The Secret World Updated Q&A - Exclusive First Footage and The Town of Kingsmouth

Game director Ragnar Tornquist reveals the first in-game footage of The Secret World and discusses the first location to be revealed--the sleepy New England town of Kingsmouth.

Norwegian studio Funcom is working on its next massively multiplayer game, The Secret World, which will let you explore an alternate version of the modern world where old wives' tales and occult superstition have become reality and dark forces are attacking the world. Your role in the game will be to join one of three secret societies and do battle with the encroaching evil all over the world--even in New England. The first location to be revealed in the game is Kingsmouth, and GameSpot is pleased to reveal new details on the location along with the very first in-game footage of The Secret World. Game director Ragnar Tornquist gives us a guided tour.

GameSpot: It's great to see the first actual gameplay footage of The Secret World. Set up the video for us--what are we going to see in the video? What's the location?

Ragnar Tornquist: I think the video--or "found footage"--speaks for itself, but Kingsmouth is a sleepy small town in Maine, on the Atlantic coast of the United States. It's the kind of place where the population doubles during the summer, and off-season it's very quiet and slow. I think the town's official Web site gives you a good idea of what sort of town it is...before the incident. Something bad is about to happen. Something very, very bad. The video hints at this happening, but the full revelation won't come until we launch the game. There's a major incident, and there are few survivors--and players will be dropped right into the middle of all this. One important theme in The Secret World is that of heroism, and we're going to put players in a situation where being a hero is very difficult--where it's about containing and gathering information and preventing the darkness from spreading, rather than saving a few lives.

GS: What is the significance of Kingsmouth? How will this seemingly quiet little town exemplify what The Secret World is about?

RT: It's the perfect example of what's happening all over the gameworld: Dark days are coming. And no one in the know wants widespread panic, so part of what the players have to do is contain this darkness--prevent the truth from being broadcast beyond the borders of the secret world. Part of this is, of course, kicking zombie butt. But part of it is also following your secret society's storyline, exploring the island, digging into the lore, speaking with characters--finding out what's happened, how to stop it, and how that ties into similar events across the world. It's the starting point, but New England isn't the occult ground zero. It's just the beginning of a long descent into total darkness.

GS: We understand that the town will have its own population and even its own local government, presided over by certain key characters in the game. Who are the most important characters we'll meet in Kingsmouth? Why are they important?

RT: Some of those characters have already been revealed--in subtle ways--but the question is: Who will survive? And how? And why? For what purpose? This is something we're going to reveal more of as we move forward; we want players to get to know these characters before they start playing the game so that they'll already have a relationship with them. That way, it'll hurt even more when we...ahem.

Of course, there won't be just locals on Solomon Island. In fact, players will encounter several characters that have arrived on the island for various--and nefarious--reasons, including a seemingly innocuous group of hippies, some guys in black vans, and even the US military. All of these characters will be fully voiced, of course.

And there might even be some nonhuman mission givers. I'm just sayin'.

GS: America's New England region is a rich source of old wives' tales and occultism. The area was home to the Salem witch trials. It's the birthplace and home of horror author H.P. Lovecraft. How will such influences tie in to the gameplay of this area? Can you give us some specific examples?

RT: Obviously, Kingsmouth--and Solomon Island--draws inspiration from a lot of different sources, including Lovecraft, Stephen King, and Edgar Allen Poe. Not just in terms of references--you'll find plenty of those in the unlikeliest of places--but also thematically. And this applies to our entire story, not just the bits that take place in New England. That's really where it began, before we settled on any specific locations, with those sources and influences, and it was only natural that we paid proper tribute to our inspiration by creating an adventure region that wears its influences on its sleeves. These themes and backstories permeate the game, but New England is where we bring it home.

Specific examples are hard to list without spoiling things, but players will face horrors that have risen from the depths of the sea. They will unravel an ancient curse that's haunted this island for a very long time. And they will encounter characters that harbor the darkest of secrets. The story of Kingsmouth will be revealed through both the story missions and tons of side missions that expand on the lore--and everything, every single mission, every character, is tied to this storyline. Nothing's left to chance. Everything is significant.

I think the players who spend the time to dig deep--too deep, perhaps--into the lore will really see how far these influences go, and how we've also made them our own. We're much more than wink-wink, nudge-nudge references to Arkham and Dunwich: for us, it's about the look and feel, the themes, the background, the depth and scope of the game universe.

