When it comes to making new characters, I am not particularly original. After futzing around with Pistols and Blades in The Secret World, I appear to gravitating back towards Elemental Shaman. I have an ability that acts a lot like Chain Lightning, and a giant electrical hammer that I occasionally drop on a zombie/cthulhu/demonthing’s head. Guild Wars 2 seems to have been the only game that I stuck at playing a melee style character beyond the initial few play areas.
The lack of vocals or dialogue options in The Secret World have contributed to my understanding with regards to the three character slots. As much fun as I am having running through Kingsmouth and The Savage Coast, I’m not sure I’d even want to play through all this stuff three times in order to get a character of each faction, let alone the number of times I might replay through the early content of Warcraft. As much as people decry the starting zones in Warcraft sometimes, there’s a lot to be said for their variety, and the diversity in-in-game silhouettes and shapes.
I’ve gotten used to the slightly janky animations, but I must admit that I miss the visual variety that the different races in Warcraft provide. Just playing a bog standard human, even a super-powered one who needs to translate latin and musical phrasing to proceed along her quest lines, seems a little dull after being a space goat or a panda.
But then the Secret World is so different in tone. The touches of humour are there, there’s a lot of soul to the game and the attention of detail that has been paid to the voiced characters. The modern day setting allows for some great nerd in-jokes, even if the world does feel a little ‘packs of mobs standing around’. The air of predictability created by those packs of mobs is certainly off-set by the off-kilter and excellent surprises that the main stories throw your way, and the clever meta-discussions and opinions fielded by the speaking characters.
I’m not part of a cabal yet. I play through with my partner. I continue having trouble rooting myself into a gaming community at the moment – but The Secret World is a perfect duo-ing game. It’s cheap, you don’t need a sub, and it has many quests that require a bit of braining (although I could happily skip at least half of the stealth missions.) As a solo game I can see it being a fun, if occasionally frustrating experience.
After reading around the starting decks, I started out as a Maverick and am now moving towards an Elemental/Blood DPS/heal build while my partner builds a melee/tank build. I think the game could benefit from the starter decks being updated to include passives from other parts of the wheel. This is because as a newbie I wanted a good starting base from which to experiment, and yet all the advice around the internet seemed to focus on saying those starter decks weren’t that great. While the game shouldn’t give one a perfectly optimised build right off the bat, I think they would work on using the decks to convey that spirit of experimentalism that the Ability Wheel so superbly supports.
But then, going from the current iteration of Warcraft talents to something like the ability wheel was a bit of a culture shock (if a very welcome one.)
Next time on Decoding Dragons: More meandering thoughts on The Secret World and Art in Games.