Yesterday The Secret World (TSW) from Funcom for PC was released with the promise of a ground breaking Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (MMORPG) experience. I pre-ordered the game and could barely contain my excitement when I heard the familiar beep from my PC that announced the download was done.
Funcom promised to revolutionise the MMORGP genre by doing the following:
- No classes, no levels, TOTAL freedom to play.
- A modern-day environment that will install a sense of familiarity with the player and his surroundings, as opposed to the traditional fantasy or sci-fi worlds of MMMORP's.
- A storyline unlike anything ever seen in an MMO before. This will mainly be achieved by exploring the myths, legends and conspiracy theories of the real world.
These are my initial thoughts about my experience in The Secret World.This is not a review, just my first impressions based on a few hours of gameplay.
There are three factions that war for control in The Secret World, the Illuminati, Dragon and Templar. Upon character creation, the player must choose whom to align him or herself with. The “Sex, Drugs and Rockefeller” slogan of the Illuminati tickled my fancy, so I sided with the evil ones.
I found the character creation mechanic to be extremely straightforward. Hard core MMORPG players will definitely not get their “character-creation fix”. There is no depth, no contemplation and almost no imagination required to create your character. Personally I am not a fan of a long drawn out process of character creation, so this feature really appealed to me. The set character portraits that the game offers are done extremely well, the only thing I thought that was lacking was a selection of stiletto's.
Of secrets, conspiracies and myths
“You are cursed with free will. Make the right choice. Be mindfull of the voices, they corrupt. Be mindfull of the voices, they speak the truth.”
Right from the start you are given a glimpse into what could make TSW an exceptional game. The player is thrown into a cut scene with a light and dark character at his/her side. Each, at the same time, gives a monologue about “voices” speaking to you. These voices hint at the ageless battle of good and evil at war within us all. What made this cut scene extremely intriguing was the hint at the paradox of what is really evil and what is truly good. Many of our modern-day conspiracy theories question that particular aspect.
It would be a fascinating journey if the developers explored the story along these complicated moral dilemmas. As an Illuminati player, I felt that the game lacked in providing some of the essential history, traditions and myths of this faction. The existence of the group called the Illuminati is one of our most pivotal modern-day conspiracies theories, and the game provided no background for the player to immerse themselves in the setting. It left me with a feeling of being disconnected from my environment. Let’s hope that, as the game unfolds, the lore of each faction will increase accordingly.
The bells and whistles
The interface felt clumsy, disjointed and complicated. I fear that by trying to reinvent the wheel, Funcom has managed to break it. There are some basic MMO gameplay mechanics that have proven to work really well, and this is not it. Maybe I’m just a lazy FPS junkie that wants to get into the action without spending my first few days trying to figure the interface out. I love simplicity and efficiency; less is more in my opinion.
Players must choose between playing as ranged, magic or melee, each with its own wheel of specialisations. You can swop between these types by visiting the trainer at any time during the game.
The multiplayer aspect felt extremely unfamiliar. People were randomly running around spamming general chat with “How do I do this or that”. I saw no PVP combat or groups playing together. It felt more like I was playing a single player game with other players scattered around my world. This could be due to the fact that I was only in the early stages of the game. TSW certainly holds the possibility of good PVP and group combat.
I am unconvinced. At this stage of the game, I have not experienced the revolution in MMO games that was promised. Call me crazy, but WoW did some basic things right, Rift improved on those and Star Wars The Old Republic managed to lift MMO storytelling to new heights.
It is yet to be seen what The Secret World brings to the table that is inventive without breaking the basics that make good MMO. We all know that the real test only comes after level cap, when end game content is revealed, oh wait, you can’t level cap, because there aint any ;). I will do the game justice and write a review when I've uncovered the real secrets of The Secret World.
- Platform: PC.
- Release Date: Released on 03 July 2012 worldwide.
- Developed by Funcom and co-published by EA Partners, a division of Electronic Arts Inc.
Check out the captivating launch day trailer.