The Secret World Updated Impressions - First Dungeon Run

We get a guided tour of The Secret World's first dungeon at this year's Electronic Arts Studio Showcase.

In the online role-playing game The Secret World all your worst fears are now walking nightmares. As one of the three factions--the Illuminati, Knights Templar, or Dragon--you fight to suppress the beasts or at least point them at your enemies. At this year's Electronic Arts Studio Showcase, we got the chance to see this game in action as developer Funcom's Martin Bruusgaard, lead designer, and Joel Bylos, lead content designer, took us through the game's first dungeon in a hands-off demonstration.

Our character's first order of business was a meeting with some mysterious individuals in dark suits working for an even-more-mysterious corporation. They were monitoring a cargo ship that had recently run ashore; a ship that had also gone missing years earlier. Our hero, a bleached-blond Southern tomboy, wasn't deterred by the less-than-ideal conditions and accepted the corporation's complimentary helicopter ride to the crash site. After touching down, she met the rest of her party: a healer who specialized in blood magic, two high-damage characters using melee weapons and magical powers, and a sledgehammer-wielding tank.

The area itself was a rocky coastline beset by undead horrors and set against an overcast sky. And we're not talking about mere zombies but the mutated spirits of enraged Vikings. The Secret World pulls its foes from all corners of supernatural lore, from vampires and werewolves to the unspeakable horrors of H.P. Lovecraft. Back in the action, the first fight went off without a hitch, with the tank initiating the fight and the support characters bringing up the rear. The second encounter wasn't as simple.

At the center of the fight was a large, female Viking spirit who electrified the shallow water at the feet of our heroes. Now, the characters had to hop from island to island if they wanted to avoid a deadly shock. To us, it looked like the ranged characters did most of the work in finishing this encounter. Without missing a beat, the group turned from the fresh Viking corpse and ascended a cliffside. Along the way, they spotted an organic, quivering pod. Not one for mysteries, our tomboy ran up to poke at it (oh, like you wouldn't do the same), and the pod exploded. While initially unpleasant, this knowledge would come in handy later on in the dungeon.

You'll need to study sources outside of the game in order to solve some of The Secret World's puzzles.

Our Funcom pilots then skipped ahead in the demo to the dungeon's first boss encounter. This was against a monstrous half-man/half-crab that had a bad habit of summoning zombies to its aid. To help even the odds, our character called up her skill wheel, which was a series of concentric circles. Each circle was divided into different sections, each tied to one of The Secret World's roughly 500 skills. Players can mix and match their skills at will to build the type of character they want to play as using an elegant interface reminiscent of an Apple product. Our hero switched out her melee-centric skills for some magical spells to deal with the upcoming threat.

Back in the battle, the crab-man fought in phases, alternating between attacking the group directly and hiding underwater to let his zombie minions do the dirty work. Even with such tactics, the boss was eventually overwhelmed. After sending the monster low, our character spied a glowing green crate inside a shipping container. While enticing, it required a code in order to be opened. A string of numbers was labeled on the side of the shipping container, and we were told that, with a little out-of-game investigating, we could use those numbers to track down the needed code to open the crate.

Leaving the crate behind, our pilots skipped ahead again to the dungeon's final battle. What awaited them was the primordial dweller, a massive creature of immense psychic power. Using its supernatural abilities, the creature tested all the tricks our heroes had been exposed to thus far. Remember those explosive pods? Now, they were being hauled by kamikaze zombies that needed to be put down at a distance. It was a hard fight, but our side ultimately emerged victorious.

New skills don't necessarily make your characters stronger; instead, they diversify them.

At this point, in a normal massively multiplayer online role-playing game, our character would have likely leveled up. However, in the Secret World, characters don't have levels. They advance in power by collecting stronger weapons, and their experience points are used to purchase new skills that give them more variety. Our demonstration ended with a bang when, during its helicopter flight back, our group was attacked by a creature that looked not unlike the slumbering god, Cthulhu. The Secret World is showing a lot of promise, especially with its incorporation of alternate-reality gaming elements. Its release date, however, remains a well-guarded secret. We'll be sure to keep you updated as we learn more about this game.

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Discussion

52 comments
madglee
madglee

So it's all real time combat with no ability to pause/strategize? Blech.

leeduncan
leeduncan

Like the setting, not sold on the mechanics or the graphics

michael39238
michael39238

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

luert
luert

I think this game it's quite fair not my style because of the enviromnent BUT good job guys I've no critics to tell I mean more less for the dungeon you managed to put quite some features and stuff the fact of being able to get all skills doesn't make you invicible it's just the key to win specific fights so I think that for those who don't have a specific style it's worth a good shot you can have lots of fun with it mainly because I doubt you'll find many things alike in a game like this exept for the atmosphere maybe but give it a break for that (=

wexorian
wexorian

IDK looks promising but it need some upgrades hope they will fix , and THere was eevrytng EXEPT LOOT From BOSES LOL.

