Introducing The Secret World

Welcome to my first stint as a guest-blogger in residence. Quick bit of background on myself: I’m an avid gamer, playing everything from stand-alone console RPGs and MMOs to FPSs and RTSs. I’ve been playing games since Mario hit our shores through to new indie games coming out today.

I also love spending days lost within a science fiction or fantasy universe whole unto itself, whether game or fiction.

World building, setting, plot, character development, and all the other facets that make fiction great are increasingly found in even the most humble of games.

I’ll stop in from time to time to talk about some of my personal favorites and how these adrenaline pumpers can also be amazing works of storytelling, and can move a person as much as a film or a beautiful score of music. Many games these days are becoming a unique blend of film, with entire orchestral suites and wonderful cutscenes, and literature, containing an entire encyclopedic universe of lore.

Let me introduce…

The Secret World

The Secret World is an MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role playing game). The basic premise is that every urban legend and scary story you’ve ever heard is actually true, but government conspiracies, held together by global corporate interests, have kept it hidden from the regular world.

You’ll interact with not only the supernatural but also with people who still live in the “regular” world as well as government agencies and corporations (which aren’t “people,” dammit *ahem*) who cover it all up. For this post, I wanted to focus on the various locales of The Secret World, keeping in mind all of the settings are modern day.

New York City is as it stands today with muggers and conspiracy theorists, nightclubs and taxis. London thrives as a cultural area with museums, modern taverns, and Vatican-like headquarters for a religious-based order. It’s also the banking and fashion center. Seoul is a rainy town with rooftops that make for great above-ground foot traffic, while gaming complexes highlight the real-world divide between the traditions of the past and the technology of the present.

You’ll travel to a sleepy New England town where the accents are thick and the fog that blankets the street thicker still. Something has risen from the sea to attack the residents of the community and the dead walk the streets. A charming little church sits in front of a graveyard and stands as a bastion against the encroaching darkness.

Ever the world traveler, you’ll make your way to Egypt, where a small group of freedom fighters square off against rabid cultists for control. Crumbling stone walls and sandy paths lead the way from landmark to landmark. The pharaohs of old have come to reclaim what’s theirs, with the fight spilling into posh abandoned hotels and ancient ruins alike.

The steppes of the upper Carpathian Mountains are your next stop. Little Romanian villages filled with humans and fae folk dot the landscapes. More-forested areas give way to human-built installations of an obvious military nature. The modern cityscapes merge seamlessly with more natural settings, coherently breaking down into the darker, corrupted areas present in every zone.

A final word on the scenery and setting: If you have a decent system (PC/Mac only, sorry console-gamers), The Secret World is absolutely beautiful. Not at all cartoony, it’s perfectly balanced on the razor’s edge of the uncanny valley. At the same time, its hyper-realism immerses you in the modern world and then pushes the envelope to make you believe in conspiracies, fae folk, horrors and secret societies.

My next topic will be about creating your personal avatar within The Secret World. In the meantime, let us know in the comments if you’ve tried the game yet, or find me on Google+.