But for all the advancements and added content over the past year, there are a few issues that, when addressed, would get the game really trucking down that road and make for one heck of a ride. Luckily for fans, it just so happens that one of those very issues appears to be getting some attention come Issue #8: replayability. Behold the hope that is scenarios!
What we don't want is to be relegated to redoing the same tasks over and over without variation and no hope of anything different. After all, you know what they say about doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different outcome. But more than that, repetition breeds monotony and boredom. Variety truly is the spice of gaming life; we thrive on it. We crave the excitement of the unknown, the what if. As a species, we have an innate drive to seek out new trials and new experiences. We want to boldly go where we haven't gone before!
So how do you feed this need and keep happy players? Some games address this in part by offering different classes to play with unique stories and quest only available to each class. Want to experience something new? Then go make a new character and try a new class. TSW, however, does not have classes; it is skill based. Wait a minute, you say. What about the different factions? That's actually a sore spot with some players who desperately wanted to see some differentiation between the Illuminati, the Templars, and the Dragons; currently, the only differences are a few faction specific cutscenes, a little variation in the faction quests, and different dialogue on some quest reports. Well, and deck outfits. The potential is there, but it's not realized.
So without classes to provide something different, what does TSW have to keep players from falling prey to boredom in the world they love? Until the recent announcement, not really much. While some might suggest PvP, the current incarnation of that system can get very monotonous before long, not to mention it doesn't help all the folks who don't even want to participate in it. But the May Game Director's letter injects hope that all that may be starting to change. As much as I truly love the idea of snowmobiling, base jumping, and living through more storylines in Issue #7 A Dream to Kill, what captured my heart and my hopes was the part about the upcoming scenario system.
While the idea behind the scenarios is that they are training grounds the Council of Venice is using to test players' readiness to go farther into Tokyo, in game terms it is a a solo or group play instance that will offer up random elements to provide a unique situation each time. I swear my heart skipped a beat when I read this:
"These scenarios are designed to be repeatable through the use of certain highly random elements. This means that a scenario will play out differently every time and that players will need to adapt to circumstances on the fly... We hope that the randomness of such elements will bring tactical decision making to the fore and create challenge in these scenarios every time that they are played."Next, I was served words like dynamic and engaging. By the time I finished reading, I was salivating. Could it be? Could Funcom truly get that all we want is to keep having new experiences in the game we love, to be actively engaged in a dynamic world that isn't completely predictable (after the first run through, of course)? I think it does. I think the devs know that people do love their world and want to be in it. So this is a step toward making TSW a more vibrant and dynamic world. It may be a very small step, but we are assured that they "we will add additional Scenarios at a later date." And I believe they will.
Preferably, each scenario will ultimately have a list of like 25 different possibilities, and each time it runs it randomly draws maybe three from the list. That gives 13,800 possibilities! Heck, even a list of 10 gives 720 choices. And start adding multiple scenarios to that. Ooo ya, there's a lot of replayability right there. Just please devs, don't go at this half-heartedly and release with only a tiny list of random possibilities.
If done well, scenarios will be a big step toward increasing the replay value of The Secret World. They will keep players playing longer, which of course is better for the population and ultimately the game's bottom line. There are certainly other ways to increase replayability (scenario mode dungeons perhaps?), but that conversation will have to be left for another time. For now, I am going to go start counting the months until we can get Issue #8 and be very thankful that I'll have Issue #7 to distract me for a while.
Conspiracies, paranoia, secrets, and chaos -- the breakfast of champions! Feast on a bowlful with MJ every Monday as she infiltrates The Secret World to bring you the latest word on the streets of Gaia in Chaos Theory. Heard some juicy whispers or have a few leads you want followed? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org and she'll jump on the case!