Home > Preview, The Secret World > “Se7en Reasons to Look Forward to The Secret World” or “The Stuff of Nightmares”

“Se7en Reasons to Look Forward to The Secret World” or “The Stuff of Nightmares”

Have I mentioned that I am eagerly anticipating the release of The Secret World? I think I have. On more than a few occasions I might add.

The game first caught my eye some four years ago, and it has been in development for the better part of a century decade. Much like any other upcoming MMO, the game promises to change the genre, but unlike most of the competition (with the possible exception of Guild Wars 2), The Secret World has some features and mechanics that really does set it apart.

.:: THE ATMOSPHERE ::.

"Will you be my valentine?"

There are a multitude of reason why this game has me giddy as a schoolgirl (are all schoolgirls generally giddy?), but allow me to demonstrate it with a simple example. I am not faint of the heart. I laugh through horror flicks, yawn through scary video games, and thoroughly enjoy scaring the hell out of my friends at winter bonfires with ghost stories. And herein lies my point. See the image above? For some reason, it creeps me out. And this is just one image. The Secret World is chock-full of visuals like these, and then some. This particular screengrab is from an area in the game called Blue Mountain, which is extensively detailed here.

The second CGI trailer is a great example for the atmosphere that is to be expected in The Secret World. An abandoned playground. A sinister foe that can shapeshift. A sole hero. It’s gritty, its dark and it looks delicious!

.:: THE SETTING ::.

The Secret World is set in the real world, not some high-fantasy location like Azeroth, or deep within the infinite reaches of space like New Eden. It is earth, as we know it, circa now. The game’s three factions are based in the very real cities of New York, London and Seoul. Now, granted, the game will make use of fictional towns and imaginative mythic locations where players can face off against the forces of evil, but the world is our own, the heroes ordinary human beings, the conflict very human.

Kingsmouth (Kingsport + Insmouth) is a fictional location within The Secret World. A trailer for the zone was released quite some time back, and it paints a chilling image of a picturesque, idyllic town where nothing is as it seems, and something terrifying lurks just below the surface.

.:: MENAGE-TROIS ::.

The traditional MMO features two opposing sides. Be it Alliance and Horde, Light and Dark Side, the choices, exceptions excluded, are fairly binary in nature. The Secret World, however, has three separate and distinct factions, all sworn to defend the world against the coming darkness, but at odds with each other in their separate pursuits of power.

There are the Dragons:

A whisper of a rumour of a shadow, this Asian group is the most secretive of societies. With no fixed territory or structure, the Dragon have dissolved and reformed throughout history. They believe that a closed, controlled society is a sick society. Only through collapse and rebuilding, the natural chaos of life, can the world be in harmony. Recently, they have taken root in a nameless district of Seoul, Korea.

The Templars:

Proudly tracing their royal lineage back to Babylon, the Templars are the lions of the secret world. When they roar, everyone listens. Old Europe is theirs, and the Templars’ marble hall dominates the old London borough of Ealdwic – historic capital of the secret world. It’s not just a show of strength. Nothing is just for show with the Templars.

And the Illuminati:

The Illuminati may have ancient roots, but they remain forever young and hungry. In every growing empire they have played for it all. And they play for keeps. Stealing the Americas from under the Templars’ noses, they grew with the United States to become a shadow superpower. Their corporate headquarters, the Labyrinth, is in an undisclosed location beneath Brooklyn, New York.

.:: MONSTER MADNESS ::.

To say that The Secret World is full of terrifying and unique enemies would be kind of like saying: “The Atlantic Ocean is damp.” The Secret World is designed around the idea of the stuff of nightmares, legend, and myth brought to life and running amok.

There be monsters, and they be aplenty.

Here are few examples, pilfered directly from The Secret World website.

.:: THE FOURTH PILLAR ::.

The game is the brainchild of one Ragnar Tørnquist, who has been lauded for his story-driven approach to video games such as the award-winning The Longest Journey. Featuring a complex, overarching story that weaves together the bizarre events and monster infestations around the globe, The Secret World explores the terrifying mysteries from history, myth and legend (urban or otherwise). The game won’t be a new set of dungeons, and a new global threat emerging with the latest content patch, it will be a seamless experience, rich in context, broad in scope and terrifying in detail.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying other MMOs don’t try to be story-driven. The latest entry into the foray, Star Wars: The Old Republic has established Guinness-documented world records for script with hundreds of hours of dialogue recorded. A review actually stated that from a single-player point of view, SW:TOR was 8 complex, interwoven storylines in one epic game. All I am saying is that my initial fear was that The Secret World would follow the formulaic pattern of introducing a new zone, with new threats, and new enemies every few months without regard to the larger story. It seems Mr. Tørnquist has already circumvented that by creating a story that ties everything in the world together.

.:: THE END TO CLASS WARFARE ::.

This is the big one. MMOs, by design, feature a personal progression system. Your character gains experience from questing, defeating enemies and completing tasks. This experience accumulates to the point where you graduate from your current level to the next, gaining additional abilities, specializations, talents, etc. The Secret World does away with this system altogether. There are no levels, there are no classes. You can choose your abilities as you see fit, without ever feeling the need to re-roll. There are over 500 skills to choose from, and you can slot them into your character abilities as you see fit.

But wait a second, with 500 abilities to choose from, how will you ever make an informed decision? Just yesterday, Funcom revealed the skill-deck templates. These are recommended skill-decks that you can mimic to create a particular type of archetype. To quote Massively:

The Witch Hunter focuses on big damage spikes and represents the Templars, the Warlord is your basic swordfighter from the Dragon faction, and the Thaumaturgist is the Illuminati’s answer to the gunmage archetype.

This not only gives you complete freedom over your character, but also help new players to the game (or genre) to comfortably get into a pre-determined, tried-and-tested set of abilities as they learn the ropes enough to make their own decisions. Additional details can be found here.

.:: LOCK AND LOAD … AND CAST FIREBALLS ::.

The no levels and no class system lends itself to the game’s varied arsenal. You can use melee weapons such as swords or bats, or firearms both small and large, or even use destructive magic to your advantage. The lack of class also implies that you never have to stick to one type of weapon or damage build. You can mix and match as you see fit, leveraging the wide range of havoc-inducing abilities, weapons and skills to your heart’s content and your enemy’s demise.

Additionally, your costume and look does not have to reflect your progressions through the latest content. You can wear what you want, acquiring apparel from missions, factions or shops in the main cities as you see fit. There are literally hundreds of options for you to discover.

Well there we have it folks, those are my top 7 reasons for looking forward to The Secret World. If you have any additional reasons, please feel free to share them in the comments below. Please also let me know if there are any factual errors.

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Categories: Preview, The Secret World
  1. theerivs
    February 14, 2012 at 10:38 pm

    Great Write Up, These are one of the games on my must watch list, and can’t wait to dive into it. I just hope Funcom has learned from it AoC mistakes.

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