The Secret World Impressions - First Look

This upcoming massively multiplayer game from the creator of Age of Conan and The Longest Journey will explore modern-day occult themes. We take our first look.

Massively multiplayer games used to follow the same formula--they'd start you out as some kind of elf and challenge you to go out into a huge, persistent world where your humble elf adventurer would use a rusty dagger to beat up a bunch of rusty skeletons to gain some rusty copper coins, which could be saved up to eventually purchase a slightly less-rusty dagger. But games like this have grown and changed and are now going in totally new directions, like The Secret World, from Funcom. We took an early look at what the game has to offer and have much to report.

The Secret World will be unlike any other massively multiplayer game that has come before it. No, really. Instead of taking place in some kind of far-flung future or a high-fantasy world, it will take place in modern times, or as game director Ragnar Tornquist describes it, "a world of contemporary dark fantasy." You'll begin the game as an average person living in the real world, starting out in one of the game's three starter areas (New York City, Seoul, or London), and you'll lead a normal life, until you discover that all the urban legends and old wives' tales that used to frighten you as a child are very real and, in some cases, very dangerous. Dark forces are looking to take over the world, and your character has been chosen to join the fight.

One of the most intriguing aspects of The Secret World is the game's fiction, which, according to Tornquist, "goes back 100 million years" and involves everything from the Knights Templar to Pandora's box to the Garden of Eden to the Fountain of Youth to the Freemasons, and just about every other myth that has ever been tied to a conspiracy theory or occult investigation. Your character will be a freelancing adventurer who gets thrust into the world to seek out clues as to who's behind each unexplainable phenomenon as well as to duel with vampires, ghouls, and other bizarre critters that go bump in the night.

Though Tornquist points out that it won't in any way be the only thing there is to do, combat will be an important part of The Secret World. Your characters will fight battles equipped with conventional weaponry, such as firearms (which could include various pistols, shotguns, and rifles), melee weapons that can be infused with mystical powers, and even martial arts. We watched two different cinematic sequences (which were prerendered animations, not in-game sequences) that each led to combat.

The first sequence showed a young lady returning home to her apartment in a run-down building while listening to her portable music player. After entering her apartment and casually blending herself a smoothie, she turned to find herself face-to-face with a ghoulish, sharp-toothed monster that lunged at her just as she drew a flaming katana sword to leap into battle. Another non-in-game sequence we watched showed a different female character apparently investigating an abandoned playground at night, scouring the sand for clues. There seemed to be nothing suspicious, unless you count the hundreds of crows that fluttered into the area, surrounding the young lady and eventually coalescing into a shadowy figure that lunged at her while she planted a crucifix into the ground with a flash of light before drawing a shotgun to go into battle.

You'll do battle with many foes, but there will be more than just combat.

So, your character definitely won't be involved in normal fights, nor will you be required to go about your adventuring in the same way as in other games. Combat will be an important part of the game, and yes, some of the game's tougher enemies will require more-developed characters in order to be conquered, but by and large, combat will not be the be-all and end-all of the game, as it is in so many other online games of this sort. Tornquist suggests that the game will have plenty of noncombat elements that will encourage exploration and investigation. Aside from fighting in battles, you can spend your time solving in-game mysteries and developing your characters' abilities in the process (that is, there will be more ways to advance your characters' progression beyond just fighting a bunch of stuff).

You won't need to worry about gaining experience levels in The Secret World--in fact, there won't be any experience levels in the game; instead, you'll develop your characters using an open-ended skill system that doesn't lock you into a single profession. Tornquist specifically cited the all-too-common issue in class-based games where you sink hundreds of hours into a single character in a certain character class until you start getting tired of it, at which point you can either stick with the character you've invested so much of yourself in or restart a brand-new character (and face another couple of hundred hours of new character development from scratch). The game director suggests that The Secret World's character system will be flexible enough to let you change your character later on, should you decide you're looking for a change--that you'll "begin at the end game," referring to how many games of this sort require you to hunt monsters for hours until you reach a high-enough level to enjoy the most interesting content a game has to offer. Since your character is simply a person in the real world, you'll be able to customize your appearance in many different ways, using the game's many clothing and appearance customization options to create whatever look for your character you prefer, whether that be goth, jock, nerd, indie rock guy, or just about anything else.

Get your shotgun and your crucifixes ready.

The Secret World sounds like an intriguing game that will do a lot of things differently. Stay tuned to GameSpot for more updates.

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Discussion

235 comments
watchuwa
watchuwa

prolly wont be better than wow tho

Markotix
Markotix

I hope its an assassins creed II gameplay that meets with all the features of elder scrolls IV: oblivion!!!

drand24
drand24

skill based huh? maybe another MMO like Ultima Online... hey I can dream can't I?

