What’s a game you would have never tried but for some reason you did and ended up loving it? – Void
I would never have tried The Secret World if it hadn’t gone on sale on Steam and I hadn’t seen my fellow bloggers mention it as one of many items on offer at reduced prices. I’m not the type of person who maintains a huge backlog of unplayed games that were snapped during fire sales. Heck, I didn’t even buy Papers, Please for a pittance after having watched the entirety of an hour-long Let’s Play-style video and really, really liking the monotony of being a civil servant in an iron-fisted dictatorship. It takes a lot to get me to pull the trigger on purchasing a game if I’m not doing it on a whim.
It took about a year and a half for me to warm up to the notion of joining the hordes of hammer-and-pistol-wielding Bladerunner protagonists sporting tie-dyed t-shirts, blue jeans, and cowboy boots fighting off the once-human, once-living hordes of unending undead rolling out of the sea-swept fog. The seeds were planted over time, gradually, carefully, and lovingly by several different bloggers perhaps unbeknownst to them. It was a game for adults, I discovered while trawling vast oceans of text. There were many, many different types of missions and stories that one could take part in – I read about several of them without really absorbing the specifics. It was more about atmosphere for me (it always is). And the ambience was absolutely fantastic. I found this out for myself when I wandered into a diner on a supply recovery mission and found myself rocking out to the latest punk rendition of the smash hit “Girl, I’m Totally Fucked Up About You.”
After having purchased the game for a price I found to be quite reasonable, I found myself downloading the client via Steam. A few hours later, I launched the game fully ready to play and was immediately paralyzed by the character creation screen. Three days of research and contemplation later and I had decided on my character as well as a Secret Society. Among the throngs of jean-jacketed punk rock starlets and leather-jacketed Zell Dinchts and trenchcoated Deadeye Brightlands and blonde bunnies in short shorts, a new champion emerged: an economics student in a zip-up bumblebee hoodie, black office slacks, and loafers.
I don’t know how to play games.
It was precisely because I didn’t know anything about how to play the game that I immediately began to enjoy it. There are no character levels, so you’re not focused on some magical number which determines how much damage your bullets do. Completing missions gives you Skill Points, which are used to unlock the ability to use higher Quality Level weapons and talismans, and Ability Points, which are used to purchase increasingly useful and powerful active and passive abilites for your weapons. You complete missions by running around and finding things to do. There’s a main mission which requires quite a bit of work to complete; along the way, you’ll find side missions as well. As you complete these missions you’ll get AP, SP, and items with higher QLs and higher stats. The sum of these things makes you more powerful and gives one a sense of statistical progression.
The reason I love this whole setup is because I can focus on the story and feel like I’m not only making plot progress, but gaining power as well. My health has gone up considerably from having equipped more powerful talismans and such; these remain hidden from view – other players do not see them when running past you. Your visible clothing is for appearance only, which means that you can’t tell at a glance that Rusty “Hardwood” Slapshot is wearing weaksauce +5 Power Gloves and therefore isn’t worthy of joining your dungeon group. Progress is natural and organic, almost like a side effect of having completed objectives. The character animations in the cutscenes are wonderful and the voice acting runs the gamut from cringe-worthy to excellent just as it did in Final Fantasy 14. I do find the faces to be a bit off in some cases; this, however, is a minor quibble.
Did I mention dodge rolls? I love action combat.
Overall, I’m enjoying the game quite a bit in a small doses. I haven’t even begun to explore synergies or the use of an expanded weapon set. What I’m loving most of all about this relatively older, subscriptionless game is the fact that I’m immediately doing what I want to be doing without having to first go through a Skinner Box full of things I don’t want to do. That’s an automatic win right there.