A beta event for The Secret World has been announced for this weekend. I am signed up, am downloaded and patched, and plan to do a video since there is no NDA. I will not be doing as much coverage as I did for the recent beta weekend for Guild Wars 2, for a variety of reasons.
Readers may recall that I played in both the Rift and SWTOR betas and elected, in the end, not to buy either game. I am taking the plunge with Guild Wars 2 but am in the same position with TSW than I was with SWTOR and Rift — that is, intending to probably not buy the game.
Star Wars is, from my perspective, a tired and threadbare IP, bloated and festering, the days of its glory long past. The amount of wretched Star Wars material now far exceeds the quality stuff. I have great fondness for the first two films (and even to a lesser extent for Return of the Jedi,) but everything else save KOTOR alone can die in a fire as far as I’m concerned. Still, Bioware has a very strong history with the brand, and the extension by them of Mass Effect’s dialogue systems is a natural fit. And the cinematic trailers were freaking amazing. Plus, when I played it, I felt like the quality was very high, beta or no.
Rift had an intriguing core concept, a workmanlike fantasy world and the best implementation yet of the dynamic event idea. The beta was polished and in far better shape than many other MMOs were many months after launch. Trion clearly has its shit together. But in play it was frustrating, and doomed to become more so as population in the leveling zones thinned out. The scaling of the dynamic events was clearly off and level made too big a difference in practice; a gap of a couple of levels between you and the Rift spawns meant near-instadeath.
The Secret World looks to have some interesting character mechanics that I am interested in seeing in action, but the whole modern supernatural/conspiracy thing isn’t really my cup of tea. From a genre standpoint am am interested in it somewhat less than I am in Star Wars. I have, however, liked such games in the past on the tabletop (Vampire: The Masquerade, Mage: The Ascension and Unknown Armies being the offhand examples,) so there remains the possibility that the game will win me over. I haven’t been paying all that close attention to it, so it’s plausible that I just haven’t seen the stuff that will sell me yet.
Now, prior to getting into the GW2 beta I had already bought the game, whereas with both Rift and SWTOR I was on the fence, or at least half on the fence in the former case, when I played their test versions. My position on TSW is in that ballpark. What makes the difference? Why was I willing to buy Guild Wars 2 but not SWTOR or Rift before I tried them, at exactly the same point in the decision-making process?
I see TSW as a game that is more promising than SWTOR or Rift. I think the hobby needs more games without levels, for one, and more games outside of traditional fantasy for another. But the holy trinity, which TSW will retain, is an anchor around the neck of the whole genre, as far as I’m concerned, and I’m also tired of tightly structured progression. GW2 gets away from both of these things and provides an experience that, while not really a “sandbox” in any true sense, is at least less linear. That’s a huge thing for me.
So I shall belly up to the TSW beta this weekend for at least an hour or two, and report back with my findings. I don’t expect to fall head of heels for it, but there’s always hope.