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GDC09: The veil lifts on The Secret World


If you've been waiting for a chance to see what lies beyond the curtain and fall into the elegantly dark setting of The Secret World, then get ready for your first glimpse of what lurks beyond. At the GDC we got the chance to sit down and discuss The Secret World with Funcom and lay our eyes on a few cinematics of the game.

While we were unable to get our hands around a playable version of the title, we were treated to many of the game's basics and concepts. This may not be the tidal wave of information, but it is a start to the flow of The Secret World's river of fresh ideas.

What lies after the break is an explanation of what the game is all about, followed by the first cinematic of The Secret World that we've been allowed to release. Later in the hour, we'll be posting our interview with Ragnar Tørnquist, the game's creator. So stick with us as we lead you through our peek of TSW.

First and foremost, TSW will be an action/adventure styled MMO appearing on both the PC and Xbox 360. There is no release date yet, although there are internal milestones that the team is attempting to stick to.

The concept of TSW was officially started in 2002, but was unofficially created by Ragnar in the late '90s. The idea was to take our universe and overlay it on a world of contemporary dark fantasy. A game with urban locations that takes place in today's world with fantastic qualities that include the stuff of legends and myth.

The team has taken all religions, myths, legends, and histories and combined them in a great melting pot to form the main crux of the game's new take on the world. TSW's backstory extends all the way back one hundred million years (yes, that number is totally accurate) and continues all the way to today, where players will find themselves. The story will always put another spin on history -- a "truth" that lies behind all of modern history. Make no mistake, TSW will be all about the story.

Players will not find themselves restricted to just playing in the modern world, however. Portals will let the player slip back and forth through time and space, from events in the past to horrifying looks of the future. These portals will level let players slip into places deep within the world that hides beyond sight -- the world that humanity has ignored and forgotten.

Following in the steps of newer MMOs, TSW will be run on a skill based system. There will be no classes to any character when the game is started or any "levels" on a character that will be used to label them. It is simply up to the player which paths they wish to persue. The game will be offering a wide range of skills, going from close melee combat, to ranged combat, to magical combat, to even investigative and non-combat skills.

One of the big sentences we were given was that the team wants players to play the game from day one, not day 180. The game will not start at the level cap, it will start right from character creation and engage the player. The world will be completely open to the player right at the opening -- certainly areas will be harder, but they will be accessible for anyone who wants to go join their friends.

Also, from the start, TSW will offer the ability to give your characters the customization and design you want to give them. Your appearance will have no impact on your abilities or statistics inside of the game, allowing you to give the image you want to give to other players.

Combat is going to be one of the main focuses of the game. The team wants combat to be fun, reactive, and enjoyable rather than being total button mashing or slow and sluggish. The want players to come home and have fun with the game rather than feel like playing the game is all about grinding work. While we were unable to get a clear look of the combat, we were assured that it would be closer to an action/adventure game's combat system rather than the traditional MMO system.

Combat will not be the only avenue of rewards, however. Puzzles, investigation, and non-combat situations will also reward players who choose to walk those paths. Players will be encouraged to team up, so some players can deal with the monsters and threats while others solve the puzzles and progress the investigation further. The experience is put together so players are intrigued to follow the mysteries of the world, rather than grinding towards an ultimate goal of getting an item or downing a boss. You go and have fun, but you are evolving your character at the same time.

Below is our first look into the truth behind the facade of reality, and later on in the hour we'll have our more advanced discussion of The Secret World with Ragnar himself! Stay tuned!

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