New To The Secret World? Check Out The Guide

tswIf you haven’t played The Secret World before, you may be wondering what the hell it is all about. I know I had no idea until I had a serious attempt at playing it.

So it’s good to see that Funcom have belatedly posted a nice overview of the game and what it offers. Called Experience The Depth Of The Secret World, it gives a decent snapshot of the key gameplay aspects. It covers off dungeons, gear, glyphs, signets, PvP and mastery of the game.

If you know someone who’s been considering checking TSW out, point them to the guide so they can make a more informed decision. But first, we’d love your thoughts on the guide and whether it covers all the bases. Does it paint too rosy a picture? Let us know in comments.

Funcom’s Joel Bylos Takes Another Step Up

bylos-promoFuncom have just announced that The Secret World’s Game Director, Joel Bylos, has been promoted to head a centralised live team covering The Secret World, Age of Conan and Anarchy Online. Here’s his letter to the community outlining that, but even more importantly, the TSW content update plans up to issue #12:

Hi all,
As you may have heard, I recently agreed to take on the mantle of Creative Director for Funcom’s live titles: The Secret World, Age of Conan and Anarchy Online. It’s a huge honor to step into this role on multiple projects and have the ability to drive forward the creative direction of three of the most unique titles in the MMORPG space.

It doesn’t change my role on The Secret World – the shared new team means that updates for The Secret World will continue like before – and we have plenty of exciting things coming up!

Today I want to take a little bit of time to talk about the content roadmap for the game in 2013. Normally I would have done this in January, but I preferred my previous letter to focus on the restructuring and the upcoming Issue #6.

So what does 2013 hold for The Secret World?

Let’s take a look at some of our current content plans, but keep in mind that things might change. MMO development is a constantly evolving, dynamic process, and we need to make sure we don’t lock ourselves down too tight. The further out the plans are, the more they are likely to change, but as of now, this is a rough outline of what we want to do going forward.

We started out last week with a few small additions for the romantic among you. Head to London and try out the new compatibility tester to find your perfect match within The Secret World, and send that special someone a card, flowers or any spare body parts you have lying around.

Coming up very soon is Issue #6: The Last Train to Cairo. We are working towards releasing this in early March, with our members and life-time members being allowed in two days earlier.

Issue #6 contains a new multi-layered storyline involving Said, Nassir and Abdel Daoud and leads you through the past and the present to steal a valuable artifact from a roman cult and thwart the atenists plan to turn Cairo into a second Tokyo. We are planning to reveal the issue cover and a lot more information about Issue #6 soon so stay tuned!

Issue #7 will see you returning to Transylvania when your Council of Venice contact, Carmen Preda, asks you to look into the appearance of a strange new monster in the region. In tracking down the creature, you will work with the Vampire Hunter, revisit old friends at the Romany Camp, and be introduced to a new character who will lead you deeper into the mysteries of the Carpathian Fangs and the Orochi presence there.

If I had to describe Issue #7 in one sentence it would probably be “James Bond vs Eldritch horrors”. Of course, we will be adding another new Auxiliary weapon in Issue #7 and we’ll talk more about the features of the Issue as it grows closer.

Issue #7 should end with a bang, a bang that starts a new in-game event that will run right up until we introduce the Tokyo zone.

In Issue #8, we will change things up a little, moving away from our story arc DLCs to introduce a new repeatable content feature. This feature will add value to everybody who plays the game, from relatively new players to veterans in the best gear. More details on the feature will be announced as we get closer to the date.

Issue #9 – 11 we plan to release our first new urban adventure zone, Tokyo. We are still deciding the exact breakdown of the Tokyo DLCs, but Tokyo is the continuation of the story mission and will contain a new lair, a new dungeon and a plethora of new action, sabotage and investigation missions.

Issue #12- ? Now we are getting into forbidden knowledge! This is another new adventure zone, directly tied to revelations in Tokyo and exploring the background of one of the more notorious factions in the game!

So that it is, our current plans for the PvE content roadmap for The Secret World for 2013. Note that it doesn’t include new features – those are a part of a separate roadmap which also includes our plans for PvP. Soon we will be putting out a blog update on the PvP system and our plans for it, so keep your eyes peeled for that to hit soon! As mentioned earlier we will also reveal the cover for Issue #6 and more information on its content and features, hopefully early next week.

Thanks for listening, and I look forward to seeing you all in the game!

So – what do you think? That’s a hell of an ambitious content plan for the coming year – do you agree?

The Secret World Issue 6: Details

tsw-issue6After a much deserved ‘break’ (although I somehow doubt any holidaying has been occurring) after the frenzy of the End of Days event and Issue 5’s release, Funcom’s TSW team have announced some details on the next content expansion: The Last Train To Cairo.

