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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...

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...

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.

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.

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...


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...

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...

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.

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...


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...

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...

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...

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...

Age of Conan - The Savage Coast of Turan goes live

Sep 09
// Fraser Brown
Sweaty men, loincloths, busty wenches and lots of blood. Age of Conan: Unchained has something for everyone. Now it has something for fans of the latest movie.  The Savage Coast of Turan is a premium adventure pack which...

The Secret World is like Dragon Age with assault rifles

Aug 31 // Jim Sterling
The Secret World is set on an Earth where every myth, conspiracy theory, and ghost story is true. Familiar legends, lost cities and shadowy organizations are everywhere, and players get to choose between three factions -- The Dragon, The Templars and The Illuminati. Although players from any faction team up for story missions, they are also taking part in a "Secret War" to control the world.  Despite the original dressing, the game's mission structure and combat betray The Secret World's MMORPG roots, as players team up, get missions, travel to dungeons, partake in click-heavy combat, and make off with the loot. However, there's quite a bit of speed to the combat, with an engaging pace and intensity that reminds me quite a bit of Dragon Age.  Characters get a variety of melee weapons, magical spells and special abilities, and since this is the modern day, firearms such as assault rifles are also in play. No matter your weapon, combat is still automatic and quasi-turn-based, so you cannot simply turn Secret World into a third-person shooter.  The Secret War makes for some pretty damn interesting stuff and looks set to be the most compelling feature. Despite publicly working together, there are various missions in which the game's three factions work against each other. These story missions are unique to each faction and often play against each other. For example, one faction might end up turning a previously safe area into a ghost-littered hell factory, and another faction's mission may take place in the terrifying aftermath.  The game's world contains various important landmarks based on mythological locations such as Atlantis and Eldorado, and these places set the scene for The Secret World's PvP mode. Every special location confers a variety of gameplay bonuses to whichever faction controls it, bonuses that affect every player on the server. Other factions can mount offensives to wrest control of the location, however, and huge three-way battles are on the cards. We were shown footage of one of these fights in action, and it looks absolutely chaotic, with players running around from all corners of the map, swords and fireballs at the ready.  What really jumps out at me, however, is the legitimate horror atmosphere that the game is able to pull off. One mission, set in a dimly lit parking lot full of screaming, charging specters, is particularly eerie and could legitimately terrify players. Add to that, the fact that monsters look legitimately grotesque and carry more than a little bit of a Lovecraftian influence, and you've got a game that has some serious fright potential.  The Secret World looks promising, especially as far as MMOs go. While the idea of the genre has always interested me, the dull gameplay and predictable mission progression always puts me off. I'm hoping that The Secret World brings a little more action and a lot more fun to the MMOs. It has an absolutely terrific sense of atmosphere and some great visual flair, so here's keeping our fingers crossed that it's not been squandered on just another MMORPG.

Funcom's The Secret World is distinguished by the fact it's an MMO that I actually care about. I was drawn to the title as soon as the early trailers rolled out, intrigued by the modern day setting and enthralled by...


New Secret World trailer looks just as rad as past ones

Aug 16
// Victoria Medina
Funcom and EA have released another trailer for their upcoming MMO The Secret World. Unlike previous trailers this one shows off part of a city that looks to me like Times Square. And a giant monster. There is also magic. Sa...

The Secret World is filled with globetrotting MMO action

Aug 11
// Smurgesborg
Electronic Arts and Funcom have released a developer diary detailing the world and setting of The Secret World. I actually kind of love it. The core concept of the game is that anything goes. If there is a myth or legend any...

The Longest Journey is $3.99 on GOG for a day

Jul 19
// Maurice Tan
If you've didn't already own The Longest Journey, or didn't know it was on sale together with its sequel-that-must-not-be-named during the Steam Summer sale, then today you absolutely have no excuse whatsoever for not grabbin...

