so you know what kind of experience i am coming from: i have played the standards: everquest, everquest 2, WoW, SWTOR, final fantasy, guild wars. i am not a power leveler. there seem to be a lot of problems with the nightmare setting because i am not at this level yet.
okay the bad:
solo mission experiences. they are the worst part for me. you group with people and all of a sudden these solo missions force you to leave a group you are already specked to fight with. sure, you can use a gear management that will let you change all that, but you upgrade your skills so fast it is almost pointless. but after you leave the beginning solomon island, they are said to dry up almost completely.
the bugs. i personally havent run into too many, but when i have they have been nasty and long lived. one mission has been broken off and on for two weeks now. although, my response from gm was swift and helpful and i was able to complete it.
the tutorial is no fun. it does nothing to explain the nuances of how the actions can work together. when you start getting your abilities, it doesnt explain them either.
you cannot reset skill/ ability points. sure, you will get all them eventually, but you still feel like you are an underdeveloped character compared to people who follow through a skill tree themselves.
that's a lot of bad right? well, these are the reasons i really love this game.
this game is fucking gorgeous and scary. the atmosphere is spot on. there have been times i have had to stop playing because i knew i would have nightmares. the crinkling sounds of feet through leaves. birds cawing. sound dudes need a reward. you want to look around, even if you are kind of scared.
the missions. oh the missions. yes, you have your standard go collect such and such, but there is so much to find in this world. you find so many intractable items. so many missions go beyond killing things. there are a ton of neat sneak missions or investigation missions that require you to use outside sources such as google to complete them. one had you deciphering morse code. i would said actually half of them are in the second category.
lore: random tidbits scattered throughout about the world. they make you want to look around. if not for bragging rights, but just to read it.
clothing: finally a game gets this. the clothing sets are stored and maintained separate from my inventory and stats. i am so glad i dont have to look at an ugly toon because it ups stats.
builds: there is no perfect build anymore. while this also be a weakness, i will admit it is nice to have the freedom to change it up. you want to try tank then heal tomorrow? sure!
no levels/redo most quests: one of the worst things in a video game is trying to bring in a friend and being so overpowered is is no fun. most games, you can reroll, which is lame as well. but what secret world does is it allows you to change gear and become "lower level" and still gain experience.
content update monthly: so you friend wants to come. you have done kingsmouth so many times you are sick of it? no, because they are including new missions in every area, even the lower levels so that a returning play can be new and fun.
the game creators are reading the forums: in the new content updates, the game creators are addressing issues being talked about in the forums. they are adjusting releasing content based on what is being said that is wanted in the forums.
ill be the first to admit. the game isnt perfect. a lot of people have been talking about strengths of the guild wars beta, but it is unfair to compare these two.
secret world for me is a nice wine. this isnt a game for people who guzzle things, who rush through and just want gear. you have to savor secret world. you have to want to look for things and to read and be a little silly and pretend you are part of the secret world.
so i will leave you with my favorite piece of lore from the league of monster slayers:
"Innocence died when two mutilated boys were found in the forest, in 1987. The adults consoled each other by repeating "animal attack," but children are less removed from the mesozoic swamp of the womb, closer to the feverish, hardline connection to comunal memory and the paleolithic wisdom that says humans are tasty, and the dark is filled with tasters. "