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Funcom's in a bad way after poor Lego MMO performance


Seeking merger, acquisition, or anything
Aug 12
// Brett Makedonski
Norwegian developer Funcom is seemingly in financial peril after its free-to-play turned pay-to-play game Lego Minifigures Online performed worse than expected. The company doesn't expect revenues from the Lego ...

LEGO Minifigures Online is an MMO that anyone can jump into

Mar 27 // Brett Makedonski
[embed]272482:53141:0[/embed] Yes, accessibility's the crux of LEGO Minifigures Online, and that permeates both the gameplay and the places you'll find it. Available on both PC and Android/iOS devices, it features crossplay capabilities so that anyone can pick up wherever they left off at any time. While it's easy to find a device to pick up and jump into LEGO Minifigures Online, it's just as simple to actually play. Most of the gameplay is assigned to left-clicking or tapping the screen. This includes walking, attacking, and building. A few odds and ends are assigned to other buttons, but there's nothing overwhelming to be found here. Don't think for a second that its simplicity is a hindrance, though. No, this game boasts some seriously entertaining gameplay for those who are willing to give it a try. Sectioned off into different worlds, players go on raids in parties of up to four people. The area that we were shown was pirate-themed, but the developers made mention of a medieval setting as well as a few others. The titular characters -- that is, the Minifigures -- are put on center stage, as they're the real focal point here. LEGO Minifigures Online promises to feature a cast of around 100 at game's launch. If the selection we were shown is any indication, they'll be incredibly varied. A few that we saw were an ice skater, a sky diver, a paintballer, a motorcyclist, and a fairy. Their appearances weren't their only defining characteristics, though. Each character has two attacks that are uniquely their own. Some are direct, others are area-of-effect, and usually they work well in conjunction with one another. Apart from this, each character can be leveled up to level ten through a shared pool of experience points. In theory, if you want to dash one right up to the level cap, you can, but at the expense of the progress of others. Most of the fun in LEGO Minifigures Online comes from simply unlocking new characters. There are a host of ways to do this in-game, such as beating bosses, earning achievements, and finding them in the wild. However, Funcom plans to also insert downloadable codes in packs of Minifigures at retail, meaning that each new toy bought comes with a tangible and digital version. As for the questing, the raid we were taken on wasn't overly difficult, but could prove a bit challenging at times. It focused a lot on areas full of new enemies with the occasional objective. Surprisingly, building wasn't as central of a theme as expected. It was more about combat and collecting. By the end, we were fighting a kraken -- a multi-tiered boss that was actually somewhat thought-provoking. At first impression, LEGO Minifigures Online is a title that most anyone can have fun with. I don't know if those expecting a true MMO experience will be able to look to this as a long-term fix, but going into it with an action-game mindset may help. Actually, in a lot of ways it might remind you of Traveller's Tale LEGO games, and there's nothing wrong with that.
LEGO Minifigures preview photo
Regardless of age
Let's face it: massively multiplayer online games can be intimidating for some people. Between the incredibly nuanced systems that some titles tout, and the tales of time and dedication required to "properly" play a game, it'...

LEGO MMO photo
LEGO MMO

Beta sign-ups open for Funcom's LEGO Minifigures Online


Oh, right. This game is happening
Nov 04
// Jordan Devore
Funcom is making a LEGO MMO of its own and would-be players can now register for the game's closed beta. LEGO Minifigures Online is fully launching next year and before that point, there will also be an open beta. If you sign...
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The Secret World sees 400% increase in 'activity levels'


70,000+ units sold in the month following the new business model
Jan 10
// Jordan Devore
Taking The Secret World from a subscription-based game to the "buy-to-play" model has done quite well for Funcom. The company has called this re-launch a success, announcing that "Activity levels in the game have increased by...

