I’ve been known to MMO. Once or twice. *cough*. Mostly Lord of the Rings Online, with a small side-order of World of Warcraft when I got tired of grinding level 50 pigs. Yep, you guessed right: WoW didn’t last long at all, because I got tired of grinding level 20 pigs.
So when Mr. Troo found The Secret World on special offer in December we did consider whether we’d just tire of it when we had to grind pigs of any level whatsoever. But we bit the bullet and gave it a try. It had, after all, just gone Free to Play.
You may know this already, but The Secret World is a very Call of Cthulhu-esque game. There was a great deal of promise in the online buzz about how little grind there is.
Set in the modern world in which secret societies have existed for centuries but are now scrabbling to save life as we know it, TSW borrows heavily from Lovecraftian Mythos and tabletop roleplaying games.
Your character has whichever abilities you want to learn.
That’s right. No classes, no predetermined cookie-cutter list of the skills and abilities you can buy from. You can buy whatever you have the XP for in the Ability Wheel.
You earn Ability Points through XP. The only limitation on spending them is that you cannot bypass cheaper skills to reach the more expensive ones in the same tree, and you must have maxed both inner trees of an Ability Type before you can progress onto the outer ring for that Ability. Don’t worry, though: you earn AP’s like they’re going out of fashion.
You also earn Skill Points, which you can place as and where you choose. Skills boost your abilities, and determine what level of talismans or weapons you are able to wear / wield. Devoting all your skill points to your weaponry will leave you stranded when it comes to finding awesome talismans (which can boost your health, traits, and abilities, so are vital to keeping you alive – especially if you solo).
Helping you decide what Abilities you want to purchase is a massive in-game table which allows you to search, filter, and explore every ability the game has to offer.
Also you can stand around looking cool with your shoulders on fire, which clearly everyone wants.
I like it a lot so far. There was, alas, serious – yes – grind in December, because TSW ran an event to coincide with the Mayan End of the World. What this meant was that Mayan zombies would spawn under your feet, under the feet of mobs you were killing, under the feet of shopkeepers you were selling rubbish to, and under the feet of the other Mayan zombies you’d just survived. This turned any combat anywhere into a hard slog for, while the Mayans were usually passive, if they spawned while you were in combat they’d pile right in.
But now, thankfully, they Mayans are gone. The world didn’t end (at least, not the way they thought), and my Illuminati friend and I may continue on with our possibly-doomed attempts to save life as we know it.
Overall: 8/10. Would certainly recommend (except to small children, because when I say Cthulhu-esque I really mean it).