Preview: The Secret World

Jul 09 // Alessandro Fillari
[embed]205542:39802[/embed] The Secret World (PC)Developer: FuncomPublisher: Electronic ArtsTo be released: 2012 Now take a moment and try to imagine what our world would be like if myths, legends, and all things supernatural actually existed. A world where vampires, werewolves, ghouls, and demons stalked the streets of major cities around the world. And that the only ones keeping the balance between the human world, and the world of the supernatural, are three secret societies called The Illuminati, The Dragons, and The Templars; that have long been controlling the course of mankind from behind the curtain. During the hands-off demo, many of the key features for The Secret World were put on display. Referring to them as the four pillars of gameplay and narrative players will make throughout their experiences -- the modern settings, secret societies, free form progression, and the narrative decisions -- Funcom seeks to emphasis the importance of player actions and decisions by giving them as many choices as possible. One of the more surprising aspects of the game is that there are no character classes to choose from. While you still acquire experience points and level up, you also get skill points which you spend on various talent pools to shape your character in any way you see fit. As a part of the free-form character progression system, the over 500 different abilities to choose from give your characters a degree of flexibility and give a sense that you have complete control over your character’s evolution. The demo begins on Solomon Island, a location that has been under attack by undead creatures known as the Draug. The hero character, who has sided with the Templar faction, meets up with a contact from the mysterious group Orochi Organization. The NPC tasks the player character with seeking out the source of the Draug invasion and forcing them back off the island. When taking new quests or otherwise watching cutscenes during instanced locations, you’ll be treated to a scene with the non-playable characters that feature full voice and motion capture animation. As one of the main pillars for The Secret World, having fully voiced and dynamic characters will be able to bring more into the experience. While it did look a bit rough at times during these scenes, it is impressive to know that all encounters with NPC’s feature such detail in speech and animation.  After accepting the quest to clear out the Draug invasion, the player is transported to the instanced dungeon via a super high-tech helicopter. Upon arriving, the hero character meets up with the rest of his party members (all controlled by Funcom developers.) Before commencing with the instance, the developers gave a rundown of the party member’s roles: The tank player who utilizes heavy weapons and damage mitigating magic, the healer who uses the mysterious blood magic, a ranged character utilizing rifles and grenades for AoE and crowd control, and finally an elemental magic user specializing in fire spells. As for the hero character, she’s a close ranged fighter specialized for high damage output and DPS.As the party makes their way through the dungeon, wading through bodies of water almost knee deep, they fight various forms of Draug that use different tactics and spell to combat the party. Male Draug creatures summon zombies as backup while still being able to hold it’s own in combat. The overall look and feeling of combat in The Secret World looks to be what most gamers would expect from an MMO. Funcom has taken a step back from the more action oriented combat in Age of Conan, but that isn’t to say that players won’t be kept on their toes during fights. During a battle with a female Draug creature, the enemy uses various lighting spells to electrify the waters around the player, causing additional damage. With the inclusion of environmental hazards and spells that focus on key areas in the field, players will also have to factor movement and placements of their party during battles. After clearing out the mobs of Draugs, the party comes to a cliff overlooking a field with a makeshift fort made out of shipping containers and a massive ghost ship, known as the Polaris, that has since run aground and is the source of the invasion. From here, the party receives orders from their quest giver and are given time to prepare. Also in this area is a feature known as the “Anima Well.” These wells allow players to respecialize and alter their character's abilities to adapt to the challenges they encounter. The hero character switches her abilities from close ranges attacks to elemental spells and long range attacks to prepare for the next battle.The party then enters the shipping container fort and encounters The Verangian, the first boss of the dungeon. Using similar tactics and spells as the weaker Draug, The Verangian takes advantage of his large size and strength and attacks the group. With the party still standing in bodies of water, the boss uses the surrounding water to summon zombies and takes advantage of lighting spells to cause additonal environmental damage. Eventually, the monster falls back towards the shipping containers while the party remains in pursuit. With lighting spells in effect, the party leaps onto the nearby containers to stay above water as to avoid electrocution. After using the containers for high ground and with their long-range spells, the party defeats The Verangian. Afterwards, the developers show off an interesting way to acquire loot. Near the defeated boss is a cache of high-tech treasure chests that require security numbers to unlock. Luckily, the shipping container that houses the chests has a code on the side of it which can be used to unlock the chests. Funcom briefly mentioned their intent to expand upon this feature by creating real world websites that contain secret codes which show the locations of secret chests within the game world, and also the passwords to unlock them. For the sake of time, Funcom skips ahead to the later half of the dungeon to encounter another boss known as the primordial dweller. A large mammoth-like creature that uses lighting spells, the dweller is seemingly the source of the invasion on Solomon Island. Using similar tactics from the previous boss, this boss is quickly defeated. The party members are then extracted from the dungeon by the same helicopter from earlier, and another cutscene is shown where a large monster swoops by the helicopter and forces the vehicle down. As the demonstration comes to a close, Funcom expressed their interest in creating an MMO that is unlike anything that anyone has ever seen. While they've succeeded in creating a setting that is incredibly engaging and interesting, the combat itself looks like it's fallen back into the sort of typical MMO combat. Which is disappointing after Funcom's previous effort with Age of Conan's heavily action oriented combat. With that said, everything about the game looks on point. Great setting, a strong narrative, and so far several good ideas. As for the game model, Funcom stated that they are exploring all possible options as either a F2P game or with a subscription model.

As more and more MMO’s are popping up in today’s market, it’s difficult to stand out in the crowd. However, the veteran MMO developer Funcom (creators of Anarchy Online and Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventur...


New trailer for The Secret World goes to the men's room

Jul 07
// Alasdair Duncan
Just a day after showing the trailer for The Savage Coast, Funcom has released a new CGI trailer and a batch of fresh screenshots for its upcoming MMO, The Secret World.  The trailer depicts a John Constantine-esque gen...

New Secret World trailer takes us to the Savage Coast

Jul 06
// Jim Sterling
I'm not a big fan of MMO games, but I've had my eye on The Secret World for a very long time. The premise of a universe where every crackpot conspiracy theory and urban legend is true intrigues me no-end, and the brash horro...

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