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The Secret World scraps subscription fees


Another MMO skirts on the freemium line
Dec 12
// Jim Sterling
The Secret World has become the latest MMO to learn that, if it ain't Warcraft, it ain't getting away with charging subscription fees. Mandatory fees have been dropped from Funcom's ailing game, though other areas of monetiza...
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New game in The Longest Journey saga in pre-production


Sequel to Dreamfall: The Longest Journey
Nov 01
// Dale North
Funcom has announced that the sequel to Dreamfall: The Longest Journey has gone into pre-production at Red Thread Games. This is a new studio formed by Ragnar Tornquist, the creator of The Longest Journey saga, and the creati...
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Halloween comes early to The Secret World


Ghost cats for all!
Oct 18
// Jordan Devore
Are you still playing The Secret World? Now would be a good time to log back in, as Funcom has pushed out some Halloween-centric content by way of the new update, Issue #3: The Cat God. It wouldn't be an MMO without nods to ...
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Funcom has tools to make The Secret World free to play


Could also use a 'hybrid' model
Sep 17
// Jordan Devore
Following the recent layoffs at Funcom, GamesIndustry caught up with CEO Ole Schreiner to talk about the subscription-based model The Secret World uses. He says that the game is profitable now that re-structuring has happened...
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The Secret World lead game designer laid off


Sep 11
// Dale North
Funcom MMO The Secret World did not do as well as they had hoped it would, selling only 200,000 copies since its July launch. And now, as it usually goes, the layoffs happen.  A notable casualty is The Secret World's lea...
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The Secret World sold only 200,000 copies since launch


Aug 29
// Dale North
Financials for Funcom for this last quarter show disappointing results for their newest, MMO The Secret World. The game sold only 200,000 copies since its June 29th launch, despite more than half a million players having sign...
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Secret World's first content update announced


Jul 13
// Victoria Medina
Set to go live July 31st, The Secret World's first content update, Unleashed, (referred to as Issue #1) has been revealed, with promises of more issues coming every month. This first round of content will contain se...
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The Secret World 'Chronicle' profile and leaderboard tool


Jul 09
// Dale North
Funcom has launched a new profile and leader board service for new MMO The Secret World today called Chronicle. By logging in here players can view a complete record of their journey through the game, as well as character pro...
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The Secret World launch trailer should be seen


Jul 03
// Dale North
If you've been keeping up with Funcom's newly released MMO The Secret World, you'll know exactly what to expect. But, for those that haven't, this new launch trailer shows just how vast and lovely this game's world is. Eithe...
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Strange day for Funcom CEO Trond Arne Aas to resign


Jul 02
// Dale North
Wow. One day before the launch of The Secret World, Funcom's latest MMO, CEO Trond Arne Aas resigns. Sounds scary, right? Actually, there's nothing wrong with the game (in fact, it's great) or the company (stock is up), thoug...
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The Secret World early access begins today


Jun 29
// Dale North
Funcom sends word that the early access pre-launch period for upcoming MMO The Secret World begins today. The game's official launch goes down on July 3, but existing pre-order customers will get to get in early, starting rig...
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Funcom to develop a LEGO Minifigures MMO


Jun 28
// Dale North
Online game maker Funcom has just announced that they've signed an agreement with the LEGO Group to develop a massively multiplayer online game based on the Lego Minifigures franchise. How cool would that be!? "The market for...
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Final beta weekend for The Secret World opens June 22


Jun 19
// Jordan Devore
The fourth beta weekend for The Secret World will run from 9:00am Pacific on June 22 to 11:59pm Pacific on June 24. In addition to being the final event -- the full release of the MMO is set for July 3 -- this one is worth a ...
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The Secret World talks combat and skills


May 18
// Victoria Medina
As the time draws near for the release of The Secret World more information is coming out, like this video which details combat abilities and skills. At eight minutes this is quite the detailed video, but if you're curious a...
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Friday marks the second beta weekend for The Secret World


May 15
// Jordan Devore
The second beta weekend event for The Secret World is almost here. It'll run from Friday, May 18 at 9:00am Pacific to Sunday, May 20 at 11:59pm Pacific. Those of you who participated in the prior beta can continue to use your...
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Secret World is now accepting your pre-orders


Apr 03
// Victoria Medina
The Secret World launch date is steadily approaching, and to get ready for that, pre-orders have been announced. Should you choose to put down money for the game before it's release, you'll get a few things in return, the mos...

