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The Secret World Column: Can It Be True?

By William Murphy on December 02, 2011

I know what you guys are thinking. After the recent round of press previews, there’s no way The Secret World can be as good as it sounds. I can dig that sentiment. I mean, how many times have we been burned by the hype of a game nearing launch, only to find a muddle mess which we spent $50 on?  Our own Suzie Ford was quoted as saying, “With launch less than six months away, my guess is that TSW is going to take the world by storm and set new standards for excellence in gameplay and engagement in an increasingly tired industry.” Let me tell you something guys and gals… Suzie doesn’t impress easily. I should know. Nothing I ever say gets but a scoff and a scowl.

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*ducks from Suzie’s virtual slap upside the head* I’m kidding, jeez! 

But at what point does the near resounding presence of positive hands-on experiences cease being white noise and instead become a very real reason to get excited about Funcom’s next MMO?  Sure enough this preview event was in a controlled environment, meticulously planned by Funcom and EA and their PR staffers… but still, cynical and picky game journalists gathered in a communal setting to play the game and came away mystified by what they saw.  That’s saying something.

I know around our forums there’s a tendency to be leery of Funcom’s products.  It’s not that they’re bad.  In fact, Anarchy Online and Age of Conan both have very loyal and passionate followings, and the Dreamfall games are some of the best adventures in recent memory.  But what worries your cold, critical hearts is of valid concern: you wonder how ready for primetime TSW may be.  You wonder if FC will be able to deliver on all their many promises for this massively innovative title.  I think we all wonder the same things.

But here’s the way I’m choosing to look at it instead: in April, I’ll find out. Maybe even before then with some luck and a beta key. Until I do, I’ll gladly reserve my judgment, soak up all the info I can, beg Suzie for all of her details from the hands-on event, and in general I’ll start to get more and more excited at the prospect of living in Ragnar’s creative vision. At this point I won’t care if it’s polished or feature complete.  All I care about is that the skill system seems to play as diversely and complex as I’d hoped, that the combat carries over a lot of what made AOC’s so good (but none of what made it bad), and that apparently the story is just as intriguing as a certain other high-profile MMO releasing this month.  These things alone are enough to make me smile.

Ragnar and crew keep repeating the same mantra: Everything Is True.  Maybe it is.  Maybe these press folks weren’t held against their will and asked to swear fealty to Lord Erling Ellingsen.  Maybe, just maybe, The Secret World is looking incredibly good and worthy of the praise it’s receiving.

But I mean, keep polishing that tinfoil hat, if you really want to.

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