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The Secret World Details Emerge at GDC 2010

Posted Tue, Mar 23, 2010 by B. de la Durantaye

This year at GDC in San Francisco Ten Ton Hammer was able to get a sneak peek of The Secret World. Up until now information had been scarce so it was refreshing to be able to sink our teeth into some facts about the game.

   
Designs for the Draug beasts and the entrance to Agartha

We were first shown the town of Kingsmouth on Solomon Island. Our hosts reminded us that this is just one location of the game and as they did a flyout of the location it was quite evident just how big this game world is going to be. Panning out further and further revealed many miles of detailed environment. The town of Kingsmouth feels lived in; from the cracks in the walls of the old buildings to the toppled garbage cans in a corner of an alley, the town feels very much like “Smalltown, USA” with its own deep story.

Ten Ton Hammer Video: Click to play.


As was pointed out to us during the presentation, players are not so much the hero of the story but rather a hero just playing their small part in the overall world. While the residents of each area have their own personalities and secrets, the story is optional and should players be more interested in just the action they can skip the lore and cutscenes and jump right into the fights for survival.

   
A few boss encounters in The Secret World


As far as gameplay goes, there are no classes or levels in The Secret World. Instead players will unlock abilities as they progress their character. Players may purchase skills with the experience points they gain, but the maximum they can use at a time is seven active and seven passive skills. They will be able to mix and match appropriate to their needs at the time, but this will need to be done from specific areas before they embark on their adventure.

     

Character Concepts


Combat takes a twist with states and exploits. Players will be able to perform certain skills which will put their enemies in a specific “state,” such as burning. Other players in the party will then be able to exploit those states using different abilities to maximize their performance during a fight. Think of states and exploits like team-based combos.


Jack O'Lantern Concept

Loot plays several roles in the game, making it very loot-centric. There will be two item sets for each character—one paper doll for functionality, such as weapons, and one paper doll strictly for appearances. As players explore the world they will be able to customize their character in both power and style through the spoils of war.

   
Environments in the Game

And how does the whole world fit together? Ragnar Tornquist, Creative Director and Senior Producer, described the game world as an augmented reality, as if seeing the world through an iPhone. There will be large, open areas, such as the town of Kingsmouth and Solomon Island where players will fight hordes of zombies and other monsters, but in addition there will be smaller instances, such as the basement of an old house where a quest goal will be placed.

   

Given that the game is pre-beta, it's shaping up well. It has some good ideas and the strategic gameplay looks promising. The environments themselves hold true to what we’ve come to expect from Funcom -- they’re extremely well designed artistically and very detailed. The cutscenes and voice acting will certainly draw gamers into the story of the game. The combat, while engaging with the states and exploits system, felt a little choppy, which can be somewhat expected in this early stage. Some of the animations were blocky and in some cases we simply just couldn’t tell what was happening on screen. Be that as it may, with no word yet as to when beta begins, the demo did portray heroic adventure and we’re very interested in seeing more as the development progresses.


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