Open Beta First Impressions

#1 Edited by Robo (747 posts) -

So I played for a while today. So far it's not bad at all.

First impressions:

- I'm aware the graphics aren't absolutely final but I really dig the look of the game even as it is now. Performance-wise I'm experiencing a few issues that I'm pretty sure are related to my PC. I get the impression it's smoother normally. Which is already a step up from AoC.

- The setting and story both have immense potential. I've grown quite sick of high fantasy, so this setting has been somewhat refreshing and...weird. In a good way though. Like some sort of mash-up of various apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic scenarios, secret organizations, and science fiction sub genres. And so far they seem to do a lot of explanation as to why things are the way they are, what stuff does and how, and why you're doing whatever it is you're doing -- at least to an extent, as obviously the real why/how remains a mystery -- providing more of a reason for the occasional fetch/kill quests. It also helps that so far the voice acting has been good.

- The controls and combat are both fairly standard so far, as is the interface. The UI has the look and feel of some mobile OS. It's decent but I could see some things changing. It does a great job of guiding you around without being too in your face or 'hand-holdy' though.

- As noted elsewhere, the leveling/talent/skill system is odd. The game doesn't have specific classes. Instead you're given freedom to spec your characters howevs and use whatever weapons/magic you see fit. Which appears to translate to assault rifles for everyone, because that's what I've seen about 90% of people running around with. Instead of leveling you basically grind out points to spend on said talents/skills up to a certain limit which I honestly don't fully understand yet. It's good to see someone looking beyond your basic leveling system.

- The characters look good. Even the hair is ok...except for the fact that I have yet to see any MMOs with decent black hairstyle options. I mean seriously, how hard is it to throw in a properly lined-up light or dark fade/Caesar? Maybe a short fro or natural curls for the ladies? I'm not looking for anything fancy. Although how sick would a Bobby Brown-style asymmetrical high-top Gumby fade be?

That sick.
#2 Posted by dagas (2710 posts) -

I just tried it out. I am having a problem with severe lag. the character creator just freezes every now and then and graphics setting doesn't seem to matter that much and my PC can run SWTOR, Dragon Age 2 and other games at the highest setting no problem. Got a Sandy Bridge dual core, 8GB RAM and a Radeon 6850. It also crashes on exit every time. I know it's a beta but it should work better than that.

I do like the modern day setting. No chain mails and such like other MMO's but regular clothes. it's nice for a change.

#3 Posted by 2HeadedNinja (1446 posts) -

Open? I thought you still need an invitation to play it?

#4 Edited by dagas (2710 posts) -

@2HeadedNinja said:

Open? I thought you still need an invitation to play it?

Gamespot had 100k keys so it was open to anyone who wanted in pretty much. It did say it was only for UK, US and AU residents but it works for me and I don't live in thse countries.

EDIT: this is the buggiest mess I have played in a long time. Constantly freezes so I have to tab out an back for it to work again and it randomly crash to desktop. I can't even try out the game to see if it is any good.

#5 Posted by Marz (5608 posts) -

yeah i really liked it...  the setting and atmosphere really feels like something new to the genre...  the combat isn't nothing new... but i do like the way it handles the way you upgrade abilities in a somewhat classless system, there are some abilities tied to certain weapons but you can pretty much upgrade whatever path you want to go in.  While i think the game looks good  from a technical standpoint.... the character models seem awkward.... doesn't seem stylized or realistic... they just look like they were made by fresh college students. 
 
I think what i like most about the game is that there seems to be a small story tied to quests and it has alot of voice acting.   The quests were varied enough that it wasn't just kill X number of monsters all the time... so it kept me interested.    I just hope funcom can pull off what they did in that  first town throughout the rest of the game....   i remember what they did with Age Of Conan... everything was pretty awesome until after Tortage.. then that game completely fell on it's face.    
 
I would still like to know how the pvp system works... seems i can't get it to work in the beta, so i'm guessing it's not available right now... but yeah color me impressed... i've played a shit ton of mmo's in the past 8+ years and I like what i saw so far.

