To help us out with the hype, we asked Ragnar Trnquist, the game's creative director and senior producer (who also designed The Longest Journey) to convince MMO fans why they should check out TSW. Give our previous Secret World preview a read to get a refresher on the game, then forge to see what makes TSW such a rare and spooky breed
Theres no good faction
The Dragon secret society value chaos above all else, and think the world can only be bettered if the existing society crumbles. The high-and-mighty Templar do everything in their power to purge evil from the world only, they get to define whats evil and whats not. The Illuminati are maybe the worst of the bunch: theyre after corporate power, and will swallow any competing company whole if it stands between them and stacking greenbacks.
From Ragnar Trnquist, creative director and senior producer on TSW: The Secret World isnt black-and-white -- its all shades of dark grey, just like the real world. Youll never quite know who to trust.
Each environment is seriously creepy
Our favorite moment thus far was strolling through the rickety, rust-covered rides at the old Atlantic Island Park in the Savage Coast zone. As we ventured further and further into the decrepit amusement park, our vision started to darken, statues would twist and turn, and the screen would randomly flash over with a grimy grain. Its the first time we felt like we were being haunted in an MMO.
Ragnar Trnquist says: We did a lot of research into the hidden history of the world to find places that are seeped in mystery and legend.
The enemies will disturb and/or frighten you
The bosses are equally inventive the beasts in the Darkness War instance look like no other dungeon-dweller weve seen in other MMOs. They may have some similar mechanics (dont stand in the fire, tank and spank, dodge their charges), but being presented as such nightmarish creatures goes a long way towards setting TSW apart.
Ragnar Trnquist says: Our monsters are drawn from the darkest myths and urban legends, from modern pop culture and freaky fairy tales.
Quests are incredibly involved
Weve done everything from Deus Ex-style computer hacking to deciphering iconography-based riddles to complete some of the early quests. You know that Funcom means business when theyve integrated an in-game web browser into the UI, so you can Google various clues in the hopes of finding a lead. There may be times when were completely stumped by a cryptic mission, but it beats being bored to death by quests that can be completed without the need for brain activity.
Ragnar Trnquist says: The content matters. We want players to do missions because they are fun and exciting and intriguing -- not simply for XP and gear.
No classes - choose your skills at will
For players who want to get straight to the action and dont feel like exploring the possibilities of skill synergies, TSW has you covered. Each society has ten "Decks" to choose from: templates that guide you into pursuing certain talents so you can play the desired role. Having the choice between exploring powerful possibilities or just using a pre-optimized build is awesome.
Ragnar Trnquist says: Its about total freedom of progression -- to be who you want to be and play how you want to play, all the way.
With no levels, there's nothing to grind for
Youre still rewarded the more you play, in that your Ability Wheel will start to fill out, but not slapping a level on players heads means that encounters will be more about skill and less about grinding on green level mobs. It also means that Funcom can tune encounters to player experience, instead of requiring max level or maxed-out high-level gear.
Ragnar Trnquist says: This game is more about horizontal than vertical progression. We like to say that The Secret World begins with the end-game.
The modern-day setting is utterly refreshing
You can also explore the lore of the world by observing the environment, and theres loads of achievements to collect. Its clear that a lot of work went into crafting the settings of TSW; sometimes, youll want to explore a creepy vista just for the sake of exploring, instead of rushing to reach the next zone.
Ragnar Trnquist says: Not enough games see the romance and mystery of the modern-day real world. Thats something we really wanted to capture.
Its fully voice acted
From what weve seen so far the voice acting is strong, too. Characters voices are used to bring the dying world to life, explaining the games interesting backstory vocally, so well actually pay attention. Seriously, who wants to read walls of text about the lore and history of these hideous creatures when we could have someone just explain it to us in plain English?
Ragnar Trnquist says: We want players to feel a strong emotional connection to the NPCs, which is why theyre all fully voiced.
The deck system is unique
The coolest thing about decks is the rewards they grant. Once youve assembled your skills to match and complete the deck, youll be compensated with an unlocked costume that exemplifies that decks look and feel. Each of the three factions has their own set of unique decks, so theres sure to be an addicting gotta catch em all aspect to rolling alts in different factions.
Ragnar Trnquist says: Decks allow new players to have something to progress towards, an archetype that suits their play style.
It has action-based combat
The boss fights take the quick combat a step further, adding tons of unique mechanics to keep players on their toes. But even at the solo-questing side of things, each victory against a gang of zombies or a gaggle of aquatic killer mermen feels earned.
Ragnar Trnquist says: We dont want players to stand still and punch buttons. We want them to move, dodge, be an active part of every fight.
The Secret World isnt the only MMO to set itself apart from the pack. Check out the five awesome things we saw in Dungeons & Dragons Online Menace of the Underdark expansion, or see what makes Guild Wars 2 different from other MMOs to get more unique angles out of the MMO genre.