The Secret World Review!

by on February 21, 2015



               In the
long years that have passed since the initial success of MMORPGs with Ultima
Online (1997), Everquest (1999) and Asheron’s Call, the genre hasn’t evolved as
much as it should have. There was the big breakthrough of World of Warcraft in
2004 that put together most of the elements the other games created and based
its leveling on questing rather than heavy grinding and focused on end game
content. This was followed by the innovative mechanics of Guild Wars in 2005, that
came with the completely instanced content (an idea very popular in the free to
play MMORPGs of today) and with the fixed number of useable skills which is
widely used today. But after that, the genre stagnated for years, most
developers trying to overthrow World of Warcraft without really realizing where
the roots of its success come from. And so began an almost decade long period of
games copying each other, especially after the rise of free to play games.
               Some
developers have tried to get out of the loop, but there are few titles that
actually had success in the western culture. But 2012 was the new defining year
for MMORPGs, at least it was for me if not for everybody. The release of The
Secret World and Guild Wars 2 changed some of the vision over MMORPGs with
unique and innovative features that killed old and annoying concepts overused
to death by developers for very few reasons (fear of the new).These were story
driven games that put the RPG in MMOs and abandoned the conventional leveling
for different ways of progression while getting rid of the incredibly annoying quests
backtracking. This was a new dawn for MMORPGs and for the players willing to
venture into something different.
               The
Secret World is a MMORPG developed by Funcom and released in on 2nd
July 2012. The game started with a monthly subscription business model that
lasted until the winter of the same year. After that it switched to a
buy-to-play model with an optional subscription and paid-for DLCs released
every several months, but at a way slower pace than they were initially
released.
               What
separates The Secret World from most of the MMORPGs on the market is its modern
setting, a setting that hasn’t been milked to death like the fantasy one (probably
because it is less popular or it is harder to deal with the game mechanics
involving it).
The Secret World’s action takes place in our time, but in a
universe in which many legends and urban myths exist, where occultism and
paranormal are not fantasy but a reality hidden from the eyes of the normal
people (muggles!). The game starts with the player character receiving supernatural
powers from the agents of Gaia itself, the bees, and struggling to control them.
As the character adapts to these new powers that seem depicted from a comic
book, an agent from the chosen faction appears at the door and recruits the
player and so the adventure begins!
               There
are three secret societies to choose from each fighting for power and stability
in the world: Templars, Illuminati and Dragons.
Templars date from Babylonian times and they are set on
destroying what they consider darkness no matter what. Their current
headquarter is in London.
Illuminati are the shadow puppeteers of the world pushing
for the New World Order, acting silently and only going full out when it is
absolutely necessary. Their headquarters are beneath Brooklyn in New York.
Dragon is an Asian group now based in Seoul that recreated
itself many times throughout history. Their existence follows the natural chaos
of life and they fight for change and to stop society from being controlled.
The three factions are in a secret
war with each others, but fight together against the powers that threaten the existence
of our world.
These Orochi people are everywhere!
 The action that put in motion the events of
The Secret World is the Filth infestation of Tokyo caused by the detonation of
a Filth bomb by an unknown person. The Filth is a black tar-like substance that
mutates every life form it enters in contact with and recently started to ooze
from various places in the world. Agents from the three secret societies have
been deployed to Tokyo to help with the situation and the players get to
experience the situation there through a vision after the game tutorial.
As this happens, different places around the globe become
wildly dangerous as different supernatural threats rise taking advantage from
this opportunity (coincidence?!). So as a rookie in a secret society, the player
(the obvious choice) is sent to investigate and try to put an end to the
terrors that haunt the normal people of our world.
The first location to cleanse from
evil is the Solomon Island, a land engulfed in Norse mythology, which is now in
the middle of a lovecraftian monsters invasion combined with a zombie
infestation and tormented by the mistakes of the past (these people have a
terrible karma). It is quite an atmospheric zone to start the game with, as a
strange fog came and killed the people caught in it, creatures from the bottom
of the oceans have come to the shores to swipe the land clean of life. Zombies
run rampart into the streets of Kingsmouth City, the ghosts of the deceased
can’t find rest, Filth is bleeding from the wounded land and hellish creatures
have found their way into our world from their fiery dimensions (a bad day to
be a cop there). But as bad as all these things sound, they aren’t the worse,
as a madman attempts to awaken an ancient being imprisoned deep beneath the mountains
for the island.
               The
Secret World changes scenery often enough and to extremely interesting and
unexplored locations by other games, starting from Solomon Island to Egypt, Transylvania
and ultimately leading to Tokyo (DLC required) with some stops in between for
China, the UK, Central America and others (waiting for Antarctica and its
mountains of madness!). All the locations in the game are connected through
Agartha, a zone that serves as a hub area for the players (as well as a
labyrinth).
The monsters are as varied as the exploreable areas
themselves, from the always present zombies, ghosts, demons and vampires to the
rarer lovecraftian monsters, mummies, werewolves, local folklore creatures and
many other unique ones created by the twisted imagination of the Funcom
writers.
Looks safe.
So casual!
It’s not Halloween!