#6 Edited by RadixNegative2 (508 posts) -

I was really starting to dig it and wanted to enjoy it, but at this point it's literally unplayable. At first it was only a bit buggy, with some disconnects and lag. Then I got to a point where the quest/mission I was on wouldn't progress past a certain point. I logged out to see if that would fix it but now I can't even log back in.

Edit: I got to finally play some more of it (I think the servers were down) and I enjoyed it a lot. The quests are pretty neat, where you have to use clues to solve puzzles and figure things out. It really fits in with the whole premise of conspiracies and such. Also I've heard quite few people say the combat isn't good, but I've liked it so far. Nothing amazing, but better than your average mmo's.

#7 Posted by Funkydupe (3293 posts) -

Do you think they'll be able to make it a better experience for launch, or is it beyond help at this stage?

#8 Edited by Giantstalker (1443 posts) -

Well I played a couple hours yesterday, as others have said this game has a great setting/story/context and some great areas to go with it but the characters are a bit flat.

More importantly, combat is (so far) really boring. The setting is good, the zones are well done, why does the combat just feel so boring?

I'll play another two or three hours, but so far, the assault rifle has been kinda lame. It's a shame because the rest of the game is honestly good. EDIT: Yeah, and some stability issues, but much less frequent than everyone else here (maybe a soft lock every 25-30mins). It's a Beta test.

#9 Posted by Anupsis (271 posts) -

So far it has been a buggy mess. The only way I can play is by making a new character and it crashes whenever I try to log into an existing character. I understand its a Beta but the game is coming out in a month. After Age of Conan I do not expect them to fix many of the problems. I see promise in it but the bugs are really shitty.

#10 Posted by Robo (747 posts) -

@dagas: The hitching was actually the graphical issue I was having. I was thinking it was just me though. Maybe it isn't. No crashes or disconnections yet though.

@Marz: I think the characters themselves look ok. They fall somewhere between stylized and realistic. Frankly, the character models look a lot like the ones from AoC to me. And much like AoC at the beginning, it's the gear/clothing that's kind of lame. But I'm assuming there will be more/better options available at launch.

At least at launch I doubt the quests will be as fleshed out later in the game. It seems to be a trend now to release games with polished starting areas that sort of fade off into more mechanical content that will be improved later. Hopefully it won't be as sharp of a drop as Conan though.

@Giantstalker: I agree the combat feels a little dull now, but more variation might improve that. Although apparently you'll always be limited to 7 abilities. Really if they just had more than a couple of animations for basic abilities it would be a big help. There seem to be a whole two animations for each of your basic melee skills and it repeats the first one most of the time.

@Funkydupe: I've heard the version we're playing in the open beta isn't even the same as the closed beta. So hopefully the launch version will be nicely polished.

#11 Edited by Funkydupe (3293 posts) -

@Robo: Ah I didn't know, well let's hope it is. Funcom isn't exactly known for polished releases though.

#12 Edited by CornBREDX (4454 posts) -

Ya, I just checked it out for a few hours.

I like that it has heavy voice acting, much like ToRO. I feel this will help this game out a bit, even though its not new (since ToRo did it) its using it well and it really helps make things interesting. What I played of it, there is no text dialogue at all.

The UI is really neat. It's slick and doesn't take up to much of the screen (which I love). I really like how they went with a button interface. To explain, to talk to people, if they are of note, they have a button when you approach them to click on. It will either be one to take a mission from them or just to chat and get some lore. It's very simple and easy to quickly take a mission.

There is a heavy reliance on cut scenes. In ToRO after a while I found this to be tedious when the story wasn't interesting. The writing has been really intriguing so far so I think it will work out fine. The acting is also serviceable (its not superb, and sometimes it's awful, but its not insultingly bad for the most part. There's only really been one character I can think of at the very beginning I could care less what she had to say, her acting was so bad).

Graphically the game looks fine. I only saw like, 2 zones (and a transport zone). I really like the "around the world feel" this game is clearly going for. I think it will help maintain a fresh feel for a longer period of time and will help not force them to stick to one kind of place. In the long run, this could be a boon if the game keeps a good level of quality to the work they put out (which in the open beta, while noticeably a beta, is still pretty fantastic).

