Chaos Theory: In The Secret World, membership has its benefits

    
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By now, you’ve probably heard me mention a time or three that The Secret World overhauled its membership benefits and loyalty rewards. As a TSW fan, I was very excited to see these changes heading our way; I am totally in favor of getting more bang for your buck, and the new system is meant to┬ádeliver just that. As a Grandmaster myself, I couldn’t wait to log in and get my hands on all my cool new goodies. Bring on the bling! It all sounded pretty dang cool on paper, and anything that brings in more players and makes current ones happier is a total win/win. But we all know things don’t always go as planned. Now that the new system has launched, how did it play out in practice? Here’s a look at the good, the bad, and the golden.

The good

What’s good? Well, the goodies, of course! The entire selection is an impressive array of player-coveted fluff and extremely useful items. You’ve got a selection of clothing, weapon skins, and sprint animations as the fluff (you still have to buy the actual sprint levels in game), and bonus black bullion, a blanket XP buff, reduced cooldown timers, and a new anima leap back to Agartha. And let’s not leave out the permanent portable banking terminal, which is either a ban or a godsend for packrats (the jury is still out on whether it makes hording worse or better.)

It took me all of about 10 seconds after logging in to start claiming all my clothing options. I am in love with the letterman’s jacket! It just fits my Lumie. Ant the pet! Need I say more there? I’m not much of a fan of the armor set; it just doesn’t do it for me aesthetically. But I know plenty who like the look and are rocking it just fine. I haven’t claimed my sprints yet — more on that in a bit — but I was able to see plenty of golden vespas zipping around the world.

I am pretty happy for the XP buff because I never remembered to use the one-hour one from before. I seriously think I remembered to pop it twice in the entire time I had it. Also, since this XP buff is supposed to be cover all forms of XP gain and not just mob kills, even at 30% I think it will significantly outpace what was possible with the limited 100% buff. And luckily there is no out-leveling-your-friends nonsense in The Secret World so even if you earn more you won’t miss out on anything for doing so.

Additionally, I like the little golden bee icon near the menu that indicates your membership. It is pretty unobtrusive, and if you mouse over it, it will remind you what all the benefits are. Unfortunately, that seems to be the only unobtrusive part.

The bad

There’s always some good in the bad, and sometimes we have to accept the converse of that: There’s bad in the good. What I am specifically talking about here exactly why I haven’t claimed my sprints yet: It involves decision! If you aren’t careful, you might not notice that those big rewards are once per account and not once per character. This is extra bad when you can’t decide which lucky character gets the item (as in my case) and even worse if you claim it on the wrong one! The anima sprint, the hovertech discs, and the golden vespa are all claimable only once per account. [Edit: Although the claim window does clearly state the sprint animations are one per account, players will actually get a single item that once consumed will unlock them for all characters on the account. This is pretty confusing, so hopefully Funcom can add some clarification to the text.]

Although it is not the issue in this case, the point stands that I really do not like items that are one per account, especially since I have a private main and then my streaming main; if I select the option for me, then I can’t show it off on OPTV, and if I show it off, then I don’t get it for my personal play. I can understand that Funcom would want to encourage people to buy equivalents for other characters, but the fact is when my account earns a reward, I want to use it on my whole account. I earned it, not the character, so why restrict it to one? It’s not as if I won’t still by the other colors or whatever that I like. Hopefully no loyalty reward will ever be one per account!

You are going to laugh at me, but I can see those reduced cool-down timers as a bit of a negative, at least for me personally. Hear me out: Come the next holiday event, when I am trying to earn as many bags as possible to try and get all the awesome loot, I am going to feel compelled to try to run those missions every eight hours! I worry about my productivity and sleep patterns when that happens.

I have to admit straight out that I didn’t even notice a couple of the issues that are bothering folks for a while. In fact, I was too busy running around looking at my new stuff and trying on my new outfits to do any grouping or adventuring, which is why I didn’t see them at first.

Upon first logging in, you are greeted with a large membership window. I thought it would be there only the first time you logged in after the update, but apparently it is upon every log in. Honestly, I don’t personally find that bothersome; if you’ve suffered through a game where it pops up and covers your screen ever little while, then you can see why a one-time view wouldn’t really trouble me. I just click off and go about my business. The only time I’d find it more annoying is if I cashed often and had to see it multiple times in a row because of it.

Another issue is with the group window. Apparently you get a big golden outline that some folks feel is a bit ostentatious and gaudy. I can also see how others would be proud to show it off, so it seems like a good compromise is to put in an option to turn this off.

The golden

Let’s face it, there is just something about the bling that draws us to it. Besides being the ultimate shiny, gold also makes you think high value, much worth. That’s ingrained in our psyches. So it’s no wonder that we covet the golden goodies in TSW. We flock to the gold. We’ve got an entire event based on it, and a fair amount of fluff associated with it that players were clamoring for. You seriously just have to plate something in gold to make it a uber desirable — especially for my Emy Goldenbutt. We’ve got special outfits (including the newest body-hugging morph suit), a golden motorcycle (not as cool as the one that spits flames though), and now we have the little golden scooter. I wanted a scooter before, but the Bumble Scooter was a must-have! If I could decide who the luky bee-blessed is to get it, I will finally claim it and start vroom vrooming around the world.

I have to wonder what will be next to be dipped in the golden goo? I’d like to see a golden letterman’s jacket. Frankly, I like the golden stuff much more than faction-colored, so golden versions of any outfit will probably make me a pretty happy camper. What would you like to see in a gold version? And what would you enjoy as a new loyalty reward? Share your suggestions for 15, 18, and 24 month rewards in the comments below!

Is it real? In The Secret World, rarely is it not. Conspiracies, ancient legends, paranoia, secret societies, chaos — they all swirl together in a cacophony of reality. In Chaos Theory, MJ Guthrie infiltrates this secret world, exposing the truths that lurk beneath the surface. The big question is, can you handle the truth?
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