Slated for release in “early March”, and with Members getting access two days early, here’s what you get:

In this update you will play through a new, deep and revealing story within Egypt. Travel back in time to unearth powerful artifacts which can help you in the future, and see how the wondrous locations of The Scorched Desert looked in ages past.

There’s some more story and side missions and a new auxiliary weapon:

The vicious Whip can be used for great area damage, but also for buffing your team or sneaky crowd control. Use the Whip to encourage your team mates to run faster or snare tricky opponents and pull them towards you.

But wait, there’s more – a new recruitment and veteran system that rewards you for hanging around:

A new Veteran and Recruitment system will become available. For each month you are or have been a member you receive points which can buy unique rewards. Every new person recruited also gives you an amount of points equal to a month of Membership.

And for PvP’ers, a ranking system will launch with Issue 6:

A completely new ranking system will also be introduced to Player-versus-player combat. You gain PVP experience points and eventually ranks when you or your team kills other players. As you go up in ranks you are awarded with new tokens, which can be used to buy fresh PVP uniforms.

Here’s the few screenshots supplied of the new content (click on a pic for the full size):

What’s your take on what you see – anything you particularly like or dislike about the details unveiled?

The Secret World DLC Content Pricing Clarified

The Secret World DLCThe TSW dev team have posted an update on how the pricing of future downloadable content will work.

For what it’s worth, I quite like the approach and if you’re a Member or Grandmaster you’ll want to read about how to set up an auto upgrade to the new content.

Read on:

The current price of the Issue #5 DLC (The Vanishing of Tyler Freeborn) has been adjusted to 750 points for non-members, 675 for members (after 10% member discount), and will remain at 600 (after 20% Grandmaster discount) for Grandmasters. This pricing change was meant to further reward Members and Grandmasters because the 10% Member and 20% Grandmaster discounts for shop purchases are now also applied to DLC.

Note that it is now possible for Members and Grandmasters to select to automatically upgrade to the DLC once it is available! This option is called “Set up DLC Autobuy“ and is available from your account page (http://register.thesecretworld.com). Note that this setting is set to “off” by default, so you must actively change it if you want this functionality.

We are also instating a cap on the DLC price for Grandmasters and Members. Regardless of the base (non-member) cost of a DLC, even if it starts at above 1200 points, the price for Grandmasters and Members will not be above 1200 points. This is also an additional bonus for Grandmaster and Member accounts, since it means they will always get enough points in a given month to purchase the newest DLC package.

For future DLCs Members and Grandmasters get access to the content 48 hours before non-members. This will be live with DLC #6.

Prices in the shop are always subject to change (up or down); prices for future DLC will vary based on the amount of content included and may be more expensive than this first DLC.

We hope this announcement sheds some light on recent DLC pricing changes and we thank you for your patience as we continue to adjust and improve the Grandmaster and Member experience.

What’s your take – do you like how things are now set up?

The Secret World Issue #5 Full Patch Notes

The Secret World Issue #5Better late than never, below are The Secret World Issue #5 full patch notes. Enjoy!

UPDATE “ISSUE# 5: THE VANISHING OF TYLER FREEBORN” – 19TH DECEMBER

NEW MISSIONS

  • A brand new mission line is now available: „The Vanishing of Tyler Freeborn“. This is the first DLC mission.  All current players and all players who purchase the game in December 2012 will receive it for free.  To access the mission please open the Item Store and claim it from the Boosts / Account tab.
  • The Uncertainty Principle – the mission to the new Auxiliary weapon ‘Quantum Brace’ has now been activated. To get started in this mission, talk to Moose in Kingsmouth.
  • From Carthage to Cairo – Tanis in the Scorched Desert needs help in covering her tracks in her involvement of a certain shipment.
  • Obstructive Persons – help Alina Florea in The Shadowy Forest with her plans to leave Morninglight.

GENERAL

  • A new Shortcut Bar is now available, which provides access to inventory slots that can be linked to hotkeys.
  • The maximum number of Gear Manager slots has now been correctly set to 100.
  • Equipping the chainsaw will now play a sound.
  • Fixed an issue where purchased items haven’t been delivered promptly.
  • If you log out or disconnect during the Ground Zero tutorial event, you will now be able to advance when you return to the game.
  • There is a new ‘smile’ emote available.
  • The chest category no longer shows empty when opening the Dressing Room GUI.
  • Albion Theatre: fixed some issues with sound from the stage being occluded on certain occasions.
  • There is now an animation shown from standing to sleeping when using the ‘sleep’ emote.

MISSIONS

  • Just a Flesh Wound – Tier 5: Dr. Aldini is again rewarding players with the Chainsaw.