I'm not one to normally notice animations, but I did not notice any oddities with them like a lot of MMOs. It's probably there, but for the most part the animations seemed fine for an MMO.

I really like that its not a fantasy game. It gives a fresh feel, and helps them build an interesting world that feels new. While the tropes they follow have been done, certainly, its being done in an interesting world. I don't know how well the game will do when it launches, but it's certainly worth checking out. Gamespot seems to be just handing out keys which are good until Sunday I believe so I recommend checking it out. It does have grindy aspects sometimes but it tries to stick to a narrative, and most of the quests I did while typical MMO fare was done in interesting ways and most of the time are fairly quick.

I also like the no "levels" concept. You just assign skill points and gain skills but you don't actually level. So you are fairly free to setup your character how you want and do whatever. Its an interesting game. I think i'll check it out more when it releases. I don't want to play anymore of the beta, as I just did it to see what its like- I don't want to burn myself out on it before it comes out. It certainly has a refreshing feel after the majority of MMOs I've played being fairly samey which made me lose interest faster.

Edit: Oh and I forgot to add the combat is standard MMO fair. I found it reminiscent of the first Guild Wars.

#13 Posted by dagas (2710 posts) -

@Robo said:

@dagas: The hitching was actually the graphical issue I was having. I was thinking it was just me though. Maybe it isn't. No crashes or disconnections yet though.

I updated the graphics drivers, or at least I think I did I installed them and restared the PC at the prompt like usual but it still say I have the older version. Anyway it works better now. I have about 40FPS at ultra and it has stopped crashing, but it still freezes every now and then for a couple of seconds seemingly at random.

#14 Posted by CornBREDX (4454 posts) -

@dagas: Ya I was having it freeze randomly (occasionally) for some reason as well. I think that has to do with how it's streaming in the world or something. It's something normally I would expect to be fixed before release, but these days I don't know what to expect.

The only other problem I had was when I was first trying to play I was disconnecting a lot and crashing. This was due to server errors earlier this morning, though, which they mentioned on the beta forums. After they fixed it, i didn't have disconnect or crashing problems.

#15 Posted by Funzzo (822 posts) -

I played for a bit and thought it was kinda boring. I think I will pass on this game.

#16 Posted by Robo (747 posts) -

@CornBREDX: Yeah it seems to be an issue with memory management and how its streaming assets. It really shouldn't be chugging as much as it does every now and then just loading in people/geometry. SWTOR had a similar problem at launch.

About the levels and skills thing. I noticed earlier the "decks" to the left at the abilities menu. Those are suggestions for certain combinations of abilities and weapons that develop into classes of sorts. For example, I wanted my character to use swords and pistols... because I dunno, video games. Turns out that setup with specific abilities falls into the "Paladin" deck. So there are suggestions for classes, at least.

Also there are no levels but what you're accruing through killing mobs and doing quests is just referred to as experience points. I wish they could have come up with something different there, but I suppose there's no point reinventing the wheel completely. And the game does have to have that carrot on a stick somewhere.

#17 Posted by DeanoXD (607 posts) -

I played last night for about two hours and came away from it with nothing good. Bugs aside because its a beta and i don't judge on that, but the game play, story, fiction all seem fucking bad in my opinion.

But to be honest i never had any intent to play this game.

#18 Posted by ADAMWD (498 posts) -

I played for about an hour or so and got to Kingsmouth. I don't really like the UI or the control scheme (granted I haven't tried changing them from the default settings). The game honestly feels like a shitty singleplayer game that had the MMO experience tacked on as an excuse for the game.

#19 Posted by Spitznock (389 posts) -

I was pleasantly surprised with all I've seen so far in the beta. The game has a pretty horrendous frame-rate and even at the lowest settings, but I'm sure this is mostly due to my pc being ass and only partially due to the game being in its unfinished state.

I found the quest dialogue to be relatively well-written, and while the quests themselves involve the usual RPG tropes, I think the setting is interesting enough and the activities are put into proper enough context to keep it from feeling as gamey as it would otherwise.

The leveling/progression stuff is a little unorthodox, and I'm certain there's plenty opportunity for min/maxing within it.

