Hands On: The Secret World

By Adam Smith on November 21st, 2011 at 1:08 pm.

I died in this town. I died a lot. That is my secret.

I’ve had mixed feelings about The Secret World for a while now. As more details have emerged, I’ve found it hard to hide my excitement about the real world setting and mad mix of mythology, but I’ve been struggling to shake the suspicion that stitching them to an MMO framework could squander the potential of the scenario. The promise of classless builds and a strong narrative were intriguing, but they were only promises. That is, until last week when I spent a day playing the game and saw just how convincing it was.

The short answer is ‘very’. The longer answer follows and will be elaborated upon in an interview with some of the brains behind the game, which you’ll be able to read later this week.

You may remember that John was able to watch the beginning of the game from a Templar perspective and that’s the first thing I saw as well, except I was actually in control because I’m more special. There is no choice of factions in the beta version that I played, although that’s most likely to do with secrecy rather than because those openings are incomplete. I think I can speak for all three factions when I say that they’re probably not exactly what you’d expect.

One of the things that was consistently pleasing during my time with the game was the humour in the writing. The game is so thick with references and allusions that it could have easily become a kind of Mythology Greatest Hits, but the self-awareness in the writing helps to elevate it above that. Upon joining the Templars, I was reassured that I hadn’t fallen into some “atrocious Dan brown airport paperback”. It’s a line that accepts the inevitability of the comparison but also, importantly, tells us that the characters in The Secret World know about Dan Brown. He’s part of The Secret World too, because everything is.

It’s the Shaun of the Dead strategy. In Edgar Wright’s film, George Romero exists and zombies are a part of pop culture. In The Secret World, Lovecraft wrote about the mythos, so when Deep Ones emerge from the ocean there’s already a reference point for them. It’s crucial to Funcom’s world that almost everything is recognisable, but with a twist.

The game began for me as it does for every soon-to-be Templar. Asleep in bed, Eliza (almost everyone else was a man in a trenchcoat, I went for punk girl) swallows a bee and suddenly finds herself with torrents of energy streaming out of her body. The scene is reminiscent of a new X-person discovering their powers for the first time, wreaking accidental havoc on their surroundings and feeling afraid and somewhat shamed. To carry the analogy, the Templars arrive Xavier-like, and offer training and knowledge at their school for the gifted.

Finding Templar HQ was my first task in the game, which involved letting me loose in a quaint corner of London. I’m not exaggerating when I say I could have spent half an hour or more wandering the streets, reading every signpost, peeking into pubs and cafes. It’s not that there was lots to do but there certainly is a lot to see. Every building has something to mark it out, whether a name – “The Horned God” pub – or an unusual trinket on display in the window. As first impressions go, it’s a powerful one, not only because I felt that immediate desire to explore, but also because I was already looking for clues. This is a game that wants players to be detectives, sniffing out history and lore, and the small part I’ve seen is filled with mystery.

Before I am allowed to join my faction, there’s a bit of time travel, even though I was explicitly told by director and Longest Journey provider Ragnar Tornquist that there wouldn’t be any in the sections we played. When the rest of his team reminded him about the Tokyo Flashback sequence, which jumps back three weeks in time, he dismissed it. “Three weeks is not really travel; it’s just a small step.” With the game’s backstory covering millions of years, I think it’s safe to say there will be jumps bigger than a few weeks.

John has already talked about the flashback, which is essentially a tutorial and a glimpse of the terror that is surfacing across the globe. Like everything else, it also feels like a piece from a jigsaw puzzle. Especially the end, which placed me face to face with the cosmos.

After that rather jarring experience, I finally make my way to Templar HQ, rushing along now because I doubt anyone wants to read my hands-on experience of reading every signpost in the game. There is some talk and then a great deal of training. All the basic weapons and magic conduits in the game are placed around a room, and friendly neighbourhood Templars are on hand to describe their use and benefits. Swords, hammers, pistols, shotguns and all manner of occult practices.

This isn’t the bit where you choose a class though because, remember, there are no classes. There really aren’t. Funcom haven’t come up with another name for classes, like ‘role’ or ‘factional function’ and they don’t force you to stick with the weapons you choose during training. The whole reason for the training section is so that you can become comfortable with as many combat techniques as you wish. And that’s you becoming comfortable, not your character.

