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The Secret War & Guaranteed Beta Access

William Murphy Posted:
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Things are really starting to heat up with Funcom’s The Secret World. We’ve teamed up with the folks from Oslo to give you the details on how the beta registration will work and the ARG (Alternate Reality Game) that goes with it: The Secret War.  Essentially, after signing up for the beta, players will be taken to a portal on the website that will let them take part in an ongoing struggle between the game’s three factions: The Dragon, the Illuminati, and the Templars.  Basically Funcom’s out to make sure we’re all in the mood for some Factional Pride long before the game hits its April 2012 release date. 

First you’ll pick your chosen faction, or take the personality test to decide if you’re not sure who you should join.  When we asked Erling Ellingson (Funcom’s Director of Communications) about the test, this is what he had to say:

“The personality test is basically a way for us to let people get a sense of what secret society they are most suited to join. It’s not terribly scientific, I don’t think you could determine that from eight questions anyway, but all the questions and answers are carefully constructed to make sure they do indeed push you in a direction. There is a matrix in the background that compares your answers with the different ideologies and modus operandi of the secret societies.”

Then you create a profile for The Secret War and thus sign up for the beta.  You don’t have to do anything else, if you don’t want to, but the game of “The Secret War” doesn’t end there. The player can score points for him or herself and also fight to increase the influence of their secret society by deploying agents, recruiting friends and sharing content. Erling elaborated:

“In The Secret World the three different secret societies stand united against the rising darkness, but divided in the pursuit of power. What this means in gameplay terms is that players across secret societies can work together in the PvE parts of the game, but they will fight against each other in PvP. The secret society gameplay informs every bit of the game, from PvE to PvP, and your progression through the ranks of your society is very important.

We have tried to capture the essence of this in the Secret War experience, where players will be working towards increasing their secret society’s influence in the world at the same time as they are climbing the ranks of their secret society, unlocking great rewards.”

Then there’s the actual guaranteed beta spot portion, which is tied into the Secret War experience and its missions.  If you reach the highest rank in the society of your choosing, you’ll get a guaranteed spot in the beta.  And come on… who doesn’t want that?

But you can also win a trip to Montreal as a part of the ARG’s sweepstakes, get game specific media unlocked, a signed Collector’s Edition, and tons of other goodies too which we can’t share more info on just yet or the Illuminati would kill us.  Once you’ve recruited members, you deploy them as “agents” to the world map (as in our world) wherever your faction might be “losing” the Secret War.  You can earn points, achievements, and of course the pride of pushing your faction’s agenda in the war.

I know not everyone likes Facebook here on our forums, but if you have an account, or want to make a dummy account for this purpose only, it’s probably worth it.  Plus the experience takes advantage of several nifty social features on Facebook.  As Erling told us, there’s more than just beta access tied to the Secret War:

“The experience is tightly connected to Facebook, and players can attempt to recruit their friends to join their secret society. If a friend joins the same secret society as you belong to, you can then use these as agents. Agents can be sent to different countries, which will give you points and also increase your secret society’s influence in that country. A friend who joins a rival secret society cannot be used as agents.

Players can also share assets such as screenshots, artworks, videos and even exclusive articles that contain (often new!) information about the game. Sharing assets also gives you points, and increases your secret society’s influence in the different regions.

The points that you accumulate will help you reach your next secret society rank. For each rank you achieve, you unlock rewards that can actually be used in-game (The Secret World, the MMO itself) when it launches in April 2012. I don’t want to give too much away (need to keep some suspense for tomorrow!), but it includes anything from clothing to weapons. If you reach the highest rank you even receive guaranteed beta access which means that you are guaranteed to get into the beta at some point in the process (though it could be any of the beta phases, from earliest to last).”

In all it seems like a really unique way to drive hype for the game’s beta application process.  I mean we all know that MMO betas these days are one part testing and ninety-nine parts marketing, and it’s nice to see Funcom making the whole process more interesting for the gamers.  Instead of just signing up and hoping you get picked, the Secret War ARG allows you to actively make sure you get into the beta for an early look, and hey… you may even win a trip to the Montreal studio and a signed collector’s edition to boot.  What else could you ask for? 

The Secret War experience is set to begin tomorrow, Friday, August 26th. Will you be signing up, and if so, for what faction will you fight?


William Murphy

Bill is the former 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.