I would love to tell you all about this game, but it’s a secret hurr hurr hurr, ugh. No it’s cool. I can talk about it pretty openly actually. The Secret World is an upcoming MMORPG that blurs the lines between reality and fiction. It has an interesting approach to classes and factions while also featuring some interesting mechanics that set it apart from other games in the genre.
The biggest selling point is that there’s a focus on removing any kind of class system. The developers know that when you open up a game for the first time you’ve very little idea how any path is going to play. You make a choice about your initial weapon specialisation (magic, hammers, dual pistols, karate) but you aren’t locked into it. If you decide that you’re bored of the way you’re currently playing you can opt to spend points developing a different style. You can’t refund anything you’ve invested, but the beginning a new skill is relatively inexpensive compared to the cost of levelling up your current one to another tier.
This doesn’t mean there are no permanent choices; one of the very first decisions you make is based on which of the three factions you’ll be a part of; either the Illuminati, the Templars or the Dragon, each with their own mythos, motivations and style behind ultimately controlling the world. Each of these cross over in both PvP and in PvE missions, with different approaches to the same scenarios.
I was shown a mission that took place in an instanced carpark. You’ve an interest in getting to the bottom, but it’s filled with monsters that want to hurt you. To fight them off you’ll have whatever weapon you specialise in, but you’ll also be able to use light. TSW uses an interesting dynamic lighting system that can change how enemies react to you. An item that you can use is a headlamp that’ll flood the area in front of you and give you an advantage. There are also road flares that will fill a circle and make it a little more of a safe haven; it’s up to the player to decide when to use these as they’re limited.
There’s also a PvP mode that’s pretty similar to a game of assault. One faction is invading and one is defending. The level shown involved the attackers trying to take over a massive mechanical golem and have to get past obstacles like magically sealed doors and, of course, all of the opposing side. Since your characters are otherwise totally customisable, during these missions they appear in colour-coded uniforms that are styled toward the kind of weapon focus they’re using. It looks pretty deep, very frenetic and also pretty fun too.
The secret world will finally be shared in April 2012.