Preview: Reinventing the MMO with The Secret World

Mar 15 // Daniel Starkey
The Secret World (PC)Developer: FuncomPublisher: Electronic ArtsRelease: June 19, 2012 Like World of Warcraft and The Old Republic, The Secret World is based on interfactional warfare. There are the Templars based out of London who want to restore and maintain order, the Dragons based out of Seoul who are the embodiment of chaos, and the Illuminati based out of New York who are comparatively moderate. Each of these factions is contending with transdimensional foes, and there are a lot of unanswered questions and a lot of figures vying for power. Everyone will have a recruitment mission to get them set up with one of the groups, but there is no typical class selection here. Funcom has decided upon Skyrim-style class selection -- pick what you want, do what you want, and find a role for yourself. There are more than 500 abilities and nine classes of weapons (though some of those are magic), and as you gain experience, you get skill points to distribute into any category to shape your character however you want. Each player is also limited to seven active abilities and seven passive abilities, so careful selection and strategy plays into deciding what you use. It's a really intriguing system that is elegantly implemented with a stunningly beautiful, semi-minimal interface. Taking cues from TOR, the majority of the game is voiced, though the player character is a silent protagonist. It's a much more engaging way of conveying stories and doling out quests, and it represents another area where Blizzard is starting to fall behind. Quests themselves are more organic than in other MMOs, and the story is told more through the perspective of gathering information and lore to piece together what is going on rather than through the traditional fetch quest. "Quest givers," if they can be called that, will often actively mislead you either intentionally or unintentionally, and they represent an interesting break with the established tropes of the genre. I had a good 30 minutes to play the game after a presentation by Funcom staff showing off some new content. I wasn't able to get too far into the real meat of the game, but I got to pick up a few weapons, tool around with some basic abilities, and run around London for a bit. The overworld is rich and lively, and for once, there's a game which does not seem to have the utterly impractical architecture of other MMOs (i.e. buildings that are so utterly gargantuan as to be ridiculous). Combat is smooth, and everything takes place in real time. The player can move while casting, charging, shooting, etc., so battles feel more like an action RPG than anything else -- faster and more frantic without ever losing complete control. It's a fun and refreshing mix that I can't say I have seen replicated anywhere else. The Secret World is due out June 19th, which is good because I've been looking forward to this since I first saw it at PAX '09. I'm still a bit concerned as to the longevity of the title, but a lot of work has gone into "reinventing the wheel," as it were, and it definitely shows.
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The MMO space has been steadily filling up since people realized just how much money Blizzard is actually making. Many have tried to break into that space, but most have failed. Funcom has a pretty consistent history of bring...

