The Secret World and TERA

I tried out the open beta weekend for The Secret World (TSW) last weekend and preordered it. (Join me on the RP server. I’m Mcdanger.) And this week I’ve been playing the 7-day free trial of TERA.

Some things I liked about TSW:

  • less emphasis on leveling. There’s still a progression but much of it is in the abilities that get unlocked and the range of things a player can do rather than a sheer numbers-based power curve.
  • non-linear (tho still tree based) ability unlocks, and later abilities are not necessarily better than earlier abilities. It’s how a player combines and chains them together that matter.
  • emphasis on story. Each NPC is voiced like The Old Republic (TOR). Unlike TOR, it’s not always in a camera-limited dialog event. This is both good and bad. You can leave the NPC mid-sentence, which may be good, but there’s much less animation during their spiels, making you kind of want to leave… The dialog can be hilarious, though, as with two federal agents bantering about popular sci-fi and superhero cliches (eg. Is it a “flight” of super heroes or a “fray” of super heroes?). The fact that it takes place in modern day makes this possible… lots of nods to popular culture.
  • first zone is Lovecraft based. Awesome.
  • players from the three different factions can group up. So I hear… I didn’t group with anyone while I was trying out the game. There’s no open warfare between the factions.
  • monsters sometimes charge up or ready attacks and the game provides an on-ground indicator of where the cone or AoE will land, giving players a chance to dodge out of the way. I like this. It makes the fights more active.

Some things I didn’t like about TSW:

  • too many mobs! The first zone is supposed to be a quiet little ocean town covered by a deep fog with a zombie and deep ones infestation. The problem is this atmosphere is ruined by the many, many monster groups, making it feel much more like an action movie warzone rather than a suspense-driven survival horror, Lovecraftian thing. I think maybe there needs to be that many monsters due to this being a MMOG. Too few monsters equals too much waiting around for players who need to encounter stuff.  Maybe this game would be much better as a single-player game.
  • the animation isn’t super polished. During one cutscene, a guy sitting on a couch rested his elbow on an invisible block 8 inches above his knee. That’s *one* example.
  • Overall, the game didn’t feel *right* to me, but I think one day’s worth of playing is too little to make a proper judgement. I ended up preordering it (so I could reserve Mcdanger as my username… someone had taken it in beta!).

Some things I liked about TERA:

  • the combat! Man, it’s very difficult going back to tab targetting of mobs that’s standard fare in MMOGs now. TERA uses a crosshair reticule like a first-person shooter or third-person action game. Mouse buttons are mapped to abilities (like shoot arrow) rather than cursor selection actions. The difference is crazy and really fun and dynamic. Circle strafing in a MMOG (that isn’t Planetside)!
  • doing an image search for TERA is NSFW, which I find kind of amusing.
Some things I didn’t like about TERA:
  • monotony. Oh man, kill, collect, kill, collect, kill, collect, etc.

I didn’t like TERA enough to buy it. Also, the game’s avatars are hypersexualized, for sure, but I think it’s much more about it being East Asian in origin. The male characters show plenty of anime-inspired midriffs and what westerners would call gay clothing options.

What I really want is The Secret World for a small group of coop players featuring TERA style combat mechanics.

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