Due for release
next month (I can say that now we’re in March)n (edited to add: in three months time, on June 19th, thanks Sephirah), The Secret World has the distinction of being the only MMO I know of that’s due to be set in the modern day real world, albeit a weird cthulhu-esque conspiracy theory version. (CCP’s World of Darkness is another urban fantasy real world setting, but that game is firmly on the back burner now.)
They recently invited press to play a preview, and one thing that came out is the genuine sense of freshness in their approach. A game in which an NPC can drop you a hint and you (ie. the player) can go do some research in google in another window and then come back into the game with a new avenue for investigation in mind. Or where clues might be hidden in the world around you, not highlighted and flashing so that even a braindead player will not fail to spot them. A game which, like GW, allows you to collect lots of skills but forces you to select only a few (7) at any time, in the same way that you’d pick a hand of cards from a deck. A game which claims to have no classes, but lets everyone pick up skills for tanking/ dps/ support if they want.
A game where modern day London is the hub city of choice.
And a game in which you can play a member of the lluminati, a group whose motto seems to be “sex, drugs, Rockefeller.” Sure, there are two other secret societies you could be a member of, but why bother when you can be on the winning team instead :)
There are a lot of ways in which this type of design could look good on paper and fail in practice. How good will those puzzles be once one person has solved them and put a guide up on the web? If groups are still based on the trinity then will it matter that they claim that there are no classes?
However, I am intrigued. Here’s a couple of writeups from the press open days. See what you think.