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Well, I finally bit the bullet and bought this game in a moment of weakness when another game I play was in the middle of server maintenance, and I was well and truly bored.
I'm happy I did.
The Secret World has a completely different set up than what I am used to. It took me a couple hours of playing and remaking characters to actually figure out a couple things:
A. I want to be a Templar
B. Skill points and Ability Points must be used carefully with an idea of what you want to do.
This game confused the hell out of me at the start. 7 skills instead of the bundle of skills I use in SWTOR. Can't say I minded it though, needed something simple in those first couple of hours to keep me sane. I ended up settling on a dual pistol/sword guy and got him through the maverick deck (outfit wasn't as cool as it initially looked but way better than the starter options) and he's now an Elect (Rank 3) of the Templar and working on Paladin. Thus, I've not been all the way through and can only comment on what I've seen so far.
The skill system - The SP you spend on unlocking the use of upgraded weapons and the AP you spend unlocking new skills are things I've not tried before. I was a bit confused at first but once you figure out where you are going with it, it's a lot simpler than it appears. Even if you mess up, you will eventually unlock all the skills and weapon abilities so unless you are just starting the game I would recommend to keep plugging along.
Cinematics - A lot of the quests cut to a cinematic so you get an idea of what's going on in this area, why they need you, and what you have to do. This is something I prefer A LOT to just reading through a wall of text or just ignoring the text and doing what the quest says.
Outfits - Some are cool, some are not. After seeing the endgame SWTOR gear, most of them are cool. There are several shops in the London area that sell outfit items (all outfits are purely cosmetic so I wouldn't recommend spending a lot of cash on them at first). You can also unlock outfits by moving up in your organization, and by completing decks in the Ability wheel.
Dungeons - I've only done Hell Raised on Normal Mode. However that dungeon is for around quality item level 4ish for players (out of 10) and that dungeon was more difficult than any SWTOR Hardmode Flashpoint I've done. Maybe I'm used to the flashpoints and know what to expect, but that dungeon was well done.
Major city - There are 3 cities but the major one is London, with the Auction House and several pubs you can go in. This is what I enjoy a lot about the game. You can walk into a pub and it looks like you belong there. Some games you walk in and you see the locals in the tavern (NPCs) and the players who you can immediately tell by the massive armor plates they wear. In this game, I've found it hard to tell the difference from NPCs and players sometimes.
Customer Service - I've only had one experience where I've used it so far, a new sword I got disappeared from my inventory. Apparently I had deleted it, but I filled out a petition that night and it was back in my inventory the next morning.
Faction Distribution - By this I mean that there isn't a lot of difference in gameplay depending on the faction you choose. They all start out in their own major city but since London is the largest and has the auction house/post office/clothing store most players find their way here. Every faction starts out in Kingsmouth, the starter area at the same spot on the map. With the exception of outfits and your ocassional Templar/Dragon/Illuminati quest, the gameplay is 99% identical for each faction. Had they made New York (Illuminati city) and Seoul (Dragon city) larger it may of encouraged a bit more exploration and you would see more of your own in your city.
Your character is a silent one - By that I mean there is no voice for your character. He/She is completely and sometimes awkwardly silent in every cutscene. This sometimes makes me wonder why they even put those cutscenes in at all. I am used to SWTOR where you can have conversations for sometimes tiresome periods of time. I would be happy in this case with a set answer that your character says without you choosing it. Just something to make him sound like he possesses the ability to speak.
If you like Dante's Inferno, and MMOs, you may enjoy this one. Not your typical fantasy MMO and leveling process, but different ways to go about things certainly is something I would encourage in this genre. I have to get away from the zombies and other hellish creatures once in a while, and the pubs are the best place to do it. The community so far is great and I've overall enjoyed what I've done so far.
Advice for those just starting out: Get a basic handle on the game mechanics and then start searching for a good, active Cabal (Guild). I lucked out and found a great one in De Templo on the Arcadia server, and through them I'm really starting to understand the intricacies of this game.
I may update this after I play a bit more, we'll see.