The Secret World: Factions, PvP Details

Yesterday we spoke to The Secret World project lead Ragnar Tørnquist. He revealed a whole bunch of new information about the urban fantasy MMO of monsters, secret societies and mysterious evil, which is now sounding increasingly awesome: a (sort of?) real-time combat system for PvP, a subterranean city for the secret societies for fight over, and a mutual war against evil and darkness in the real world. Along with the three factions he’s revealed a little about their HQ buildings, the share social hub for each faction, and the PvP impact of guilds, or cabals as they will be known. More promising, perhaps, is an MMO that eschews traditional vertical structure of RPGs, opting for a “horizontal” advancement that will allow people to contribute to higher end PvP stuff from the very start. Yes, there’s every reason to believe that Funcom might finally be on the right track. Read on for our chat with Tørnquist, or go here for our previous interview.

RPS: So I want to avoid covering the same material we looked at the last time we spoke, so let’s skip straight ahead to your most recent announcements…

Tørnquist: So we revealed a lot of new information at PAX, we talked about the factions, Illuminati, Dragon, and Templars, and we also revealed some of the PvP stuff. We also have the first screenshots of the game. [Posted here – RPS].

RPS: So you’ve got this personality test thing on the website to suggest which faction – out of templates based roughly on secret society myths of the real world, Templar, Illuminati and Dragon – people are suited for, and the entire internet seems to have come up as Dragon, or at least ended up joining Dragon at the end of the test. Does that mean you’ve diagnosed the internet as an agitator-anarchist?

Tørnquist: Well from testing in the office we had no idea that some many people would end up as Dragon. Actually though we only really understood what Dragon was about recently, it was the most undefined of the factions until just a few weeks ago. I think the Templars and the Illuminati are already more of a known quantity: people have already read Dan Brown or read Illuminati books, and seen the ideas of the societies in films, so we thought people would want to join up with those sort of know quantities. But I think the mystery of Dragon is appealing to gamers, they can put a little bit more of their own imagination and ideas into that space. Of course they are Asian too, and gamers are notoriously interested in all things with an East Asian vibe to them. I don’t know if you’ve seen the art that we put out of the three factions, but Dragon is the guy with the Katana, he looks pretty good. Of course if you took the test as a personality test you’d probably put yourself a in a good light, and Dragon answers are possibly a bit more “nice guy” answers.

RPS: They are more individualistic. I came up as Dragon on the test, but actually I chose Templar, having read the descriptions. Powerful self-righteous fighter types is more my game style.

Tørnquist: The crusader type, eh? People did tend to choose the one they landed on, but I think as we move towards launch we’ll see people gravitate to other factions as we release more information. The Dragon are interesting so far in that they have been portrayed by us as protectors of nature, but ultimately they are quite anarchic, they are agitators, and they are more complex than the other factions. Actually, when we did a Q&A at PAX the spread for journalists joining factions was quite even.

RPS: So beyond cosmetic stuff how will faction influence how you play?

Tørnquist: Well they are not classes or races or anything, so they’re not going to give you different skills, because we don’t want to give the factions any advantages against each other in PvP. There will however be some missions that are specific to the three secret societies, different quests and tests, different items – there will be elements that make them feel very different to each other. The headquarters of each secret society will play a very important role. The headquarters will be very different. The Templars are in this huge stone building in London, because they are the least secret of all secret societies, they’re very much out in the open. The Illuminati are in a hidden underground facility in New York, and the Dragon are in this very innocuous-looking monastery. Inside the secret society you will have access to vendors, social spaces, mentors, and depending on your standing with the society – you start as a novice and graduate to the top – you have access to different vendors and so on. These will differ for each society.

But then there is the Hollow Earth. This is a place where the societies are fighting for control of resources. It’s a realm called Agartha, where the factions are vying for control. There’s a resource called anima which is used in crafting and upgrading weapons, as well as other things. Players will battle for “cells” which are areas to be contested by players, so that you can get anima and get access to other areas. This provides a reason for conflict. Down there what separates a Dragon from a Templar is clear – the different uniform they wear for the battle.

RPS: So the Hollow Earth thing provides the factions with a place to fight it out in open war, because they are hidden in the “real” world, which is where the PvE and general questing takes place?

