When The Secret World came out this summer, amidst a growing fervor over the seemingly endless Mists of Panderia beta invites and the subscriptionless Guild Wars 2, people didn’t seem to notice it. Much like the shadowy organizations at its center, it managed to hide in plain sight despite having the same fully voiced story that made people lose their minds over The Old Republic. Combined with a lateral progression system and unique take on the concept of the holy trinity of tank, healer, and damage dealer, TSW was a breath of fresh air in an otherwise stolid genre.
So of course it didn’t do well.
Now though, spurned on by the success of Guild Wars 2, the people at Funcom have rolled back the subscription free on The Secret World. For just the box price (currently $30 on Steam) you can get access to all the current content as well as the forthcoming New York raid. It’s like the whole “access to all the story content!” part of SWTOR going F2P without the disdain for those unwilling to shell out subscription cash.
In honor of this, I’ve put together 10 of the best screenshots from my time in The Secret World to try and convince you to give it a shot.
There have been few times in my gaming career as satisfying as solving one of The Secret World’s investigation missions, which often require copious amounts of stumbling around Wikipedia, learning Morse Code, or discerning a keycode by listening to a series of tones. They’re long, detailed, and absolutely brain melting, but something you’ve never seen before and will probably never see again.
Set in a twisted version of the modern day, The Secret World draws on everything from H.P. Lovecraft and Stephen King to Robert E. Howard in crafting a world full of danger and mystery. When it isn’t being completely tounge-in-cheek it can be downright terrifying, especially during your stay in the not-New England town of Kingsmouth.
The creatures you find yourself fighting go a long way towards cultivating the creeping sense of unease that permeates the game. Freed from the fantasy tropes of orcs, wolves, and skeletons, The Secret World is able to play on a wide range of mythologies and folklore to create some of the most disturbing looking creatures outside of Silent Hill.
In many ways, The Secret World is a great example of the postmodern MMORPG, defying and questioning the traditions of the genre left and right. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the razor sharp wit and surprising depth of the characters that dot its shadow drenched towns and camps. You’ll encounter a kid who relates everything to Left4Dead, a government agent (voiced by Tim Ross aka Tuvok from Star Trek Voyager) who makes casual Star Trek jokes, and an IT specialist that is every single person on the Internet rolled into a ball of seething hate.
At the same time, the game has some of the most heart-wrenching stories and characters in gaming, which is no surprise considering the pedigree behind it. Ragnar Tornquist, the man behind the amazing adventure game The Longest Journey, was the primary Game Director for TSW until recently, shifting into the position of Creative Director while working on a new game.
Even if you just play through the game for its amazing story experience, you’ll have more than gotten your money’s worth. With regular updates coming that add new investigation missions, quest packs, and all sorts of other examples of how to do a cash shop right, it’s a great time to pick up your assault rifle and venture into The Secret World.
And if I still haven’t convinced you?