Conspiracies, crawling death, zombies, lurking Old Gods bent on the destruction of mankind… The Secret World has them all. It’s a game that’s always stood apart from other MMO games, offering modern day conspiracy setting with an unsettling horror twist.
And it’s still around: getting better and better every day. In preparation for the game’s biggest ever update, here’s why I’m returning to the Secret World. And why I think you should too.
It’s full of conspiracy theories
If you’re a fan of conspiracy theories and classic horror authors like H.P Lovecraft, The Secret World is the game for you.
Where Bioshock reminds us of the writings of Ayn Rand, The Secret World owes a debt of inspiration to writers like Aleister Crowly and Robert Anton Wilson.
Think Cthulu, the Illuminati, and the occult. It’s a combination that continually draws me back into the game. But the debt goes back further. If you know your occult myths and legends, you’ll spot links to the work of Aleister Crowley or the Enochian system of magic developed by John Dee and Edward Kelley in the 16th century, you owe yourself to check out The Secret World.
The Secret World is something other MMOs never are: outright scary. There are times, during certain missions, that I’ve jumped in my chair, wishing that I wasn’t playing on my own.
You can feel that sense of horror in the game’s investigation missions, quests that draw their inspiration from classic adventure games. They have you figuring out the answers to riddles and searching for clues, rather than punching monsters.
Take the mission Virgula Divina: where you’re investigating a haunted house, where young girls appear and disappear from photographs in front of you. Don’t have nightmares.
It builds interesting characters
Most MMOs stick to levels. You gather experience points, raise your level and are eventually able to reach new areas, gather more powerful loot, and repeat the process. The Secret World eschews levels, instead giving out skill points and ability points. The former allow you to equip weapons, while the latter give you access to new abilities to build your character around.
What this system allows for is flexibility: perhaps you want to create a character that wields both swords and pistols, or a girl that complements her trusty assault rifle with chaos magic. The Secret World encourages you try it out. You can test new combinations with load-outs, and you’ll be asked to think about how you fight, as certain enemies are resistant to certain weapon or damage types. By the end-game, you’ll have a unique and pretty snowflake of a character, a mix of magic, guns and swords. And it’ll bring you back: spending time learning and collecting new abilities and creating new ways to play.
It’s time to return
What’s weird about the Secret World is how much has changed: what used to be a subscription MMO is now something simpler: you buy it in a box, and you can play online for free forever.
But the game is getting better and better: New game director Joel Bylos has definitely managed to fill the big shoes that Ragnar Törnquist left behind.
Since launch, the team have added a new raid set in an Infested New York, bulking out the previously lacking end-game. There’s a selection of fun new missions: Last Train to Cairo is an Indiana Jones inspired brawl that takes place on top of a moving train.
There are new weapons: like the rocket launcher and chainsaw.
And there’s much more to come.
Right now, FunCom are trailering the biggest update to the game so far. Argartha, the game’s main travel hub, is under siege by the corrupting ‘Filth’. At the end of the event a new Playfield, Tokyo, will be unlocked. Tokyo includes a new city to explore, a continuation of The Secret World’s storyline, new missions, and hopefully, an influx of returning players.
Tokyo has been teased by FunCom for months now: I know I’ve been waiting to play through the new area ever since it was revealed, and I’ll be jumping back in to the game as soon as it’s available.
If you haven’t played The Secret World before, and are looking for a new MMO experience, I really recommend picking it up. If you’re an old player, reinstall and get in on the current action while waiting on Tokyo.
I’ll be there for sure, finally getting on with the story and experiencing a whole new area in what arguably is one of the most unique MMOs in the genre.