               The
story is evolving at a good pace with missions covering the entire map and
having fully voice acted cutscenes. The mystery and myth surrounding every
aspect of the story does require looking past the appearances and digging
deeper to find answers as the huge amount of lore is not always explicit.
Endless theories and speculations can be made about the action and the
characters of this game, the characters break the barrier of conventional
archetypes. The game being full of supernatural beings (gods, mythological heroes,
etc.) and people trapped into situations that they have only seen in the movie
makes it hard to find a normal person in this world, as everybody is at least a
little insane, eccentric or paranoid, sometimes all three combined into an
unstable personality cocktail. The entry cutscenes for missions are an absolute
delight
This universe contains many references to popular culture
and does satirize some of the things of the present times in a subtle but
amusing way.
The right attitude!
Seems like a good outfit to wear during apocalypse!
It takes more than brute force to
deal with the problems in this secret world, cunning and sneaking skills are
required to advance further into the game without problems. The missions are
structured into three different categories: action, investigation and infiltration,
transforming questing in a combination of multiple genres which makes for
diversity in gameplay.
The investigation missions are the flavor with some mind
blowing puzzles. Observation skills, general knowledge and thinking outside the
box are some of the abilities needed to complete these missions which kept me in
opposite states of mind all the time, making me feel like a genius or a
complete idiot when attempting to solve them (unfair.co helped me when I was
stuck). There is an in-game built browser designed to help with this type of
missions and there are many websites created specifically for this game and its
mission which adds for an incredible immersivity level when playing and makes
the world credible.
The action missions are engaging and sometimes difficult
enough to put builds to trial, most of them should be soloable, but a party
could make things a lot smoother (good luck with bugs). Many of these missions
are grindy, requiring a large amount of monsters to be killed, but also lead to
entertaining boss fights.
The infiltration missions are a combination of observation
and sneaking with little combat as mobs are usually way more powerful in these
scenarios. The sneaking is not mandatory most of the time as a well built character
can usually power through the hardest mobs, but the beauty and the challenge stands
in completing them unseen.
Mission endings have a paradoxical effect of both enjoyment
and displease. The majority of them end with a phone text removing backtracking,
but at the same time leaving a dry feeling as they end just like that, even
after some epic action.
As good as the mission system
sounds, it has its problems and some of them might be game breaking for the
players with little tolerance. Playing as a group makes completing missions
more efficient and faster, but it can also cause a tone of bugs because not all
of them are working properly for group play. Also the completion of tasks in a
group is very misleading, as some of them can be done together and other
similar ones don’t work and have to be soloed. This is a stressful situation
when playing with friends and if someone doesn’t pay attention to the evolution
of a mission they might remain quite far behind in the progression for that
mission because of all these problems..
Alone in the darkness.
Ok!
               When it
comes to character progression The Secret World features a classless system
without levels. With the completion of story and side missions experience is
gained which is transformed into SP and AP at three thresholds on the
experience bar. These points are spent in the skills and abilities progression,
which is extremely complex and split in three categories: skills panel, a
multi-layers abilities wheel and auxiliary weapons wheel.
The basic skills allow the usage of
weapons and talismans at the expense of SP which can be spent to increase the
level of these skills up to 10. With the increase in skill the characters can
equip more powerful items and gain passive benefits from each type of item.
There three types of equipable talismans covering up to
seven gear slots and nine weapons split in three categories: magic (elemental,
chaos and blood), melee (swords, hammers and fists) and ranged (shotguns, pistols