The Secret World: An unconventional, modern MMO

Feb 24 // Dale North
The Secret World (PC)Developer: FuncomPublisher: Electronic ArtsRelease: June 19, 2012 The start of a day-long play session began much like my last one, where my character saw his start in one of the game's three factions -- The Illuminati, The Templars and The Dragons. Last time I was a Templar runnng around in stuffy old London, but this time I played as an Illuminati new recruit, and I started out by poking around a crappy New York laundromat to find my contact to lead me to the Illuminati headquarters. My contact turned out to be a crazed conspiracy theorist that dropped a constant stream of one-liners and pop culture references, mentioning D&D groups, Pac-Man, ramen, the Death Star and pop-up porn ads in the same breath. I think it's safe to say that you've never seen MMO NPCs this entertaining. In fact, the NPCs are crafted so well that I found myself exhausting dialogue trees. After making it to HQ and through the first training mission, I set off to sunny Egypt, to an area called the Scorched Desert, where I was far too busy fighting off crazed cultists and monster scorpions to enjoy the scenery. I thought I would be able to hang with the big boys with my prior experience, but was quickly put in my place by the stiff challenge and 3-4 skull (TSW's 1-5 enemy difficulty rating system) baddies. I felt a bit better about myself after hearing that this section of the game comes up after some 60 hours of play.  For as difficult as it was, there is a lot of fun to be had in the Scorched Desert. For example, my first interaction there was with a fast-talking mummy in a three-piece suit and hat, talking on a cell phone. He may be rotting a bit, with some of his body oozing through his otherwise sharp suit, but he's surprisingly up on secret society happenings for a three-thousand year old corpse. Again, they've made it to where NPC dialogue is a treat and not a chore. I cannot stress enough how enjoyable the story segments of TSW are. In Egypt I joined a group with three others to take on some of the area's many missions together. We set out to find out a bit more about the angry cultists that were sneaking about the area's main city and surrounding homes. Unlike other MMOs, where you would devise an attack plan and go in with guns-a-blazing, we were sent on wild chases around the city looking for leads. We eventually encountered a suspicious villager that we tailed, stealth style, to later find that she and others entered a secret door in the mountains. Kicking the door down didn't work; we eventually learned that we needed to take down cultists so that we could use their clothing to sneak in.  This is just one of the game's many examples of how Funcom's team enjoys sending players on a bit of hunt. It's also a good example of how TSW isn't afraid to take a break from standard MMO combat for a bit. Some of the missions, like the combat-free investigations, are so unconventional that I think some MMO players are going to find themselves wearing their thinking caps for the first time. One such mission had my team and I trying to hack a computer with only a few hints pulled off a dead body for a password. This sent all four of us to Google, using the game's built-in browser to comb Wikipedia and other sites for clues. This search led us to an Edgar Allen Poe that was tied to cryptography, and one of my brilliant team members was able to reverse that cryptography to come up with the password!  Our play session ended with a crawl through two of the game's dungeons, taking us through the bowels of Egypt's pyramids, and then onto Hell. They were a blast to play through as a group as they were filled with strange creature types, stiff platform-y challenges and some ridiculously difficult bosses. Instead of picking off random enemies in a tube-ish corridor, The Secret World's dungeons are like tightly crafted adventures peppered with puzzle-like interactions and key battles. In one dungeon, little floating electrical balls called Motes would randomly attach to the heads of players to render them useless and mute. Another mote-free party member would have to pick them off before the player's brains were drained. Imagine dealing with this during boss battles! The sub-boss and boss battles were imaginative and exciting. They all feature creative design, great art, and a high difficulty level that requires strong teamwork to survive. The boss fights all seem to have a puzzle twist that goes well beyond that tired 'find the weak point' challenge. One particularly memorable fight had a massive Egyptian beast pushing my party and I toward the end of a dead end bridge, squeezing us from both sides. We had to attack as fast and efficiently as we could before the boss and his spawn pushed us to the edge, and we eventually made it with only seconds to spare. Some of the location and enemy details of these battles are still on lockdown, but I can tell you that all I've played through so far are a thrill, and all serve as yet another example of how much care Funcom has put into this game. During my adventures in New York, Egypt and Hell, I tinkered with The Secret World's skill and equipment systems, both of which have seen improvements since my last play session. There are no classes in this game, but there are 550+ abilities to pick and choose from to create your own class, with an available 7 active and 7 passive abilities open to you at once. With some help I crafted a sword user that also dealt with elementals, which made for a DPS character that could run in and do some major slash damage if needed. Playing through missions earns you experience that you can freely dump into any of these abilities to create and refine your character, pumping in points to unlock attacks and spells in categories separated by weapon and attack type. It's fun to dig deep into this "skill wheel" to see what you can create, but with the high number of abilities and combinations, it can also be kind of scary, as I noted in my last preview. Since then Funcom has added a set of suggested builds for each of the three factions. They call them "decks," and they're not unlike the decks in a collectible card game like Magic: The Gathering. These decks will start players out with preset ability combinations, but can be changed freely with different abilities. They've also added a search option that let's you dig down deep into those 500+ abilities to find, say, all the critical hit abilities. Beyond this, "builds" of abilities and equipment can be saved in slots and shared with other players.  There's a freedom to The Secret World that makes it open to so many different types of players. Love a good story? Dig in with the investigation missions and conspiracy theories and get lost in it. Hate stories and just want to fight? Learn to use shotguns (yes, they're great) and go after the huge bosses. The class-free, totally open abilities system means that you can make any character type you can imagine. The open-ended mission system means you can delve into the types of things that interest you. Its huge world and nearly endless possibilities may prove to be daunting for players stuck in that MMO rut, but I'd bet they'd eventually prove to be freeing.  The Secret World is quite different from other MMOs with its classless system and unconventional mission design, but these are also among its greatest strengths. The sense of freedom, smart writing, and modern setting are also major plusses. They come together to make the first MMO I've been excited about in a very long time.
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The Secret World is coming along quite nicely. We saw Funcom's unconventional modern day, classless, action driven MMO at their offices late last year, but I've had the pleasure of checking in on their progress last week.&nbs...

