I had the distinct pleasure of attending a private showing of The Secret World with 3 gentlemen from FunCom at Pax 6 days ago. It caught me by surprise and was my favorite thing I saw that day. Now that the embargo on the press has lifted, I want to share what I have learned about the game thus far.
The Secret World is an MMO set in the real world, but the world as we know it is full of secrets. Basically, the concept behind the game is, in the simplest terms, that almost every myth/legend in human history is true. This gives them an almost infinite number of possible story elements to draw from. TSW is developed by FunCom (think Age of Conan), in Norway.
Shortly before PAX, the main governing aspect of the game was announced: the 3 secret societies, or factions that players can belong to. When you finish with the character creator, you belong to either Dragon, Templars, or Illuminati. All the factions exist to fight evil, but they all also want to be on top, and therefor compete. Within those factions, are player created Cabals (essentially this game’s version of a guild) which are central to building home bases, and competing in PVP (which I will get back to). Each faction has a home base in the real world:
The Templars are a society full of tradition and bloodlines. They are the military and religious zealots. The Templars are headquartered in a giant facility in London. Crosses adorn their style and in the concept art they are seen wielding custom Desert Eagle pistols, and wearing very clean cut uniforms. The Templars are the closest thing TSW has to ‘good guys’ and even that is subjective.
The Illuminati are fierce and desire power above all else, and will do whatever it takes to be the victors. They are headquartered underground in NYC (entrance in an abandoned warehouse) and are decadent, hedonistic, control freaks. They seek the influence of the people behind the scenes with power, not the kings or the dictators, but the secretaries and senators. Their concept art features trench coats, gas masks and automatic weapons. One could consider the Illuminati the closest we have to ‘bad guys’.
The Dragon seek to create change through chaos. They call Seoul their home and while they get things done through influence and chaos, their actions are usually only clear to their own people. They wield the Katana in the concept art above.
Within each faction, players will create their own Cabals that will have their own living quarters and make their own decisions at their own cost. These Cabals factor in most heavily to PvP. One of the key elements of the lore behind the game is that the earth is hollow. The Hollow Earth becomes the stage for the PVP, not the surface world (but we were told the Factions can mess with each other in the real world somehow). They have even injected small elements of RTS into this underground faction warfare, where Cabals can build defenses to protect their resources (which is the purpose of PVP, getting Anima, a resource available only inside the earth). Anima is tradable as well, and will be very important for crafting. Cabals can even horde this and not share with their faction, but that could mean no help from their ‘friends’ when the enemy factions roll in.
Every stat in the game is tracked and will be rated on leaderboards, not only internationally but by region, and by server/faction. The developers hope this will lead to competition, and also Cabals headhunting the best players to become dominant.
The game is item and ability driven, but action oriented with reticles and actual firing of weapons. It contains no classes or levels, but rather a rank system within your society and customizable skill sets and builds. Your heroes will wield all kinds of abilities, many of which will be magical or legendary in nature, to take care of the hordes of evil. It will feature everything we come to expect from MMO economies with crafting and auction houses.
The Secret World has an amazing concept, and some lofty goals. We have our first glimpse of screenshots and art which can be seen in the gallery, and there will be more high budget CGI to enjoy soon, but until we see some more gameplay down the line we won’t know for sure if this game is as awesome as it sounds. I for one will be sticking to this like duct-tape, and am very excited to see what FunCom can do.