Our latest session in The Secret World happened just after the patch 1.11 was deployed. The Enhanced Player Experience is the big-ticket news item for this update, the kind of marketing-speak label that has players of early MMORPGs twitching in a dark corner since revamps of game systems and content can radically change the feel of the gameplay.
So far we’ve had mixed experiences of the changes to the leveling zones (everything before Kaiden/Tokyo it appears). Anecdotally our dps player found City of the Sun God much easier to solo than before. The patch notes include:
* Reduced the health of all outdoor solo monsters outside of the Kaidan area.
Also from one-time experience we went back there as a duo to do an investigation mission since and I found them easy enough to kill as a tank yet our healer found them no easier if I wasn’t with him. This isn’t scientific (we’re games players not game-analysts) but it does feel like the balance of combat has changed – perhaps some builds are stronger and others have been nerfed now? The patch notes include the following of relevance:
* Increased the maximum number of targets AoE abilities can affect to 6.
* Reduced the effectiveness of most AoE abilities (damage, healing, leeching) from a 33% reduction relative to single target abilities to a 50% reduction relative to single target abilities.
We also found Besieged Farmlands (first zone in new area) pretty easy which either means our gear is above the difficulty curve or the nerf has made it easier than we would have otherwise found it pre-patch.
Other changes include a revolution in fast travel. Now we can click on Anima wells on a map to ‘anima-leap’ to them. As a player of Guild Wars 2, FFXIV or similar more modern MMOs this is perfectly normal. As our dps player noted though it does take exploration out of the gameplay as you don’t accidentally find things as you try to take a shortcut across land between objectives. Notably the map also shows all the side-missions before you have discovered them, another ‘nerf’ to exploration. You can switch this off using the map filters.
The Besieged Farmlands zone seems crammed with content and it’s a big zone. So far I’ve been pleasantly surprised by elements that are layered on by the story-writers onto what could have been a poor copy of Dracula.
The stories we’ve peeked into so far in the zone are as excellent as any before. We recently played the final investigation mission back in Egypt (The Binding), which by the way is superlative, with the heavy lore and (possible) plot inspiration from ancient Egyptian history. It was an epic mission indeed, it really embodies the idea of a’quest’ in how many stages and how much thinking is required. Seeing what the devs have done to elaborate on history to create this immersive and detailed gameplay I have to commend their efforts. I think the fact the game is so anchored in our own world just makes it that much easier to feel immersed in the game and to relate to the storylines.