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Orcs and elves aren't invited to The Secret World

There are no classes or levels here either: you’re free to build your character whichever way you want from the off whether you want to wave a flaming katana in the face of evil or pop heads from a distance with an automatic rifle. How big a departure this will truly be from MMO conventions so long-standing they have pretty much been hewn into solid rock is, again, yet to be seen – but Funcom’s desire to open up massively multiplayer to those who would usually fear its intricacies and elf-centric nature is obvious.

There’s much to be unveiled and explained in The Secret World: the way PvP will work as cabals (Secret-speak for guilds) take each other on beneath the Earth’s surface in a fight for a resource called Anima, for example, as well as promised in-game shops and nightclubs back in your urban origin area that pretty much make a /dance command a certainty.

Beyond that? Well the hope is that new and exciting troublespots, hubs and instances from around the world will be added over time. Rumour has it we’re talking Atlantis, secret Arctic vaults, the Masons being behind it all... pretty much everything you’ve ever suspected, but The Man refuses to comment on. As conspiracies go, we hope this one goes all the way to the top.

The secret bestiary

The creatures in The Secret World are beautifully designed, and most of them bat-shit insane. The general look is Harryhausen meets the twisted imagination of Guillermo del Toro, coupled in with a graphics engine that’s remarkably good at recreating slimy and shiny surfaces, as opposed to the primary coloured beasts that you’re more accustomed at slaying in MMOs.

What’s more, just because you’re early in the game doesn’t mean that you won’t come across some goliath opponents – whether it’s a crab that’s apparently mated with Half-Life’s Gargantua, or a gilled monster that’s halfway between an elephant and an octopus and spews out black ink when you attack it. Basically, someone at Funcom has been eating cheese before bedtime.

Apr 13, 2010