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The Secret World General Article: Not Another Fantasy MMO

By Garrett Fuller on May 14, 2012

After playing The Secret World beta this weekend there were plenty of secrets uncovered. However, one of the things that stood out the most to me about the game was how it created the mood and atmosphere of the world. Let’s be honest here, we all live in the modern world, so games set in our normal universe can be tricky. Well, I learned that The Secret World is anything but normal. Even being set in our time and our world, it does an amazing job of setting the mood for the players.

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Once your character is created you are put into a short cut scene on how you got your powers. You have not even mapped out your abilities yet, and right away your character is shown with an infinite amount of potential. I don’t want to spoil things for players (though countless videos and streams have) but the game puts you in the mood to go and harness this new found power.

As an Illuminati player I was instantly transported to the streets of New York City. Since I grew up about twenty minutes outside of New York, it is quite easy to recognize my home turf. One of the great parts in the zone is that they don’t show you the glitz and glam New York, but the underbelly of society. The zone is a mix of seedy back alleys and quiet conversations in corners. Living here for many years, this is everywhere in New York, except maybe Time Square and Broadway now-a-days. Being transported into this world now makes me want to find the Illuminati and figure this place out.

Before I knew it I was listening to a crazy Laundry Mat owner about all kinds of conspiracy theories. He rants on and on about the government and its ties to the supernatural, even with a great joke about Disneyland. Once he puts you on your path you are sent to find the Illuminati headquarters, which is no easy task. I mean honestly it is low level, so it isn’t too hard, but just enough to give you the sense of how secret this organization is. That aspect of the game for the Illuminati is what makes them so cool. There are symbols within symbols within graffiti on the walls. Just the way something as conspiracy theory-bound as the Illuminati should be.

 The Secret World does a few things with its mechanics which are very cool. First, they allow the player total freedom; I spent about thirty minutes trying out all the weapons before I chose one.  You know from the weirdness around you that you will be battling some pretty heavy stuff. It made me want to test my skills more in the game. After running the Tokyo Flashback instance I really wanted to think about how to spec out my character. It felt very different than any other MMO. In a fantasy game I am usually just like, “Ok, warrior, cool let’s go.” But not here. Here, I had to think about what I wanted to do, at least early on since I could later choose from any skills in the game. With that I chose Chaos magic.

This alternate choice from my normal style characters made me think right away. Then I realized the game itself presents that alternate world to you. One thing The Secret World definitely gets right is story. Story has been focused on by AAA MMOs ever since Star Wars was in development and BioWare started pushing the story angle. However, in Star Wars it was rather cliché. You knew what you were getting into. The Secret World does an amazing job with story because you don’t know what you are getting into. They do not give you all the answers, they only ask the questions. With snippets of information and the ability to choose my skills freely I was way more invested in the story than I have been before in any other MMO.

The setting of this game will latch onto players quickly as you will want to find out the secrets hidden for you. There are events and things going on that will bring players in and make them want to find the answers. This element to the game drives the story very well. The Secret World does an amazing job of setting up the atmosphere for the player. It is horror, mystery, and action all wrapped in one.

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