MarcusVOG
MarcusVOG

This game is going to fly like a boat made of stone...

arruu2000
arruu2000

I think this gameplay style (wow-like) is completely obsolete. Maybe WoW still hangs in there, but all the others are going free to play ´cos nobody would pay for them. Personally, i would never pay for a game like this! So, rpg fans, safe your money for guild wars 2 and let´s pray they improved the gameplay style.

liffaman
liffaman

PLEASE!!! please!! for gods sake.. when you finish the game... please make the running and jumping animation smoother & better than this 2:56

Alygator
Alygator

@arjan17 - Dude AoC might have had some troubles but when's the last time u palyed it, at the beginning? Try it now and see if it will change you're mind. Anarchy Online might have outdated graphics cuz its the first mmorpg but the gameplay and other systems are original and awesome.

whatevernumber
whatevernumber

LOL @ paulosouza Your arguments about TSW are valid because of your experience with Dungeon Siege 3 ? All games are alike, right? Or is just you being utterly stupid.

lorider25
lorider25

wow, these graphics looks like KOTOR; they need an upgrade. The gameplay doesn't look all that good and being that it is Funcom (AoC game) I'll wait to see what other people have to say about it.

Alygator
Alygator

WTB Release date! Hurrny up already!

redness19
redness19

After AoC I'll deffinately wait for player reviews.

jhonel83
jhonel83

@Taegre , I respect your opinion solely because you gave Planescape: Torment a 9.5 in your review -so yeah, I guess a face bandana and a 2-by-4 will do on your part (I still think you would probably tie a pillow to your ass to prevent zombie bites, wear the thickest scarf and 2 leather jackets.Uh and a big biker helmet. By now means you would wear high heels, sexy tops, pig tails or any other manga crap) As for you, @Genchild , have you ever wondered WHY you are playing the same "crap" since the 80's? BECAUSE IT'S GOOD! I'm old school, I live by the motto "if it's not broken, don't change it, just add more to it". When I pick up a new game, I look for improvements in story, dialogue, movement and fighting mechanics but i like the basics (rag doll inventory, big branches in skill trees, crafting, experience points, stats, right clicking for attack and so on) as they are.

arjan17
arjan17

Where this any other developer, I would definitely give this game a shot. But Funcom has betrayed the gamer community one too many times, with their games if you ask me. one of their latest Age of Conan/Anarchy Online wich starts off good to entice people to buy and then poof first the sound disappears and then quests and content all together! Ofcourse companies are about making money, but knowingly selling broken/unfinished products is evil. If there was the slightest authority like a game inspection Funcom would have been fined to bankrupcy a long time ago.

kurboat64
kurboat64

Hmm I may give it a shot. There was a game if called Hellgate london EA put there name on as well and it fell on its own sword. hope this Is better

Saerain
Saerain

I really hope they get a handle on the animations. They're really painful.

neowolph
neowolph

Wow! The horror elements are truly frightening! That naked electric chick has massive tangle bush. Hangs down past her knees! True fear right there.

kaem79
kaem79

Remove the online part and it'll be a better game.

Cirkelinespark
Cirkelinespark

Doesn't look as fun as I thought it would be. Oh well...

emerin76
emerin76

@ TheGreyArea Beyond the Supernatural. Yup, exactly. Always enjoyed Palladium games. The game Gray Matter also reminds me of that RPG. I guess I'll be seeing you in the secret world.

paulosouza
paulosouza

The gameplay ideas seems pretty interesting, the overall game execution seems to be lacking though. The animation looks reaaallly bad, the interface jurassic and the controls kind of unresponsive, and extremelly unpolished, the overall dialogue is pretty cheesy and although the overall picture seems to be interesting the individual missions seem to lack any sort of excitement. Before you get me with the "the game isn't finished" argument (for graphics and overall fluidness), Dungeon Siege III had the same issues on demo videos and it still was released with those same stiff animations and repetitive gameplay. For the record, this is what worries me about SWOnline as well.

Genchild
Genchild

@ jhonel83 I love when people reference WoW as if it's the God creator of any of those fantasy troupes he listed. Pick up a fantasy novel or play any of the WoW predecessors you will see names and places all recycled and repackaged. You then harp on them for trying something new with the skill system and tell them to give you the same crap we've been playing since the 80's. You contradict yourself to hate on a game you haven't played. Lame.

iloveyourface
iloveyourface

i'm a huge mmo fan so i gotta try this one out... but i swear... if star wars old republic is 50% as good as people are saying it will be... NOTHING will tear me apart from it. NOTHING!!!!!! *resumes 'empire strikes back'*

Taegre
Taegre

@jhonel83 If I were face to face with marauding monsters in a modern world, no I wouldn't wear a sexy top or wield a sledgehammer. I'd wear a Rage Against The Machine shirt, riot face bandana and smack them with Molotov cocktails and a blunt 2-by-4. Shiny armor worked in the medieval ages, but modern close-range fighting is all about dexterity. You don't want to sweat under a layer of tin in the San Francisco sun, you want to pound your knuckles into an orc's face until it's tender as sirloin. That's what I'm looking forward to in this game, the adrenaline high of defeating legendary creatures with raw human aggression.