and assault rifles).
With the addition of new content, the skills system has been
further expanded to accommodate the introduction of auxiliary weapons,
augmentations and AEGIS.
The abilities wheel is a complex,
and off-putting at first, system of enhancing the character with active and
passive abilities tied to the equipped weapons. Each weapon has a basic tier
formed of two sets of abilities and an advanced tier formed of six sets.
Abilities cost AP and as the basic sets for each weapon are quite cheap, the
advanced ones cost up to 50 AP for the ultimate ability and progressing through
the wheel can take a long time.
 A character can equip
two different weapons at once and an auxiliary, a build can be created with
eight specific active abilities for the equipped weapons and eight passives with
the restriction of only one from each for the auxiliary. Each weapon can serve
at least two roles in the game from healing, tanking or damage dealing. The
combinations for possible builds are probably in the number of thousands and
even if not all are working as good, it is worth testing and experimenting to
find a suitable setup.
               Auxiliary
weapons have been added through DLCs, first coming with Issue #2. After
completing the mission rewarding the weapon 35 SP have to be spent in the
skills screen so it becomes useable. There is a special wheel to unlock
abilities for auxiliaries with an almost identical design and functionality to
the one for standard weapons, the only differences stand in the lower number of
available abilities and the steep price of 50 AP per unlock.
Currently there are two ranged auxiliaries (rocket launcher
and flame thrower), one magic (quantum bracelet) and two melee (whip and
chainsaw) with more to come for a maximum of three per category (I’m rooting
for sniper rifle, scythe and summoning!).
               Through
the release of newer DLCs the game has received even more features related to
character progression. Issue #8 has brought the augmentations system which unlocks
stronger passive bonuses by augmenting active abilities and increasing the
bonuses through skills.
With the release of Tokyo was added the AEGIS system which is
divided in two parts, Issue #9 containing the AEGIS weapons and Issue #10 AEGIS
shields. This is a two part technology that provides protection from damage to
anyone shielded by it, but also provides the necessary weapons enhancements to
penetrate these shields (typical military technology!). Its progression comes
as a firmware update that requires a huge amount of samples from users of the
system which are in the form of filth corrupted beings (the grind!).
This feature is part of the progression in the Tokyo area
and currently has no effect in any other zones in the game.
As vast and complex the progression
system is as short and vaguely informative is the tutorial for it (and everything
else in the game for that matter), making it extremely scary for the new
players and being one of the reasons that many of them quit this game or just
ignore it. There are some pre-made decks that can be followed, but the synergy between the abilities used in them isn’t that great.
Not even scary!
               The Secret
World’s combat system is in between two styles. It is not the common static combat
with auto attack, but isn’t fully action oriented either. Instead, this game
takes elements from both styles in an attempt to make something better and
suited for everybody, but this compromise doesn’t fit the game perfectly. With
two equipable weapons and a great variety of builds, the combat sure can be fun
and engaging. Its main mechanic is to generate resources for both weapons using
an ability designated for this purpose and then unleashing ravaging damage with
abilities that spend those resources. Cooldowns should be used when necessary
and dodging out of the way of harmful abilities is a must. The majority of the
abilities in the game can be casted while moving and this is a big plus.
The combat is dynamic and requires movement when fighting tough
and versatile enemies. The area of effect abilities used by mobs have their
size displayed by a white perimeter as a warning to avoid the incoming damage. The
fights look like Armageddon was unleashed with fires burning, blades chopping
through everything and bullets flying from all directions.
For group content, The Secret World didn’t go as far as to
abandon the “holy trinity” (tank, healer & dps party composition) as Guild
Wars 2 did, which is probably for the best, considering how the group content
is designed in this game.