While I only played long enough to unlock 6 or so active skills to use during combat, I thought it seemed serviceable enough. The way the game displays your target's area of effect in order to get out of the way is well done, though if you're fighting on a sloped surface I found it wasn't rare for that stuff to fail to display (I'd assume this'll be fixed).

I'm quite interested in at least trying to full version once it's released. I always found Whitewolf Publishing's World of Darkness to be interesting (Hunter: The Reckoning in particular), and The Secret World seems to be going for many of the same ideas.

(To be completely frank though, I'm ecstatic about playing any mmo which takes place in a modern day setting.)

#20 Posted by enYallione (29 posts) -

I've been hugely impressed by this so far. For questing (been duo-ing two characters) and 5 man dungeons this seem to have more to it than WoW (which I still play actively, but I avoid quests at all cost in it).

The story seem to creep into you without having to read much quest text, which is good. As our final at of this beta weeknd we tried the polaris dungeon (as healer and tank) and the fist bosses were quite easy. The final boss however was very fun. It cycled through three phases that required us to spread out and avoid stuff, hide from nasty stuff or the for us most intense phase with all five group members hiding together behind the pillars from the boss as we kill adds.

Having done,and still doing, Dragon Soul HCs this last boss seem more interesting when it comes to mechanics. I guess time will tell if this is the AoC "put amazing stuff first" or if the whole game will be the same quality.

#21 Posted by NyxFe (248 posts) -

I was really impressed with how some of the quests actually made you do more than follow arrows on screen. It doesn't seem like much to ask for but compared to most MMOs these days, it is refreshing. Examples include having to follow in game clues/riddles to find new areas (including some diversions and fake riddles, along with "fake" updating the quest, which I thought was brilliant)

One specific example (possible spoilers) was a riddle my friend and I attempted to solve, requiring a password. The clue was "Music for all seasons" (with some other clues littered nearby, one piece of paper stating something about the owner's "favourite composer"). As a big fan of http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nGdFHJXciAQ, I was able to figure out the answer pretty quick, but it had me excited for the possibility of more complex and difficult puzzles later on.

#22 Posted by Brodehouse (9370 posts) -

The puzzle parts of it are actually kind of irritating for me, because however they intended you to figure it out gets circumvented by a) people in the chat constantly asking the answer to whatever puzzle they're on, spoiling the discovery for me and b) it has a browser for 'research', but due to how data caching works, it just directs you to the exact answer. I would like an occasional puzzle to break up gameplay (there's an excellent puzzle in the original Silent Hill that compares black and white birds; ravens, crows, doves, swans, to black and white keys on a piano), but the Internet is not built for a rewarding discovery process, it's built for fast and to the point query searches. The only way to maintain a discovery process is to make the puzzle so obscure and field-specific that it becomes an ARG, and I hate those.

So I like the style of the game. I like the fiction. I like the world design. But it has a lot of niggling issues for me. Quests are dull, and even though it has cutscenes to introduce them, they're sub-SWTOR in terms of cinematic quality. There's a decent amount of clothing options, could be better, but the real sticking point is there are no body type choices; until you get real close in to inspect someone they look exactly like everyone else. For a game that doesn't rely on collecting visible armor, they could've really knocked it out of the park with the clothing and body options and they didn't. Combat is kind of janky in the way I had forgot MMO combat was janky. Animation and effects feel completely separate in a really unfortunate way that even SWTOR never really got to.

I don't mind the HUD but j really hate the various windows and UI. The text is small and impossible to read unless you're an inch away from your monitor, and windows that pop up don't close with escape, so I'm click closing these windows almost every time. The character sheet is cool, radiating around your character, it's fucking impossible to read and I had a fit trying to close it. The only good thing about the UI is that the map for Kingsmouth looks fucking awesome.

I was all the way in for this game and now I'm sad.

This edit will also create new pages on Giant Bomb for:

Beware, you are proposing to add brand new pages to the wiki along with your edits. Make sure this is what you intended. This will likely increase the time it takes for your changes to go live.

Comment and Save

Until you earn 1000 points all your submissions need to be vetted by other Giant Bomb users. This process takes no more than a few hours and we'll send you an email once approved.