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Chaos Theory: These are a few of my favorite Secret World things

MJ Guthrie
01.29.15
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There's a lot about The Secret World to like. So much so, in fact, that you just can't name it all in once place! I've had to split talking about the best parts of this conspiracy-laden masterpiece into a number of different Chaos Theorys, from my favorite first moments to amazing NPCs to fabulous places to favorite missions. Even Massively's Justin Olivetti chimed in with his favorite characters. But not even that can cover it all. That means today I'll tackle another topic: my favorite things. TSW has a plethora of little gems scattered throughout the game that enhance the play experience and attest to the level of detail put into development. And I'll totally go all Julie Andrews and sing their praises, hilltop or not. I only have so much room, however, so these are my top choices; be sure to add your own in the comments below!


You had to know that the first thing I'd mention is music! One of the greatest things ever to grace the game is the in-game radios. From the boombox you use to complete Ricky Pagas's sidestory to the old-time radios used in The Broadcast Halloween event, integrating tunes into the game is sheer genius. Music is a pretty integral part of our real life, so what better way to make The Secret World feel more real than by including it in game? And as a music lover, I am all for adding even more.

Perhaps the very best part is getting to keep an old-fashioned radio in your inventory to replay the spooky ghost stories from the event whenever you want (if you completed the mission, that is). Sadly, however, no one else around you can hear the tracks, so listening to them is a solitary experience.

Along the same lines as the radio you keep from this latest event is the book of Spooky Stories you get for completing the 2013 Halloween mission chain. At any time you can thumb through those pages and reread that lore that brings greater depth to the world. And the fact that you don't have to leave the game to do it is that much better! Sure, you can always head out to a web site that has collected all the lore and stories, but once you leave the game, you break the immersion spell that everything about the game has been weaving around you. I want the lines between the game and reality blurred, and tabbing out just sharpens them.

Same thing goes for the books you could read in the Council of Venice's sunken library; getting to read pages of lore is great. And darn those glyphs intrigued me, making me want to study them at length to see what they say (because we all know there isn't jibberiosh in TSW -- it all means something!).

Because TSW is all about our world, things that make it feel even more real are valuable commodities, so coming across working electronics is icing on the conspiracy cake! First was the working computer in the Kingsmouth Sheriff's office. Logging in and accessing files just creates a feeling of realism you can't match. Even better, this particular computer hooked you up to working security cameras. I mean "working" as in they showed you what was happening in real time instead of canned, prerecorded footage as was expected! Nothing can compare to that moment when that realization dawned on me. (OK, so my friend making funny faces and doing flips on the camera comes in a close second.)

One of the things that blew me away when I first wandered Kingsmouth was a truly innocuous thing in real life: a phone book! The fact that you could stroll up to the phone booth and start perusing the listings for various businesses and places right in the town was just astonishing to me. And it was accurate! You could see that Suzie's Diner was at the corner of Main and Belmont, then hoof it down the street and find it there. While we are on the topic of the phone book: The streets have signs you have to look up and read in order to follow and find your destination. Forget the in-game map; making your way by using visuals in the world around you just rocks.

Another thing about the phonebook was the fact that it tantalized me with the idea that information wouldn't be so blatantly obvious in this game. That knowledge wouldn't be handed to me on a silver platter or through giant glowy golden icons floating overhead (though close inspection of an item does reveal a mild glowy yellow outline, something I oftentimes wish didn't exist either).

(If that doesn't start you singing Queen's little tune, you need to go look it up and listen now!)

There's a little park in Kingsmouth where a small red tricycle is left abandoned in the sand near an empty slide. That image had a powerful effect on me when I first stumbled upon it. As dark as TSW gets, that tricycle was a stark reminder of innocence of children, which actually made the rest of The Secret World all that much creepier! That juxtaposition made the shadows deeper. The reminder that wee ones were affected right along with the adults in the story also tugged at my heartstrings; it made the entire experience more emotional.

There are many places where The Secret World is dark and makes your skin crawl, but there is also plenty of humor woven in. Let's be honest: All-darkness would be taxing and actually end up turning ho-hum if there weren't other emotions to add variety. I guffawed out loud when I found the mission in a toilet. You heard me: in the toilet! When you're jumping around on things in Edgar's scrapyard, you come across an Orochi probe that's sitting in the bowl of a broken commode. Now, bathroom humor aside, the symbolism of the appropriateness of anything Orochi in such a circumstance is worth a smile if not an outright laugh.

Along the same lines as working electronics is the idea of usable items that are totally unrelated to the typical gear set-up of most MMOs. And topping that list is the mining helmet with a headlamp. What's particularly awesome is that this item -- along with the accompanying flare gun if you are Tempar -- does not leave your inventory once you complete the mission it is associated with. And if you managed to keep it (hallelujah for my packrat ways), you found this particular item extremely useful in other areas of the game! This fits right in with the theme that the game is full of little tidbits that are interconnected and makes you wonder what you might have missed. Talk about instilling a desire to replay the game.

Speaking of... I need to go log in!

Conspiracies, paranoia, secrets, and chaos -- the breakfast of champions! Feast on a bowlful with MJ on Thursdays as she infiltrates The Secret World to bring you the latest word on the streets of Gaia in Chaos Theory. Heard some juicy whispers or have a few leads you want followed? Send them to mj@massively.com and she'll jump on the case!

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