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The Secret World launches June 19


Feb 21
// Dale North
One of the coolest MMO games I've played in a long time, The Secret World, finally has an official launch date: June 19, 2012. It was originally marked for an April launch, but Funcom says that they're wanting to put a bit mo...
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The Illuminati revealed in The Secret World


Jan 13
// Alasdair Duncan
Earlier this week, Funcom teased the reveal of the Illuminati, one of the three playable factions in its upcoming MMORPG, The Secret World. Revealed as the manipulators and schemers in the shadows, the Illuminati look to be t...
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The Secret World's Scorched Desert looks brutal


Dec 07
// Dale North
Desert locations are always a bitch, but in upcoming MMO The Secret World it's going to be the biggest bitch. A new trailer shows off this location, which is set in Egypt. If the heat and the dudes with rocket launchers isn'...

Preview: First ever hands-on with The Secret World

Nov 21 // Dale North
The Secret World (PC)Developer: FuncomPublisher: Electronic ArtsRelease: 2012 From a story standpoint, The Secret World is about as new and different as you can get. It somehow brings together all the myths, legends, and conspiracies you can imagine for what has to be the most unique setting for an MMO I've ever seen. You play as a member of one of three secret societies: the Dragons based in Seoul, the Templars in London, or the Illuminati in New York. These groups have been controlling human history for ages behind the scenes, and now they're at war with each other in what is being called the Secret War. At the same time, each society is also at war with the underworld and the supernatural, constantly working to fight back anything creepy, crawly, and mythical.  The setting is the modern day, with locales all over the world from small New England towns to ancient Egypt. You could be exploring one of the world's major cities one minute then later find yourself alone in the mountains. There are hints of pop culture everywhere, though you'll never feel like it's slapping you in the face. It's all nicely blended, taking from the past and current day. You'll see new versions of monsters from children's fairy tails in the same place you'd find horrible, imaginative beasts drawn from urban legends. It's a world where broadswords, machine guns, and particle cannons fit equally. I don't know how Funcom managed to stitch this all into a single experience, but they did, and it all comes together nicely.  It's not just the setting that's different -- The Secret World has no classes or levels at all. It's all about total freedom. You'll start out by choosing your faction, which remains is forever set, and the story changes based on which society you choose. From there, the way you play the game will shape your character. Early on, you'll chose your weapon and start down a path of growing skills for that weapon type, but you can change and mix weapons at any time. There are 588 (!) powers and abilities in this game, and all of them are rank-less, unnumbered, and freely mixable -- this freeform style will surely blow the minds of those used to class-based MMOs. With a change to your power and weapon set, you can be anything you need to be at any time. Gone are the days of forming a static team of healers and tanks and so on. You'll gain experience points from everything you do, and you're free to pump that into anything you choose. Players will have access to 14 powers at a time, seven active and clickable and seven passive. What's neat is that there are different synergies between powers and that they can be combined with weapons and other items. The folks at Funcom likened the system to building a custom deck in Magic: The Gathering. You have the freedom to "build a deck" around a power, or work out cool combinations of a set. This freedom could bring about in-game advantages that have more to do with creativity and less to do with mindless grinding.  The story in The Secret World is huge. It spans millions of years of world history, created by fusing together tens of thousands of pieces pulled from myths, legends, movies, books, and popular culture. The story is vast, and the first hour of gameplay will have you plunging right in, becoming fully engaged in this world where dark secrets lie right under the surface. While the game centers around a long, linear story, it comes together in a non-linear fashion. Funcom says that there's a story thread that runs through the first 150 or so hours of main game from the faction point of view. That story is uncovered bit by bit, with details slowly emerging after completing a mission or from taking to any of the game's fully voiced characters. The Secret World is spiked with high quality cinematics that add depth to this story. There's a scripted core to all of this, but it's up to players to explore and unfold the story for themselves. Funcom hopes to keep building on the story, evolving it over many years. They say they hope this game is going to last a long time. Hands-on: I traveled to Montreal to be among those who would get the very first hands-on look at Funcom's hard work. They've put ten years into The Secret World and were excited to show it off. I was able to spend an entire day, sunrise to sunset, playing this game and trying out its various locales, modes, and options. That said, I know I only skimmed the surface in my session. The Secret World definitely lives up to the "massive" part of "MMO." I was able to start the game from the very beginning, from the character creation stage. From there, the opening cinematic and introduction throw you right into the game's world. From awaking in the middle of the night to find that I had strange new powers, to joining the Templars and running around a beautifully detailed London as a faction newbie on my first mission, the descent into the story took about an hour. This "start-up" time might feel a bit long for an MMO, but it's important for a game this heavy on story.  