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Choose My Adventure: The final curtain falls on our TSW run

MJ Guthrie

Out, out, brief CMA! MJ's but a viewer puppet, a poor player that struts and frets her hour upon the stage and then is heard no more... at least until next time!

To soon, too soon the show is over! But what a run it has been; our stage production of The Secret World has been a success. Between wandering the streets of New York, checking out the story of the Illuminati, and diving into everything from dungeons to investigating puzzles, this Choose My Adventure has been a fun experience. I stretched myself, doing things I wouldn't normally do. And that's all from your direction, so I thank you. But the curtain hasn't fallen yet; the final act has yet to play out; your final instructions have yet to be carried out. How did the battle fare in El Dorado? Stay in your seats for this grande finale.

And on with the show!

TSW screenshot
The lost city of gold

I'd like to take a few moments and share a few words about the PvP experience in TSW's El Dorado battleground. I'd like to tell you about the amazing scenery or the fun and engaging experience. I really would. But I can't. Oh, it's not that the scenery isn't beautiful or the experience isn't engaging; it's just that I wouldn't know. You see, after the closing of the poll, I spent my share of time in the queue, but never made it actually in to El Dorado.

TSW screenshotPerhaps I just had the worst luck, but even after trying at different times (including prime-time hours) on different days, I was not able to get in on a single El Dorado battleground. Now, there is one time an invite possibly could have popped, but I had actually been immobile for too long while waiting and turned my head, so I was actually booted out of game for lack of activity! Apparently there was no time where 10 folks from the two other factions and nine from mine wanted to get in to play at the same time.

This made me quite sad because I was losing out on a part of the game I was trying to play and seeking. The PvP experience might be fantastic, but what's the point of having a feature if you cannot experience it? It's a total disservice to players who want to experience this part of the game but cannot. I am hopeful about the words said during a dev blog about focusing on fixing up the PvP, and I hope that something is done soon. The idea more worthwhile incentives would certainly help to get folks to join here instead of Fusang because right now there is no real reason not to just go to Fusang.

Why bother even trying to get into a battleground and adding to life's aggravations when you can enter? Anyone wanting to get her PvP fix apparently goes and joins the throngs farming AP in Fusang Projects. You can get into Fusang instantly, get your PvP on (or just farm quick AP), and get right back out again. I can get the queue to pop for Fusang in mere seconds any time of day. There is no waiting for other people to want to do it with you. I remember that the PvP instances were based on home dimension only, and that makes a difference for buffs for factions and whatnot. But why not make at least the two battlegrounds open to cross-dimensional grouping? I'll accept that the other factions end up with the same world-wide buff as I get if it means I am able to experience those battlegrounds!

TWS screeshot
The closing scenes

As our performance ebbs closer to the final curtain, there are a couple of things I noted throughout my journey that I wish to share, in particular about general questing. As much as it was a little awkward at first not grabbing a boatload of missions from a hub and running out to complete them en masse, I found I really appreciated The Secret World's mission set-up.

Beyond the over-arching story quest, you are allowed only one main mission and three side missions at a time, so there is no "loading up." This allows you to pay attention to the actual stories of the quests, since your mind isn't muddled with so many that you can't keep them straight. And you know MJ is a story-lover! Also, there is no need to travel to and from quest hubs before moving on; instead, each mission takes you to an area where you will always find another mission close by, be it a main mission or a side mission. For this reason, you end up traversing the map in an organic fashion. There's logical flow. It doesn't feel contrived like a standard quest hub would. I loved the chance this gave me to explore, and it encouraged me to do so else I might miss a little mission tucked away somewhere!

TSW screenshotA part for everyone

The second topic involves story as well, but in a more roundabout way. The crux of this topic is the nuts and bolts of fighting and skills. As someone mentioned while providing me valuable cues, there is no perfect build in The Secret World. There isn't even one build that is best to use in all areas at all times. Watching the mobs you fight, paying attention to their attacks, and getting to know the moves and skills being used against you are important. For the most efficient rebuttal to these attacks, you also need to know your own skills inside and out, then pair them together in ways to neutralize and better combat the enemies. This actually brings rise to a personal dilemma.

You see, knowing all the tiny ins and outs of everything is all well and good for the spreadsheet crowd and folks who really enjoy all of the number-crunching. But I don't. Not even a little. When it came to table top RPGs, I rolled requisite dice if needed, but when it came to actually crafting my character (and some of those systems were quite elaborate), I gave the story of what I wanted to someone who loved number crunching and let him have at it. I love the story, not the nitty-gritty how-to details. If you are a person who loves maximizing your potential and watching the change in nuance between mobs and fights, then TSW is totally for you. The cool thing is, it is totally for me too!

This is where the whole story part comes in. See, I became enthralled in the stories and totally engaged in the atmosphere, but I didn't really care that much about changing my build for every fight. In fact, I was the kind of person who was lucky to create just four builds -- a couple for healing and a couple for DPS. I picked skills I liked and thought were pretty effective. Could there be combos that are even better for certain situations? Certainly! Do I care to keep in the front of my mind the every detail of every skill in relation to every single mob? No. That's not my playing style, and I wouldn't enjoy a game that forced me to. And the good news is that I was still effective and could enjoy the game the way I prefer to play. I wasn't handicapping anyone, and I got the job done. At some points the job went slowly, but at others, I soloed a difficult boss by myself to give someone a quest update credit.

Basically, you can be sit anywhere on the spectrum between the hardest of hardcore skill-crunchers to the just-in-it-for-the-experience-of-it-all story-connoisseur, and the game is still good for you. That, my friends, is a plus in my book.

TSW screenshot
Take a bow

Choose My Adventure may be done, but my adventures in The Secret World are not. I'd certainly recommend this game to our readers. No, it isn't free-to-play, and this lady doth not protest too much to pay Funcom for this unique experience. With the rate of updates, I can see myself paying for the privilege to play indefinitely because there will always be something new and fresh to experience. And to me, gaming is all about the experience. So skip a pizza and a movie once and grab the game. Try it for a month (three days is just not enough time to hook you unless you have a good number of hours to invest). I think you will find it worth it. At the very least, you won't have to burn off the calories of the pizza and the movie popcorn!

And that's all she wrote. My time has come to exit the stage. But you can catch one more Choose My Adventure LIVE! on Thursday the 11th, from 5:00 - 7:00 p.m. EDT, on Massively TV. The next slated CMA performance is with Jeremy starting next Wednesday. Break a leg, my friend! And may you all have a good night as this curtain falls. Will there be an encore for MJ? Only time will tell!

Good night, good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow, that I shall say good night till it be our next adventure on some morrow!

Strap yourself in for the ride of (six weeks of) your life! Where are you going? Well, that's entirely up to you, the Massively readers, to decide -- the where, the what, and the how are all directed by you. The who is MJ Guthrie! For the duration of Choose My Adventure, her virtual life is in your hands! Join MJ in-game, on-site, and live on Massively TV to be a part of the adventure and watch the story unfold.

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