One of the best things about the Game Developers Conference is all of the new games we have a chance to check out. This year we were treated to a first look for The Secret World -- the first time anyone has seen actual gameplay footage outside of the Funcom studio. In fact, I bet you even some Funcom folks haven't seen this game yet; that's how secretive the company has been with it so far.
However, they lifted that veil of secrecy for the media and GDC and we jumped all over the opportunity.
At first we were shown a trailer, parts of which you'll see in the teaser above. This is all in-game footage, mind you, so the visuals were quite impressive -- something Funcom has become known for thanks to the Dreamworld engine -- which has been tweaked for The Secret World with all of their latest advances in engine technology since the studio launched Age of Conan in 2008.
The guy at the beginning? That's part of an in-game cutscene, one of many players will come across as they complete the main story arcs in the game. Near the end you'll see a sea-like creature; one of the first bosses you'll encounter in the game.
A War Against The Rising Darkness
Players begin their lives in The Secret World in what used to be a quaint island town called Kingsmouth on Solomons Island, Maryland. It's here that you'll discover the town is not what it used to be... a fog has crept in from the sea and devoured the citizens in what eerily resembles a Steven King novel or movie.
It's up to you, one of the survivors here, to figure out the source of this fog and fight it back -- augmented with supernatural powers, or perhaps just an extra sharp blade. The island itself is massive. We were shown a scaled-out view of it, and the playfield for the starting area of the game could be compared to entire continents in other MMOs.
Outside of Kingsmouth players will travel the globe, visiting many locations including the hub cities New York, London and Seoul. Expect a wide variety of content in these areas tailored to the realworld regions they're modeled after and the cultures that once called them their peaceful homes.
The UI for the game has been simplified from what you'll normally see in an MMO and closely resembles the style you'd expect on an iPhone app. The buttons are large, rounded squares using vibrant colors and easily discernible icons to convey their actions when clicked.
Beyond that, character progression has been simplified a bit as well from the typical MMO. There are no levels, no classes -- it's all skill-based advancement. Yes, you'll still gain "experience" by defeating enemies and completing missions, but this xp goes into generating skill points for use in leveling up powers, rather than raw character level.
In speaking with our presentors, we discovered that once you unlock these powers you'll be able to equip your character with 14 of them at any given time, and cannot swap them while in combat. You'll have 7 active and 7 passive powers at your disposal. The active powers are the obvious: aggressive and defensive actions to either harm enemies or help allies. The passive powers will either provide passive bonuses to your character or augment the active powers to allow them to do new things.
An example we were given was augmenting a heal power with a passive that allows it to resurrect fallen allies, and still act as a normal heal when the target player is still alive.
Save The Cheerleader, Save The World?
Yeah, it's getting kind of old, I know. But if you want, you just might be able to dress up like a cheerleader and roleplay the Heroes TV show to some extent, thanks to the realworld setting and clothing themes based upon that. While we weren't shown many outfits, the premise is that players will be able to look however they want thanks to visible clothing not affecting your attributes at all.
You'll still get stat boosts from things like rings, amulets, etc -- the stuff that won't really impact the look of your character -- but for the rest of it, you can look as stylish, posh, or rugged as you want and it won't hinder your performance at all.
Overall we weren't shown much that was new, but with Ragnar Tørnquist on board it already has a lot going for it. Plus it's the first time we've had a chance to share our thoughts on the game with the Curse community, so that really excited us.
Hopefully as the months go on we'll have more information on the game to share with everyone.