After getting my bearings and picking my weapons (shotguns!), my first bit of work as a Templar sent me to Japan for a mission called "Tokyo Flashback." I had to quickly make sense of the game's mechanics in the narrow, dimly lit corridors of a monster-infested Tokyo subway. Combat allows movement while attacking, so I kept moving as I worked my entry-level shotgun attack. Eventually, I worked up to multi-hit and spread attacks, which came in handy up against one-on-one sub-boss battles in dark subway stairwells. There were bits of story shared here, but I was too busy watching my ass to pay much attention -- this was a pretty tough way to become acclimated with a game for the first time. I was glad to be an assisting member of a larger party; if I had been alone, I would have died in the subway many times.  I had much more time to get a feel for the game and its boundaries in Kingsmouth. The wide-open New England setting was quite a change from the Tokyo subway, especially with all the zombies running around. A fog seemed to be overtaking the area, and this was somehow related to an incident in Tokyo, but I wasn't able to see a direct connection from the given story bits. What was clear was that the area was overrun with evil and that I was there to help push that evil back and find out what was causing it.  I really enjoyed how The Secret World had no set structure or path to follow. While I was in Kingsmouth to help and relay information back to Templar HQ, I was totally free to act in any way I liked. All of the attending press at this preview event started out in much the same way, taking missions from a kindly small town sheriff who was in over her head regarding the monster attacks. Missions had us running back and forth from the police station into town, doing things like gathering supplies, installing security cameras, and taking on roaming zombies and other monsters in the streets along the way. What was interesting is that we all seemed to branch out after those first couple of starter jobs, moving to missions and other tasks that better fit our personalities and game preferences. Kingsmouth was absolutely packed with different types of missions to fit different types of play. Those that come from an MMO background felt right at home continuing on with classic missions that had them taking down big monsters, working to constantly acquire new powers and abilities. Others set out on item- and goal-based quests, backing down from the combat a bit. I spent most of my time digging further into the narrative and lore in what were mostly combat-free story missions. The story missions in Kingsmouth centered around the Illuminati and had me running around town looking for hidden clues to uncover more secrets about the group's roots. These missions aren't the shallow, text-based quests you might be imagining. They're steeped in legend, and I spent a long time digging, learning, and second-guessing how I read into clues. Things started out light, with my discovering that each of the town's manhole covers featured the Illuminati triangle and that their orientation pointed the way to one of my goals. On the other end of the spectrum, separate research would probably be necessary for most. Players of these missions might find themselves digging through real-world Illuminati legend and conspiracy theories in a Google search to find their way in the game. We're talking situations like referencing classical art and then reading into the life of the artist to find a tie to the game's story. The reward for completion, other than experience, is a deeper understanding of the underlying story in The Secret World. These missions require a sharp eye, an even sharper mind, and lots of patience, but they're a brainy pleasure. They're the exact opposite of standard MMO combat missions, and I loved that they were available to a totally different type of gamer.  Another mission I took on has to be an MMO first: a stealth mission. Imagine walking around traps, stepping over trip lasers tied to bombs, and ducking behind boxes to avoid cameras and spotlights, Metal Gear Solid-style. One of the Kingsmouth missions played out exactly like this, to my surprise. We're talking straight-up 3D action here. The action (and detection) may not have been perfectly polished, but I liked where Funcom was going with this, and they should be commended for trying something a bit different. I will say that some of the other attending games press were a bit less impressed with this particular mission. In stark contrast to my single-player experience was a team mission in which I participated with several other attending press members. We took a helicopter to an area infested with zombies and other creatures that seemed to be spawning from one central