We all knew it would happen eventually, right? I did say back in the beginning that the majority of games I cover here would be free to play. Well…this isn’t one of those. It’s got a payment model similar to KingsIsle’s Pay-by-Zone or SOE’s DLC options, though, so it’s not completely out of the ballpark.
The Secret World is an MMORPG in which you join one of three secret organizations (the Templars, Illuminati, or Dragon) to try and save the world from the “Secret War” going on all around us. After a series of interesting events take place, your character has the ability to see through the veil and has some understanding of what’s really going on. Oh, and because you’re all probably wondering, the ESRB rating is M for Mature on the grounds of Blood, Partial Nudity, Sexual Content, Strong Language, Use of Drugs, and Violence. I want to be perfectly clear here; do not play this game unless you are of the intended age. These warnings are there for a reason, and I can confirm all of them first hand.
Faction only really determines your starting locale (London for the Templars, Seoul for The Dragon, or New York for the Illuminati), how the first cutscene plays out, and which “Decks” you officially have access to. Whether you offically have access to a Deck or not doesn’t really matter – anyone can use any build. Period. A “Deck” is the TSW name for having two different weapons equipped with a specific set of abilities. The really interesting thing about TSW is that there are no classes. Players can be healing one minute and completely switch over to a tank build in a heartbeat. Choosing from 9 weapon types allows a multitude of combinations, going from a hack-and-smash blade-and-hammer user to tank to a blood magic-and-claws frontline healer. Swap your deck, change your role. It’s as simple as that. Don’t like what you’re playing currently? Fine. Spend some Ability Points in other places. You don’t re-specialize (respec); once you learn it it’s learned for good, but you can usually make do with it.
The crafting system lets you disassemble almost any item in your inventory to repurpose it and craft new items on the fly. Break your claws? Disassemble them and build something new out of them. Maybe a nice new sword. Maybe that energy drink buff could be remade into a healing potion. Master the crafting system and you will never struggle with obtaining the items you want.
Storywise, The Secret World is engaging and hits close to home. You will be exploring parts of the world that really exist…just with some twists like zombies and sea monsters. I won’t say much more than that because, quite honestly, I don’t want to give anything away. Oh, except this little tidbit. First dungeon? Kill an Elder God. Enough said, amirite?
Back at the beginning, I mentioned their payment model, and I did want to get a bit further into depth with that. The game requires a bit of investment before you can play, because the digital copy is $29.99. I found it on a great Steam sale for far less, so there’s always that. After that, the first 4 DLCs (called Issues) are included with the purchase. Additional Issues can be purchased (for life) by using the currency for their cash shop. No subscription required, so without buying DLCs it works a bit like a console game for the PC.
Oh, and then there’s the visuals. HOLY. WOW. The landscapes are pristine, NPCs look like actual people, and the combat provides dynamic feedback such as bloodspatter. Sound Effects enhance everything so vibrantly, and most of the zoning within areas is absolutely flawless.
I really don’t know what else I can say without giving everything away or starting to get a bit too in depth. I’ll just say that if you get a chance (and are of age!) you should seriously consider this game. Have a fantastic week, and as always, leave me some comments/questions/concerns (Jeff and Steve, feel free to jump in and answer some of these as well!).
(I’d like to emphasize that this game is for individuals 18 and older. It is NOT meant to be played by younger players. We at Spiral Radio101 know the KingsIsle core audience is younger gamers, and The Secret World is absolutely not a game for most Wizards and Pirates. However, many adult KI gamers like ourselves are among the ranks of our listeners, and this site is meant for gamers of every age. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and feel free to add your comments below. -Stephen)