Gamers' Paradise: The Secret World, PC, Funcom

The Secret World

I figured I was going to like The Secret World when I realized the hordes of zombies I was killing were not magical undead. In fact, they were husks re-animated by an otherworldly sentience. The zombie bodies were being used as ambulatory incubators for more powerful flesh-forms called the Draug, which are an unholy melding of man, squid, fungus, and barnacle. That made a lot more sense than magic zombies.
The Secret World from Funcom is an MMO set in a world pretty much like the real one, the only difference being that every headline from the Weekly World News is true. Three secret societies, the Templars, the Illuminati, and the Dragons secretly vie for control of the world, while a slew of Fortean horrors is arrayed against them. Core gameplay should be familiar to any MMO player. Characters have particular abilities, such as healing, shields, or damage, that they can activate in battle; quests are taken from NPCs at quest hubs; and experience points and money are gained. Still, a few mechanisms worth mentioning make The Secret World unique.
First, all but a handful of storyline quests are repeatable on a 17 hour cool-down timer. That means if there are particular quests that you enjoy, you are able to repeat them endlessly and thus avoid doing quests you hate. Second, character development is done through Skill Points and Ability Points not through levels or classes. This means that if you hate the fact that your blood mage can’t do crowd control well, all you need to do is spend a couple of points to get a nice shotgun. Problem solved. Third, quests that actually require a player to do real-world research through the web-browser built into the game exist. Though, if those quests stump you, you’ll find help on fan-made Wikis. Also worth mentioning is that a significant part of any MMO is character visual customization, and The Secret World has this in spades. Funcom has separated game effect equipment from visual effect equipment. That means players no longer have to worry about that +80 Assault Rifle of Proctological Agony looking like a Bedazzled Super Soaker.
The Secret World is far from perfect, though. Crafting is a bewildering exercise in frustration, unless you use a Wiki. More than a few quests remain broken or exploitable. A small player base can make you feel like you’re playing a single player game more than an MMO. And, with a cash store as well as a $15 monthly fee, it can feel like the developer is taking two bites at the apple. Even with those caveats, The Secret World is an enjoyable MMO with a fresh setting that may appeal to those tired of stomping around Azeroth. (Funcom) by Matthew Snider