On paper everything looks great, but in reality what ruins the
combat is the clunky netcode and the weird way some abilities work due to the
tab targeting. Abilities deal damage before animations, making some hits
unavoidable in PvP.  The tab targeting
doesn’t seem like the greatest idea either and while a crosshair option has
been added through patches its implementation is rudimentary and can be uncomfortable
to use.
Even so, despite all its problems,
I can safely say that this combat system is a step up from the standard and
extremely overused auto-attack combat with immobile characters as it requires
more input and fast reactions from the players.
Shooting stars.
Safety first!
               To
complement the character progression, the itemization is the factor that
defines most of the character stats and is capabilities to handle harder areas.
The items are split into 15 levels of quality with QL 10.5 being the highest at
the current stage, different types of quality from common to epic items and
four different item groups: weapons, minor talismans, major talismans and head
talismans. Standard items of the zone required level are provided through
missions, keeping the player at an average level of power for that area. Better
items can be purchased through specific zone vendors using tokens awarded from
missions or from PvP using tokens gained by participating in battles against
other players. Dungeon or raids can provide highest quality items based on a
fixed loot table.
My character is sexy and I know it!
               The
dungeons in this game are a true beauty, each of them has a story of its own in
concordance with the area they are found in, expanding the lore even further. A
shipwreck in the Atlantic ocean, the Hell planes, a tomb in Egypt or a secret
super soldiers research facility are some examples of the awesome locations
that serve as setting for them. The concepts and level design go hand in hand
with the thematic of the game and is refreshing helping replayability a lot.
The dungeons are structured into three levels of difficulty:
normal, elite and nightmare, each difficulty being designed to be accessible as
a certain point in the character progression. While normal difficulty should be
doable with gear gathered from the missions of the area where the dungeon can
be found, the elite difficulty is more challenging and requires a gear quality
of 8-9+. Nightmare dungeons are part of the end game content and are extremely
challenging and almost unforgivable to player mistakes, they require an
attunement and epic gear quality and the tactics necessary to beat the boss
fights are more complex.
There are currently eight dungeons in the game, one for each
major zone besides Tokyo, and sadly this number hasn’t changed since the launch
of The Secret World. While there is a planned dungeon for Tokyo zone via a DLC,
its release has been postponed and is currently unknown when it will come out.
               There
are two 10 man raids in the game, which increase the activity options for the players
that reached this part of the game. One of them was added a long time ago in
Issue #4 and the other one is part of the lairs system. Lairs are some high
level areas within the main zones of the game in which the mobs drop key
fragments that can be combined to form the key for the lair raid entrance.
Compared with the dungeons, the raids feel easier, despite
the fact that they require the coordination of 10 players.
We were lied!
I wonder if I’m in range.
               For
those not too passionate about PvE content, The Secret World has player versus
player content as well in the form of the Secret War. The PvP has two small
maps, Stonehenge which is mostly a skirmish and El Dorado which is objective
based where each team has to hold as many artifacts as possible. There is no
world PvP, but for the fans of bigger fights the game has Fusang Projects which
is a largermap with objectives very similar with the Conquest mode from FPS
games.
               The PvP
games award marks that can be used to purchase end game gear up to QL 10.4 and
various other things mostly useful against other players. There is a
progression system called Battle Rank which unlocks different coloristic for
the PvP character outfits.
The problems with the PvP are related to the combat system
and the fact that the population of the game isn’t that big and not so many
players are into this feature of the game, leading sometimes to long queues for
El Dorado and Stonehenge and numeric imbalanced teams in Fusang Projects.
Friendly gathering.