It’s the first chance to play around with some skills and those skills, or powers, are what classless characters are all about. Funcom promise over 500 in the game at launch and were keen to point out that these are 500 unique abilities, not tiered versions of basic attacks. I obviously didn’t get to experience higher level powers but I did see some in action.

Let me put it like this: my fragile life was saved from drowned and reanimated mariners by a developer controlling a man who hovered through alleyways in a crucifixion pose, surrounded by living flame that turned enemies into ashes. I think his eyes blazed white and I remember being unsure as to whether he was the embodiment of righteousness, or a refugee from the realm of a horrible, mad god.

The most supernatural ability I had was a super-speedy dash attack, which allowed me to remove a fraction of a target’s health while dodging incoming fists and fangs with uncanny speed. Hardly as impressive as emitting supernovas from my nostrils but it was enough to carve through the zombies infesting Kingsmouth. If the name sounds somewhat familiar, you’ll be reassured to know that there’s a road leading to Dunwich at the edge of town.

It’s time to talk about combat because it’s probably the area that’s hardest to understand without playing for yourself. First of all, whatever else you might have heard, The Secret World’s combat has a lot in common with other MMOs. Magic will cool down and you won’t be dashing about making headshots from behind cover. What you will be doing is targeting an enemy and then hitting it with a barrage of skills by pressing the relevant numbers on your keyboard. While this is happening, you’re free to move and dodge attacks, or manoeuvre into a better position, and if you do have guns you can fire them into a group of enemies to your heart’s content.

That won’t get you very far though. Combat is about stacking effects. I used a pistol and a sword, purely because I liked the way it looked, and attacking with the sword added counters to my character, which caused special attacks to do more damage. Some specials actually add more counters instead of consuming them, so there are sequences to learn which lends a rhythm to every fight.

With some weapons, the effects of use don’t stack on the player, they stack on the target. My guess would be that this makes them more effective against larger creatures. A shotgun, for instance, can chip away at a wendigo’s health bar, but each shell adds a mark next to that health bar. When there are plenty of markers in place, unload both barrels and the damage will be critical, possibly stunning the beastie as well.

When our group reached a particularly difficult fight at the end of a ‘dungeon’ (destroyed cargo ship), we’d only been playing the game for a few hours. Therefore, none of us fully understood the skill system but we had enough experience of combat to understand our roles in the fight. Naturally, some people were better equipped to heal and others to fight. Guess what I ended up being? The girl with the sword and the pistol?

I was the tank. There’s no armour in the game, with clothing being chosen purely for aesthetic reasons, so all skill boosts come from other forms of loot. Chakras are the main source of hit points. These invisible (on the character) charms drop fairly regularly and seven can be equipped at once, although each must go in a specific slot. So finding a chakra that provides a huge lift to attack strength may not be entirely useful if the one already equipped in its slot is your main source of defence.

I loaded up on hitpoint-boosting chakras for the fight and switched out a couple of pistol skills that targeted groups of enemies for elaborate sword-swirling techniques that created a lot of ‘hate’. That’s aggro but angrier.

So there I was, toe to toe with a giant blasphemy straight out of R’lyeh, soaking up damage so that my buddies could concentrate on keeping me alive and blasting away. By that point, I was in tune with my character and my fingers danced across the number keys, triggering skills as if I was playing a melody I’d heard a thousand times before.

Then everything went horribly, horribly wrong.

I would say that the extensive skill system means that most battles are won or lost before the fighting starts. It’s all about preparation. The ability to swap out skills and chakras means it is entirely possible to be a healer one moment and a tank the next, or to be something in between the two. Even at a low level, with few skills unlocked, I could switch between the tough absorber of all blows, and the swift and deadly assassin that I preferred when acting solo.

There is genuine flexibility and in the finished game, there will be an option to save different builds, keeping them in a sort of deck and switching between them on the fly. The sheer size of the skill wheel is quite daunting so to help players combine complimentary abilities, there’s even a built in search engine.