Kingsmouth, Maine. Population: ??

GS: Given that no players will start their lives in New England (we understand that the three main character hubs will be Seoul, South Korea; London, England; and New York City), how will players be introduced to locales such as Kingsmouth? Will they be given missions to travel to different cities to solve a mystery or two there, for instance?

RT: Players will have the freedom to explore our gameworld--but yes, they'll also have missions that lead them from the first baby steps in their hub city, through to the "end"--which, of course, will be just the beginning. And that includes sending them on assignments to various locations. It's all tied to the three secret societies: players will have to learn the ropes, prove their worth, and follow instructions. If they don't...well, they can choose to do that, too, but it might be a little harder to get ahead. It's all about freedom, though. If you want the story, it's there, fully voiced and crammed with cinematics. If you don't? Just go out, have fun, and kick demon butt.

GS: About how big will Kingsmouth be in virtual meters or miles? How big will the average town or quest hub area be in The Secret World?

RT: Big. I mean, Kingsmouth may not be a huge town, but it's a sizable community, and that's just the beginning. Players will be able to explore all of Solomon Island--every single centimeter of it--and the town of Kingsmouth constitutes, at most, one-tenth of the playable area in New England. For explorers like myself, this is the perfect playground, and there's such a diversity of locations and points of interest across the island, it's going to keep players occupied for a long time, and that's just one of the many locations in the game.

GS: We know that players can join one of three different secret societies with very different philosophies about how to carry themselves and how to win the war against the dark forces laying siege to the world. How will characters from these different factions have differing experiences in a place like Kingsmouth? Will the Illuminati have some kind of homefield advantage, being from nearby New York? How will the townsfolk of Kingsmouth (and other locales in the game) treat characters from each group differently?

RT: Most civilians will know little to nothing about the secret societies and the secret world; just like most of us, we're oblivious to the truth. Of course, now that things have happened--dark things, scary things, wet and slithering things--the surviving civilians are wising up to the fact that, yes Virginia, monsters are real and they are here to eat us. While the secret societies will be evenly balanced, Kingsmouth--Solomon Island--is indeed closely tied to one of them, and that's going to be meaningful. The other secret societies won't be left out: they have historical links to other locations in the game. And since Kingsmouth is early on in the progression, it's not going to favor one secret society in front of another.

GS: What sorts of adventures will be found in Kingsmouth? Will it be more of a battleground area for fighting monsters, more of an adventuring area for solving puzzles and collecting clues, or an even split between the two? Are the game's various hub areas being designed around having a different mix of action and adventure/investigative gameplay?

RT: Yes, yes, and yes.

Or more accurately: it's going to be what you make of it.

Of course, there's going to plenty of action, plenty of monsters to slay--starting with zombies and ending up with, well, very scary things--but yeah, some missions are much more about exploration, adventuring, puzzle solving. There's one in particular that I really like called The Kingsmouth Code, which requires players to really pay attention to subtle signs to uncover a subterranean secret--and while monsters do pop up, that's not the meat of the mission. It's about investigating the town to unravel its mysteries. And it feels really fresh and fun and unique.

Every location in the game will have a balance of gameplay to ensure that we cater to the different playing styles while keeping focus on what players are tasked to do: to fight the rising darkness in the name of their faction.

This dark and ominous town will be just the beginning in this ambitious massively multiplayer game.

GS: Finally, is there anything else you'd like to add about this new area, or about the game in general?

RT: I think I've said enough. If I reveal any more secrets, my life might be in mortal danger. They are watching.

GS: Aha. Well...all right, then.

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142 comments
DestroyedEden
DestroyedEden

Its a game involving the old religions, ancient folklores and myths, THIS is the so-called Secret World, the world of magic and fantasy collapsing with ours. Zombies are a facet of the game because it comes from the Voodoo occultism (and still practiced a bit in Haiti). So any creature, or malevolent spirits or supernatural beliefs might appear in the game.