Overall, the end game is a grind
fest, either grinding for XP required to max the stats in the character
progression tabs (skills, abilities, augmentations, AEGIS) or grinding the
highest quality gear available. For a game that is so innovative and fresh in so
many aspects, I felt that the end game experience is a total letdown and is
what made me quit in the first place. The replayability of any non-story
mission in the game does make things easier for those who want to max their
characters stats, but takes a lot of work to do so.
               On the
technical compartment The Secret World finds itself at two extremes. On one
hand it is one of the best looking MMORPGs I have ever played with fantastic level
design, beautifully terrifying landscapes and good graphic effects, all powered
by the in-house DreamWorld engine. On the other hand the performance and
stability of the game can be terrible. I can’t run it using DX11 on my current
rig because it causes all kind of graphical glitches (without TXAA active,
water goes crazy) and my fps is very unstable. The game crashes often and the
loading screens are huge despite the fact that sometimes the textures are not even
fully loaded when the game starts.
Welcome to Kaidan, Tokyo!
               The
sound effects add up on the production value of a game that was designed for a
subscription model with fully voice acted cut scenes and dialogues, but
terrible lip sync. The ambient sound effects and the music are exactly what a
game about occultism and nightmarish creatures should have, creating a creepy
atmosphere for this game which I love.
During its subscription time, The
Secret World received content DLCs quite often, but after Funcom laid off some
of the staff working on the game and switched to a buy to play business model
the DLCs have become rarer. Currently there are 11 DLCs released with Issues #1
to #4 being free for everybody who purchased the standard edition of the game
and up to #7 if buying or upgrading to Massive Edition. Stand alone, a DLC
costs 10$ and while this doesn’t seem like such a steep price, adding up all
the available for purchase DLCs it goes way over the price of the game. On top
of the DLCs there are purchasable side stories packs which further expand the
missions in the game.
There is a Cash Shop as well integrated since launch, which
sells a wide variety of vanity items, from different outfits and clothing
accessories to pets and weapon skins. There are some questionable items like
boxes that have a chance to give end game tokens or in game currency (PAX
Romana).
While I understand why Funcom
release only paid DLCs, I still have to disagree with this business model as it
separates the community into chunks of players having access to different
zones and missions, but more importantly, to the continuation of the story in a story driven game. This could be easily addressed by
allowing all the players to experience the main story missions while the paying
players could have access to all the secondary missions and content that comes
with a DLC. If Funcom didn’t go for the subscription option at release, which
was extremely farfetched for a game that barely had any advertisement they
could have prepared a much more solid buy to play business model with a much
better designed and structured cash shop (Guild Wars 2). The decision of going
buy to play seemed rushed to me at that time and I don’t think the game was
fully prepared for it.
They call this a hub!!!
Look like good friends!
Business or pleasure?!
               I’m
going to stop this review here, before it becomes an even bigger wall of text
than it already is. There is much to say about The Secret World, but this is a
review not a complete guide. I covered most of the important aspects of the
game, which are many, from its basic content and game mechanics to the DLCs it
has received.
If there is something I want to
point out about The Secret World is the fact that it is a niche MMORPG, a game
that isn’t designed to be on everyone’s taste. Its unordinary setting and
action, the complex game mechanics with the hard missions and huge progression
system are features that scare the players away and it is a shame, because
behind the difficult and unpolished exterior hides a beautiful adventure.
This is a game (together with Guild Wars 2) I always come
back to after getting disappointed by other MMOs I try, because of the advanced
gameplay elements it provides.
               The
Secret World is and will remain one of the defining MMORPGs of
the last years, reshaping the older gameplay into something newer and better
for the most part and grasping concepts that should be mandatory for newer MMOs.
The game didn’t fear change, it’s in fact an avatar of courage for a genre that
hides behind the corners built by older title and I want to thank it for this
tremendous achievement.
Let innovation and winds of change come as they are what
drive everything forward!
Pros:
+ Good graphics
+ The setting
+ Great story and lore
+ Unique feeling
+ Complex skill system and
character progression
+ Challenging dungeons with great
level design
+ Buy to play
+ Helpful community
Cons:
– Optimization problems
– Grindy end game
– Questionable business model
– Lots of bugs and glitches
– Lacks proper tutorials (to be
fixed soon)
Nodrim

