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The Secret World Updated Impressions

Last year, Funcom invited us over to share their secrets. This year, they've blown the doors wide open on their upcoming modern day MMO, The Secret World. The deluge of information received takes a bit to fully digest, but in the end it's going to leave you satisfied. At least until you realize that now you want to know more.

Like anything Funcom does, they have once again proven that they are one of the best studios when it comes to visual quality in an MMO. The Secret World's landscapes and creature models are visually stunning, with a distinct setting offering a story that you haven't had to deal with in an MMO before.

Finally, a game that doesn't have dwarves or elves. What in the world are we going to do now? Let me recap our time checking out The Secret World, and hopefully you can decide for yourself what to make of a world where you don't have to deal with Gandalllff and Lawlgolass.

Classless Members Of Society

Okay, so maybe you do have some class. Assuming you're not one of those sneaky Illuminati. What I really mean is this game does not have a class system, nor does it have physical levels. You're literally free to build your character however you want thanks to an extremely robust "skill wheel" system Funcom has designed for the game. Think of it as a talent system, if one were designed for a game that has no classes. You simply "level up" through a section of the skill wheel to unlock both active and passive abilities.

While you can only have a set number of active and passive abilities enabled at once, you're free to switch between roles whenever, activating a new set of abilities -- assuming you've unlocked them -- to support the needs of your party. While there are no levels, you still have an experience bar that -- once it fills up -- grants you a point to buy a skill in the wheel. The skills become progressively more expensive, and are unlocked in sequential order, but also more deeply define a given role as you progress through that tier of skills.

Martin Bruusgaard, Lead Designer on the game, likens the system to building a deck in Magic: The Gathering. You put together your "deck" of skills that define the type of player you are, and then utilize them on the field of play.

Let Me Google That For You

No, really -- let me Google that for you, because you're gonna need it. Funcom is introducing an incredibly innovative new type of quest to the genre with The Secret World: investigations. With the game's setting being the real world, they've implemented investigations in a way that allows you to take advantage of Google to research clues found in the game.

These clues will be related to real world history, and will guide you along the way to completing your investigation mission. It's a brilliant concept that I can't wait to see play out, because I for one am very excited that something I learn in a video game, may actually be worthwhile knowledge outside of it at some point.

We're All Friends Here, Right?

The PvP in The Secret World is being implemented in a format that everyone has been dying for. Say goodbye to team-vs.-team, as you'll be facing off against both of the opposing societies at the same time. From the "king of the hill" style map of Stonehenge where you control the center of the ancient monument to accrue points, to El Dorado where you play in a match similar to capture the flag, though with a twist -- there are artifacts on the map that you must hold onto, and while you do you accrue points toward victory.

Then there's the massive, sprawling Lost City of Shambhala in the snowy Himalayas. This is the classic deathmatch style PvP, and will be where the bragging rights really take foot. Here you'll form pre-arranged teams and compete for the top spot on the PvP leaderboards.

But don't go thinking you're enemies with the other societies, because you're not. The PvP in The Secret World is all organized, because there's a greater evil than fellow man on the prowl -- the Dragons may seem like jerks to you, but they aren't who you want to choke with your shotgun barrel at the end of the day. Open World PvP, for this reason, does not exist, according to Funcom's Ragnar Tørnquist.

Overall this latest demo has us very excited to get our hands on the game for ourselves. The story in The Secret World is one where the myths of Earth are all true, which makes for a very interesting world to play in. Let's hope the first playable demo isn't kept a secret for too much longer.

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