Wednesday, 06 June 2012 12:08
Games - Games
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The Secret World is an MMO developed by Funcom with Creative Director Ragnar Tornquist of The Longest Journey fame. It takes place in our world, contemporary times if all the myths, legends and monsters really exist. There are vampires in Transylvania, mummies in Egypt, the Lock Ness monster is hiding in Scotland and Big Foot is a quest giver. There is even a portion of the world that goes to Hell. You play as a member of one of three secret societies: The Illuminati based in New York, The Templars based in London and The Dragon based in Seoul.
There are some interesting things happening with this MMO like the fact there are no classes and no levels. You can make you character into anything you want them to be. The character creator is all about creating their look; from faces, to body type, and the massive closet of modern clothes options to make them unique. Once in the game you create any sort of build you want by mixing and matching skills and abilities. Any character can have a max of 7 active abilities and 7 passive abilities, but you aren’t beholden to those choices. You can change them at any time and if you save a particular combination you can switch between whole builds. Thanks to this there are no class or level restrictions on equipment and any character can use anything they come across.
Funcom is also trying to change up mission structures to be more than the gather X of Y for Z character formula. They have a variety of different mission types. From combat missions to sabotage missions to investigation missions. What is interesting about their description of investigation missions during the demo was that they wouldn’t tell you how to proceed. You the player would have to figure out the clues and what to do next. It is an interesting idea and for role players a neat inclusion, but in a world of FAQs and wikis how will that concept stand up?
Moving on, what was really interesting was what the developer showed us by performing a quest. He went to a police officer in a town besieged by zombies and got his quest via a cinematic cutscene before the hoards came. Other players on the server could join in and fight even though it wasn’t their quest and were just in the area. After the first two waves of zombies they formed an impromptu posse to go take down the boss of the mission, an undead Viking the size of a house with crab arms.
After that encounter they showed off how you can change your abilities using a radial menu system. All skills were broken into 7 different areas, which were further broken down into multiple subtypes. In total there are 500 different skills. Each skill has 7 levels of expertise that can be improved upon. The level of customization is almost oppressive.
Then they skipped to another character in a very different mission. The backstory was a group of Vikings were fighting some Mayans to prevent the rise of a horror from the gate of hell in the past thanks to a time warping portal. Just go with it. It was a very different environment than the bustling facsimile of London, the social hub of the world or the Solomon Islands where the zombies were encroaching. Here the skies were red and the ground a blasted hellscape with a purple haze in the distance. Every Mayan killed sent a bright light to the purple haze. The last one unleashed the mission boss: a four-legged hell beast I can’t describe properly. The demo ended before we could see the monster taken down.
After the developer demo ended I went to one of the many terminals to give the game a shot myself. I don’t normally like MMOs because of the repetitive nature of both the combat and missions, but I could get engaged with The Secret World. I was flying blind for the most part because they were all premade characters so that attendees wouldn’t spend all their time in the character creation screen and get right into the action. The combat is controlled by a number of hotkeys that execute your chosen abilities. They all have cool down times that count off the seconds right below the icon, which was a real help in knowing when to run. Though when you die you enter some Silent Hill like representation of the area at the closest respawn point and have to make it back to where your body fell. Once there you press a button and you shift back into the real world. I liked it. It kept me in the world and in the game.
My only complaint is the camera. I really wish there was an easy way to control it. I don’t think it gave enough sensitivity to the mouse when moving around because it would take a few passes to get it to circle around. I don’t think it will be too big a deal as I figure you can adjust that in the final version.
Overall The Secret World is an ambitious game that at least is trying something different than the traditional fantasy tropes of other MMOs. In fact I’m far more interested in it because of that. There is something appealing about having fantasy and lore come to our modern times than going to a whole other world. It’s definitely taking the kitchen sink approach to fantasy, but I think it could work in its favor especially for players who want to find out what the developers are going to throw at them next.
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The Secret World is an MMO developed by Funcom with Creative Director Ragnar Tornquist of The Longest Journey fame. It takes place in our world, contemporary times if all the myths, legends and...
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