I’m slightly worried that the Secret World may have spoiled my long-term enjoyment of many MMORPGs. The game is a pretty unique one in the genre not only because it’s a rare modern-day/horror game amid a sea of Orcs & Elves fantasy but also because of the truly varied content types.
Missions in Secret World are divided into various types but the general categories are combat (called ‘action’), stealth (‘sabotage’) and puzzle (‘investigation’). Other more recent MMOs have had jumping ‘puzzles’ but they’re a very different type of puzzle than what I’m looking for, puzzles in Secret World actually give your brain a workout not just your reflexes.
Now Secret World isn’t actually my ideal MMO; I’m loving playing it but it’s not the perfect match for my personal tastes. For one thing horror/Cthulhu isn’t my genre, I never watch horror films and I’d much prefer the Orcs & Elves vanilla fantasy truth be told. Looking over at my partner playing World of Warcraft again ahead of Warlords of Draenor’s release I can’t help thinking I’ll never return to Azeroth -Blizzard’s idea of PVE content just looks so lazy and derivative in comparison to the breadth of missions in Secret World. Why shouldn’t all MMORPGs not have puzzles to test players? Dungeons & Dragons (and similar RPG) adventures certainly featured their fair share of riddles, puzzles and traps; there may have been a lot of combat but it wasn’t always just fighting.
Early on in Wildstar’s development I did wonder if this SciFi MMO, with the paths like Explorer and Scientist, would actually be the game for me but during the beta I found Scientist to be pretty boring and grindy. From the very little I experienced, and from what I’ve read on forums since it doesn’t actually involve much puzzling or mental exercise – it seems to be mostly ticking off lists of things to scan.
So why has the online gaming equivalent of tabletop RPGs chosen such an overwhelming focus on combat? Is it that puzzles are too hard and time-consuming to code or do the majority of players actually not want that type of content? The Secret World didn’t exactly win prizes for subscriber numbers – it was one of several recent MMOs that had to switch monetization model to survive. I guess I’m just probably in a minority in that I want to actually have to think a bit in between slaying pixel-monsters…