Average User Score: 8.2Sep 5, 2012The Secret World breaks all the rules of mass market MMOs: It aims to make you think, rather than handing you answers on a plate and focuses on story and content rather than button mashing.
The game has a modern world setting, focusing on occultism and conspiracy theories for its action rather than good and evil, elves and skeletons. There are a few genuine scares and the characters are very human and relatable rather than mindless quest donors - I felt so bad for some wandering monsters I was almost in tears. The game has many nods to beloved pop culture sources - plenty of Lovecraft, Stephen King, George Romero, Wes Craven, Robert Anton Wilson, Dan Brown and Neil Gaiman - locations so true to life that you can find your way around them as a real-world local, and dialogue so beautiful you could stand and play it over and over again for days.
Quests come in three main flavours - red combat missions, where you can solve most of your problems with violence; yellow sabotage missions, where you sneak about and avoid violence at all costs, and green investigation missions, which are where the game shines. While at this point, it's quite possible to find solutions for every quest on the internet, the sheer thrill of thinking your way through an investigation - applying your general knowledge or using the in-game browser as a reference library - is second to none. They've also gone to substantial lengths to deepen a player's immersion by incorporating ARG elements such as websites for certain in-game organizations and youtube clips. While the amount of content in the game is currently only just beyond the point where you can see everything at least once in the span of a month, with 5 years of ARG behind it, there is probably 6 months to a year of engrossing material for someone inclined to look deeper, and content updates occur roughly once every month.
There are still a few bugs in the game; some are annoying, but Funcom have been responsive to bug reports so far and there is nothing to make the game unplayable for any but the most tantrum-prone.
The community so far is overall excellent - friendly and helpful, welcoming to newbies, and very team oriented, despite most of the content being quite accessible to a skilled or careful solo player. Elements that discourage team work in other games, such as "kill stealing" simply aren't possible in TSW, so a player is quite welcome to charge to the rescue of someone being mobbed - which deepens the immersion substantially - and the player you help with a difficult quest today will be the one who saves your skin next week with the rewards he or she obtained.
One very pivotal factor for me was how woman-friendly the game is. Rather than shoving away a large proportion of its potential player base by turning every female character into a mandatory sex object, you are free to choose from a range of perfectly plausible styles of dress and be as sexy or as practical as you choose. Character customization is still somewhat limited - face and hair only, with clothing "limited" to the rather huge range available between the in-game clothing stores and the vanity-item-only cash shop - you can't design your own clothes yet, but there is the possibility of that, and body customization, in future. Bodies for both sexes are presently uniformly athletic but neither overly thin nor Mr Universe proportions - they look like people who spend a lot of time every day running and fighting, which is about right. And the mandatory F-cups and biceps aren't so wearying because you can put a coat on if you want.
There are no annoying gold sellers at all. All in all, I have not regretted one single penny I have spent on this game. It will always be niche, as there are many who don't want to think or be challenged in their game-play, but it's a niche that needed filling and one that I love.… Expand