But back to things going horribly wrong. We had everything planned our perfectly. Everyone knew what they had to do. Then the starspawned tentacle-bastard opened a gateway to another dimension, turning our world monochrome and flayed around the edges. Long story short, the rhythm that I had perfected had to be rewritten several times during that fight and even though I was acting as a tank, I also found my dash coming in handy to find cover during those moments when dimensions kissed one another before our very eyes, causing storms of static to kill anything that didn’t quickly cower behind a rock.

There were times when I relied on what I’d learned from MMOs and there were times when my assumptions bit me on the ass. The same was true in PvP, which will come in two flavours. There are battlefields that host three-way fights between small teams and then there are the persistent warzones, with over a hundred players. We played a battlefield, El Dorado, scrapping for relics. There’s a sense of separation from what I felt was the core of the game, although I was assured that even these arenas will tie into the wider narrative. It was enjoyably hectic and, most important of all, the journalists triumphed. We did have the level designers on our team but what of it?

Forget the fighting though, because my favourite part of the game was my experience with investigation missions. They are accepted from NPCs, just like the more traditional quests, but they are all about using the old noggin. It’s here that the world really takes centre stage, with clues hidden in the details of a building or a street sign, or in the names on a map. A quick word on maps – they are all relevant to the area, so London has a conventional street map while one Area That I Cannot Name has inky trails tattooed on human flesh.

The first investigation mission I undertook actually required the use of Google, not in the game but on the actual computer I was playing on. Real world knowledge that I sorely lacked was required. It’s at times like that, standing in front of a portrait and trying to figure out which historical painter’s style it’s mimicking, that I felt myself most absorbed. Even though I was tabbing out of the game to search the internet, I was in the game more than at any other time, because its whole philosophy is to blur the lines between the real world and The Secret World. They are one and the same and at that moment, they really were.

It’s not just the investigation missions that form short stories though. All of the quests, even those that mostly involve biffing zombies, have enough dialogue and character to form interesting narratives of their own. Killing zombies isn’t just a way to clear an area, it’s a way to learn about how their biology works, with a full report sent back to Templar HQ. There’s a purpose to everything.

Even taking a lunch break from the game proved enlightening – “rather than quitting, you might want to just go to the church. The zombies can’t follow you in there”, spaketh one of the devs. Sure enough, the angry undead disintegrated at the threshold and my budding Templar rested there in peace while I scoffed down a baguette. They can’t walk on holy ground, I thought to myself, but it was only later that I noticed the Illuminati symbols hidden in the stained glass. Questions, questions, questions.

I can’t speak for the larger narrative except to say that I’m excited about discovering it for myself. I never doubted the passion behind the project, or the talent, but in the past I’ve questioned whether an MMO is really the type of lens I want to experience this world through. I enjoyed my time playing and the emphasis on crafting a story is obvious even from the two incomplete areas that I experienced. Kingsmouth feels like an overrun town, with most of the survivors barricaded in the police station, helicopters flying overhead and sirens screaming through the fog. It’s easy to see the man behind the curtain, with loot-drops and quest-givers safely holed up in basements waiting for the player, but it’s a beautiful curtain that’s billowing rather atmospherically.

It’s a huge challenge, building an MMO that has so many narrative threads running through it, but I think I understand a little better how it will work. There will be large set pieces, sure, but the brilliance of The Secret World may be in the way it asks its players to piece every detail of the promised 150-200 hours of content together. The world doesn’t just contain one story, or even hundreds, the world is the story and it will continue in every conversation that attempts to understand how the world works, and what ties all these myths together. It’s not just about multiple players fighting together; it’s about them talking together, particularly during those investigations.

If you have unanswered questions, fear not. Much more about the lore, design decisions and Funcom’s future plans coming very soon.

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78 Comments »

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  1. GT3000 says:

    It really says something when I can say I’ve been waiting years for this game. Thanks for the write-up, color me interested. Was there any specific bonus to being Templar over the others aside from a spiffy dress code?

    • Adam Smith says:

      The only time I saw the other factions was in PVP – don’t think there’s any actual bonuses to specific builds for different factions. Plot and quests will vary though.

      As for dress code, we weren’t respected enough to wear Templar uniforms – I expect a lot of faction-specific aesthetic touches will be unlocked as you show your loyalty.

      More on factions in the interview.

