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Chaos Theory: Stuff The Secret World needs

Jef Reahard

Well, I think The Secret World has been out long enough for me to start listing some things the game needs. No, I haven't cleared Transylvania yet. In fact, I'm still happily lost in the latter portion of the game's Egyptian area, so this isn't a column full of complaints about endgame or the lack thereof.

Good MMOs are virtual worlds, though, and Funcom's got plenty of options for expanding immersiveness and gameplay potential going forward. Oh, and fair warning: If you're one of those lulz-we-don't-need-no-stickin'-fluff types, this week's column isn't for you.

The Secret World - Apartments?
There's a sizable roleplaying community in The Secret World, at least from what I can tell. Do I have any hard numbers? No, but rarely does a play session go by when I don't see random RP happening in the city hubs. Last night I even stumbled across a pair of ghost-hunters in Kingsmouth and stalked them long enough to get a few chuckles out of their back-and-forth banter.

You may recall that Ragnar Tornquist hinted at some roleplay-friendly additions in TSW's inaugural state-of-the-game letter. I'm not sure where these stand in light of Funcom's recent reorganization, but it would be swell if player housing made its way into the game sooner rather than later.

If it were up to me, the implementation would be instanced and based in the cities of Seoul, New York, and London. The Secret World has a distinctive urban chic about it, even though the narrative takes you to rural Maine and off-the-beaten-path in Egypt. I don't know about you, but I'd dearly love to come home to a New York city loft or a London flat after a hard day of monster-slaying. I know that many fans of MMO housing decry the instanced variety that's cropped up in recent years, but in my opinion, it's the only sort that would work in The Secret World.

The game itself is heavily instanced, even as it does a great job of camouflaging that fact from the average player, so open-world stuff on par with Star Wars: Galaxies really isn't feasible. That's OK, though, because arguably the best housing implementation in the history of MMOs is instanced, and yes, I'm talking about EverQuest II.

Personal preferences aside, there is no real comparison between EQII's functionality and any other MMO housing implementation; it simply does more. If Funcom could manage even half of what SOE has done, it would add an immeasurable amount of replay value and community camaraderie to TSW.

Player content
Also worth poaching from EQII is some sort of dungeon/mission generator. To be fair, Funcom would also be poaching from SWG, City of Heroes, Star Trek Online, and others, all of which have tried their hand at player-generated mission systems over the years.

Especially now that Funcom is operating with what I'm assuming is a skeleton crew while it rebuilds its finances, turning creative players loose with some instance-building tools seems like a no-brainer.

When I first logged into The Secret World's beta, I was delighted to find that a cosmetic clothing system was going to be in the game from the get-go. While I still enjoy the functionality and applaud Funcom for realizing its importance, I do have a few bones to pick with the implementation.

First off, multislot outfits suck. They just do. In a nutshell, the slickest outfits in the game are acquired by completing skill decks and reaping the associated factional outfit rewards. The problem is that these outfits are all one continuous piece that is toggled on or off via the multislot pane in your character sheet.

This sucks for customization because you can't mix and match pieces of the outfit with other clothing articles, nor can you, say, wear a pair of sunglasses while you're badassing it up in your Templar Warlock body armor. And I won't even go into the rants I've heard from my Illuminati friends who love the factional dress blues but abhor the fact that they can't remove the gas masks and show their faces.

Secondly, Funcom really needs to add some color management options to its multitude of clothing choices. While it's fantastic to have 15 different flavors of flannel shirt, it would be more fantastic to be able to dye one shirt 15 different colors, and again, create custom mix-and-match outfits that truly reflect an individual's personality.

I'm not picky here. The devs could add some sort of color slider to existing clothing or add some dye items to the game's loot tables. Either way, everybody wins.

New zones
Early on in my time with The Secret World, I was surprised to learn that the game features a relatively small number of adventuring zones. It's got eight primary locations, to be exact, and that number doesn't include the PvP zones, the hub cities, or Agartha. Adding those into the mix brings the game's total number of major zones to 15.

Don't get me wrong; I'm not complaining. Most of the zones are big, both in terms of square footage and in terms of content. Eventually I'd like to see some branching out, though. After all, it is called The Secret World, and that last word implies quite a bit more real estate than is currently accessible.

So what might we see and explore in the future? How about a riff on Area 51 or some sort of spy hangout in, around, or under Washington, D.C.? What about an undersea lair not unlike the city of Rapture from BioShock, or any one of dozens of European cities rife with old-world atmosphere and conspiratorial potential? The possibilities are literally endless, and out of all my suggestions today, I expect that this one will come to pass first.

I wouldn't be surprised to see some sort of small-scale PvP instance like Stonehenge or El Dorado as the first piece of new zone content. What about you guys? Are there specific locations or features you'd like to see implemented in The Secret World going forward?

Chaos Theory Stuff The Secret World needs

Yes, Jef Reahard is paid to play The Secret World. But he's not paid by Funcom; Massively leaves the bribes and the bad grammar to its imitators (it's a conspiracy!). Chaos Theory comes your way every Thursday, bringing you Gaia's latest news, guides, and commentary.

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