PAX 2011: The Secret World

The Secret World has been in development since 2007. While details have been dripping out here and there FunCom is now starting to pull back the curtain on this MMO. I got to sit in on a live demo and play-through of the game after which I’m now excited for what The Secret World will have to offer.

The Secret World is an MMO set in present day and is inspired by legends, myths, and conspiracies. There are three main factions in the game that the player can join. Once with a faction the player cannot change. The Templars are based in London and believe are religious zealots who will sacrifice many others to to get to one person. The Illuminati are in New York City and only believe in strength and survival of the fittest. Finally the Dragons are from Seoul and they’re neutral to the others, but believe in using deception and chaos as they wait for the perfect moment to strike. Inside of each faction players can create cabals, a guild in MMO terms, that are associated with the faction they’re loyal to. Players will be a supernatural hero who is fighting against an invasion of dark monsters from myths and legends that threaten to destroy the world. The game visually looks fantastic as it is running an updated version of the engine that is from Age of Conan, FunCom’s previous MMO.

While this all sounds like the normal MMO fare The Secret World is a very different MMO. There is no class system in the game and there is no leveling system either. All progression in the game is based off of learning new abilities and gaining new equipment. There are over 200 abilities in the game and every player can master all of them in time. What this leads to is players character’s don’t fall into traditional roles that a class system brings about. Instead any character can be equipped to function as any of the traditional roles. If you need to be a tank for the upcoming section you can equip weapons, equipment, and abilities that are beneficial to a tank. The next section might suit a high damage per second character, so you can once again switch out to abilities and equipment suited for that task. While in game players can do this equipment swapping at anima wells that are found in the world. This really opens up the game and gives players a lot of freedom for how they want to play the game.This mechanic also allows new players to come in and be able to play with veterans as they will still have skills useful to the group despite being new. This idea sounds like a good way to make the game have a more mass appeal.

While playing The Secret World players can run through the story and side quests solo or with a group if they choose. The quest demoed showed the players going to an area where a cargo ship crashed on the shore and monsters known as the Draug started showing up. The demo also showed off that the environment will play into battles as a few times electricity came into play on metal surfaces and water. Other similar effects will be in the game and introduced to players slowly at first until they can be easily recognized. There will also be a PvP section of the game that will see the three different factions warring for the resource anima, used to upgrade weapons and get new skills, in the region of Agartha which is in the Hollow Earth, another legend that says the Earth is Hollow and there is another civilization inside it. When a group captures an area they can build defenses to help hold it against would be conquerors.

This game has been kept under wraps for quite some time and is finally getting revealed. Going to The Secret World website you can sign up for the beta that is starting and see what the game is all about. After seeing what The Secret World is about at PAX the game has risen up high on my list of games to watch. EA also believes in the game too as they are co-publishing the game with FunCom. This is one to watch as it doesn’t want to be a WoW clone or killer. Its just wants to be its own game and that is refreshing in the MMO game space.