ITEMS

  • The Time Accelerator item can no longer be deleted accidentially.
  • The Casting Toolkit can now create a mould from Shield of Barbarossa and Black Eagle.
  • Fixed a clipping issue with the Cosmonaut suit.
  • The ‘Suit Pants. Dark grey’ no longer appear white with blood splatters in the preview.
  • Fixed a clipping issue with the head piece of the Mercenary Multislot Deck outfit.

PVP

  • Fixed an issue that prevented the PvP role buffs from not showing their stats anymore.
  • Slightly increased the effects of the Integrated Anima Conduits uniform buff.
  • You can now queue for the PvP minigames while in Fusang.

Fusang

  • Getting killed by Fusang NPCs no longer causes durability loss on equipment.
  • Fixed an issue where the Custodian would walk in the wrong direction before turning around and proceeding in the correct direction.

WORLD DESIGN

  • You should no longer get stuck in the Red Hand Observatory area of The Besieged Farmlands.
  • You should no longer get stuck at the bottom of the Breach area in The Carpathian Fangs.
  • Fixed an issue with a floating propane bottle in The Carpathian Fangs.

The Secret World Issue #5 Is Live

I tell you what, I’m starting to wonder if the folks at Funcom ever sleep. The Issue #5 content update for The Secret World is now live.

Titled ‘The Vanishing of Tyler Freeborn’, this update has a number of new bits and pieces for you. Lots of new story content, a new weapon and some nice interface improvements. It’s all showcased pretty nicely by a preview vid that Funcom have released:

I love the look of the new Quantum Brace weapon, and am hanging to start the new story arc. That said, the highlight for me is a simple one: hotkeys for inventory items. I’d argue it’s well overdue and I know it’ll help me improve my gameplay considerably.

The casual player in me hopes that the TSW crew are taking a little break so I have time to catch up with all the new content!

What about you – what catches your eye the most with this update?

‘End Of Days’ In-Game Event for TSW

End of DaysFuncom have just posted a developer blog post detailing the in-game events for the ‘End Of Days‘ fun occurring at the moment.

There are going to be three Harbingers spawning in-game that will require some teamwork to bring down:

The Mayans called this Age’s Harbinger Bolon Yokte’ K’uh. The Mayans envisioned this as an anthropomorphic “God of Nine Destructions”. This may have simply been a way to cope with the incomprehensible. We’ve gone all the way with the “big dude with attitude” interpretation, and he’ll be a boss fight available for a limited time at two different difficulties in a corrupted El Dorado, run amok with blood sacrifices and dark storms.

Sounds like a bit of fun! There’s a contest running for players who knock over a bunch of Harbingers alongside El Dorado and the odd zombie, with the prizes being a unique pet and title.

Will you be going for the prize?

Start Your End of World Missions

TSW End of WorldAs we reported last week, The Secret World’s Alternate Reality ‘End of Days’ game is coming on December 21st. In the lead-up the fun’s already started, with two missions released to date. It doesn’t matter if you own TSW or not, although if you don’t own it you won’t be able to claim your in-game prizes.

Having done both missions so far I have to say it’s a lot of fun and the atmosphere of things syncs beautifully with the game. One shameful admission though, for Mission 2 I had to resort to spoilers to solve the investigation mission (and I’m so rubbish at maths morse code I gave up on those routes as well). Shame on me.

If you want to jump in and check it out, here’s where you go.

Now it’s over to you: have you enjoyed the missions so far? With mission two, which route did you choose and did you try to do them all?

The Secret World Goes Free To Play

TSW F2PWell knock me over with a feather. After recently saying how I doubted TSW was about to go F2P, that’s just what it’s done*.

Funcom have announced that as of now, a TSW subscription is optional. All you have to do is buy the game up-front and that is your last cost if you so choose. A subscription is still an option, at the same price as it currently stands, which nets you:

  • Time Accelerator (Clickable item which increases experience gain for defeating monsters by 100% for 1 hour, 16 hour cool-down – only usable by Members and Grand Masters)
  • $10 worth of Bonus Points (given out every month)
  • Item-of-the-month gift (given out every month)
  • 10% discount to everything in the in-game store

As a lifetime subscriber I was worried how things would work, but apparently lifetimers get the bonus points etc each month, which is more than is needed to be able to purchase the downloadable content. Game Director Joel Bylos has confirmed this:

You get points which will more than cover the DLC. The reason that we give you points rather than giving the DLC is because the DLC will cost *less* than the points you get.

Which means instead of getting nothing as a lifetimer except free content, you get the content and whatever you want to spend the points.

Also consider if we were to slip in delivery by a month – you still get real tangible value that can be spent.

