by Davneet Minhas
previewed on PC
The Secret World (cntd.)
Other than the somber atmosphere, The Secret World’s basic formula does not seem much different from your typical MMO. The game does not include classes or levels, but you still crawl through dungeons and accept missions to gain experience for new powers. The missions will supposedly be more story-driven than what is currently typical, and all NPCs involved in main and side missions will be fully voice-acted. You can also craft items, partake in raids, and hop into PvP arenas.
Nonetheless, the dark-fantasy and world-within-a-world setting should prove refreshing, and will hopefully engage players, much in the same way alternate realities do in fantasy literature.
World within a World
However, what works in novels may not work in videogames. In novels, you are meant to relate to a character. In MMOs, you are meant to be a character. And by being a character, you do not need to be entertained or inspired by some literary figure’s fantastic accomplishments; you are realizing those accomplishments.
I mean, how different is that man in the Chinese cyber café from Harry Potter? Both led repressive, unfair lives until some event introduced them to a new reality. For Harry, it was a visit from Hagrid; for the man in the cyber café, it was purchasing a World of Warcraft account. Both discovered new worlds where they could freely learn about and practice magic. Both made new friends and became a part of a community that appreciated them. Both developed a sense of purpose by combating enemies and helping allies.
I suppose there is one major difference between the two. Harry Potter’s magical powers gave him the means to put food on the table, to provide for a family existing in two realities. The fantasy world in that cyber café won’t provide for a family in any reality. Unless you are working as a professional gold farmer.
So, if the typical MMORPG player is Harry Potter, what does that make a player in The Secret World? A typical MMO player is living in a reality within a reality. The Secret World seems to create a three-fold existence: a magical reality within a simulated reality within an actual reality.
I think I have reached Inception levels of complexity.
Of course, that three-fold existence assumes you are able to partake in The Secret World’s base-level, simulated reality. So far, Funcom has revealed nothing of the sort. You are probably not going to have to balance a normal, everyday life with your duties as a fire-wielding Templar. Nor will you have to make an effort to hide your battles with zombies from the general public. But that is just a guess. Maybe the game will force you to erase civilians’ memories if they see you shoot lightning out of your hands, kind of like Tommy Lee Jones and his memory-eraser pen thingy in Men in Black.
Anyway, The Secret World looks interesting. It is probably not going to revolutionize the MMO genre, but it may prove refreshing. Check it out.