Comments

> Many of these missions are grindy, requiring a large amount of monsters to be killed, but also lead to entertaining boss fights.

Just out of curiosity: which missions do you refer to here? Missions in about any other MMO are much more grindy than in TSW. (The numbers of kills, if you have a kill count, are much lower than on other MMOs, and also you always know -why- you do the killing. ) What is really grindy are scenarios, the content for those people who have done everything and want to spend a lot of time for very minimal improvements of power. But alas, scenarios were made specifically for the people who -requested- grind!

> Also the completion of tasks in a group is very misleading, as some of them can be done together and other similar ones don’t work and have to be soloed

True. But it got much better compared to launch. And the missions of the DLCs are all designed with group in mind, so the developers understood the problems and are fixing it. (Also, i found that one by one, each big patch some more of the solo-only missions which still exist suddenly become groupable. )

> With the release of Tokyo was added the AEGIS system which is divided in two parts, […] Its progression comes as a firmware update that requires a huge amount of samples from users of the system which are in the form of filth corrupted beings (the grind!).

Actually it was a huge grind up to the last big patch. So it kept the "early adopters" busy. Now they reduced sequin costs a lot and improving the Aegis got much easier. I think that was intentional. 🙂

> There are some pre-made decks that can be followed, but the synergy between the abilities used in them isn't that great.

Absolutely true, especially for the higher tier decks. They are only decorational, for the outfit rewards they give. The starter decks are not bad per se, for the cost they take to get them, but the info on how they should be used is shown terribly, so they mislead the user a lot. I hope the upgraded user tutorial, which is under development, fixes that.

> Overall, the end game is a grind fest, either grinding for XP required to max the stats in the character progression tabs (skills, abilities, augmentations, AEGIS) or grinding the highest quality gear available. For a game that is so innovative and fresh in so many aspects

You are correct there, if you want to "progress" at the high end, the game turns into a grind. But keep in mind that:
1. The community simply can consume high quality content much faster than it can be created.
2. The community actually -asked- and -requested- grind. So, the players shall be blamed, too.

> On the other hand the performance and stability of the game can be terrible. I can’t run it using DX11 on my current rig because it causes all kind of graphical glitches (without TXAA active, water goes crazy) and my fps is very unstable. The game crashes often and the loading screens are huge despite the fact that sometimes the textures are not even fully loaded when the game starts.

If your setup is very good (enough memory, 64 bit OS and a SSD drive) all of the problems disappear and the game runs very smooth. But i agree, TSW is a terrible ressource hog and if one part of your system is outdated, you might run into a number of problems.

> While I understand why Funcom release only paid DLCs, I still have to disagree with this business model as it separates the community into chunks of players having access to different zones and missions, but more importantly, to the continuation of the story in a story driven game.

Every player can access every zone. Even if you did not buy any of the Fusang content, you have access to Aegis and Tokyo. But indeed, the missions there, if you like to do them, you have to buy. I consider that quite a fair concept.

That all being said, i agree with you, TSW had several and still has some issues, but all in all it's one of the MMOs everybody should take a look at. It might at some spots be a raw gem, but a gem none the less.

@Sylow Thanks for your post!

The grindy missions I was talking about start to appear more often in the 2nd map of the game and continue to increase in numbers in the detriment of investigation and infiltration missions which have their numbers reduced. I don't mind grinding that much, but I would have preferred more missions of the two other types.