    • GT3000 says:

      Look forward to the interview. I was referring to passive bonus like +10% to wrecking wendingos or something of the sort. I eagerly anticipate the Dragon hands on.

  2. Lagwolf says:

    So you fought Cthulhu and weren’t driven insane? That said this looks interesting and I hope it delivers to promise. If they can even come close to an MMO of Call of Cthulhu it would be a great thing.

    • MisterSanityClaus says:

      It’s a “Starspawn”, not Cthulhu (just FYI). They’re The Big Man’s minions, basically.

      I’ve got to say that I’m psyched as hell about this game. I’m really looking forward to experiencing the storyline. The Longest Journey and Dreamfall STILL haunt me, storywise. Ragnar Tørnquist is no mere mortal, of this I am certain. :D

  3. Bedeage says:

    The trouble is that all the lore, mystery and story will be put up on a wikia page within a week of the game going public. It will then become the pointless grind-fest that any other MMO is (with the honourable exception of EVE).

    • derFeef says:

      It’s up to you if you want to discover the things by yourself or look it up. The former is more fun I guess :)

    • Bhazor says:

      Eve is pretty much just grinding. With spreadsheets.

      If you want a grind free MMO there are a few (the good Guild Wars games are essentially single player RPGs with a dedicated Multiplayer side game).

    • Premium User Badge

      Coren says:

      I disagree.

      I mean, yes, there will obviously be an up-to-date wiki (http://crygaia.net/wiki/), and yes, you will be able to find the solution to the game’s puzzles on this wiki unless you’re there when the puzzle starts.
      But I disagree that that would just turn the game into a pointless grind-fest. The lore doesn’t just disappear when the puzzles are solved. The lore is still there, and it’s full of wild, fascinating stuff. Start researching, and you’ll never, ever run out of interesting things to read. Because that’s the nice thing about (what I’ve seen so far of) The Secret World: where the game’s lore ends, the real world’s lore begins.

      And those people who truly don’t care about the lore, well, they most likely won’t care about that wiki, either. For them, puzzles will just be an extra game element to grind away at.

    • rollermint says:

      Bedeage :

      And how is that any different from any other game? All games will have their walkthroughs, FAQs even video playthroughs. I’m not just talking MMOs but every single player campaigns out there.

      So if someone can actually play a single player campaign without referring to wikis or walkthroughs, he/she can also *gasp* play TSW without referring to walkthroughs.

    • WPUN says:

      Knowledge grinding is just as pointless as any other type of grind… but I enjoy it.

      When will devs learn? Just sign a deal with Google and put the damn search engine in the game. — especially if the game is not medieval fantasy. Exploration of the mythos is fun; why not make it easier to do?

      In my experience, faction vs faction pvp is great fun when you have more than two sides. I hope this game has legs.

    • Cooper says:

      How is this different from, say, Skyrim?

      If you have a crippling inability not to look up a walkthrough for every action to take in any game, than that’s your problem.

      The rest of us will go ahead and manage our use of online information as best suits our desires and preferred playing practices.

    • Lukasz says:

      They should do it. using google with your character by accessing it via your mobile, netbook, or desktop…
      much more immersive.

      and I already said once why I want internet connection for my character.

    • Jake says:

      This was my main concern with the game as well, but someone on this site helpfully linked a thing that limits your Google results to a specific date – so you could effectively use a version of google that doesn’t have all the wikis and guides etc on it yet. Something like that would be a good fix.

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      Wisq says:

      I think those of you saying “how is this different than <x>?” are missing (or, in fact, supporting) the point the original comment made, which is basically “how is this different from any other MMO?”

      But I also do think that using real-world lore and fiction will make the game something special even regardless of whether it’s on a wiki or not. After all, any wiki-isation of the game’s lore will essentially just be a condensed copy of the relevant lore from other, real-world sources. And having that info in one place won’t change the fact that it’ll feel that much more real to those of us who already know a lot of said lore.

    • DrSpocktopus says:

      “EVE is pretty much just grinding, with spreadsheets.”

      Someone has never played EVE.

      I’ve been playing EVE for a bit over a year now. I’ve never ground anything. I don’t grind PvE mobs, I don’t grind mining.

      I take a lap of the six planetary colonies I have set up in my alliance’s space and collect my shiny things to sell for spacebux.

