The Secret World started yesterday and despite still being invested in two other games (Diablo 3 and Eve) I was persuaded to download it and have a look around. And I'm delighted I did.
Unusually for me I didn't check out the hype, min/max the talent trees and argue on the game's forums before launch - in fact I'm playing it without knowing anything about it. And I think that's definitely a fun way to experience it.
With no knowledge of the mechanics I was forced to learn how to play by experiencing the game which is actually a very enjoyable experience. The game feels rather slow at first, cutscenes abound and are not skippable. That favours the clueless enormously. If you're itching to get to coordinates X,Y so you can loot the Sword Of Promise and then get to the Bat Cave and farm elite bats until 60 it's probably very annoying to be sat down and lectured. But not having much idea about anything it's quite soothing to be eased into a slower pace more exploratory frame of mind.
I've just spent about an hour figuring out a puzzle quest. At one point I was quite flummoxed so I did peek at a youtube walkthrough, but only up until the point I was stuck. Otherwise I've been enjoying floundering around trying different things and falling on my face a lot. Or as we called it once upon a time "playing".
It's the complete antithesis of how I play my other games and I'm really enjoying puzzling the game out, reading the lore, trying to get my head around the bigger picture/global conspiracy/doomsday scenario plotline or whatever the hell is going on.
I'm sure that in due course players will find ways to differentiate "elite" players from the scrubs with some kind of gearscore or skill point-based elitism. But right now it feels like a pre-internet game, taking me back to games like Eye of the Beholder where I once spent three days stuck on a puzzle before eventually figuring it out.
My only slight quibble is the minimum specs. It won't run on one of my computers and chugs along somewhat reluctantly on the other, crashing because it's out of memory after about 4-5 hours. Still it functions well enough that I probably won't bother upgrading.
All told, it feels very interesting and very different, a genuine change of pace in a cliched genre. Recommended.