Tørnquist: Yes, because on the surface everyone is sort of on the same side, because they are fighting evil. They all work together to save the world from impending doom. However, the factions each want to be the one left standing when the smoke clears, and the way to do that is to control the resources in Agartha. The factions are fighting each other for real down there.

RPS: What’s the PvP going to be like? What’s it like to play?

Tørnquist: Cells basically have a control points that you as a team will capture. Teams will form from cabals, and these cabals, like guilds, can only contain members from a specific faction. So you will be in a Templar cabal, for example, and have particular cells under your influence. Cells can only be controlled by Cabals, and when they control them they get access to anima, or other benefits. They can build turrets, traps and other defences to protect them against other Cabals, but ultimately you will need to defend it all the time, or at least regularly, to keep it.

The combat we have shown at PAX, and unfortunately I can’t show that now, but it’s very fast paced. You have to keep range, you have to keep firing, it’s action-packed, unlike other MMOs – timers on powers will be very short. It’s going to have an emphasis on your character abilities, more than your player abilities, but obviously there will be some element of skill in how you use those abilities, your tactics and movement.

RPS: Is the more flat structure you’re talking about – this “classless MMO” stuff – going to make things easier to get started in PvP? I mean in vertical level structure MMOs you can’t contribute to PvP until you’ve done a lot of the levelling. Am I going to be able to come into The Secret World and then quickly be able to help out my veteran buddies in combat?

Tørnquist: Absolutely, yes, because the things you start out with will still be effective later on. Of course players who have been playing for a long time will be more powerful, but the main advantage of being a player who has played for a long time will be that you have access to more different abilities, you have a wider range of options than a beginner. You can respec as a tank one day and a healer the next. But just playing for a short time will will give you enough to help out people who have been playing for a long time. You won’t be able to do everything, of course, but you will be able to do a few things quite well.

The advantage of the cells as PvP locations is that some of them will be higher level, in that they contain “relics” which give out more bonuses, those might give the long term players, more skilled players a target, while new players might just concentrate on other, lesser cells. But everyone will be able to get involved in PvP from the very beginning.

We previously spoke to Tørnquist about The Secret World here.


  1. Ian says:

    So is the game to going to be leaning more toward PvP? Or is that just what they’re talking about right now?

    • Kazuo says:

      They are just talking about it in this thread. The game is alot about everything else also.

  2. vasagi says:

    Good old scandanavians

    im looking forward to this

  3. Jayt says:

    I really hope I can get my grubby hands on a beta for this

  4. Lack_26 says:

    I ended up a Templar when I did the test, it sounds interesting. I’ll wait to see what the combat is like but the story sounds like it will be enjoyable, which is always a plus.

    All in all, I’m rather interested in this.

  5. Ysharros says:

    Aaaah! aaaah! Froth! Bibble! /madexcitementrush

    I’ve spent too long on the “I’m not getting excited about any MMO every again” wagon, and now I’m falling off with a vengeance. Thanks for that great interview!

  6. Jim Rossignol says:

    They’re just talking about PvP now. It will have two realms: The “real” world for PvE, and the Hollow Earth / Agartha for PvP.

  7. Serenegoose says:

    I took the little test and got illuminati, unsurprisingly for me. They were also the faction that sounded coolest, so I’m even less surprised, given how cool I am. Looks like a really intriguing game, but I can’t really say much more than that, since I haven’t seen much at all.

  8. Xercies says:

    I’m quietly excited about this MMO, the story could be cool since its from the guy who did The Longest Journey. And the gameplay could be cool. That PVP style and fighting does sound kind of like EVE to be honest which is a good thing I think.

  9. Alex says:

    I do hope that they’ll have at least a few NPCs with molemanic names from John’s Hodgman’s second book.

  10. JB says:

    I came up Illuminati on the test. The game is sounding very interesting so far…

  11. Cutman says:

    I had no idea this was gonna be classless. My anticipation for this game just shot up.

  12. Sp4rkR4t says:

    It’s certainly an interesting concept for an MMO and I always follow any project that is attempting to be a bit different so colour me interested.

  13. Carra says:

    I’d rather see a sequel to The Longest Journey. But an excellent mmorpg will do too.

  14. Markoff Chaney says:

    Hail Eris! All Hail Discordia!!!

    Seems vaguely interesting and would be fun to try out… I’d really rather have TLJ3, or a non subscription based MMO on this property, but we can’t have everything we want.

