Secret World: good-bye, cruel World

, | Game diaries

I’ve been playing Secret World steadily for three weeks, hoping Funcom and Electronic Arts will fix it “any day now”. Today, I’m done. Over the weekend, three things convinced me to throw in the towel.

1) A quest called The Black House is still bugged and I can’t complete it. It’s not the only bugged quest, but it’s the one I care about most. I consider it a barometer for the state of the game given where it’s located (along a major thoroughfare), how simple the fix should be (an item doesn’t appear at the third stage of the quest), and how much I like it (a lot). That it remains broken after three weeks is unconscionable.

2) As of the latest patch, the chat system is broken in an entirely new way from how it’s been broken since release. I’ve previously used a custom chat channel to talk with friends on different servers, who are members of a different faction. Now custom chat channels don’t work. The chat system has had plenty of minor issues, but this latest issue is one step forward, one fifty foot plummet back.

3) Where other games might have a level cap, Secret World has a system of combat builds using different abilities. It’s an intricate bit of statistics wrangling wonkery that I am more than happy to engage in. Except that for the last three weeks, Secret World routinely decides I want to see simplified information for many of the skills. In other words, it will randomly close the statistics I’m supposed to wrangle, leaving me with vague text descriptions. This has been the case for three weeks, so if I want to create and manage character builds — in other words, if I want to play the game as it’s designed — I have to frequently log out and log back in to fix the tooltips. How is it that one of the many patches hasn’t fixed such a serious interface issue?

All of this is an example of how not to release an MMO. So I’m done for the time being. There are plenty of games that work correctly. I’d just as soon spend my time playing them instead.

After the jump, the things I’ll miss.

Visiting Seoul to collect lore tokens and stopping off in the hotel lobby to sing karaoke:

This creature in a bog, which turned out not to be an Elder Thing once I read the text more closely and realized I was fighting an Ender Thing:

It’s nice to play a game that’s willing to be truly M-rated. In another videogame, the seaweed would be more strategically placed.

Installing a new videocard which more gracefully handles vistas like the entrance to the City of the Gods:

Slaughtering zombies for no other reason than to get to the top of the “most zombies killed” leaderboard among my friends:

Which didn’t always go as planned:

I like to imagine that last screenshot happened to the tune of Yakity Sax. I never cared much for the main storyline, which included dramatic cutscenes in which I was inappropriately attired, nearly as good as Dead Rising:

In case you can’t tell, that’s me on the left. I appreciated the occasional sense of humor, which wouldn’t be out of place in Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace:

And huge props to Funcom and EA for making Innsmouth Academy one of my favorite places, thanks in part to hiring Jeffrey Combs to be this guy:

Some fetch quests were more ridiculous than others:

But I never minded, given how rewarding it was to explore the world. I love how the gameplay changes in some interesting ways when you get to the first big quest hub in Egypt, but I can’t say I approve of terrorist plots to blow up donkeys:

Secret World gets a new episode next week, so maybe I’ll drop in at that point and see how Black House, the chat system, and the skill tooltips are coming along. Not that I feel the game is hurting for content. I’ve spent well over four days /played and I’ve still got plenty to do in Egypt, the second of the game’s three worlds. To paraphrase Sam Neill, I would like to have seen Transylvania. But on the whole, I’d rather be someplace that works more reliably.

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