About performance, I have a gtx 970, and i5@4.3ghz and 8gb of ram and the game in PvP runs terrible on DX11. I also get water artefacts if I don't have TXAA activated. I played this game at launch on a different setup, but still one above average at launch and I had issues. I talked with different players and they recommend DX9 over 11 because of the instability.

In the matter of paid DLCs, still not everybody has access to every zone, I've read that Funcom has planned for all players to get some sort of access to Tokyo and the AEGIS system. The problem is not accessing the zones, but rather seeing the main story continuation. I paid for some of the DLCs in the game to see how the story progresses, but not everybody is going to do so, yet everything in the buy to play version builds up for Tokyo and what happened there and those players won't be able to see that.
I think the cash shop could have been created and presented in a better. Guild Wars 2 is a good example of a buy to play game with a solid cash shop. It is true that GW2 has way more players which means there are more people willing to pay for cosmetic stuff, but I think Funcom could have separated the content way better between paid and free.

And when you bring up GW2, buckle up for the next expansion in a few months. Heart of Thorns brings a new area and continues the storyline there, if you don't buy it, you won't have access.

Please now tell me the difference between TSW and GW2. For me it looks like this:
– The issues of TSW come more frequently, are smaller and have a small pricetag attached.
– GW2 now, after a longer time, brings the first expansion. As they already in the past said that they will stick to the business model of GW2, you can expect to pay the full box price for that.

So really, in total costs for the customer both are basically the same. I personally prefer the style and quality of TSW, but actually play both. Alsn note one big advantage of TSW: i never have looted even one black lion chest or something similar there, where the game wants me to invest money in the item shop to be able to actually use it. Those dropboxes in my eyes are more shady business than demanding money for actually new content.

On your performance problem, is your operating system at 64 bit? On a 32 bit OS TSW can't acquire enough memory to run really well. It indeed is a terrible ressource hog and could use a lot of optimisation there, but Funcom apparently just doesn't have the financial ressources to fix that. (The lead developer repeatedly stated that there's so much more they'd like to do, but they just can't afford the people to do that. )

GW 2 expansion will offer a huge amount of content at a price that probably won't go higher than 40-50 bucks, which is way less than the price of all TSW DLCs combined and offers more content as well.

My objections are not related to the price but more to the fact that everyone should have access to the story in a story driven game, especially when it builds up so much for Tokyo, but then the full access to Tokyo story will cost 30-40 bucks. I bought some of the DLCs and I plan to buy at least Issue #11 as well, but I have to look from an objective point of view when I write these reviews and think about those players that won't buy these DLCs from various reasons.

I'm using a 64bit OS, there is no point in using a 32bit OS when having 8gb ram and newer CPUs.
I understand Funcom's financial problems, but to be honest some of them are their fault. They didn't know how to introduce a niche MMO on the market and had no advertisement for it or a welcoming start for the players, but chose to go for subscription mode in an age when everybody knows that this business model doesn't work anymore.
I also wish they had the money to do more with it, but probably the game will progress slowly through DLCs until the day is no longer profitable.

I guess we're down to a matter of taste. I personally feel that i get more out of the issues of TSW than of GW2. Mind you, i play both, but for me the quality of TSW just beats GW2 hands down.

And on story, didn't GW2 also sell their story as "big pillar" of their gameplay? Now don't get me started on it's quality… 😀

On the technical problems: sorry, no further ideas here if your memory and OS are allright. I just know i don't have them.

I personally prefer TSW's business model by far over just about any other MMO I've played. While I do admit I would have preferred it to stay subscription based, that clearly wasn't financially viable. Other than that, I don't think they could have gone with a better route than they did. I would much rather pay for content than have a game be purposefully designed to be annoying for players unless they decide to pay for certain features, or have a cash shop driven by pay to win boosts like in most other non-subscription based MMOs.

