Dark days are coming — or at least that's the word from Funcom on their latest MMO project, The Secret World. The folks who brought us last year's Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures are back once more, and this time, they're taking a completely different look at the MMO genre. While info on the game is scarce so far, if The Secret World lives up to its early potential, then we are in store for a completely unique experience.
Unlike most MMOs, which take a high fantasy or science fiction motif and try and spin a tale from there, The Secret World drops players right into the contemporary world, and all the action revolves around modern-day cities, countries and landmarks. So far, the game is confirmed to span Egypt, London, New England, New York and Seoul, and more locales are set to be added as development rolls on. The thing is, all of these locations hold mysterious secrets, and recent events have led to the emergence of an ancient evil that threatens to envelop the world in darkness. In the teaser trailer we saw, there were references to all manner of mythological and legendary secrets, and the game promises to have players crisscrossing the globe unraveling the mysteries of Atlantis, Pandora's Box and Stonehenge, just to name a few. It's certainly an intriguing premise, so now we just have to wait and see if the gameplay can live up to the narrative.
A major beef the folks at Funcom have with modern MMOs is their stubborn insistence on relying on levels and character classes. The devs were nearly foaming at the mouth announcing their disdain for having to grind for hours just to make a respectable character, let alone the fact that said respectable character is forever locked into the role of mage, scout, warrior, etc., thus forcing him into a single, narrowly defined role. The Secret World is a class-less, level-less title that will instead measure player progress with skills and proficiency. If you're interested in buffing up your character's martial arts skills, all it takes is engaging in unarmed combat against that horde of baddies. As your feet and fist fly, you'll become stronger and earn new skills to boost your battle prowess. If you decide later that you'd rather blast baddies with a shotgun, all you have to do is pick up a weapon and start firing. The same goes for magic; just sling spells as you please, and they'll grow more powerful with continued use. It's a rather elegant way of making the game accessible to nearly all players, and it allows gamers to switch strategies on the fly if they think another method of mayhem would be more efficient.
There are still tons of unanswered questions regarding The Secret World, not the least of which is how the game looks and plays. We weren't privy to any gameplay footage or hands-on time and only saw a few CG teaser scenes. Dark days may be coming, but we hope that The Secret World sees the light of dawn soon and lays bare all the conspiracies and cover-ups that haunt our seemingly demon-free world.
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