Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Secret World: My Beta Weekend #4 Experience (Part Three)

Game Interface & Character Control
The Secret World - Game InterfaceThe Secret World - Controls
The game interface, in my opinion, is pretty clean and does not clutter the whole screen. However, I do feel that it could be improved in certain areas, for example, making the hotkey icons and information displayed at the sides and bottom a little bit larger. Its pretty hard to read them despite me using 1024 x 768 resolution.

As for character control, I feel that its a little bit too focused on the left hand. Almost everything from moving your character, turning it left and right, going forward and backwards and using skills involve the use of your left hand.

There are times when I wish to use my skills and find it hard to maintain the movement of my character. On other times, I find it hard to keep casting my skills to deal damage while I am moving to avoid damage. This is pretty vital especially during player vs player battles where you will need to be quick on the move as well as constantly facing your target. All this while, the right hand holding the mouse practically does nothing apart from clicking and selecting stuff.

After playing for a while, I found that I could alleviate this problem slightly by making some minor changes to the controls.
  • First, I changed the bindings for "A" and "D" to "Strafe left" and "Strafe right".
  • Then, I changed the bindings for "Q" and "E" to "Use Skill 6" and "Use Skill 7".
The first modification effectively reverts control back to the familiar "FPS" version which most of us are more used to. The second modification concentrates all the active skills' hotkeys around "WASD" for easier access.

So essentially during combat, I will be using "tab" to cycle through enemy targets, "1 - 5, Q & E" for active skills, "WASD" for character movement and finally, holding the right mouse button, I can use the mouse to turn my character swiftly.

Experience Points, Skill Points & Ability Points
The Secret World - Experience BarThe Secret World - Experience Points
Although it is stated that there are no classes nor levels in The Secret World, I can't help but find some semblance of it while I was playing in the beta weekend. First of all, the all familiar experience bar could still be found. Next, whenever we kill monsters or complete quests, experience points will still be rewarded.

And on this experience bar, we can see three markings that divide the bar into three equal portions. Every time we reach one of the markings, we will be awarded with 1 ability point. Whenever we completely fill the experience bar, we will be awarded with 1 skill point. Therefore, if we relate the filling up of the experience bar to a "level up", you can safely say that for every level up, we will gain 1 skill point and 3 ability points.

The only thing that worries me at this point would be whether the amount of experience points needed to fill the bar scales as our character reaches higher "levels". If it doesn't, then we can freely buy and try out all those weapons and abilities available in the game to find our preferences. If it does, then perhaps we will have to worry about gimping our characters with foolish mistakes made earlier in the game.

The Secret World - Skill Rank WeaponThe Secret World - Skill Rank Talisman
The skill points you gain from "levelling up" is used to increase your skill rank in either a particular melee weapon, ranged weapon, magic or talisman (kind of like armor). If I were to simplify things, I would say that the skill rank here is sort of acting like equipment proficiency. But how does this skill rank thingy work?

As you can see in the above pictures, there is a skill rank for every type of equipment found in The Secret World. If you expand one of the skill ranks, for example blade, you can see that there are ten divisions for each of the two categories, Damage and Survivability. (For talismans, there will only be one category instead.)

Each of these ten divisions represent a skill rank and if you maxed all ten divisions in a particular category (either damage or survivability), you will be able to use the highest quality level (QL 10) of that equipment in the game. However, you ought to note that each of the ten divisions are of different lengths. What this means is that you will require more skill points to attain the next skill rank than compared to the previous. For example, you will need only 1 skill point (SP) to reach skill rank 1, 2 SP to reach skill rank 2 and perhaps maybe 5 SP to reach skill rank 3 and so on.

But be warned that for weapons and magic, the game only takes into account the highest skill rank you have (regardless of category) to determine the quality level of equipment you can use. For instance, if you have skill rank 4 in both damage and survivability in blades, you will only be allowed to equip up to QL 4 blades. However if you have skill rank 8 in damage or survivability, you can equip up to QL 8 blades.

Nonetheless, in my opinion, it is still better to pace yourself and not focus purely in damage or survivability in an attempt to unlock the higher QL equipment. You ought to take into account the passive ability that comes with each increasing skill rank in either of the categories in order to fully harness the power of the weapon.
The Secret World - Weapon Requirements
Finally, I would advise that you save up the skill points and let it accumulate while spending only what you need. There will definitely be a time where you wished you had the skill points necessary to use this or that particular equipment which you had found instead of wasting it on some other skill rank.

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