Friday, 18 May 2012

Everything Is Real

Good Friday all!

First before I make my promised post for today, I'd like to draw your attention to something I just saw on Facebook: A possible connection between Firefly and Aliens. Now should this be treated as cannon? I think that's for another time, but remember all it took was one Alien skull in Predator2 to spawn a comic/movie/game franchise.

Ok so, there's one major thing from the past few weeks which I have yet to mention. And it's big, and I mean Cthulhu on Earth big!

A week ago today the public open beta weekend went live and I was given a chance to explore a game that I have been looking forward to for quite a few years.

For information about the second beta weekend which is already underway please check out this site here.

Now I feel I need to share my experiences with you all, not because I feel a desire or a want to, but because it's more of a compulsion.

So last Friday I loaded up and made a character. And I would like to say at this point that in the current beta only one faction is available, that would be The Templar (and I don't care what the dude in game said, they're still the pro-human Knights Templar in my books) and after a quick look at the character creator I made my dude - apologies, no screenshots at the moment of him.

A lot of the reviews I have read of the beta have called out the creator, saying the options are too limited and the characters look shite. Well I can only speak for myself and tell you that I really liked the guy I created.

Now, in the current beta there are only three locations available, London the home of The Templars, Kingsmouth (a fictional town in New England based on the town Innsmouth from H.P. Lovecraft's short story 'Shadow Over Innsmouth' and also appearing in the video game adaptation Dark Corners of the Earth. And Argatha, the area used to travel from point A to point B.

So how did it go?

I would like to point out at this point, this game was played in short bursts, after putting the Moo to bed at 1800-1900 and having to give her a final feed and change at 2300 I was limited during the weekend with how much I could play.

Friday night was possibly the most amazing experience. Me, my wife and mutual friend all made characters and just ran around London. We didn't quest or anything we just soaked up the atmosphere. - now I think I need to point out at this stage that it's my experience, in order to truly soak up this place, you can't actually run. Instead toggle on walk and go for a ride.

I really don't want to spoil all the surprises, but the best part of London is getting lost. There's so many twists and turns above and below the main streets that it's so easy to get lost, but when you do you find the best of locations.

Saturday night was different, we did the initial quests and began immersing ourself in Kingsmouth.

It's here I'd like to bring up the combat, unlike a lot of MMOs which have very static combat, The Secret World (TSW) is very mobile and fluid, and it is a true pleasure to fire twin pistols at a zombie, whittling down it's health before finishing it off with a coup-de-grace from my trusty sword.

The quests while being linear felt like they were telling a story to me. Yes it was hand holding to a degree, and a quest by and name would still be a grind, but it still felt fresh.

Perhaps this was because its a new game, or perhaps the mechanics involved actually made it feel that way (setting off car alarms to attract hordes of Zs before luring them through a fire to kill them en mass.

The night ended when we reached the sherif's office and rested up for the night.

Come Sunday night it was just me playing, and I got to run around Kingsmouth proper, it was here that I first encountered Investigation quests.

For those who don't know, your average quest in an MMO is split up into two types: Action (Kill 20 Zombies) and Delivery (Deliver this box of ammunition to a character across town who's holding off zombies). Now some MMOs have tried to spice things up, such as Warhammer Online which introduced Public Quests (Kill 200 Zombies with these 3 strangers) and TSW is not alone in adding their own style of quest to this melting pot:

The Investigation Quest.

My first experience of this quest was of a riddle given to me by a fortune teller, something along the lines of "at the tip of the pyramid, your journey will begin".

Now I'm not going to give this away, but I'll explain my thought process: I had previously seen man hole covers which bore the symbol of The Illuminati (a pyramid featuring an eye), however I knew from another quest that they had nothing to do with this, but just to be sure I followed them. As I predicted these symbols didn't lead me anywhere new.

So I thought back, where else had I seen pyramids?

I remembered the town church, which was covered with Illuminati symbols so I hiked to that side of town, careful to avoid the packs of Zs hunting for fresh meat.

When I reached the church I scoured each painted glass symbol but sadly could not find anything.

It was then I remembered, in this game, Google is as much a tool as your mouse and keyboard. And so I typed in "Kingsmouth Pyramid Tip". I didn't want to find the answer I just wanted to see if the developers had left any clues, and low and behold, on the fake website a website created by Funcom exclusively for TSW I found the clue I was looking for.

I then raced to that location, fought off a group of monster worshiping cultists and obtained the second clue.

By now it was 2am, I was knackered and I knew my daughter would wake in about 5 hrs time, but I felt a sense of achievement I had never felt before. I wasn't just playing this game, I was experiencing it.

And let me tell you, come 19/07/12 when this game arrives in the post, and I can play it on live servers - providing this experience is anything to go by - then I'm going to have to think seriously about how to spread my time; WoW, Diablo3 and now TSW!

- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley

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