Lordkunta
Lordkunta

Anyone rember Hellgate london? Great ideas, poor execution in short. If they make this like a mix between that, wow and left for dead I'm gonna be sold on this title. Hope they make it actionbased, so you can actually shoot manually and swing your sword urself instead of clicking on an enemy and waiting for ur character to execute the command.

Joesocwork
Joesocwork

Love that shot of the young woman casually drinking her smoothie while looking eye-to-eye at a Doom-like beast. Happens in my household everyday! :P

deviant74
deviant74

I will buy this game and pay for it for 1 year no matter how bad it is. Just like I did with AOC because I like where this is going. In this one it sounds like I can have my toon's top off the whole time.

Brunte81
Brunte81

I don't think you can be vampire. But you can pick a "darker" side or something like that. No monster race for the player. Not 100% sure.. I might be wrong.

IncipitOmega
IncipitOmega

Very nice interview.. I'll only buy the game on the condition that I can BE THE VAMPIRE,and hunt all those good heroes down ! XD I'm sick and tired of always saving the world in almost every fu*king game...

Shadow_Fire41
Shadow_Fire41

holy **** on a **** sanwhich with **** on top, with a side helping of ****! this sounds AWESOME!

Dsolow5
Dsolow5

AOC was definitely a failure, but I like the concept of this game. The #1 thing that I worry about is that they will go for graphics over everything else. High end graphics matter very little in an MMO. Art direction and concept are far more important, and those can be faithfully translated into a game without making an expensive system necessary.

nuclearspoon
nuclearspoon

Oh boy, another funcom mmo, as if they didn't completely ruin the first two with imbalance issues(they try to fix in every patch but just shift the imbalances some place else), terrible customer support, and endless technical problems. It would be nice if they actually learned from their mistakes once in a while.

hall0559
hall0559

Been following this game since it was announced over two years ago. Im pumped about it. I just hope some of the mystery and intrigue that went into its birth is in tha game itself.

scarface_dm
scarface_dm

Hmmm, Im curious to see how this game will play on the 360, and why must everyone bash the game before its even released, maybe Funcom learned from there past failed mistakes??

shak1r
shak1r

Poor monster. Probably it wanted to say "Hi".

froggyisland
froggyisland

wow i really like the direction this game is heading..sounds like i can create an avatar of myself and play it anyway i want to..i guess the gameplay has to be really good for it to work since it sounds like an action-based game. i dont understd why some ppl are being so pessimistic and think that it will definitely fail at such an early stage..

Baramos6
Baramos6

@Markbriones3 Agreed, mmo's are like that sometimes. Personally I enjoyed AoC immensely, and if this game is taken care of instead of being released half-completed it could get very good reception. Glad to see their doing something different instead of the usual swords and shields. All it depends on is if Funcom actually does it right...Yeah...Well, maybe they learned from AoC? Doubtful about that...

markbriones3
markbriones3

been trying to get myself involved in mmo or mmorpg or mmodotcom or emo or whatever the f*ck that is... cuz it seem fun.. i had guildwars.. but kinda got bored in a shortwhile.. nothing's dragging me to carry on.. unlike wow.. which i tried for a moment that it seem fun that's why everybody grew up with it and still playing it.. but never still got interested.. i hope this one will eventually put me in place. bottom line sounds fun.

mihai2mn
mihai2mn

that monster is really creepy and i liked her glowing tattoos i hope that funcom will make a good game because the concept is really cool

Master_Anime
Master_Anime

As of now the concept of the game is pretty good. poeple that are already saying this game is going to fail...the game isnt out yet. and "failcom" could very well pull there heads out their "butts" and make a truly different and innovative mmo. Thats not a fantasy *cough* Wow *cough* fingers crossed, thats hope they can pull this one together

Brunte81
Brunte81

Failcom... this game will just end like AoC. They will talk, talk, talk and then the game will be the biggest failure. I'm 100% sure that this game will also be in a boring solo crap world, instanced etc. The graphics will be great, but the game will be crap. Just the way of Failcom! Failcom will try fool us by talking about cool attacks or other stuff ingame. Only problem is that they will do the same misstake like AoC. 20% will be done when the game is out, the rest will be "in the next patch..."....

endocrine
endocrine

Conan failed so now they are spending their money on a future failure. Pass....

masterace207
masterace207

The only MMORPG I have played and actually enjoyed was Anarchy Online, also a Funcom game, but this looks fantastic. As mentioned in the interview, I hate "100-hour" character sinks, because i like to change things, and starting over all the time is GHEY All in all I'd give this one a 10-10 for now.

