The Secret World
Developer: Funcom Release Date: July 3, 2012
Publisher: EA ESRB Rating: M
Platforms: PC MSRP: $49.99


On this segment of the Progress Bar, I will try to go into some more depth about the systems that inhabit The Secret World (TSW). I will give a brief overview of combat, decks, and enemies to give readers more knowledge in what makes this game tick.

Combat was briefly covered in the first installment. At its very foundation, it can be summed up as a run-of-the-mill MMO battle system, but TSW gave me more control of combat through its ability system. So, I have been purchasing abilities in the pistols tree, and recently started buying into the elemental tree. In every tree there are two types of skills to purchase, active and passive. Passive skills are buffers for your character, like an increase in damage or decrease in cooldown time. Active are your attacks; they can be standard like a single one-hit strike, or something like an area-of-attack power which damages groups of enemies over time. Often, the passive abilities make the active abilities much more powerful and useful in difficult situations. You are given fourteen total power slots, which equates to seven active and seven passive abilities. As my character progressed, I found myself updating the powers, so I could have an assortment of talents to give me some versatility in battle.

If you play for long enough, you can unlock everything here.

Where The Secret World really shines is how the different abilities weave together to create something much more fluid. For instance, with the pistols tree, there is an active ability called “Dirty Tricks” which has a high damage, area of effect that causes a target to become hindered, frozen in place, for four seconds. Another passive ability “Hothead” gives a minor critical chance effect, this increases the chance of a critical hit by ten percent for eight seconds, if hindered has been applied to an enemy. Finally, “Above the Law”, another active ability, which deals area of effect damage, will deal extra damage when the target is hindered and if activated after Dirty Tricks may cause a critical hit because of Hothead. Each power has the possibility to combine with others to cripple enemies, making battles more dynamic and often times easier. But, to understand each power’s possibilities, you will have to read through the many different descriptions and make sure you understand key terms like chain, hindered, impaired, etc. This system will take time for even the most veteran MMO players to master.

Even though classes and levels are absent from TSW, there are builds available to follow. These builds, or “Decks” as they are called in-game, create a path to follow while buying new abilities. The Deck I chose to originally follow was called the Gunslinger and it is a mix of the elementalism and pistols trees. Each Deck combines two power sets, and shows which abilities will go together best to create the most powerful amalgamation for battle. After the Deck is completed, a costume reward will be granted to the player; this will allow the player’s character to look like the avatar for the Deck. Each faction has their own set of Decks and eventually, with enough playtime, every Deck can be unlocked.

Decks show players where they should invest their ability points. And the outfits look pretty neat.

Considering other aspects of combat, the enemies are definitely not few and far between in TSW. They are everywhere and keep me on my toes as I attempt to travel through this fantastical world. The most interesting aspect of TSW’s enemies is how they can deal damage. Like most other MMOs they have basic attacks that have a chance of either hitting or missing. In TSW enemies are also have abilities which have an area of effect the player can dodge. Constantly keeping in motion is a great way to evade incoming attacks from enemies, and having pistols, it is still fairly easy to use my abilities while on the run. Double clicking a directional key causes a dodge maneuver which will have the character rolling out of the way of an attack. These slight changes to the generic MMO combat make battling through The Secret World so much more worthwhile.

So, this ends the second article of The Progress Bar (a combination of week two and three) and another extended playthrough of The Secret World. I am still enjoying it and have been playing regularly. The review may be late because I was away from the game for a period of time; an extended family reunion saw to that. I plan on getting through all of the main story content, or most of it with a bunch of side quests added in, before I start my review. Normally, this long waiting for the review would be a disadvantage, but MMOs are different in that they require long term commitments from their players. So, if you have not bought this game yet, you probably will not until after some more detailed reviews come out. But, I can tell you that if you are looking for an interesting game with a decent writing and an actual story, this may be it. Obviously it is an MMO so you will have to like that aspect, but this game will make players interested in the world, and in some side quests make them feel like bad ass detectives, which is always a plus. Stay tuned for further updates.

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