by Lisa Thrasher
previewed on PC
The Battle for the Underground
You may not be aware, but there is a quest for world domination happening all around us. Or rather, the war is raging underneath our feet. The stage is littered with myth and conspiracy as three factions battle against each other in and ever changing power struggle. This isnít a place for you to be the hero and save the world. This isnít even the place that you take it over for yourself. No, here you are a part of an army and you live under a creed. You arenít the chosen one, and donít get the delusion that you are special; youíre just a cog in the wheel.
At least, thatís how Funcom is approaching their upcoming MMO called The Secret World. Instead of most MMOs where it seems you are the only one with the ability to do something about the worldwide chaos, The Secret World makes the story more personal by giving you less responsibility.
The game takes place in the modern-day while incorporating real and fake history, pop culture, ancient mythology, and urban legends. The game features a dark fantasy world with heavy influence from Poe, Lovecraft and Verne, so donít be surprised if there is something moving in the shadows.
A world divided
There are three factions within The Secret World: The Templars, the Illuminati and the Dragon. The Templars are the pious zealots headquartered in London, relentless in their battle against darkness. The Illuminati are based in New York City and take on the belief that only the strong survive, acquiring power and wealth any way they can. The Dragon are deceiving and embody pure chaos while establishing themselves in Seoul, committing violent acts in strategic locations in order to cause the ripples that start widespread panic.
Each player character follows a linear over-arching critical path with plenty of diverse side missions to delve into. In order to see the entire main story, youíre going to need three characters, one of each faction, and a lot of time on your hands. Regardless of what society you choose, you will always go to the same locations, but it will be at a different time and for different motives than the other two groups.
The enemies change with the environment, and there are plenty of places to go. Youíll receive quests from mummies in Egypt, encounter skeletons at an empty carnival and fight zombies in a parking garage. In PvP mode, the battles will take place in real and mythical places like El Dorado, Stonehenge and the Lost City of Shambhala. One faction tries to hold onto their reign of power in that location while another tries to infiltrate it. The control of a territory results in faction-wide bonuses, a bit like holding Wintergrasp in World of Warcraft, and the battle is fought with the intensity that comes with that knowledge.
Choose your style
Exactly how you go about fighting is completely up to you. There are no classes to speak of and characters donít gain levels. Instead your experience points pour into a bar made of three sections. For each of the three sections you fill you receive one skill point. Once the entire bar is filled you receive one ability point. There are over 550 different skills to choose from and you have to figure out which ones create the best synergy for your play style. You can only have seven active and seven passive abilities going at one time, making the system less overwhelming and creating a sort of card game feel to the battle system.