Choose My Adventure: Why does The Secret World feel so bad to play?


The Secret World is a good game. A great one, even. It’s worthy of all of the praise and adoration it gets from its fans. It’s a fun game, and I am with everyone who feels the same way.

So why in the hell am I having such a bad time?

The more I’ve been playing TSW, the more I’m starting to kind of dread the whole thing. It’s likely not being helped by some general exhaustion with Kingsmouth’s whole deal, which is nowhere near as creative as almost everything else I had experienced. Zombies and a town in New England have been done to death, especially by the likes of Stephen King.

The combat is still a good time, though the malaise of having to wait on getting AP to spend on the abilities I want is starting to wear me down a little bit. All the same, as stiff and weird as combat can feel – and even as a fan I can feel this way – I’m still liking the chaos/fist combination that I’m following to this point.

The stories are as good as I remember as well. For the most part I am still blitzing past the dialogue options, but there are points where I let things rock to enjoy some of the excellent writing and fantastic voice acting. Henry Hawthorne is always someone who I listen to without fail no matter how many times I’ve heard his opening quest lines.

The questing itself, for that matter is… it’s fine. I’m realizing that this is all by-the-numbers in terms of what I’m doing. Sure, the Investigation missions are unlike anything else before or since, and the stealth missions… exist… but the quests themselves are still pretty basic. No amount of outstanding writing is going to cover that up.

I think the biggest problem I have – the biggest weight to my overall enjoyment as I’ve taken up all of the quests I can here in Kingsmouth – is that it’s so oppressively lonely. And while the game can so far be most certainly played solo, and the stories hold up whether you’re alone or not, I just can’t get rid of the fact that I am absolutely alone where I am.

And I think that maybe I’ve said goodbye.

I find myself, mentally speaking, in a similar sort of boat that I was with City of Heroes so many years ago when I returned to Paragon Chat. In the span of a few hours, I went from delighted that I was hearing and seeing old haunts to aghast that there was nobody around me and nothing much to really do. Paragon City was never really the attraction of CoH for me; the game and the people were.

Even though I’m able to play the game and complete quests and progress (unlike in Paragon Chat), running around Kingsmouth is very much hitting me with that same sort of malaise. Granted, the Homecoming rogue server and some time finding my gaming groove has eventually made me ignore the farewell I thought I had bid CoH, but I don’t know that TSW can be so easily experienced again.

It’s actually a bit weird that I’m suffering from this loneliness, when I think about it. I have perhaps experienced one dungeon in this entire game, I haven’t really grouped up with others or joined a guild, and the roleplay I had experienced was pretty brief and largely unmemorable besides. Still, I also like the latent feeling of being surrounded by other people, and seeing other folks running through the streets of Kingsmouth, joining in on fights uninvited, and just… hell, anything even resembling chat scroll was nice to see.

I know I’ve mentioned this a few different times before, but that sensation of being near the running, humming power generator of a playerbase, even in a passive sense, is so incredibly important to me. It’s what makes MMOs far more engaging and interesting to me than any other type of video game, and all of that is gone here in TSW. None of that sense that I’m part of a community, even as a drop in the bucket. This bucket feels empty, even if it’s technically not. I’m sure there are people who are still playing and doing things in-game; they’re just not here with me right now. And why would they be, honestly? Who plays the original TSW from the very beginning anymore?

All of this is just making firing up TSW harder and harder to do. I kind of dread it now, if I’m perfectly honest, which sucks, but it’s how I feel. Still, I’ve got at least one more week of this game to get through for CMA, which leads me to at least one poll question related to the game.

One of our writers has mentioned that he still plays TSW and has even written a build that, apparently, is extraordinarily strong and solo-friendly, which is fine and good, but I’d rather have company at this point.

However, there is also the choice of going to Secret World Legends and seeing if maybe I’m just not reconnected to that latent sense of being with other people again in general. Yes, it’s the “lesser” game, but I also might be around others and somewhere in Egypt. At least, I think I left off somewhere in Egypt. Thus, the first poll:

How should I proceed for this last week?

  • Play with a friend. Time to call in support! (32%, 120 Votes)
  • Head to SWL. See if there are people there instead. (68%, 260 Votes)

Total Voters: 380

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The second poll is about next month’s game, as is tradition. This time around I am once more focusing in on something sandboxy and a bit more open-ended because it’s time to put the themepark CMAs to one side.

Where are we going next month? Choose My Adventure!

  • Albion Online. Time to see how life is here. (42%, 114 Votes)
  • Mortal Online 2. What's one more person? (30%, 82 Votes)
  • Darkfall Rise of Agon. Now's the time to start a full adventure. (28%, 76 Votes)

Total Voters: 272

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As always, polling is going to wrap up at 1:00 p.m. EDT this coming Friday, March 25th. I apologize if these series of articles have been largely unfun to read, but if it’s any comfort, they’re even less fun to write and experience. I’d have loved nothing more than to have this return to TSW feel comforting and welcoming, but all I feel is ignored.

Welcome to Choose My Adventure, the column in which you join Chris each week as he journeys through mystical lands on fantastic adventures – and you get to decide his fate. Which is good because he can often be a pretty indecisive person unless he’s ordering a burger.
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