Conduras
Conduras

@ DaDoom Anarchy was a shi*ty game , the great thing about it was the comunity .Ppl didn't call them Failcom for nothing .I still remember those 2 mins lags at towers and Tara :))

september_basic
september_basic

It's only obvious that this "game" is not varying from an overdone formula. Yes, it was supposed to be a funny preview: the walking dead woman feeding was obviously a bawdy jest. The problem is that this game is not seeming to be any different from games that disappointed many people; more people grow weary of formulaic games in the store without much new. I think the game designers should reconsider the formula they used for Age of Conan. No one wants to play that game again after a few seasons. Not much was possible in that game, not much seems possible in what we've seen of Secret World.

OrderDrake
OrderDrake

Been shying away from all new mmo's just to play this one. Dont let me down guys! =D

Tremor671
Tremor671

To be totally honest, I like the zombie and undead thematic for this game. If you are going to make an Occult game, it had better damn well include zombies. I think you guys are confusing real zombies with "the infected". There hasn't been a (good) real zombie game in years.

RussianRAGE
RussianRAGE

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM BBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBB IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE SSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS !!!!!!!!!!11111111111oneoneoneone NOM NOM NOM BRAINS!

TheGreyArea
TheGreyArea

taking into account some of the other cinematics advertising this franchise, I would hazard a guess at "zombie's" just being the bulk standard enemy to play against. Some of the earlier footage detailed the bad guys as being very far from a typical zombie foe... The marketing for this game, under the current deluge of other MMO platforms being developed, is quite clever I think. This snippet in particular has reinvested my attention. I'll wait to see more. With interest

mack10
mack10

Zombies is the best you guys can come up with? i was looking forward to this game now its just another zombie game -- i think we've had enough of those.

WALLIX
WALLIX

Zombies? FFS, Ragnar. How does the Illuminati and Templars fit in with this? Just make a Longest Journey 3, please. That's all we ask. I promise we'll never mention Longest Journey 2 again if you do...

TrueDesign
TrueDesign

Hmmmm, i must say I've been waiting and waiting to hear more about this game ever since it grasped my attention last year, but now i'm hearing about zombies?? really?? the first trailer i saw was soo kool, it really had me sucked into whatever they were trying to sell... Now i think it may be a bust! I really hope they release some new content/gameplay soon. I am pretty disappointed! but then again maybe it's just all a secret! and we will love it in due time... HA!

l0kmun
l0kmun

well its difficult to show us gameplay when they haven't actually got any gameplay. Considering they fired a fifth of their office in September, I'd say this game can be elevated to the ranks of vaporware.

TheoleDominion
TheoleDominion

great...a gameplay video with NO gameplay..disappointed.

IXIWhistIXI
IXIWhistIXI

I think 10below is right about their hype idea...making such a boring trailer really kills all the anticipation built up by this video release thing... I was waiting for something awesome at the end...it never came. Also a few of those zombie idle animations looked exactly the same as l4d (the timing and movements). But I guess there's only so much you can do with the whole "I'm a crazy-dead-person"

10below
10below

definitely not gameplay. cool video nonetheless. If they're trying to get everyone to not believe the hype...it's working.

MISLED81
MISLED81

This looks and sounds nothing like it did in the first teaser trailer. Don't get me wrong zombies kick ass but i kinda found the direction they were going in the teaser trailer a little more interesting

smoman5000
smoman5000

that wasnt gameplay, it was Dead Rising i think what theyre doing is more along the lines of showing us different locations that'll be in the game, i was expecting actual gameplay bamboozled

DaDoom
DaDoom

Hmm why be so negative? Funcom still made one of the best MMOs I have ever played: Anarchy Online. I still love the game, even if it's damn old. It was an ambitious project when it came out and although it suffered some technical problems it still was innovative and really fun to play. I personally found AOC cool too. I still don't understand all the criticism against it. Probably the 24/7 playing nerds were once again complaining about the lack of game content...("hey look I hit lvl 200 in 3 days...how cool am I?") At least this game seems to have an interesting setting. From what I've read so far I would suspect it could have some similarities to Neocron - also quite a nice title. To all those who don't feel the need for some fresh wind in the MMO genre I recommed: go back and beat the crap out of another gazillion goblins in WoW or some other medieval-inspired fantasy-MMO.

ssh83
ssh83

I love the premise of this game! The atmosphere so far seems well thought-out and carefully crafted. I hope the gameplay mechanics are just as well-made and refreshing.