  15. Polysynchronicity says:

    I rolled Illuminati. Woo.

  16. Guy says:

    “It’s going to have an emphasis on your character abilities, more than your player abilities”

    “You can respec as a tank one day and a healer the next”

    Sigh. Another serving of Same Same Pie.

  17. ErrantConstruct says:

    I got Illuminati which sounded much better than the tree hugging Dragon. NOW TELL ME WHEN IT COMES OUT!

  18. Bret says:

    I got Templar.

    Smugness and punching evil in the FACE.

    A winning combination.

  19. Sonic Goo says:

    This seems very much along the current trend of where MMOs are going; non-fantasy setting, no more leveling, more focus on action.

    I’m still gonna wait until Blizzard comes along and does it better, though.

  20. Maj.Havok says:

    Looks interesting…and of course I was picked as a Templar, only the best are chosen to be a Templar… :)

  21. Qex says:

    Came out as a Dragon.

    I just can’t wait to assasinate all of you.:X

  22. Sparvy says:

    It’s kind of vague, but the way he talked about the faction specific cabals as relating to PvP, is there any chance that the PvE has cross-faction play? I would really like that if so.

  23. medwards says:

    “Dragon are interesting so far in that they have been portrayed by us as protectors of nature, but ultimately they are quite anarchic, they are agitators, and they are more complex than the other factions.”

    I’m rather glad to see the ‘more anarchic’ faction not being immediately portrayed as the frothing-at-the-mouth bombs-for-everyone group.

  24. Noc says:

    Speaking of this, and Mr. Tørnquist, and Twitter, there’s a running Q&A session going on on #TSWQA if folks are curious to know a bit more.

  25. Stromko says:

    I ended up Dragon also, I think it’s that anarchic streak where most of us don’t want grumpy old men or demagogues controlling our lives.

    Maybe as they develop the factions more, the Illuminati will seem a lot sexier, and the Templars will hit more of that divine crusader vibe.

    Usually with these three faction PvP MMOs, there’s one faction that’s notably less populated than the others. I wonder if the cell system will make up for that, because if you have less people on your side you have a richer field of targets, and less competition on your side for the resources.

  26. Lambchops says:

    As someone who doesn’t play MMOs at all i’m in the unusal situation of having 3 that i’m interest in.

    jumpgate Evolution (need an excuse to break out the joystick again), APB (doesn’t really seem like an MMO at all really and looks a hell of a lot of fun) and this.

    My initial interest was because i immediately went, “if the guy that did TLJ and Dreamfall is behind it then the story might just be good enough to drag me in” and now because it just seems pretty damn intruiging.

    However i’m going to wait for more info before I decide whether to try it out; i have a bad feeling that the more I find out about the game the less I’ll be inclinded to play it but I’d be more than happy to be proved wrong.

  27. Railick says:

    I ended up with Dragon as well :( But I chose Templar lol.

  28. Shalrath says:

    I get Dragon or Illuminati depending on how I answer one question.

    Definitely lean more towards Illuminati though. I’m… not a fan of humanity at large.

    I’m curious how this turns out, but as has been mentioned, monthly-fee MMO’s are tiring to me. They’re never worth the money.

  29. Railick says:

    I’ve seen it argued before that if you were to compare MMO with monthly fees to movies you’re actaully getting a really good value. You’re paying 15 bunchs for 720 hours (roughly if it is a 30 day month) Of entertaiment for any number of people in your house hold depending on the game (most would allow you to make more than one character even if you can’t play all of them at the same time)

    Buying a movie ticket even at the cheepest of prices (1$) would only get you 15-20 hours at the same price (or 1$ Red Box movies for example)

    Sure you’re not going to spend 24 hours a day playing the game but even if you only spent 2-3 hours a day playing that is 60 – 90 hours of game play a month. Personally I think that is totally worth it but only if you actually ENJOY playing the freaking game ;P

  30. Noc says:

    And someone posted the twitter thing here, in a Much-Easier-To-Read-o-Vision.

  31. Eschatos says:

    I like the sound of this, but I also liked the sound of Warhammer Online. I’m not spending a penny till I see significant amounts of gameplay.

  32. Shalrath says:

    While I agree it’s, theoretically, a better monetary investment than movies, how about other games? Compare TF2’s time played to money paid for me, and, well, that’s going to kick an MMO’s ass.

