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

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

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 deliver 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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Zardoz1972
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Zardoz1972

I do not mind displaying my status. I just wish I could do it in a less garish way.

ZenDadaist
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ZenDadaist

The actual membership contents and benefits are good. 

The presentation and shoved-inyerface way FC has gone about implementing it is tacky and intrusive. Constant reminders about how being a member is benefitting you all over the place getting in the way and breaking the atmosphere. Ugly icons, bling gold outlines, broadcasting your financial contributions to the whole playerbase – with absolutely no option to turn that shit off.

Give us some ‘display account status in name plate/team window/chat logs’ yes/no boxes please!

BigMikeyOcho
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BigMikeyOcho

Being a Grandmaster, I signed in to check out the new goodies. The scooter… well, you wouldn’t catch me on one of those in the real world, I’m not thrilled with that one in game. The lettered jackets are sweet, switched around a few outfits with it. The weapon skins are sweet, though I didn’t claim any of them yet. The real meat, though, is that exp and BB buff. That’s a good amount of reward, which I’m thankful for because the grind at the top of the game is merciless. If I didn’t have that buff, I wouldn’t even remotely consider the grind worth it.
However, in the end it all is worthless for the reason I play TSW in the first place, the story. The stipend points guarantee me free* access to any new content, which is what I truly want. So fluff, buffs, and tchotchkes are alright, but it was the stipend points that were the king of the subscription, and those haven’t changed.

JakeDunnegan
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JakeDunnegan

Reesracer I’m with you on the combat thing. Except, despite finding it somewhat boring  – (or, I used to, a lot, but then I’ve kind of gotten used to the current trend of games that lend well to the console – GW2, ESO, and the newer generation of games). But when the game launched, I had a HUGE hangup with it.
Now, since I enjoy all the quests and such, I don’t find it so bad. It’s just a big adjustment from some of the more action based combats or games that have a lot more options available (like SWTOR). And face it, when there’s more options, there are a lot more pretty graphics as you launch a barrage of grenades, or sling daggers, or drop various types of flamethrower on your enemies. And yes, there’s some of that in TSW, but it does seem limited to me. But, I enjoy the game greatly even so. :)

JakeDunnegan
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JakeDunnegan

HappyDwarf Problem is, the sub model can’t compete with the F2P model. Far too many cheap people in this genre now. And too much competition.

JakeDunnegan
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JakeDunnegan

Have to say, I’ve been really pleased with the changes, too. I haven’t played any MMO this much (6 hours a day for 3 out of the last 4 days!) since ESO when I finished the story line (yes, all the way through most of the veteran levels).
Why? Well, got my kids into the game, and they’re exploring all the content, and we’re being completionists this time instead of racing to the end. Tons of nooks and crannies we missed the first time, and it’s been long enough since we played a lot, that the content seems fresh. They’ve added new content, of course, but also a lot of “quality of life” stuff in the game. They made the combat a bit less “challenging” – which is to say, there are still more than enough ways to die in the game, but it’s not quite as annoying as it once was. If you sub, you get all the free porting you want, which is nice (but even w/out it, it’s hardly an exorbitant expense…) and again, if you don’t sub, you’re not missing out on anything. However, you do, over time, get some free “money” to spend on the game, which will eventually be enough for you to buy most of the expansions anyway.
But ultimately, the quests are just plain awesomesauce. There, I said it. You have one of the greatest storytellers in computer gaming history – (I would rank him right up there with the very tops in the genre, like the guy who did Planescape: Torment (Chris Avellone)) in https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ragnar_T%C3%B8rnquist. 
I highly recommend people check it out again. I might even have a free key-code or two for the base level of the game. (It’s now purchase to play, like GW2 with a ton of extra DLCs you can usually get on discount on various sales… I just bought five copies of the Ultimate edition for $20 each! That was ALL the content except the stuff released in the last 8 months or whatever – with some nice “goodies” (I hate that word!) thrown in.)
Finally, it’s been really cool seeing new players in the game. I’m just ending Egypt now (again) and been seeing people all night playing. Not hoards, mind you, but more than I’ve seen in at least a year or or two, since the last initial “blush” of the game wore off, because they were trying to get it launched and successful before GW2 launched in August. (To me, that one was always the next big juggernaut after SWTOR launched.)
Totally only tangentially related, it was only six short months later that TSW would go free-to-play, which is usually a game’s “Come to Jesus” moment.
Oh, and while I did a little walk down memory lane, a quick shoutout to MOP’s own MMO Historian, Justin, at https://biobreak.wordpress.com/mmo-timeline/

JakeDunnegan
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JakeDunnegan

MJ Guthrie TheChiefTurtle Yeah, I can imagine – I love the way they do the various gear and details in things as small as the heart pendant (my wife has one!) – I can only imagine the cash cow that the housing system could be for them. Just ask games like EW2 and SWTOR how that has worked out for them!
But, I’m sure they only have a small team working on the game right now and a solid winner for them is always more content. I’m hoping that the recent changes to the game bring in more players.

Alessar
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Alessar

Nordavind frzn It’s not SP spent. It’s the skill ratings. The game goes off your highest weapon and _two_ talisman skills to determine the con rating. In the southern Tokyo zone, Aegis gets factored in too.

frzn
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frzn

Nordavind frzn I was a bit unclear, I meant weapon and talisman as in four skills rather than one (or maybe five, I don’t remember if it’s highest or two highest weapons). Maybe a better way to put it would be that it’s based on the ql of the gear that you are capable of equipping.

Total sp spent would mean spreading your points over all the weapons would be the same as spending it all on one or two weapons. That would create a problem where xp starts drying up before you are capable of equipping higher ql gear. Testing two weapons does not show this. From what you’ve described this is not what you tested.

TheChiefTurtle
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TheChiefTurtle

oh okay, keeping fingers crossed it will come one day. This and the animation system rework they once talked about, not sure if that is still on the cards