can see this being a major issue. In an MMORPG, the tools to communicate effectively with others are essential, and currently our tools are inexplicably broken.
Not only are Help and Looking for group channels busted, but so is the guild or Cabal chat. As Comptess pointed out in comments on a prior blog, Cabals rely on in game communication. We orchestrate events in chat, strategize in dungeons, greet and say goodbye to guildies, etc. Not having a reliable chat system makes it much more difficult to foster community, which is probably the most important aspect of an MMORPG. A recent post on the official forums details why chat is experiencing the issues we are having (http://forums.thesecretworld.com/showthread.php?t=43466) but it sure seems like this should have been caught during open beta weekends.
Which leads me to another issue, Cabal functionality. I have no idea how the current Cabal system made it into live. In our Cabal ‘Government Type’ (I believe we are regarded as a Temple) we have four ranks. In typical guild structure, the top most rank is generally the Guildmaster. The Guildmaster rank has permissions lower ranks do not. For example, they can promote to highest levels, set guild tax rates, apply guild rank permissions, promote and demote, etc.
In TSW we can have three players in the guildmaster position, we have no options to change permissions of lower ranks. The Cabal management system feels as if it was thrown in at the last second just to have something. Luckily we have very trustworthy people in our Cabal because there have been times we accidently ranked someone to rank 4 , and in turn bumped the Cabal lead out. It’s just bizarre the game was released with this system. Again, it does not seem like it would be an incredibly difficult design element to implement.
Next gripe is the banking system. Again there seem to be some ties to our guild structure where some guildies are unable to pull anything out of the guild bank. As a high ranking Officer I can do so, however it seems as if anyone below rank 3 cannot do so. To make things worse, as Cabal lead I have no ability to change permission on ranks to make everyone eligible to withdraw items from the bank. Forehead meet desk.
Neo – Assault rifle – Polaris
Here comes a rant I am going to get some flack for. I think the lack of fall damage hurts immersion. I feel the game badly needs fall damage for several reasons.
TSW is not a handholder in any way, shape or form. So why no fall damage? It does not have to be overtly harsh. But if I jump off a hill that is four stories high to a creek bed below, I expect to take some fall damage.
The game world is one of the most immersive I’ve seen in the genre. However, jumping off the top of a lighthouse to the ground below and not taking a single tick of damage is not in the least bit realistic and two, does not help me feel like there are consequences for doing stupid things.
PvP should definitely have fall damage. Running through Fusang from an enemy, I leap off a building like fucking Neo and escape. Time to go shopping for a black trenchcoat.
Yeah yeah blah blah, magic isn’t real either and I’m shooting bolts and fire out my hands. However I’m not a super hero. As a player fighting all of these supernatural entities, I want to keep the human element to my character. Not taking fall damage makes me feel less human, and that’s a bad thing in this game, given the story Tornquist is weaving in TSW.
By far the biggest gripes I have heard when it comes to The Secret World are broken quests. Early in the game there are at least a couple of high profile quests that have been broken for a good percentage of the population. Most notably Kingsmouth’s brilliant ‘Something Wicked’ and fan favorite ‘The Black House’ in the Savage Coast. Determined players have found various ways to solve these puzzles, however this is really not an acceptable solution (currently if a player can find a way to get invited to another Dimension or instance, it is often possible to complete the quests). While every MMORPG has broken quests, in The Secret World issues such as these are more pronounced. Because TSW is so story driven, and quests often lead players further along in a storyline, roadblocks like broken quests are in the least very frustrating. The most tragic result in my opinion is that many of these quests are some of the best I’ve experienced in the genre, and we are not getting to experience them as intended. These issues are making TSW less enjoyable than it could be.
*As I was writing this post a patch came out which states some of the quests I mentioned should now be fixed. Crossing my fingers this is the case but until I can test I will not edit my post. The patch notes, which are lengthy, can be found here: http://www.thesecretworld.com/news/update_notes_1.0_launch#update_1_0_2
While my prior post was full of glowing praise for Funcom’s new MMORPG, I’m not blind to the nitpicking issues that need to be addressed as soon as possible. The Secret World is a brilliant game, but nagging bugs, half implemented systems, and broken quests dull the shine, and that’s a damn shame. We are now at least two patches in and these issues still exist.
Still, I have faith in the developers, and no I’m not crazy! Communication from Ragnar Tornquist has been excellent. It is evident from forum posts and patch notes that Funcom is working diligently to address problems. It’s just a shame these bruises have affected reviews and perceptions about an otherwise great game. It seems that the cross server tech Funcom created is to blame for at least a few of the issues. The functionality is impressive, but I wish we weren’t still testing the tech in live!
Aw what the hell. I blame the Illuminati.