DeimosGT
DeimosGT

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Gvido29
Gvido29

This looks like must try out game.

bigelf72
bigelf72

@evildead7 I too though that AoC was the best MMO on the market. That is until I bought Darkfall.

eo_the_shaman
eo_the_shaman

A game that noobs cant play? this is...magnificent

evildead7
evildead7

Love how everyone takes the time to bash FC for AOC. Did AoC have a bad release? Yes. DiD AOC fail to deliver on aspects of the game that they promised? Yes. Is AOC still going thru growing pains? Yes. Yet with all that AoC is still a great game. Like any MMO the game continues to make adjustments and evolves from its release date to it's current form. As of now I'd say AoC is by far the best MMO out in the market. Which shows FC's dedication to fix a product that they knew wasn't up to snuff. With that being said I have full confidence that they'll deliver another great game with Secret World.

airshocker
airshocker

@maven_zer09 You're going to take the word of a BLOG over a REAL-LIFE PIECE OF EVIDENCE detailing their failure? Go ahead, brother. But don't be surprised when this game bites it, hard. No, I don't have any faith in devs to "learn" from their mistakes. Devs aren't players. They get so absorbed in the dreams of making millions that they disregard the opinions of their more knowledgeable fans Fans who have played MANY MMOs and know what will work and lose respect for devs when they don't keep their promises. And I know that Ragnar didn't help develop AoC, but he's going to use the rest of the people from Funcom who DID. It's a recipe for disaster and I don't know why you don't see that.

frostbite46
frostbite46

They talk about going right into the end game but how long can they stay interesting when you jump right into it. To accomplish something to grab a players attention, that's all about "end game" content, would have to make it already massive at launch and have very frequent content patches which I cannot see happening with a Funcom launch. Only way to find out is to play it I guess. *Sighs*

maven_zer09
maven_zer09

@airshocker dude, first of all AoC wasn't designed by Tornquist, and if I'm not wrong its development had been strated even before AoC. and if you check Tornquist's blog you'll see that he and all the other at development team have put a lot of effort and FAITH in this game. and second you must notice that it's their second MMO, and they must have learned a lot from what happen to that game. so I seriously doubt that it's going to be just the same. and though anything is possible, I'm sure even if it sux, it'll suck in a unique and fashionable style! p.s. go and develop The Lonsgest Journey Chapters, you morons :D

Viper11023
Viper11023

HEY.......um look at this "Counter" http://www.darkdaysarecoming.com/ According to it, the game "might" be released between August 28~30....Im guessing on 08/30/09.........added together equals 47.......strange.

Spaaz69
Spaaz69

This has epic fail written all over it.

swordx
swordx

All my friends and I swore off never to play another Funcom made game after Age of Conan. Though, when Dejagg, Apoc, FireLilly and a couple others told me to take a look at this trailer I figured what the heck. I must say it "sounds" good. I'm interested. You cant deny a company that makes a great game. A lot of companies try to hype up their product though it falls short. So lets see how this game pans out. I'm off to see Dragon Ball: Evolution today (sigh)....

JrSlacker
JrSlacker

In the interview sounds exactly what they said with AoC... Pass....

nord1c
nord1c

Thank you Airshocker, I hear you. People, although it is not unimaginable, that Funcom might learn from their plenty mistakes on AoC, it is highly doubtful that they will. Think of a Soccer team that sucks in season one, you probably don't expect it to excel in season two, or do you? Also, skillbased RPGs are not that new. When you look at Fallout with it's SPECIAL system, or Guildwars with only 20 levels and over a hundred skills to quest for, I give you two examples, where levels only make a semantic difference.

airshocker
airshocker

None of you know how badly Funcom did with Age of Conan. I'm going to shed some light on some of their failures: Firstly, during beta while combat was being tested, the ONLY tests they conducted were of the level 20 battleground/scenarios. How can you expect a game that has 80 levels to be balanced if you only test the level 20 PvP? Secondly, they promised that skill would be the deciding factor in PvP. Unfortunately they added an untested gem system that COMPLETELY destroyed PvP. Simply: You had gemmed characters dealing 50 - 75% more damage than ungemmed characters and completely controlling every battlefield they were on. They promised us a PvP environment where skill would prevail, yet in the end it was the people with the most money who won. There was no end-game content. I grinded from level 77 - 80 and it took DAYS. What little quests I could find were either too hard to complete or didn't give very much experience. There was also ONE place for high-level PvP to take place at: Kheshetta. Keep sieges were a joke. Not only did they lag horribly, but you couldn't even participate in them unless you belonged to some of the guilds duking it out. They also promised a mercenary system that---no surprise---didn't make it in-game! And lastly but probably the most atrocious: They forced one of their lead developers to quit because he LISTENED to the player-base. Athelan was by far the best dev on their team and they fired him as he tried to implement anti-griefing systems and tried to balance the game. Secret World sounds cool, but as I said in a previous comment, Funcom will screw it up.