      I then take those spacebux and go buy ships to kill other players.

      The fact remains that EVE has a true MMO story while every other MMO game has an RPG story. What do I mean by that?

      EVE’s story is made up of years of sovereignty war, raiding, trading, manufacturing, spying, scamming, skirmishing, backstabbing and politics, amongst players. The game world has changed and will change more because of the players.

      That’s an MMO story, everything else is just an RPG that a bunch of people can play at once.

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    Harlander says:

    This sounds great, but every time I hear “You have to alt-tab out to use your browser to progress in the in-game quests” touted as something that improves immersion I cringe.

    For the love of all that’s good and just in the world, Ragnar, make a web browser a diegetic element of the gameworld.

    • Heisenberg says:

      its funny because when i read that paragraph about using google, it stirred up my gaming emotions even more.(he didnt actually say you have to)

      really enjoyed reading this, and look forward to hearing more.

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      Harlander says:

      It’s not going to help my immersion to have the very game shout YOU ARE PLAYING THIS ON A COMPUTER.

      It’s not going to help my immersion to have the game spasm to an irrecoverable halt because no one makes games support alt-tabbing properly.

      The idea of looking stuff up on the web is awesome. The fact of having to effectively leave the game to do so is terrible.

    • Heisenberg says:

      this isnt an essential part of the game tho.I’m pretty sure it was just a one off thing where he wasnt too sure about somthing.

    • Walsh says:

      If you are playing MMOs for immersion, you are going to be sorely disappointed for a long time.

    • Seth says:

      Harlander, I think you misunderstood what was happening there. All the game asked was “Adam Smith, figure out what Renaissance painter this painting is aping.” That doesn’t mention or require the use of Google, if you’re good with Renaissance painters.

      Adam Smith wasn’t, so he had to alt-tab out to Google.

    • Adam Smith says:

      A while ago, there was talk of some kind of in-game browser integration, which was always labelled ‘work in progress’. I didn’t see anything to suggest it would be in the game, but I wouldn’t rule it out completely.

      I’ll try to find out more about the possibility.

    • Premium User Badge

      Harlander says:

      @Seth

      So you’re saying I won’t need to Google stuff if I already know about it?

      My apocalyptic tenor has not been dispelled!

    • Cooper says:

      @Harlander.

      That ‘you are playing this on a computer’ thing strikes me as the cleverest aspect.

      ‘Breaking the fourth wall’ can be an incredibly powerful device to draw people in, rather than highlight the separation, if done well.

      Instead of asking for a suspension of disbelief, drawing the player into a game which exists as extension of their reality would, it seems to me, be even -more- immersive, because I’m already immersed in my own reality.

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      Harlander says:

      Fourth-wall breaking as artistic technique eh? I hadn’t considered that.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      pretend you’re googling from your smartphone via voice recognition, while fighting zombies simultaneously.

    • Gabryl Kaine says:

      @ Harlander

      “Fourth-wall breaking as artistic technique eh? I hadn’t considered that.”

      As much as it gets a lot of hate from people, this is the reason I love the sci-fi conceit of the Assassin’s Creed series – They acknowledge and work into the reality of the game that the whole thing is happening on a computer. Thus standard video-game elements that we take for granted as invisible, but necessary breaks from immersion are made part of the world itself – the UI, multiple “lives” even quest tracking.

      Now I’m not saying that TSW will pull this off as well (in my opinion) or as completely as the AC series, but it could work.

    • gwathdring says:

      I love the most basic concept of the Assassin’s Creed thing. And I’ve heard it’s even well done in Brotherhood. But I disliked the implementation in AC1 and AC2. The characters weren’t especially interesting to me, and every time I was pulled out of the animus, it was to chat for a bit with those uninteresting characters and eventually to jump on some boxes.

      I love that they used the sci-fi conceit to excuse the interface. That was a fantastic idea. It is my favorite sort of alternative to in-game interfaces (watches, PDAs, etc) where those don’t fit the game especially well. I love that they used the sci-fit conceit to string the games together across time. I just didn’t like the specific scenes, characters, and details of the conceit.

