Entertaining Platt: The Secret World

August 2, 2012 § Leave a comment

Here’s the secret to why I left The Secret World behind: Apparently, I need levels more than I need achievements, crafting, innovative quest designs, and an intriguing over-arching storyline.

Really, it’s just that simple. For an old curmudgeon like me, levels provide an easy measure and a ready goal for me to pursue. In a single-player game, strangely enough, I’m drawn back for story. But in an MMO, for whatever reason, I need that sense that I’m rising through the ranks.

I hear a lot of praise for the art direction on TSW. Perhaps my graphics card (NVIDIA GeForce GTX 560) is far too antiquated, but the style actually reminded me a lot of Fallen Earth‘s – a little post-apocalyptic game that Josh Peery and I helped build back in the good old days of 2006-2009. I didn’t dislike TSW’s graphics, although the character customization options were far too limited for my liking. In fact, the game’s visual similarity to FE actually helped draw me in.

But, no levels.

They had the Illuminati, who were so much like my beloved Travelers from Fallen Earth that I had to join their faction without hesitation.

But, but, no levels.

Look, they’ve got loads of achievements. They’ve even got location-based lore discovery nodes, similar to what we implemented on FE with the tourist telescopes. You must know, if you do not already, that I love achievements. But, uh, yeah, no levels.

They’ve got a crafting system that reminds me of a combination of FE’s resource management and Minecraft’s “put stuff in this kind of order until the craft grid spews out a new toy” approach. However, during the time I played, I didn’t see much that was craftable that would outshine whatever I got from dungeons or reward vendors.

But. No. Levels.

The quests, even though they’re mostly just chains of use object, kill X critters and kill named critters, actually have some very novel moments – from the mission that has you following a musical tune across the countryside to the one that has you unlocking computer files based on knowledge of classical composers. Scope and depth of story reminds me a lot of that favorite post-apocalyptic MMO of mine.

Still, no levels.

I need that motivation to keep going back. But if you want a game with great ambiance, engaging stories, oodles of achievements, and no levels: The Secret World is for you.

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