Quote Of The Day: Judge Not “The Secret World” By Its Beta

July 16, 2012

While first glances make TSW appear to be just another MMO with a horror theme, the reality is the game is much deeper and varied than most of what we have been playing over the last several years.  It was then that I realized I had made a huge error in beta.  I had judged TSW far too early.  I had done a disservice to Funcom as a tester, and almost bypassed what was looking to be one of the best gaming experiences I had had in years.


For the sake of full disclosure, I would first like to say I did not play The Secret World beta. TSW was the first MMO in a long, long time where I consciously and explicitly made the decision to forgo beta, opting to plunge in blind at launch and play with fresh eyes instead. Of course, those paying attention will remember that I caved during the last beta weekend and played for a couple of hours (dammit, I’m so weak). Still, as it was for such a short time and only barely a week before early access, I’m thinking it hardly counts.

Regardless, lately I’ve been reading up on the game a lot. My research around the net has brought me to many a gaming blog or community forum where I often see a reason commonly repeated by people who have decided not to play TSW, usually something along the lines of “I tried the beta, and I didn’t like it.” This is why this blog post by Paganrites caught my attention today (and also because I noticed that several of my Twitter messages make cameo appearances).

In a nutshell, it’s basically an earnest declaration of love for the game from someone who had originally been bitterly let down by beta. The title pretty much says it all.

You could say that I too judged TSW a tad too early, specifically the combat which I initially described from my brief beta experience as clunky and unintuitive. In live, however, it felt smoother and more fluid, and this was only five days later. At first I thought I’d gotten used to the combat; it didn’t occur to me that vast improvements might have been made to the final build, which appears to be the case. I say most of the time, what we see in beta is pretty close to what we see in live, but according to Pagan, those judging TSW by its beta could be doing the game and themselves a disservice, as apparently the difference between the final product and even the later test builds is like night and day.

Just some food for thought, especially regarding what he also says at the end of the article regarding not participating in any more beta tests. Understandably, most people I know prefer to “test drive” an MMO before making the decision to buy, and lately, so-called beta tests have become the way to do so. Still, there is something to be said about waiting to do quests and instance encounters in a new game for the first time during launch — there’s that wonderful shared experience of learning the fights together with others (even if it does mean dying over and over), and allowing yourself to discover the game as a blank slate and be surprised by things you never knew.

It’s the whole reason why I decided to stay away from TSW beta in the first place; even from the beginning it felt to me like the less I knew about it, the better. Ultimately I think it was the right call, as not knowing what to expect — especially in this game — definitely has its advantages. However, as difficult as it might be to resist, going forward I too will probably try holding off on any more beta tests on general principle. No telling if I will succeed, but I just have a feeling it might bring me more enjoyment in the long run.


  1. Loving TSW! I didn’t play in the Beta which was great looking back. I did get a Beta Weekend invite when they started the first Beta Weekend. But by some odd secret conspiracy it was deleted completely from my email system the very day I got it. Best thing to have happened I dare say looking back.

    • Spooky!

    • I was invited to closed beta too, but real life was so damn busy at the time I think I glanced at the email and quickly closed it again as not to be tempted — both because I wanted to experience the game with fresh eyes and because it was like the worst time for more distractions 😛

  2. I was in the beta and was none too impressed. I may look at giving this game a shot again if it goes F2P, but the combat and controls I experienced in the beta (even though they’ve apparently been polished a bit) completely turned me off. I’m also a little put out by the subscription + cash shop idea. Just rubs me the wrong way. But hey, glad you’re having fun! The game does feature some pretty darn high production values, I’ll give it that.

    • Nothing in the cash shop is Pay-to-Win (so far), basically just cosmetic stuff like clothes and minipets. Even WoW has a cosmetic cash shop (sparkle-pony, anyone?). As long as it’s optional and not full of cheat potions, I’m cool with it. After all, “Free-to-Play” generally does have P2W in the cash shop—or worse, Gamble-to-Win—and that I do have a problem with.

      Also, I will laugh if/when TSW’s sub model proves sustainable and it doesn’t go F2P, leaving all these wait-and-see-ers out in the cold.

      • Ha, well if it doesn’t go F2P someday (which will surprise the shit out of me since many MMOs seem to be mulling a switch) then I suppose I won’t ever have to worry about trying TSW out again after my rather tepid beta experience. As it is, it didn’t remotely impress me enough with mechanics or story to gain my gaming dollars. So no loss, really. Glad you guys are enjoying it though. Seemed like a decent concept.

      • I don’t mind cash shops in sub games at all, as long as the items in it remain strictly cosmetic, which is the case of TSW. I would only be put off if it goes beyond that to include items that give players an unfair advantage if they are willing to pay real world money.

        I wish Funcom the best and hope the game can sustain their subscription model, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it one day goes free to play either. I’m just going by the pattern. Even if it’s not soon, even if it’s years and years and years from now, given enough time it is always a possibility.

      • Oh to be sure. Has any “veteran” game besides WoW not gone F2P?

      • Does eve online count as “veteran”?

        Anyway, reminds me, I’m pleased to see that Rift seems to be thriving on a sub model so far, so it gives me hope for TSW.

      • Yeah, EVE would definitely count, I never think about it. I dunno about Rift, but if they have sustainable profitability, then they’re doing great.

      • Does Asheron’s Call count as “veteran”? It’s only been running a monthly sub model since 1999 and doesn’t seem to be planning on going pay2win any time soon. (Also seems to be the inspiration for TSW’s planned monthly update schedule.)

      • Awesome. I knew people would not be able to resist fixing my ignorance. 🙂 I’m also glad glad that there are non-WoW sub-based games that have sustained a reasonable subscribership.

  3. I haven’t sworn off betas completely but I’ve sworn off the idea of doing more than a toe-dip. I did 1 weekend of TSW and 1 weekend of GW2 (and keep in mind for me 1 weekend = 3 hours or so). But what I won’t do again is play a beta so heavily that I’m bored with the early game by the time it launches.

    I also don’t really “apply” to betas and more because I know I’ll suck as a tester. I just take the ones that are being thrown around like candy.

    • I think I prefer the toe-dip over heavy beta play too. If I had to do it over again, I probably wouldn’t have played the SWTOR beta so long and so hard, because those extra six months of playing the game is probably why I think I am feeling more burned out than a lot of people right now. In retrospect, I think what I did with TSW was just right, like just enough to see if I like the concept and the gameplay to keep my preorder.

  4. I was lucky enough to play in the final beta weekend. Honestly I wanted to see what the game was about but I didn’t expect to actually enjoy the game. I was so surprised at how good the game was and when the weekend was over I cursed the fact that I still had a couple months left till I could cancel TERA.

    • I was interested in playing TSW but didn’t really follow its development too closely. So when it hit I was really caught off guard as to how much I enjoyed it. Definitely one of those games that snuck under the radar on me, and I love it when that happens.

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