    • gwathdring says:

      Addendum: I don’t believe games necessarily hide or excuse their interfaces or other game-y elements in order to achieve immersion. In between crashes and glitches, Fallout 3 had me incredibly immersed whether or not I was fiddling with the inventory system or using the fast travel system. This is yet another point where I feel realism and immersion get unfairly muddied. For myself, at least, the tone trumps everything.

      In Far Cry 2, the in-world interfaces fit perfectly. They belonged there. Now, I would not have been less immersed if the map, for example, was out of world. Many times I hit the “M” key instead of “5” when looking for the map while deeply buried in the experience, forgetting the map was an in-world object entirely. The effectiveness of the in-world map is simply that the particular tone of the game fit with the particular in-world interface elements very, very well.

      Now, you could make the argument that in-game interfaces are more often blended into the tone of the world by necessity–and likewise with in-world excused interfaces as in the AC series. I would be inclined to agree. However, I would strongly disagree that standard HUD-style interfaces are negatively immersive–simply less. I really don’t think this particular line of argument goes both ways.

      Similarly, I don’t think closing or tabbing out of an application will necessarily pull a player out of the experience. I have to have a cup of tea and listen to relaxing music not be be brooding and withdrawn after a play of Amnesia. Games can keep me immersed well beyond the title menu. ARGs can be incredibly enthralling, as can LARPs (no, I don’t mean bopping people with fake lightning bolts), despite having many elements that cross in-game and out-of-game interfaces. Attitude towards the game–whether that attitude starts with you, or with a cleverly designed tone–will define how well immesion weathers the in-game, out-of-game gap (as well as the player/character gap, for that matter).

      I respect that some people just can’t cross that title-menu barrier and still call it immersion in retrospect. But I encourage those people to realize that limiting the game’s interface to it’s GUI is as arbitrary a distinction as limiting a table-top roleplaying game to it’s dice mechanics.

    • Premium User Badge

      Coren says:

      @Adam and @Harlander:
      Looks like Ragnar Tornquist confirmed an in-game browser in this video interview on Gamespot:
      http://www.gamespot.com/the-secret-world/previews/the-secret-world-hands-on-preview-templar-time-6346446?tag=gumballs%3Btitle%3B1

      So, yay!

  5. mod the world says:

    I’m so glad that this not only sounds good in theory, but apparently also plays good. Have Funcom already sent out a lot of beta invites? I registered like 3 months ago for their beta, but no reply yet. :(

  6. Jumwa says:

    Their pushing Facebook integration turned me off big time. I don’t mind googling things for information, but I don’t have Facebook and the prospect of feeling pressured to do so to progress in a game is a big turn off.

    That and the opening pictures hover-over about dying a lot. I hate dying. Some might say I have an aversion to my own death, strange as that may seem, and so dying in MMOs always makes me quit.

    • Adam Smith says:

      If it’s any reassurance, most of my deaths were due to me trying to pack in as much as I could since I had limited time. I could definitely have taken a lot more care.

    • Jumwa says:

      Well that’s a bit encouraging then. Truly nothing turns me off a game quicker than finding myself dying and having to waste time resurrecting and returning to what I was doing.

    • neolith says:

      What’s with the Facebook connection? *shudder*

    • Premium User Badge

      Coren says:

      I believe the Facebook connection refers to the fact that they introduced this Secret War thing a while ago, which was/is/will be a Facebook marketing stunt that gives you a chance to win a beta key, in-game stuff and other things: http://secretwar.thesecretworld.com/

      Thing is, though, it’s just one way they’re promoting their game, and it’s just one way of getting a key or in-game items, so I don’t really see what the fuss is all about. It makes sense to use Facebook, from a marketing point-of-view. If you’re not on Facebook, you’re not the target of this specific campaign, so just don’t participate and wait for a different one. I’ve seen no indication that Facebook would in any way be a requirement for the actual game.

    • Heisenberg says:

      “Well that’s a bit encouraging then. Truly nothing turns me off a game quicker than finding myself dying and having to waste time resurrecting and returning to what I was doing.”

      Sorry, but would you be happier playing a game where you are immortal? that way you wouldnt have to bother trying to get better at it.

    • Jumwa says:

      Fear of death or punishment is just one of many ways to encourage people to do better. And it’s not a particularly good one either. As they say, that’ll only get you so far as to do just enough not to face punishment.

