If you've been playing The Secret World, you're lucky. I envy you. You've had access to what may well be one of the best MMORPGs ever made. You've tasted the future. Me, I'm waiting for the server to come back to life. There is a yet-to-be-made Dragon with my name on it and wild horses would not be able to stop me from making that lass.
Why am I so excited about The Secret World? If you're new to the site (which, you have to be, because we've done nothing but sing Hail Marys in TSW's name), I've got a few words to share with you: Cthulhu. Classless, level-independent character development. Secret societies. Time Travel. Bad-ass, rocket launcher-wielding (We'll get into that in a moment, veteran players) ninjas.
The list goes on.
Now, I was already sold ages ago but what finally got this cynical, jaded-as-an-old-Chinese-woman's-jewelry-collection journalist to sit pressed up, nose-to-cold-glass, against her screen in anticipation of the return of the server is everything she heard at Gamescom.
One of the biggest fears I've suffered in regards to The Secret World is the fear that all the adventure is eventually going to degrade into a hunt for the next big thing, the next set of armor. I don't know about you but there's nothing that gets me more dispirited than the idea of wasting hours attempting to look and function like everyone else.
Fortunately, that doesn't appear to be the case here. More impressively, it looks like the team behind The Secret World seems intent on delivering to the die-hard, power-addicts and those who want something more than your average MMO.
According to the The Secret World folk that were present at Gamescom, progression on the top is pretty flat. As those who play the game already know, most of the gear you get comes without vital stats. It was a decision they came to early on; they want their players to play the way they want to play and look the way they want to look.
Of course, there are items in the game that provide stat boosts as well but these are largely comprised of things like lucky charms, rings, necklaces, 'things in your pocket'.
So, why run through the dungeons? Part of the rewards come in the form of visual treats. For example, if successfully beat up certain things in Transylvania, you may find yourself with a sweet-looking Soviet skin for your new rocket launcher. Willing to go to Hell and back (literally!) to make a fashion statement? Be prepared to rock it out with a demonic looking rocket launcher.
Okay, okay. I'll stop teasing.
Let's talk about the rocket launcher. It's going to be the first in a new series of auxiliary weapons. Instead of just limiting you to two weapons of mass destruction, The Secret World will soon have you wielding three. Additionally, thanks to the additional firepower, you're also going to get an bonus (8th) active slot and an additional passive slot, bringing the total up to eight actives and eight passives. Yep, that's a lot of things to consider.
Nothing has been set in stone just yet in regards to the other upcoming auxiliary weapons (though I did hear more than a few passing mentions of chainsaws) but we've got the details on the rocket launcher. As you might have guessed, the rocket launcher is all about damage. Heck, they have a skill called the 'big red button'. Can you guess what that does?
Before you worry about it being a single-target weapon, you needn't fear. Rocket launchers also have something called a 'cluster-strike' that will let you bombard enemies with a hefty AoE attack. On top of that, these babies also come with the all-important rocket jump. The exact mechanics have yet to be set in stone but it looks like it'll deal damage where you start and damage where you land.
Given how truly awesome they are, it was unsurprising to learn that they cannot simply be bought. Your first rocket launcher is something you must earn. You'll get a mission from your secret society of choice. Upon completing that mission, you'll then be rewarded the heavy artillery.
Now that I've gotten you hyped on weaponry, let's migrate to something a bit more important: the first big addition to the game, set for sometime in 2013, which features Tokyo as one of their first big post-launch locations. To be specific, it will feature Ground-Zero. If you've played the game before, you'll know that this is where everything took place. This is how the story of the Secret World begins. And, with the advent of the upcoming Issue, this will be where 'Season 1' wraps up. Questions will be answered, secrets will be revealed and scary, scary monsters will be uncovered.
So, as you might have guessed already, this version of Tokyo isn't a particularly healthy place. The government has walled off this section of the city and filled it with those infected with the Filth. On top of that, this area is also going to be populated by twisted, terrifying things like experimental beasts and weird specters tied to one another.
There will also be the Orochi Corporation's drones, which are responsible for keeping things away from the Orochi, giant mechs, new missions, new Sabotage missions, possibly a few new events and a whole bunch of other horrific delights. A Japanese graveyard is also going to feature here somewhere. And yes, before you ask, there will also be the Kuchisake-onna. And Tengus. And JiangShi. And... well you get the picture.
However, that's still kind of far in the future. In October, we'll be able to take on the game's first raid. Set in New York, which will now be outfitted with a distinctly Cloverfield vibe, the raid will have you first moving through the subways in an attempt to get to the final bosses. What I really liked about what I saw was how vibrant the raid setting was. Instead of trash mobs, you get things like a crazed man singing softly to his dead baby, a German couple humorously arguing over their situation, people hunched over an iPad listening to a broadcast of events. As you move through the city, you'll see giant arachnids and the U.S military firing at dragons. If it all works as advertised, the upcoming raid won't just be another place to get loot, it'll be a situation you care about, a crisis you get excited about, and something that will subsume your world.
Oh, and, you'll get to fight something very, very much like the tentacular creature that popped up in one of the earliest dungeons too. Just saying.