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The Secret World Column: Location, Location, Location

By William Murphy on June 23, 2011

Recently, though they were absentees at E3, Funcom has been releasing a ton of new info about The Secret World’s many locations.  From the Lovecraft-inspired Accursed Woods, to a boarding school called the Innsmouth Academy and an abandoned amusement park on Atlantic Island, there’s a wide gamut of places to see and do things in TSW.  In fact, I’m pretty sure that because of the slant on real-world locales, I’m becoming more and more excited for Funcom’s next game than I normally would be so far from release.  I love the idea of putting an MMO into a modern-day setting and twisting and turning the reality to make it fit the fantastic.  To be able to stalk places which are at once both familiar and unsettling is one of the best things about games set in the “Real World”. 

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The Accursed Woods sounds like a dream for the macabre-minded.  From the game’s page:

“These accursed woods have been theirs for a thousand years, but they have remained unclaimed and empty, visited only by those who were blind to the darkness. Dogs would howl, birds would fall deathly silent, and the beasts of the island would all shun the eerie ground. Not until the corpse-white fog rolled over Solomon Island did the things that slept finally wake -- all of them. Scrabbling for foothold, biting, scratching and clawing, they rose through the black soil into the sour air. Now their foul nests infect the monstrous trees, strange weeds strangling gnarled boughs, and the ancient forest reeks of death and pestilence.”

In theory it sounds a lot like the forests of LotRO or any other fantasy game… except for all the zombies that want to eat your brains.  Add to that the nice mix of firepower, magic, and swordsmanship apparently present in TSW’s combat and you have a rocking good time.  But it’s really the other two settings that piqued my interest more. 

Then there’s the Innsmouth Academy:

“With a skeleton in every closet and deals with various devils inked into the very blueprints of the buildings, the Academy is an occult powder-keg primed to explode -- as it very nearly has during attacks in its past. Though the few survivors do what they can to bolster the wards, it requires a great, and unflinching, magical talent to plug all the leaks, and headmaster Hayden Montag has taken that responsibility seriously and single-mindedly.”

It’s like a dark and twisted Hogwarts, and I’m incredibly stoked to see it realized in game.  This is one of the many places I expect Funcom will be placing a lot of “puzzle-oriented” content.  It seems odd though that a Headmaster would still be there if the situation were so dire… I mean, I know jobs are hard to find in this economy and all but still.  I think I’d rather take the unemployment checks.

And lastly, there’s the Atlantic Island Park which just happens to be haunted:

“As soon as the ground was broken, the freak accidents began. Several workers fell to their deaths; others committed suicide, seemingly without good reason. Rides would fall apart as soon as they were switched on, employees and visitors complained of recurring night terrors, and there were persistent rumors of strange whispers and ghostly sightings.”

Is it cliché?  You bet your sweet creepy clown arse.  But it’s also quite likely going to be one of the more terrifying locales if Funcom knows how to build tension.  Funhouses, dark corners, and creepy carnies galore… it’s like every Ohio State Fair I’ve ever been too (only less smelly). 

All that said however, I’m starting to jones pretty bad for more concrete information.  The beta has begun, and all is quiet there, but it’s not long now until PAX Prime in Seattle and hopefully that’s where we’ll all get some hands-on time with the title.  Locations are great, lore is one of my favorite parts of the genre’s best games… but how does it play?  That’s what we need to find out, and soon.

William Murphy / Bill is the Managing Editor of MMORPG.com, RTSGuru.com, and lover of all things gaming. He''s been playing and writing about MMOs and geekery since 2002, and you can harass him and his views on Twitter @thebillmurphy.

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