      I, like many people, am motivated by a desire to improve for the sheer hell of it. Some are motivated most by a promise of reward for good performance.

      On the other hand, this is a video game, and perhaps not everyone is seeking validation and purpose in treating their games so seriously. Many of us have real life for that. Personally, expanding my own self-employment venture to greater success so that my partner and I can kiss the wage-slave world goodbye once and for all is where I devote the bulk of my energies to improving. Video games are those things I use at the end of (or amidst) the day to relax and, in the case of MMOs, socialize.

      @Coren

      That wasn’t specifically what I was referring to, though it has been a while so I find I can’t really recall what it was I did read. I believe I read something about them saying that they’d be linking up in-game accomplishments (such as guild things) through Facebook and what not to a point where basically it was just an organic part of game progression. It’s been a while though, so… perhaps memory has betrayed me.

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      Coren says:

      @Jumwa
      Ah, alright, my bad. Haven’t heard anything about that, specifically, but it sounds like it could be true. As long as the Facebook aspect is just a way to brag and socialize, I’m fine with it. If it becomes necessary to use Facebook to get ahead in the game, though… But I doubt they’ll go that far.

    • Jumwa says:

      @ Coren

      In all likelihood it is my bad, as I can’t remember where I read this supposed bit. Perhaps an interview? Perhaps an imaginary amalgamation of other facts I had read that got birthed into a new monstrosity?

      Point being, I can’t jab my finger at anything specific to back it up, so I guess I’ll err on the side of reason and say you’re likely right and hope it goes no further than another simple business advertisement method.

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      Coren says:

      Coincidentally, Ragnar mentions “Facebook and Twitter integration” in the following video interview. Though they haven’t figured out yet how they’re going to implement it exactly. So we’ll just have to wait and see. (Also, integrated browser.)

      http://www.gamespot.com/the-secret-world/previews/the-secret-world-hands-on-preview-templar-time-6346446?tag=gumballs%3Btitle%3B1

  7. DarkWolf says:

    Would you say the combat resembles DCUO, or is it different? I really like the free-style combo system DCUO employs.

  8. riadsala says:

    This might end up being ,y first ever MMO. I still wish they were making a huge single player RPG though.

    • Premium User Badge

      JB says:

      riad, let me know if you go for it. I’m watching this one closely too.

  9. SAM-site says:

    Sold.

    In fact I was sold already, and now am more sold.

    As futile as the question may be… any word on “when”?

  10. InternetBatman says:

    This sounds awesome. Really, really awesome.

  11. Bhazor says:

    Blah blah blah what about Dreamfall?

  12. johnpeat says:

    The idea of being able to ‘swap classes’ is wonderful, but there’s a snag.

    Most MMOs are played by people who rely on “pick-up groups” to get through group content – rather than by organised guilds/groups of friends.

    The idea that every PuG would have to have a massive argument as to who was the Tank and who healed and who did DPS is terrifying – it’s bad enough trying to find such people when they’ve had to invest time and effort in THAT role already – without relying on someone volunteering/being able to do it on-spec.

    Then there’s loot – presumably some items will drop which are better for certain roles and you’ll get into arguments over who ‘needs’ such items.

    “Oh I didn’t tank here but I need that for STA and STR in other places”

    and so on…

    Nightmare!?

    • Heisenberg says:

      not really.
      if you are looking for a PuG (in general or LFG), you would just say, “tank looking for group” to stop any argumants befor it starts.
      and a simple random number roll to decide on loot.Not a complete nightmare.

    • johnpeat says:

      Heisenberg has clearly never played an MMO – I mean at all, ever…

      It’s NEVER as simple as rolling a dice and I don’t want to choose a tank/healer or whatever ‘at random’ – because that way we’ll end up with an idiot doing it…

    • Heisenberg says:

      maybe it will be easier for everyone to get used to using the different class skills, so it might not be as much of an issue when looking outside of your guild?

    • FataMorganaPseudonym says:

      Or, you know, you could just play the game with friends who are playing it for fun, rather than with a PUG full of random jerkasses who treat it like so much Serious Business™ and who will shriek at you for being an “idiot”.

