The Secret World Revealed: PvP, Missions, and Character Advancement

Updated Sat, Mar 12, 2011 by Ethec

The Secret World is slowly becoming less and less of a secret. Ten Ton Hammer got a closer look at the story surrounding the New England port of Kingsmouth at GDC 2011, but this tribute to the legendary novelist’s ruminations on dysfunctional small town Maine was just the tip of Funcom’s offerings at GDC 2011. Senior Producer Ragnar Tørnquist and Lead Designers Martin Bruusgaard and Joel Bylos lead us further past the veil, showing us character progression and the skill wheel (for the first time ever) and an exclusive glimpse at three storied locations that will be used for PvP matches.

Better yet, we caught it all on video – about 25 minutes worth spread over three videos (missions: 15 min., progression: 5 min., PvP: 5 min) - interleaved with plenty of great developer commentary. If you’re fairly up to date on The Secret World, you might want to skip to Part 2 (but come back for the visuals!). If you’re at work or not one to sit through the footage, we’ve provided an executive summary of sorts on the next three pages that should give you all the talking points.

Part 1: Intro, Kingsmouth, and the Missions System

Ten Ton Hammer Video: Click to play.

Senior Producer Ragnar Tørnquist made it clear he’s out to produce a true MMO at GDC 2011. Eschewing what we might call “Massively Asynchronous” games as opposed to “Massively Multiplayer” games – The Secret World seeks to create an active, sociable tale in every sense of the word.

Ragnar summarized his goals in describing the “four pillars” of The Secret World:
  • A true MMORPG experience – “This is an MMO story in every sense of the word.”  Though soloing is viable, the game’s story will be primarily told through gameplay and world events.
  • Freeform character progression – Templates – equivalent to a TCG starter deck or the “auto level up” in an RPG, will be available, but players can mix and match their magic, ranged, and melee skills with absolute freedom, should they wish to.
  • The Secret War – Faction battles will heat up in predetermined settings and rulesets as determined by the fictional Council of Venice, but indirect PvP – society tasks, including diplomatic maneuvers, espionage, backstabbing, and  sabotage – will be an ongoing thing.
  • A modern day setting where everything is true – Seoul, London, New York, Transylvania, the Himalayas… every setting in-game roughly mirrors its modern day counterpart, and the mythos and conspiracy theory used in the game are culled from real-world history.
Lead Content Designer Joel Bylos took us into Kingsmouth for a look at some early missions and bosses. First, he pointed out the Tier system, which saves your progress in an area (not just on a mission basis) should you wish to leave and come back. Leaping atop a car, he noted that The Secret World has the obligatory car alarm attracts zombies reference, explaining this also serves to repopulate area. Tipping over a gas can to start a fire, Joel noted that states such as fire can be used and exploited by players. Leading zombies through the fire killed them off far more quickly.

Several cutscenes told the story of Kingsmouth, one through Andy – a policeman with “daddy issues.” Venturing onward, Joel told us of Kingsmouth’s “zombie ecology” – Zombie females create pods, males incubate them, the pods hatch, and zombie invasions happen. Interrupting any part of this chain allows the few humans left inside Kingsmouth a breather.

Next up was another bossfight – this one was actually controlling zombies so it went a little rougher. Off camera, Joel hinted at investigation missions – open world puzzlers that require players to use their brains (and Google saavy) to work their way through short mysteries. Finally, Joel gave us a glimpse behind the link between ravens and revenants leading up to last year’s “playground” trailer.


Joel Bylos returns from his hiatus with an update on The Secret World’s development and release of Tokyo.

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