    But using movies: How much of that two-hour movie are you spending sitting, waiting for something to happen? How many movies show you the exact same scene for hours at a time? How many movies are better if you’ve already watched it before, and give you some advantage for that?

    Anyway, my problem is that of my time played in an MMO, the majority of it is: A) waiting for something fun to happen. B) Getting people together for something to happen. C) Failing to complete the fun objective. D) Denied the ability to play the game once weekly because of ‘maintenance.’ E) Finding out that the way I play isn’t allowed anymore, as my character has been revamped (again.) F) Being told that the entire part of the game I used to play is now empty, because the benefits of it have been removed.

    And so on, and so on.

  33. JuJuCam says:

    I got Griffyndor Templar!

  34. Gorgeras says:

    I can’t help but notice the questions are REALLY transparent. The whole point of psychological tests is that the more you know about how they work, the less effective they are hence a lot of psychologists getting pished at someone leaking the ‘correct’ answers for the Rosarch test onto Wikipedia.

    Most have ended up being Dragons because the test accounted for no ‘Vulcan personalities’: passionate but rational, driven but ready to doubt, understanding that good for the sake of good does not require any appeal to emotion, sensation or complex motive.

  35. Mitthrawn says:

    I got templar. Go religious zealots- we will outlast you all!

  36. lePooch says:

    The test pretty fun, though horribly transparent. They could have just narrowed it down to one question:

    Are you a:
    A)Knight –> Templar
    B)Pirate –> Illuminati
    C)Ninja –> Dragon

    That about covers all three, and then I could have signed up faster for their newsletter.

    I got Illuminati, natch. I’ll be the one buying out commodities and squeezing the crafters.

  37. Noc says:

    The relative simplicity and transparency of the test make a lot more sense if you look at it not as a *test* but as a way of introducing the ideological differences between the factions. And giving people who took the test before finding out what the factions were a run at guessing what they’d end up being.

  38. perilisk says:

    Why would the anarchist faction have a central headquarters? I can see it for the Illuminati, maybe the templars, but you would think the dragons would organize along the lines of independent cells.

  39. Tworak says:

    three factions, yay. the pvp might be decent then

  40. sigma83 says:

    ‘Why would the anarchist faction have a central headquarters?’

    Because even anarchists have to chill out somewhere.

    I showed my brother the screens in the other post and he was like ‘Left 4 Dead 2 screens?’ It looks great, sounds like it has the potential to be fun, and if nothing else will have given us those truly pants-wetting trailers with the pretty girls.

  41. Jayt says:

    As if you wouldn’t link to RPS from your media buzz link, funcom

  42. Lars Westergren says:

    Damn you RPS and Funcom. I’ve already lost years of my life to MMORPG addiction, and you are trying to suck me back in, aren’t you!?

    Sooo tempted. Just trying the demo can’t hurt…can it?

  43. DBinky says:

    I’ll just play INWO and call my “darkness urge” fixed… ;)

    Unless, of course, I hear from others that this is teh bomb… but, then, the countdown timer on the front says it’s over 3 years away, so, we’ll have all forgotten about this by then.

  44. medwards says:

    @perilisk: “Why would the anarchist faction have a central headquarters? I can see it for the Illuminati, maybe the templars, but you would think the dragons would organize along the lines of independent cells.”

    Phew, someone else selectively quoted you and thought it was yet another “Hurr, how are the anarchists able to organise a bookfair, hurr, I’m an ignorant redneck.” But I digress! You ask a good question and I’ll provide a luke-warm answer: Most anarchist groups do essentially operate independently, but there is a vast need for them to communicate and sadly ‘peer to peer’ amongst groups is often haphazard. More importantly, you’ll rarely hear about the work similar groups are doing if they are geographically distant (so as an example there are a minimum of three anarchist tech collectives in North America that I know about. I can guarantee you that there are at least three I don’t know about and a pile of them that are too small to be effective by themselves). Often people form central bureaus who’s main job is to act as a clearinghouse for who’s doing what, what’s going on, etc. Helping independent groups come together so they can accomplish more. That could be an HQ but not in the traditional hierarchist sense of “The HQ makes the decisions and everyone else follows those orders”

    (as an example, see the 1907 International Anarchist Congress. While it isn’t highlighted the article mentions the establishment of an Anarchist International, and a communications bureau to be sited in London.)

  45. Metal_Circus says:

    I cant wait for this