Grouping in The Secret
is pretty straightforward. Although there's no Group
or Dungeon Finder tool at the moment, and that's a disappointment,
we're told something's coming post-launch. Even in a classless system,
roles such as Tank, DPS, and Healer still exist, meaning there's no
real reason not to have a mechanic for finding other players to
You may start out on your own, but pretty soon you're going to want to make friends.
Our team enjoyed taking on dungeons in The Secret World.
Not only are they fun and challenging, they cut right to the chase. TSW
dungeons have very few trash mobs, and the ones you do encounter
are either summoned by a bigger bad guy or essential
to the lore for
that particular area. While the dungeons are by no means short on
content, that content comes in the form of trickier boss encounters as
opposed to slogging through hordes of minions.
Make no mistake--The
dungeons will put your group to the test. But they're well designed in
that most mini-boss encounters serve to prepare you for the final boss.
Bosses pull out all the usual (and some unusual) tricks like summon minions, enrage, engage in DPS races, phase into and out of damage immunity, and create unique (and tricky!) area and
ground effects (like massive artillery strike) to keep you on your toes. On top
that, the environment is also out to kill you. Electrified water? Flame
bursts? It's all there.
Funcom has stated flat out that they expect you to die as you learn the
game and the mechanics of enemy encounters. While there's no death
penalty other than equipment repair costs (which can add up but aren't
overly harsh), one mechanic is particularly baffling--The Secret World
lacks a resurrection ability.
That's an amazing boss mob...but die during the fight and you'll have to watch the rest of it from the sidelines.
Funcom has argued that a res (in-combat or out-of-combat) makes grouped content far too easy, since the battle becomes more about keeping players "up" long enough to finish the fight, rather than winning the battle through sound tactics. In practice, I honestly find the lack of a resurrection hard to defend. For
starters, when you die while grouped, the inability to resurrect means
that you're going to have to recall to an anima well (The Secret World
resurrection points) and then run back, which takes you out of the game
and away from your companions. Die in a dungeon, and things are even
worse--you'll be sent to an anima well where you'll be able to watch
your fellow groupmates fight it out until they either defeat the boss
encounter or wipe, but you won't be able to rejoin the fight until it's
effectively over. If the group wins the encounter, you've had to remain
benched while they reaped the glory. If they're defeated, you just
might feel somewhat responsible for not having been there to help. It
truly is a no-win situation.
Player vs. Player (PvP) in
The Secret World
is a bit of a mixed bag at present. On the one hand it offers players a
viable alternative for earning skill and ability points, and token
rewards that allow you to upgrade weapons and talismans that are
comparable to those purchased through certain PvE vendors. On the flip
side, it suffers from the same fate that most PvP systems tend to when
there isnt an even playing field from day one.
Not counting the open arenas found in major cities like New York, there
are three core game types players will be able to choose from. Two of
them are more of a traditional arena or battleground style matchup
between the three societies, with one a kind of the hill map, and the
other an object based capture and hold map. The third is a massive,
ongoing point capture map that players can join or leave at any time.
Along with the ability to advance your character regardless of game
type selected, players will be able to earn temporary buffs for their
secret society in all three game types. The genius of this is that the
rewards for participation extend beyond the personal character level,
and gives even non-participants a reason to care about how well their
society is doing at any given point.
On the flip side, weve seen countless titles attempt a PvP system that
doesnt offer an even playing field in terms of starting gear and
abilities, and in most cases the player frustration this invokes
overshadows any potential rewards. This is certainly the case with PvP
in The Secret World
especially given that time spent playing means you have a deeper pool
of skills to draw upon.
Eventually a metagame will be established once a critical mass of
players have the bulk of weapon skills unlocked, but in the interim the
system largely favors players who have more time to spend in-game
unlocking better builds. As such, PvP in The Secret World is not very
friendly to new or more casual players.
A final note on PvP is that players may suffer a pretty sizable
performance hit when stepping into Fusang Projects, The Secret World
open PvP map. While I was able to play the rest of the game at max
settings with an excellent frame rate, the sheer volume of players and
particle effects at combat hotspots in Fusang made my PC want to crawl
under the front porch to die a quiet death. Even dropping to the lowest
possible settings, FPS was below optimal on that particular map.