It All Rides on This: Funcom’s First Monthly Story Update for The Secret World — The MMO Gamer

It All Rides on This: Funcom’s First Monthly Story Update for The Secret World

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Might be a bad sign that when I logged in to try the patch in Transylvania, there was nobody on global chat.  At all.

Let me preface anything I say by stating I have a nearly Stockholm Syndrome-esque fanboyism for Funcom.  I’m the fan that loves them and wants great things out of them because gosh golly.  I’m also the fan that takes it hard when they betray me with failure to deliver.

For a game whose single great characteristic is the quest presentation, it seems like more should have been done.  The new quests don’t move any story lines forward. The new quests don’t help you get to know anyone or anything new about the Secret World.  The new quests don’t bring anything new and honestly, they just feel like bits of caulk that Funcom wasn’t done sanding down before they launched the game. Like February’s comic book just being the same as January’s plus one page.

Funcom writes charming characters that endear themselves to me with their wit and their flaws. Every MMOG with any emphasis on worldbuilding and dictating a story should look to TSW and think “They done good.”

My favorites were at Innsmouth Academy.   Seriously, put ‘em in a sitcom: the grim sociopath school headmaster H.J. Montag, the sassy spitfire witchdoctor Anna, and the psychokinetic Mary Sue teenager Carter.  Dealing with a zombie apocalypse is just the pilot episode.  I would be glued to Hulu every week.

     The thing is, when I was invited back by Funcom’s first title update, I forgot for a moment that I wasn’t going to be given a chance to get to know characters like Carter even if she’s the face that sells the entire patch. No new multi-part campaigns here. The Face that Sold The Most Important Patch got a six minute kill seven monsters quest. I dragged my ass back from supporting Faerie Socialism in Carpathia to kill seven cloned mobs I’ve already killed before in other quests for the sole reason that Carter is getting a headache sitting at that desk all the time.  Yay.  Coming in at seven quests, the remainder of which are “Follow the yellow waypoint and click something” jogs, I’ve seen more impressive DLC for fourteen dollar Steam games. I came for a meal and got a snack.

I’ve come down hard on the ill fitting nuts and bolts battle gameplay of The Secret world. I have danced the delirious praises of a nine year old feeling the Halloween  candy sugar rush kicking in about the satisfying humanity of The Secret World’s NPCs. I love and I hate, and the two compete for space in my mindshare, there is no neutral opinion when it comes to Funcom products.

This is a game where I found myself from the get-go wanting to be friends with the clever NPCs only to be dropped back into grimfaced slack once the collect 20 Devil Asses my new friend talked me into had to get done.  It’s an emotional rollercoaster that Funcom has always sent me on.  I suppose I shouldn’t have expected anything else after eleven years.  I’m like a wife who goes into marriage thinking he’ll change.  I’ll move on to acceptance eventually.

Oh yeah, and finally an auction house and slightly more stuff to stand around spamming /lookingforgroup about at max level.  Stuff you’ve already done, with the dice weighted more heavily against you.  These are not exciting new features to celebrate, they’re launch content that came a month late.  Their addition merits only that I can’t complain about their absence.

The Old Republic should have been a warning.  This will not fly, and what’s there will not carry the game beyond a hobby shop niche after six months if this is all  that can be expected.    The next title update needs actual, coherent story that isn’t consumed in a single sitting and new mechanical content that isn’t just hard modes of existing stuff.  Take me to Atlantis by way of Ry’Leh.  Not to the basement to re-kill the same monster I already fought on the roof.

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