ssh83
ssh83

@skyydragonn 1) Don’t go visit those walkthrough sites. It’s not like they’re forcing you to read them. Play how you want to, stop trying to dictate or judge other people for how they play... >.> 2) Turn off general chat. If the MMO is any good, they will usually have chat filters that you can use. Take WoW for example, it has private channels for friends, party channel, filter, coloring, etc. Use your brain to circumvent problems instead of complaining and not doing anything about it.

dRonin
dRonin

Skydragonn, sounds like a problem with gamers, not with this or any other game. I agree with you, just not sure it's up to a game to "solve" these issues, and not sure they can.

skyydragonn
skyydragonn

this one might be worth some time. My only concern is with the emphasis they keep putting on exploration and problem solving, as we all know people will almost always choose the path of least resistance and within a week people will have FAQ's walkthroughs, guides and all that posted all over the web, which IMO will detract a huge amount from the possible enjoyment of the game. As for this being an MMO. how are they planning to handle things like /local "hey how do you solve this quest...?" /local HEY I NEEDZ HALP WITH QUEST PLZ!!!?? ....you get the idea.

Ozmosus
Ozmosus

@ mrbojangles25 That's exactly what I was thinking. I like MMOs, and I do like Funcom... but AoC really wasn't all that great. I mean combat was solid, but there was no where near enough content, too many bugs and the game couldn't quite decide if it wanted to innovate or stay with the tried and true formula. I really like the idea behind The Secret World and I will try it out, but I just hope that they go all the way this time. Don't even try to be a little bit like WoW, it won't work. Try something different! 'cause the stuff that was different in AoC, like the combat for example, was excellent! I'll be keeping an eye on this 'cause I _really_ want it to be good.

BDK-Soft
BDK-Soft

See you when you post some gameplay footage.

uzi_s
uzi_s

the voice acting in the trailer is WAY more impressive than the game itself.

corvwyn
corvwyn

I'm looking forward tot this game. Hopefully it can give some new things to the MMORPG genre, and I believe it can with Ragnar Tørnquist working on the story. I don't get why people are so negative against Funcom. Yeah, AOC wasn't as good as it could have been, but that's about it.

Boomer76
Boomer76

someone make funcom go away and stay that way

alfredooo
alfredooo

It pisses me off when developers blow their budget on crappy teasers and trailers. Either show us a gameplay video or get back to work.

tojo555
tojo555

I swear I heard god-fearing Americans ._.

Lach0121
Lach0121

just to let you all know, this is not a zombie game, funcom stated there are supposed to be monsters/creatures from all different ages and mythologies/lore. so therefore, there will be zombies because they are a pretty major monster/creature from alot of different mythologies and lore, but not just zombies, they are supposed to be just a spec in the spectrum... i really hope so.

Mathum
Mathum

The voice actor sounds like he's already dead.

Chunkstein
Chunkstein

"GameSpot: It's great to see the first actual gameplay footage of The Secret World. " first gameplay footage? so you play as a fuzzy security camera? cool. cant wait.

kuda001
kuda001

Where is the footage? Hmmm...GS

september_basic
september_basic

This game does appear to be ambitiously stupid. I truly hope no one of my people has worked on this game -- I'd be embarrassed. Also, I think the Tornquist family might be very proud of their familial moron.

MasterTheHero
MasterTheHero

I'm sorry, but the in-game footage and monologue was not impressive in the slightest. Their pre-rendered CG footage was amazing, but this does not build up any hype whatsoever.

BetardxFoosier
BetardxFoosier

Show what you'll actually be doing in the game, because I'd love to see what THAT looks like.

deathnite_dn
deathnite_dn

that intro video was annoying and pathetic. I had high hopes for this game but after seeing that.. well, pretty disappointing.

Arksa
Arksa

I got zero respect for Unfuncom. But what I want to know is ...Who the flip wrote that vanilla super cheesy intro dialogue?

mrbojangles25
mrbojangles25

I have great respect for Funcom and their games, but given the last two MMOs they released, I have my doubts. Hopefully the rest of the community is as desperate for a solid MMO Action game as I am, and this will will deliver. Funcom definately has a lot of great idea; Conan was full of cool stuff to do, neat classes, etc...but their execution leaves a lot to desired. I await this game with high hopes

cro616
cro616

Every other new game I hear about almost always has zombies, BORING! think of something original, not saying this game is gonna be bad, I don't know much about it, but honestly.