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 bringing solid titles to market -- nothing necessarily groundbreaking, but they work.
When The Secret World was announced, though, people got legitimately excited. Here, we had an MMO taking place not in space or some generic fantasy land but in the modern day, with a story running parallel to our own world. Here are a few of my initial thoughts on the The Secret World.
The Secret World (PC)
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.
|1:00 PM on 01.10.2013|
The Secret World sees 400% increase in 'activity levels'
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...more
|8:00 AM on 12.12.2012|
The Secret World scraps subscription fees
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...more
|3:00 PM on 11.14.2012|
The Secret World gets a chunky update
After four months, The Secret World finally gets its first raid, along with new missions and features in the largest update so far. It was this MMO's dearth of multiplayer opportunities that made me ditch it in fav...more
|11:00 PM on 10.18.2012|
Halloween comes early to The Secret World
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 ...more
|8:00 PM on 09.17.2012|
Funcom has tools to make The Secret World free to play
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...more
|12:30 PM on 09.11.2012|
The Secret World lead game designer laid off
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...more
|11:00 AM on 08.29.2012|
The Secret World sold only 200,000 copies since launch
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...more
|4:30 PM on 07.13.2012|
Secret World's first content update announced
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...more
|2:00 PM on 07.09.2012|
The Secret World 'Chronicle' profile and leaderboard tool
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...more
|6:15 PM on 07.03.2012|
The Secret World launch trailer should be seen
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...more
|9:00 PM on 05.21.2013|
Guild Wars 2 sheds a little off its price
Despite not playing as much Guild Wars 2 as I'd like to, that's okay -- it's not costing me anything. I can continue not playing free of guilt, which is the only way I can do MMO gaming any more, I've realized. ArenaNet has k...more
|7:30 PM on 05.16.2013|
Star Trek Online adds a new preorder ship, goofy clothes
Star Trek Online is less than a week out from its latest big free content update, Legacy of Romulus, which, as may be expected, will introduce the playable Romulan Republic faction and a new line of Romulan Warbirds...more
|6:00 PM on 05.15.2013|
Star Wars: The Old Republic customization update now live
BioWare has rolled out "Game Update 2.1: Customization" for Star Wars: The Old Republic. As previously demonstrated, this update introduces the Cathar as a playable race up for purchase at the Cartel Market as well as an Appe...more