Ryock
Ryock

sounds fun hopefully they wont Screw it up like AoC. ugh that was a huge flop.

ERoBB
ERoBB

Sounds like I found my next MMO.

eljono
eljono

Well anyone can talk big. Just like Hellgate. I really hope this comes out good though. And I agree with GoodGamez. Its time we move foward with games instead of being in the same mind set of leveling for f***ing hours to get to go raid and get one purple after blah blah bklagh blah. We need some thing NEW and EXCITING .

aots_twilight
aots_twilight

As much as I like what I am hearing about this MMO. Where's "The Longest Journey 3" funcom?

TheoleDominion
TheoleDominion

I do appaud this new way of playing an mmo. I'm very excited about it and hope it comes out soon with NO extra charges to add on top of the xbox live fee I've already paid. As to leveling, I feel some of you are not being truthful. Leveling adds a great deal of depth to gameplay and seperates the heavy-players from the casual ones. Someone level1 should not be able to do what a level 10 person can do( you wouldn't expect a rookie on the job to be as good or know as much as a 5 or 10yr. veteran). And someone said that we don't level in real life, wrong. Just take he attributes or "strength", "intelligents", and "wisdom" from the age of 1 to age of 15. (though not on pen and paper the way games do it), but the average person would have "leveled up" considerably in the mentioned attributes. Let's not even talk about becoming VERY good or proficient at something, because in most cases there's alot of committment, studying and long hours of practice, this is a form of "leveling" in real life. So though the traditional way of leveling may not be present in this game, BUT there will be a "form" of it present. If not, then what would be the point of playing, the whole point of most mmo's is grow become more powerful and explore new things. Having a game that doesn't SHOW the growth of your character from the first day you play the game from let's say 2 weeks of playing, would be completely meaningless.

shemrom
shemrom

Seems this game promise a lot and it just got me excited for it. Hope that you just need to buy the game without a monthly fee then i will think about getting it. Is this game that Hellgate was lacking for- hopfully

GoodGamez
GoodGamez

Yeah but gonzalezj1 we have come to a point when the lvling system is just annoying. We no longer use D&Ds graphics, engines, or even turn based play styles. Why should we continue you use the lvling system. Its as out dated as any of those other things. Time to kill it off. Lets let the main motive to keep playing be..oh i don't no...because its fun and not because you just feel like you need to be stronger to brag to you bud that you two levels ahead of him, but that your board out of you mine killing your 5,000 boar, clicking the same Aim shot Steady Shot loop while your doing it.

shawnanthony
shawnanthony

Funcoms developers are great, their visions and concepts are amazing. However, the Funcom investors "greed for money" is what kills their games. THIS TIME LET THEM (developers and game designers) TAKE AS LONG AS THEY NEED TO MAKE THIS WORK. Dont be greedy and release it before it is ready... I killed me as a gamer when AoC was ruined, and i dont know if i will ever buy a Funcom product again. Im sure that you (Mr. I want my return, investor) were happy with your returns (500k copies of anything is good, trust me i know) but your money could have been on a Blizzard level if you would have not pushed the development with your greedy investor hands!

gonzalezj1
gonzalezj1

@GoodGamez We have to level in RPGs because of D&D and other pen-and-paper games. If you didn't have levels/xp in pen-and-paper RPGs, then it wouldn't be much of a game - it would kind of just be make-believe. Video game RPGs are just an evolution of traditional games like D&D.

gonzalezj1
gonzalezj1

Oh, and this game sounds really interesting. If they can pull it off, that is. Not getting my hopes up from a cutscene and some concept art.

GoodGamez
GoodGamez

Finally a game that gets it. There will be gear. What it sounds like to me is that it will have a similar feel to other MMOs but you get to start at what would be like their end game. So you don't have to deal with the crap of leveling 80 lvls to enjoy the fun. Also I'm glad they are getting rid of classes as well. I assume there will be niches (heals, tanks and the diff dps im guessing) but you will be able to switch freely between them as opposed to having to make different characters for healing, dps and tanking. The lvling system never made any seance to me anyway. You dont level in real life, no one levels in fantasy movies or books, how the idea of becoming stronger based on a level system came around i don't know but it was stupid by its nature. I'm glad MMO's are working towards killing it off. It sounds like it's goal is to kill off the tedious hours or boring stuff you have to do in MMO's so you can get the stuff you need to enjoy them. Good News.