The Secret World Preview (PC)

Conspiracy theories and ancient myths often prove to be great sources of inspiration when it comes to creating worlds. As long as there are people who can think, there will be conspiracy theories. Personally, I believe "The Cat Sat on the Mat" is a psychological device to get us to sit down, thereby bringing society to a grinding halt (Except for the industries who thrive on people sitting down, like chair makers - making them the prime suspects).

*waves hand* Ignore the man with the creepy mask. There is not a secret headquarters right behind me
The Secret World - a new MMO from Funcom and EA draws on all of this to create a game that blend mythological elements with a real-world setting. So secret agents with super-powers, basically. This game has actually been known about since 2007, although the delay has probably done it some good. It's definitely changed a bit since our last preview back in 2009. The basic premise is still that you align yourself with one of three factions: The Illuminati, The Templars, and the Dragons. The Illuminati are the high-tech, corporate types, the Templars are the more traditional, old-school type, and the Dragons are some kind amalgamation of every far east myth and secret society.

There are no classes in The Secret World - only a collection of weapons, gadgets and super-powers that you can choose to outfit your character with. There's apparently no 'levels' either, although you do have a 'rank' within the organisation you join, so we suspect it's kind of the same thing. Either way, Funcom want the gameplay to be more skills based in order to avoid level-grinding and to make it easier for new players to jump in.

The main focus of the game will be the PvE story. Each faction will essentially be playing through the same story, but from a unique perspective. For example, each three factions can have a mission to the exact same spot, but for different reasons and at different times, the end-consequences of which could set the scene for the next faction's mission (in terms of continuity). A nice touch, although considering you'd only be able to see things from one standpoint at a time, it probably won't blow anybody away.
There will be a wide range of guns, gadgers and powers to choose from that you can develop
Still, another one of Funcom's core principles when designing this game is to keep the gameplay diverse. Players will find themselves performing a wide variety of tasks, from hacking and sabotage, to information gathering, to simple gunning your way through hoards of zombie-like creatures. When it comes to PvE, all three factions can group together to take on these missions, in a "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" kind of way.

However, given the whole 'rival factions' undertone, there will be PvP in this game. The Secret World has several PvP 'hotspots' - areas that when controlled grant bonuses to the entire faction. These are often multi-objective maps, and the attacking factions needs to fight their way through to the end, whilst the defending factions try and stop them. These maps are three-way all on all brawls, keeping with the developers commitment to the traditional three-team dynamic.

It's odd, but I'm reminded slightly of APB when I look at this game - although might just be the visual style as opposed to actual gameplay - the actual structure of the game world isn't fully known yet, but each faction has a central hub or headquarters where we imagine you spend most of your time, and then the various quests and missions (and PvP missions) are all instanced. The game still seems very traditional in that sense, but maybe it's classless set up will help make up for it. No word on crafting yet or any of those other staple MMO mechanics, but there will be guilds - known as Cabals in this game. At the time of writing, nothing had been confirmed yet regarding the 360 version, so assume PC-only for now.

Like a lot of MMO's coming out at the moment, The Secret World has the good and the bad. Not many companies seem willing to fully break from the existing mould, but hopefully Funcom's new offering will go far enough to be appealing. There aren't many non-fantasy MMO's right now, and with Sony's The Agency cancelled, and APB still trying to recover from its abysmal start, perhaps this title is poised to quickly and quietly carve out its own niche market. Only time will tell, but it's worth keeping an eye on this one. The Secret World is due out in April 2012, with a beta due to start soon.

Most Anticipated Feature: We'd like to hear more details about the player progression system, and it's potential.


By bluered (SI Newbie) on Sep 01, 2011
Looks creepy.
By orangey (SI Newbie) on Sep 02, 2011
Hope it makes it.
By smith1 (SI Newbie) on Sep 02, 2011
Looks neat
By Actaeon (SI Newbie) on Sep 06, 2011
im excited about this one / i love the fact they're trying to bring something new to the table :D