I guess for me, asking for $10 every couple of months to let me play a new set of content is better than asking me for $1 every hour or so of play time to open a chest that I just found, or to swap my appearance armor, or to equip that epic gear that I just looted. It also means that the content is designed to sell itself, rather than to sell cash shop items.

There are MMOs and other online games that have a cash shop and their business model is not designed to be annoying, but is rather balanced with no pay to win stuff. League of Legends and Guild Wars 2 are just two examples.
Subscription games don't work anymore. WoW is the exception that confirms the rule and many of the player subscribing to this game are doing it either because they are huge fans (Blizzard has a cult) or they can't abandon their years of work no matter if other new and better games are released. The success of WoW has a psychological implication is not only about the game itself.

Sorry for my curiosity, but what in TSW is "designed to be annoying"?

Both GW2 and TSW are buy2play. If TSW is "pay to win" then GW2 is "buy some nuclear bombs here", but actually neither of them is pay2win in my eyes. On the other hand, GW2 is way more "item shop, in your face" than TSW. (I can't speak of LOL, i was there during closed beta and didn't continue, it was just not my cup of tea. )

For comparison, i can play TSW without noticing the item shop for weeks. In GW2, i click the icon for the in-game auction house and the first thing i get to my face is the item shop. I find new gear for my character and equip it. In TSW this is all fine, in GW2 it means i suddenly again have something on my outfit which looks like i just pulled it out of a dumpster.

Lucky me, i have the reward outfits from GW1, so i can just change my gear, but still any time the game rewards me on transmutation charges, so i note that there is the item store. For the player who has not played GW1, the game is "pay or look like you're wearing rags" while leveling your character. (At least by now you can change colors without having to pay. )

It's definitely not as bad as some cryptic games or even LotRO or SWtOR, which remind you on the item store around every rock and bush, but GW2 definitely aims more to "annoy" people into buying than TSW does.

I think you are exaggerating when you talk about the GW2 shop. Most of my characters have the skins from dungeons because they look cool and there is an insane amount of combinations that can be made. From all the cash shop skins the Phalanx armor was the only one I bought, because it had some cool looking pieces that I wanted for my guardian. But the faction and many of the dungeon armor skins look amazing. When it comes to weapon skins, some of the cash shop ones do look amazing, but you can always buy them with gold from players.

I would say, it's a matter of taste. I absolutely am unable to see how the item store of TSW would interfere in my gameplay. I don't claim that the shop of GW2 is killing the game, but it definitely is making itself visible more often and i get pointers to it more than once every playsession.

And on the dungeon armour skins: yes. You by now have them and can use them. (Just like for me the Heritage Gear fixed the issue right away. ) But my girl only lately started GW2 and doesn't want to pour a lot of money into the game. So running aorund in "rags" it was for her for quite a while, and she disliked it. For her TSW was the clear winner, she bought some clothing pieces at the in-game shop (for in-game money, no real money) and had some great outfits which she liked. No "rag outfit" troubles at all, without having to spend any money after buying the game itself.

That being said, the differences in the business model for the two games are really small. TSW just provides a few "conveniences" for free, which you pay for in GW2. Nest to that TSW delivers more frequent (and lower priced) content, while GW2 brings bigger packages at a full expansion price. I find the quality of TSW superior and thus it's my preference, but i also think i will get the GW2 expansion, i don't think it'll be a rip-off either.

So, i really don't condemn either of both games, i play and enjoy both. I just also can't understand why you consider TSWs business model to be "questionable", although the game provides convenience for free which GW2 (and many other F2P games) want money for.

You forgot to specify the free updates that Guild Wars 2 got over the years. 🙂 Two Living Story seasons, Fractals of the Mists, some additional dungeons, three new maps and loads of improvements. Also the dressing room brought huge changes in the way armour skins work.
Either way, I like both games.

in tsw issues 1-4 also free (issue 5 was offered for free for early subscribers) and part of issue 8 is also free (enough to see if you like that type of content as it is rather different then other issues)