During PAX East 2012 this year, I finally had time to sit down and actually get my hands on Funcom’s The Secret World. It wasn’t a long demo time, but what I did play, I immediately loved. Nothing like running around Kingsmouth (perfect New England-esque setting for a Boston convention) shooting things with my rifle and whipping out my chaos magic to make me get really amped up for a horror MMORPG. It’s fast, fluid, and fun to switch between wielding the ranged rifle and more up-close AOE magic like Chaos.
After the brief presentation from Tor Andersen (see the video below) on skills, I got to rove around Kingsmouth myself for a good while. What immediately jumped out at me was the cinematic nature of the quests. Like Tortage in Age of Conan, and now SWTOR, the main story-based missions in TSW are fully voiced and animated. I spoke to a wicked looking guy in a cowboy hat that immediately reminded Mike and I of True Grit’s Rooster Cogburn, who sent me on one of my first tasks in the game. Now I’ll admit, the atmosphere of the show was loud and nearly deafening, and my only real concern was trying out the combat. I couldn’t tell you exactly what I was tasked with doing, and I wouldn’t want to spoil it for you anyway.
The game does use a waypoint system though, and after speaking to Rooster-alike, I saw that my next target was somewhere 250 meters away or so. I don’t know if the entire quest system will follow this sort of “waypoint” design, but part of me hopes I can turn it off. I like the idea of really figuring stuff out in TSW and the waypoints just seem like cheating in a way.
The combat itself was fantastic. Chaos Magic, as explained in the video, focuses on AOE damage surrounding your character. It’s more melee magic than ranged, and as such has a spell that sends you whirling with dark energy chains flailing about into the heat of battle. Once in, you can tear apart people with your claw weapons if you’re equipping them in your build. In my character’s case, I was wielding an assault rifle, which does better single-target damage from afar. So I wound up using my “Red Mist” (think sniper headshot) skill from afar, and then when it aggroed a group I would charge in and pummel them with chaos magic. It really felt good and I can’t wait to mess around with the skill and ability wheel to make my own builds.
Tor mentioned that you can spend all of your points on filling out “Templates” which are prescribed builds for certain themes in the game (like a ninja for example), and doing so would get you some cool cosmetic gear to make you look like a ninja. I can definitely see myself toying with templates to get the cosmetic items and to get some ideas for builds. But what intrigues me more is figuring out a way to synergize something like the hammer and chaos magic to make a build that’s an all-out melee DPS machine.
We’re not far now from The Secret World’s June launch, and there definitely still seems to be a lot we’ve not discovered about the game. I for one want to know more and more about the PVP. But what we have seen continues to impress us, and the innovation levels here are off the charts. Don’t forget to watch that video from the show floor for a good explanation of the skill system, and mind the slanted vantage point. Hopefully it won’t be long before the beta doors open and we all see whether Funcom’s latest has the polish and content it needs to succeed. So far, so very good.