Entering Into The Secret World
I had thought that I would soon be free of my subscription based MMO addiction. I haven’t played such a game in at least a couple of months and my blood sugar levels were returning to normal. It seems however that The Secret World is in the works and after seeing a really cool panel at New York Comic Con about it I’ve decided to just give up, grab my 5 Hour Energy drinks and Hot Pockets and let it wash over me.
I had heard a few things about The Secret World before attending this panel. Generally speaking I was intrigued – An MMO set in a present day “real” world environment sounded different than the usual fantasy fare, and while I love mages and dragons and ogres and Lich Kings like everyone else, the prospect of hanging out in Brooklyn in this game really appeals to me.
Ragnar Tornquist, Creative Director and Producer at Funcom and Lead Writer Dag Scheve were on hand to give us a presentation of the game with some gameplay and lore as well as answering a few questions from the audience.
They showed us a part of the game called Tokyo Flashback, which gave us a good glimpse of the gameplay and a few of the non player characters that you will meet in the game. They didn’t give us much in the way of spoilers except to say that there is an evil force called The Filth, rising up from the depths of wherever and looking to infect everyone with a viral evil. You are part of a secret organization – one of three different factions to choose from in the game – The Templars, The Illuminati, and The Dragons. These secret groups, while antagonistic toward each other all share a common goal. They are trying to eradicate the Filth and all the other evil in the world. In this world, everything is real – every myth, urban legend, scary story that you have ever heard is real. Vampires? Check. Zombies? Check. Mummies and wolfmen? Check. And its your job to stop them all within this world and a story that unveils itself along the way.
During the gameplay we saw, which is only a small part of the 150-200 hours PvE we learned that your character can be whoever you want them to be and fight however you want them to fight. There are no set classes or levels in the game, allowing you to fully customize your character however you like. The basic weapons apply, like blades, assault rifles, pistols, fist weapons, magical abilities, etc. and there are many ways to alter the weapons however you see fit. Your wardrobe is not stat based so you can wear whatever you want. I have to admit, as silly it sounds, I am really excited for this. The absolute worst is having a completely bad ass character and having to wear some ugy ass frock just because it gives you the stamina boost you need. The game has a gentle learning curve and a learn as you go play style, with limited to no tutorials to interrupt your immersion. Roleplaying is very important to the game according to the development team, which is why customization is so expansive. You can even learn every skill if you play the game long enough. There is no rail roading of talent trees.
The gameplay looked like a lot of fun. It’s a tab target based gameplay but you are free to move around whenever you want. Unlike other MMOs like World of Warcraft where your character is stuck pretty much in one spot while you’re targeting something, The Secret World allows you to run amuck as you see fit, blasting baddies and avoiding attacks from various vantages with real time mechanics. The NPCs we met in the game – Dragon Mei Ling, Templar Rose and Illuminati Alex were all fully voiced and moved the story along. The game is very story focused with lots of cinematics. It will be interesting to see how this works. There are sidequests of course that can happen, but I’m not sure I’ve played an MMO where the story is the focus and there was a fixed narrative or overarching story that I’m such a big part of. Don’t feel the pressure of saving the world though. They made it clear that while you’re doing your part to fight the war you’re in, there are many others fighting their own battles. Your story is about you, the big story is about everyone.
The world in which the player lives is modeled as closely to the real world as possible, giving the game a fantasy based in reality type of feel. I myself can’t wait to see Brooklyn, which is where I live, but also not coincidentally where the Illuminati faction is based. I can tell already that this game is going to be a nightmare for my eating and sleeping habits. I will likely form an unhealthy attachment to my avatar and give her personality quirks and a personal head canon. I forsee several months of sweatpants in my future.
The Secret World will be released for PC in April 2012. Keep an eye out folks. This is one to look for.