jhonel83
jhonel83

A bland uninspired (not to mention unfinished) game I've never heard about. Full of clichees like blood magic, sorceresses and dreught, obviously stolen from Biowares' games and thrown in a modern world which makes no sense. Btw whoever came out with the varangians and the whole viking stuff (which is totally out of context) obviously played too much Medieval Total War and felt the need to rip out some of the lore. I agree with @ssddsquare, if YOU were placed face to face with marauding monsters, would you choose to wear a sexy top shirt and wield a sledgehammer? Hell, if you can afford to travel by helicopter, you can surely afford something more practical. Big shiny armors DO count, and it's the best way to get some sense of improvement. Skills that don't make your char more powerfull, but more versatile? Erm...why? I mean -everybody is a jack of all trades, nobody specializes, and at some point you'll have more pointless skills then you can remember to use. Not to mention some skills will be better then others and everybody will go for those. You will have 40 skills everyone spams all the time, not 500. Give me an old fashion skill tree and make me happy! To those saying that social interaction is what matters into a game, I can tell you are very wrong. If you want advanced social chatting, dancing, hanging in clubs or dressing like a diva, go out there and live a real life? I've played tried playing social MMos' before and I really don't get it. Sorry

masterdrat
masterdrat

Looks awesome!! The only thing I'm not sure I like is the limitation on abilities which seems to be close to what GW2 will offer.

GrimReaper84_au
GrimReaper84_au

Wow... when is GameSpot going the get The Templars right and stop calling them 'Knights Templar' please, pay attention at reveals FFS!

Alygator
Alygator

@ssddsquare "why would the hero wears like that into combat?" - you obviously didnt hear that its not going to be based on who's got the better armor or good looking armor. If you don't like the social wear's go play WoW... you just sounded like a 12 old kid.

Alygator
Alygator

It look's great, can't wait to try it! Funcom has always been original making MMO's. Like the AO, AoC's combat system and now TSW. It's going to be difficult to choose, this one or Star wars the old republic, wish i had enough money to pay for both, but still gonna try!

Lash540
Lash540

@ssddsquare - Your Engrish is outdated. Go back to school please.

alzeer1
alzeer1

@ssddsquare Graphics are fine for an mmo dude these company made age of conan i dont think your pc can run it

sircyrus
sircyrus

@ssddsquare How can it be over-rated when it isn't even out of closed beta yet?

ssddsquare
ssddsquare

Overated, the attack feels not connected to the enemy upon impact. The water effect is ..... there is no water effect. The graphic is outdated. The characters clothing is not ..... comprihensive, why would the hero wears like that into combat?

Boomer76
Boomer76

amazing a modern world skinn for age of conan!

Genchild
Genchild

@sheiiik and people like him/her Funcom as a developer has been making MMOs longer than most, and AOC is a highly complex game that reached out far beyond what other, similar games tried to achieve. Later in it's life it exists as a superior game that unfortunately set many gamers against it due to its failures early on. To assume that Funcom learned nothing from that experience is short-sighted. Perhaps try and reserve such judgments until the game is released. Comments about the game-play mechanics, player progression, or the setting they are proposing are the only valid comments you can make at this point. I am excited about these elements and hope they work hard to get it right this time straight out of the box. I doubt they will make the same errors in execution as it would undoubtedly mean a death sentence for Funcom.

smellyfeet
smellyfeet

Looks good guys, definitely on my play list :)

sheiiik
sheiiik

another failed mmo from funcom like AOC.... only promises and final product is broken....

tehwatever
tehwatever

i'm gonna play this game only if female characters can wear a muslim headscarf + a victorian corset.

zoeyleft
zoeyleft

looks very good! sounds extremely good! good luck funcom! i really hope they make money out of something, cause i want my next episode in the longest journey. they need the funds!

keech
keech

Games starting to take shape. I'm really liking the modern dark supernatural urban myth angle. A skill system that isn't identical to WoW's. Out of game elements for in game puzzle solving. If they can pull this off it may be the breath of fresh air in a quickly stagnating genre.

endorbr
endorbr

Ha. That one NPC in the game at the beginning is voiced by Tim Russ.

Seifer24
Seifer24

they should add more casting and attack animations. Seeing always the same animation when casting a fireball gets boring easily.

why9090909090
why9090909090

Looks promising. I hope they are right when they say they still need to polish it off because yes.. they need to polish it off.

burnettaj
burnettaj

This game looks awesome! I like how you have to go outside of the game to solve the puzzles and the mix of old world factions along with modern weaponary.

Zaalin
Zaalin

This game is bringing some great concepts to the table, that's for sure. I plan on at least trying it. I've thrown money away on worse things than a set of good ideas.