There are so many mysteries to discover in Funcom's The Secret World, and each time we get the opportunity to spend a day with it, we come away with more questions than answers. The last time we saw the game we played as a Templar, and this time it was the Illuminati. The Illuminati have had a place in our culture for hundreds of years. As a secret society that is said to have staged important historical events, this faction in The Secret World is also poised to contribute a great deal to the events that are unraveling around them. Unlike the Templars, the Illuminati seem more calculating and ruthless, fixated on getting the job done and caring little for anything else.
The intro sequence is similar to that of the Templar; you swallow a bug, gain mystical powers, and then someone shows up at your door looking to recruit you. The vibe and tone is different however, because when you finally stumble upon their secret headquarters, you become their guinea pig test subject rather than a welcomed new recruit. It's not that they aren't entirely unwelcoming, it's just that there seems to be a lot more at risk - like your neck - if you don't follow through on your missions.
Like last time, we took part in a dungeon run, with a developer as our healer as we tackled the minibosses and eventually the final boss. These instances always require a fair bit of teamwork and coordination, because even though we were told what we needed to do, victory was still no easy task. When we were left to our own devices, we spent our time taking on quests in the deserts of Egypt, trying to figure just why this talking mummy in a white suit had such a nonchalant attitude. (It's possible that after a few thousand years, one finally learns the secret to relaxation and inner peace.) The quests ranged from slaying cultists to locating very specific locations or people. While you're given a general range on the map as a hint, there were times when we were wandering around in circles trying to figure out exactly where we needed to go. The scorched desert is no small playground, and the narrow streets of al-Merayah had a lot of dead ends so we'll admit that we took the...scenic route - a lot.
It's easy to get wrapped up in the story of The Secret World, even though we were plopped in the middle of things about 60 hours in and only had a vague notion of what was going on. The cutscenes are all voice acted (and as of this time can't be skipped) so we were absorbed in what the characters had to say. Since we were further in the game, we were able to play with some of the later abilities, although we kept to our preset ones because they were picked carefully for us so that we could hold our own. The missions weren't easy to take on solo, so we did team up to keep the brainwashed cultists and giant scorpions at bay.
We'll have a chance to play the final faction in the game in the coming weeks so have a look at our video preview and check back soon for more updates.
Meanwhile, are any of you participating in the beta?