point. We waded in knee-deep waters, moving past wrecked shipping containers and other metallic junk, taking on baddies that not only could summon others but also fought with elemental powers like electricity, making us wish we weren't in the water. Later, coming up on land and into a sort of nest of shipping containers, we took on our first boss, a massive magic-using tank that could also summon lesser beings to give us more electric hell. Even with a member of the development team in our party, we died multiple times. We eventually moved to the root of the invasion to find a massive, mountain-sized boss waiting. He was strong enough to knock any of us out with a single hit, so beating him required sneaking around quietly to get behind him. Of course, he was also able to summon zombies to hunt us out as we waded in knee-deep water, hiding behind rocks for our chance to attack. Though difficult, this team mission was a lot of fun. Finally, after all of this, we were able to try out a bit of the game's PVP in a game of Capture the Flag in a desert setting called El Dorado. Unfortunately, we weren't able to use the characters we had been playing as all day. Instead, we had to quickly learn the ropes with pre-made characters. My assigned character was nothing like the one I had grown used to, and this made for a very frustrating experience. I was stuck in the heat of battle, trying my best to configure weapons and powers that I had no idea how to use. I died enough times to decide that I would have to come back to PVP at a later time to make a fair call on it. Impressions: Overall, The Secret World is really different. The story is huge and unlike anything I've seen in any other MMO. The setting and art are fresh and inspired. The dialogue is great, and the writing is quick and punchy, and sometimes pretty funny. To jump in and experience the world Funcom has created is refreshing and exciting. The development team's desire to make something different and new is clear in every aspect of The Secret World's design. The gameplay in The Secret World is all about player choice. You get a real sense of freedom even from early on, and it's apparent that the team has done everything possible to keep the game open to as many choices and styles of play as possible. Choosing to avoid a level-based or skill-based structure was bold, and adding this to a game with such an open method of storytelling could have made for a very loose game experience, but it all comes together unexpectedly well.  The only aspect of The Secret World that isn't markedly different is the combat -- it's really standard MMO combat just with more freedom of movement. I'm okay with that, though. The vast backstory, player choice, and customization options give me all the "different" I need. Having that standard MMO combat is a nice way to keep the game grounded. Those looking for a completely different kind of combat won't find it here. I'm excited about The Secret World because it's an exciting game. There's a freshness and a boldness to Funcom's latest work, and I can clearly feel the team's efforts shine through while playing. The team was able to successfully tie up a big world and an even bigger story with some creative ideas to make for a very interesting experience. They've created something that will make MMO players sit up and take notice. That's probably why half a million gamers are signed up for beta already. The secret's out, I guess you could say. Even with all of that work to make something fresh and new, I know that the decision to jump in for many gamers rides on how well the subscription model will work; hopefully, Funcom realizes this. Done right, The Secret World could be huge.
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To say that all MMOs these days are all the same is... well, it's just wrong. That's like saying that all fighting games or first-person shooters are the same. Not true, but with the current MMO market, you have to admit that...

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The Secret World beta has over 500,000 registered users


Oct 25
// Alasdair Duncan
In MMO land, the immenent release of Star Wars The Old Republic certainly casts a big shadow but that doesn't mean it's the only show in MMO town. Funcom's The Secret World is looking like it could provide something different...
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New Secret World screenshots are not a secret


Oct 25
// Victoria Medina
FunCom has released some more screenshots of The Secret World. There are some action shots of people kicking butt, and some still shots of people, who can probably kick butt, looking all serious and angry. It is also still po...
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The Secret World dubs this Week of the Dragon


Oct 17
// Victoria Medina
If you don't know what The Secret World is, you probably aren't a regular to this site, but rest assured, we have information. Funcom has just announced Week of the Dragon, which will be all about one of the three factions in...
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New Dev diary from The Secret World


Oct 14
// Victoria Medina
Even if you want to forget about The Secret World, EA and FunCom won't let you. In addition to multiple teaser trailers, they have now released a dev diary that takes a look at pvp and factions. The nice thing is that this t...

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