There’s an FAQ for the changes, and I expect there’ll be lots of further clarifications in coming days. Funcom have also released a 2-minute trailer to coincide with the F2P launch:

So it’s over to you – What’s your take: is this a good move for TSW?

*Yes I know that the model isn’t strictly F2P as you need to buy the game up front, but I take a broader interpretation and it’s also a more commonly used term than Buy To Play.

It’s The End Of The World: TSW To Go F2P?

Regular readers will know that to a tee the team here who have played The Secret World love it. For the first time I think I have some more insight into why it’s so good: the sense of humour in the team behind it.

TSW’s Game Director Joel Bylos (link to our podcast interview with him here) has created part 1 of a video log, and I have to say it’s a hell of a lot of fun:

There’ll be lots of talk about the scene where Joel argues for the subscription fee to be dropped from TSW. To me it seems part of the humour and context of the piece rather than a very obvious int on a near-term move to Free-To-Play. It could also mean a period of time of free access for everyone to attract more players.. Finally, it could be the start of the move to F2P done in a funny way, but my money’s on one of the first two options.

Do you agree?

The Secret World’s Alternate Reality Game Starts Dec 21st

The Secret World ARGFuncom have some history running ARGs for games and they’re about to unleash it in a big way on The Secret World. The email teaser just says that the ‘End Of Days Is Coming’:

The End of Days is Coming

Mankind has been warned. On December 21st there will be a cataclysmic event that marks the end of time as we know it. It is time to prepare.

Leading up to this world-changing event is a brand new alternate reality game (ARG) set in and around The Secret World universe, which will allow you to better prepare for what is to come. If you have never participated in an ARG event before, this is your perfect chance.

And quite possibly your last.

This might be your one chance to save yourself from this inevitable cosmic event, and we encourage you to pre-register to take part in the ARG. Pre-registration is free and available on this page. The ARG will start in a few days and this is one train you do not want to miss.

You do not need to be an active The Secret World player to take part, but if you are, note that exclusive prizes will be offered to all those who participate and that you will be able to enjoy these before everything comes to one last, screeching halt on December 21st.

 

The prizes aren’t too shabby either, particularly if you’re a TSW outfit junkie:

I’ve always been looking for a reason to get involved with an ARG and now I have no excuse to do so. My only selfish criticism is that this is one hell of a time of year to be running it – so here’s hoping that not too many hours need to be sunk into it.

Over to you: will you be taking part?

And Another Thing: MMO Subscription Numbers

MMO Subscription Numbers

‘And Another Thing’ is a regular column where one of the Oceanic Gamer team get an issue off their chest. If you’ve got a pet peeve or controversial issue you’d like to write about, drop us a line. This week’s column sees us welcome Darren Taylor to the fold – great to have you on board Darren!

There is a lot of talk these days that MMO success is a result of how many people are subscribing. World of Warcraft appears to be once again over 10 million subscribers whereas other MMOs are lucky to break several hundred thousand. Trion Worlds (the makers of Rift) has stated with its relatively small number of subscribers, that it is highly profitable and was awarded extra funding to further develop the game and expand into other countries.

To be honest, I am really not concerned with subscription numbers when playing as long as there is a healthy chat, people running around and it’s relatively easy to get a group for a dungeon or quest.  In fact I find Rift one of the easiest games to get a group in, even compared to the behemoth World of Warcraft.

Rift and The Secret World have done some great work to get its players to feel that their servers are thriving with life. Rift recently cut out the limitations of factions, enabling players from both factions to be in the same guild, group for the same instances, in effect doubling the population. Cross-server chat and grouping also increases the pool of people available. The Secret World has done something similar with its dimensions, enabling players to communicate, group and quest with anyone on any other of its servers, hence its much-advertised single server technology.

In both games, the world is very alive and no matter what time zone you play, you can always find people to group with. You don’t often see people complaining about populations, as they never seem to have a lack of players willing to do something in the game.

Star Wars; The Old Republic, with its huge following at launch did one thing very wrong with its perception of population. I bet you all know and remember the instance player numbers at the top of your screen everywhere you go. I tend to call it the “worry meter” and unfortunately it proved to be just that. How often did you see people complain that there were only 50 people in fleet on their server? I am willing to bet that if that player number wasn’t there would have been less complaints and less concern. It seems they may have corrected that a little with group finder, cross server and also their take on mega servers, although I am not sure how the Aussie servers are doing as of late.

I think that all MMOs will embrace the one server mentality in one way or other and players will always have someone to group and play with even if there are only a few hundred people online at a given time.  From a player point of view, we should no longer base the success on the game based on investor calls or released figures but how each game uses their ability to bring their players together. I am happy playing games that have a reported smaller number of subscribers compared to some, as long as I can enjoy everything the game has to offer.

Do you agree?