PAX 2009 - The Secret World Impressions

by: Chuck -
The Secret World is the latest MMO from the folks at Funcom and unlike their previous games this one takes place in the modern world. While the game is set in the modern world the premise is that all of the world’s great mysteries (like Atlantis and Pandora’s box) are actually real and that a great evil is trying to take over the world. The evil takes the form of things like aliens, zombies, demons, and vampires and is generally trying to wipe out humanity.

Holding the evil at bay are three different organizations that operate in secret. They are the Illuminati, Templars, and the Dragons. Each faction is based in a different part of the world which impacts your starting location. You’ll be able to move around the world through a yet to be revealed mechanism but we’ve been told that these folks don’t fly coach. While the three organizations share the same goal, they are also vying for control of the planet. The folks at Funcom did hint at a possible fourth faction being in the game but nothing official.

Here’s a quick rundown of the three factions:
Templars
Theme: "Templars don’t participate in the war on evil, they are the war"
Starting location: Palace in London, England
Word association: Tradition, Loyalty, laws
The Templars are the hard core society based on family tradition (members are born into the Templars, “mudbloods” need not apply) and loyalty. They fight evil due to a sense of duty and to restore order to the world. The Templars are more direct about their pursuit and tend to attack things head on.

Illuminati
Theme: “Do or be Done” or “Sex, Drugs, and Rockefeller”
Base: Hidden in a Warehouse in New York City
Word association: Blackmail, power, deception
The Illuminati are polar opposites to the Templars as they are the bad boys of the group and tend to party as hard as they fight evil. Rather than attacking a problem head on they work the angles (think about going after a second in command instead of the top of the food chain)

Dragons
Theme: “Balance from Chaos”
Base: Monastery in Seoul, Korea
Word association: Chaos, deception, arrogant, patient
The Dragons are a bit mysterious as they are trying to create order through chaos. We didn’t get a lot of info on them but they look to be playing the other two groups against each other.

We didn’t get a lot of details on things but here are a few things that came out of my meeting:
  • The game won’t have levels or classes You’ll work your way up through your organization by completing missions. Expect to see “horizontal character” builds and hybrid roles for your characters
  • Cabals are the game’s version of guilds. The typical group size for a mission is four and you’ll be able to effectively solo in the game if you choose to
  • The earth is hollow and PVP will occur between the various factions in this part of the game. Factions will battle for control of “anima” which will provide strategic benefits to your faction in the PvE missions so it’s important to have people working both angles
  • There will be multiple ways to solve some missions
The last thing we got to see was a trailer of in-game footage and what we saw was fairly impressive. Combat is action oriented and Funcom is looking to make button clicks meaningful by more tightly coupling user interaction and game response. I liked what I saw but I’m a bit skeptical until we see some live code being played by developers.

The Secret World does look fairly intriguing and it's nice to see a non-fantasy/non sci-fi MMO coming from a major publisher.  I'm hoping they can deliver on all their promises as I'm looking forward to trying my hands as a Templar when the game finally comes out.

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