    • Jake says:

      I think PUGs are pretty much the worst experience you can have in an MMO. Even when you are lucky and get good players PUGS are usually a bit awkward and just not half as much fun as playing with people you know. I never PUGged in WOW if I could help it (and I usually could). Find a nice guild and play with friends. No loot drama, no loot whores, no arseholes. When 90% of the game is player interactions, a nice guild is pretty much the difference between enjoying an MMO and hating it.

  13. Premium User Badge

    PoulWrist says:

    Too bad you’ll only have people whining about the quests being too long, too complex, too difficult and boring, and that they would much rather not have to do them, because it’s not something you can just do by brainlessly fighting the mobs. Dare to require immersion in an MMO and you will be punished, because the modern MMO shuns immersion and caters not to the singleplayer crowd that this story intensive design does.

    • utharda says:

      Well then, time to slash the wrists and put an end to it all, isn’t it.

    • bigdeadbug says:

      Actually most MMORPGs do cater to the single-player crowd, often more so than they should for a multiplayer game. Single-player content doesn’t = immersion much like multiplayer content doesn’t necessarily result in a lack of immersion if done correctly.

    • Dizzard says:

      On another note, it’s great to see an mmo that isn’t about elves and goblins.

      You’d think after the billionth fantasy mmo being released even the fantasy mmo developers themselves would be trying to drown themselves in disgust at this point.

  14. Ian says:

    I’ve gone from cautiously excited about the game, right through to “actually it’s looking quite poor” and now back up the scale slightly to where I am now, which is having no idea whether I think I’d like it or not.

  15. DK says:

    Sounds like yet another MMO that has no reason or business being an MMO instead of a singleplayer/multiplayer capable RPG.

    • Buttless Boy says:

      Ninja’d! By like, two hours. This is what I get for leaving tabs open all day.

    • Strange_guy says:

      ^ This.

      It really sounds like a game I would like to play, but I’m not really an MMO person at all.

  16. Buttless Boy says:

    Sounds like a great single player game. Why is this an MMO?

    • paterah says:

      So you can have the pleasure of playing with others quite obviously.

    • Buttless Boy says:

      But I hate others. That’s why I play video games instead of going outside, dammit.

  17. Sardukar says:

    This looks both entrancing and rife with potential to disappoint. Why an MMO? Is is a cash-in thing? Is it a game-enhancer? Knowing everyone else is unravelling the same mysteries around you would remove the personal aspect I’d think. Not to mention the people that will crush content and then shout about it in general chat.

    Still, Funcom has excited me in the past. Then fallen flat and hard, but perhaps this will be the time. I hope it comes out nowhere near GW2.

    PvP also seems like an add-on, which is one of the few benefits of being an MMO. The other, playing with your buddies, would seem to contradict the novelty of discovering the Secret World yourself.

    Still. Figure in brown suit with M4 Carbine vs Werewolf. Who is not interested in this? Insane people, that’s who.

    • Premium User Badge

      Wisq says:

      I believe one of the stated goals of The Secret World was to keep coming out with content on a regular basis. With a game world based on the Real World, including puzzles linking the two, there’s a big requirement to keep the game content fresh and up-to-date.

      It’s a little hard to do that sort of thing if it’s a “sell it and forget it” title that depends on attracting more and more users over time to stay profitable. One expects (or at least hopes) that a good chunk of those subscription payments are going to go towards continuously adding more content to the game.

  18. Dizzard says:

    I’ve been interested in this game for a while now….it looks very promising but honestly I don’t really last long with MMOs.

    MMOs often fail to pull me into their world the same way a single player experience would.

    I’m wondering if the atmosphere of perhaps the zombie infested town might be ruined by a large crowd of players running around?

    I’m not entirely sold on this yet, how much is it going to cost anyway?

  19. elfbarf says:

    Not too convinced about the combat, you made the “counter” system out to be somewhat of a big deal when it sounds exactly like the combo point system for Rogues in WoW (and countless other classes in other MMOs).

  20. archimandrite says:

    “it’s whole philosophy” should be “its whole philosophy”

  21. taikonaut says:

    Can you tell me what the required specs are fro this game? I can’t find anything on the funcom site (unless I’m just blind)