Once you have completed creating your character you are prompted to watch a video which is specific to the society you have chosen. Below is the video we were shown when choosing the Dragon as our affiliated society.
The intros for each society are pretty much the same up until its time for the representative of your chosen society to come and pay you a visit. You won’t see Mr. Chatty (as we have dubbed him) if you select the Templars, or the Illuminati.
After the intro video you are tasked with locating your society’s headquarters (in the case of the Dragon your unconscious body is placed into a van, driven to an undisclosed location, and you are thrown out, and left to find your own way to the HQ. Nice guys huh?)
On your way to locating the headquarters you meet with an agent of your respected society. A short time after meeting the agent you are placed into an induced trance like state (the method of which you enter this state varies depending on the society) which causes you to have an out of body experience. Your consciousness ends up within the body of an agent named Sarah. The purpose of the experience is to give you an intimate look at a battle the societies were recently involved in against dark forces within a Tokyo subway. Sarah’s faction affiliation is not mentioned, and when you enter her body she seems to have been knocked unconscious. How this occurred is also not mentioned. Sarah, well now you, is not alone. With her, er I mean you, are three other agents standing around discussing the current situation. Each of the three are representatives of each of the main societies. As you, I mean Sarah, er I mean you awaken, the other three seem glad to see that you are alright. You are then prompted to select a mission which is basically your movement, and combat tutorial.
After accepting the mission one of the agents tells you to grab your weapon which is a shotgun on the floor. You pick up the weapon, and are given two powers in your abilities bar to use. Shortly after dark creatures known as the Filth, attack you. As you fight these creatures the game gives you instructions on how to use your abilities, move your character, and use dodges to evade enemy attacks. Basic tutorial stuff.
The movements are pretty standard. W,S,A, and D are your movement keys, and you use abilities by pressing keys on your keyboard that correspond to the number 1, number 2, etc. An enemy must be targeted in order to attack. This is done by clicking on whatever enemy you want to bring down, and selecting what ability you want to use. Pretty much MMO combat mechanic 101. Evading is done by double taping one of the movement keys which rolls your character either left, right, back, or forward. Sprinting is done by holding down the “X” key for a few moments.
The remainder of the tutorial has your character going deeper into the subway where you are given additional powers which total five in all, encountering a mini boss, taking on waves of mobs, and ends with your character passing out after gazing at a wondrous universe within the subway.
You soon awaken in your own body, and are told to go to your society’s armory to acquire a weapon to use in your fight against evil. You can have two weapons equipped at once. More on that later. Once you have acquired your weapon (s) you are told to go meet with the head of the society, or more accurately the head of the cell of the society you are currently in. After a briefing you are given your first mission, and so starts your journey into the Secret World. Muahahahahahaha (cough).
The Secret World’s concept of weapons, and powers differ a bit from other MMO’s, and other games in general. In other MMO’s, weapons, and powers are considered separate things. In the Secret World your weapon is your power. More precisely your weapon channels your powers. Think Harry Potter wizards, but instead of a wand they can use an AK-47 to blast an enemy with magic.
As we mentioned before you can equip up to two weapons at any given time. Although this is not required, as you can choose to stick with one weapon, and master it, the game does suggest using two weapons as it increases your chance of surviving the creepy crawlies that are out to get you. The Secret World allows you only seven active, and seven passive abilities to use at once. These abilities can be from any weapon tree. You do not have to be using a certain weapon at a time to gain the passive ability of said weapon. As long as you have it equipped you will gain the passive benefits you assign it.
There three main weapon types within the game. They are Ranged, Melee, and Magic. Normally magic would not be considered a weapon, but in the Secret World it is.
Ranged weapons include pistols, assault rifles, and shotguns. Melee includes hammers, fists, and swords. Magic consists of Elemental, Blood, and Chaos. You’re probably wondering what these weapons attributes are. Well we’ll tell you.
Ranged weapons, as you may have guessed, are great DPS dealing weapons, and let you attack from a distance. The exception to this is shotguns which we found are better at close to middle range attacks, and can do some serious damage if used properly.
Melee weapons, again as you probably have guessed, are great for close quarters combat, and have good to great defensive buffs. Perfect for those players who want to play as a Tank. However the melee weapons are not just for defense. Hammers can deal amazing single target damage. Swords on the other hand, in our opinion, is one of the best DPS weapons in the game. Add to the fact that swords also have a very decent healing buff that can be applied, you can imagine its one of the weapons a-lot of players would like to use. In fact during our time in the game we found that one of the more popular weapon combos was sword, and assault rifle. We gave this combo a try, and let us tell you it did not disappoint.
In the Magic Weapons type, Elemental allows you to use elemental attacks in the forms of fire, and electricity. Pretty good for long ranged attacks, and offers decent support abilities. Blood magic utilizes your own blood for attacks, defense purposes, and healing. No worries. Using blood magic attacks will not drain your health. Chaos Magic specializes in more up close, and personal attacks with healing powers thrown in. Think kung fu master with some claw attacks, and a chi that has the ability to heal for a bit every time you attack.
The trick with using any of the weapons in combination, if you do choose to weld two at a time, is to find out which ones have the best symmetry with each other. Like we mentioned before sword, and assault rifles is a damn good combo. Others we tested were Blood Magic, and pistols, Blood Magic, and Hammer, and Blood Magic, and Sword. You get the sense we liked Blood Magic a-lot huh? Well we did : ). Chaos magic unfortunately we didn’t test out as much as we would have liked so we can’t really tell you how great it maybe. Feel free to try it, and let us know what you think of it.
If you are a bit confused as to what weapon combos work for your play style, and don’t want to go on our recommendations (I mean who can blame you. We know nothing : )), the game offers what it calls Decks.
Decks are pre-made builds in the game that cater to specific play styles. You can choose builds that rely on Support, Healing, DPS, Tanking, Balanced, or a combination of any of the aforementioned. There are a decent number of Deck builds to choose from so its highly unlikely someone would not find one that appeals to their personal style of play.
Now going the Deck route will not automatically assign Ability Points, or weapons to your character. Rather its more a map that shows you what weapons, and abilities are suggested to obtain, and fit the build of the selected Deck.
There are two types of points you obtain when completing missions. Skill Points, and Ability Points. Skill Points are used to increase a variety of things which include the damage, healing, or support effectiveness of your weapons, and the ability to use certain levels of what the game calls talismans (think trinkets that boost your character’s stats when equipped).
Ability Points are used to acquire different skills for your weapons. Obtaining Skill, and Ability Points is pretty easy. When we played an average of 5 missions, give or take, we racked up about 15 Ability Points, and 7-8 Skill Points again give or take. Given the frequency of how often you can acquire points, it is highly fee sable that you could max out a good majority, or all of the available weapon trees in the game. The frequency is also good to have as at the time of the review the game did not offer respecs.
The game also offers the ability for you to save builds that you have created, and access them when you are out of combat. There are a good number of save slots available in the beginning as you can see from the below screen shot, and addition slots unlock as you progress further into the game. This comes in extremely handy when you are soloing one minute, then need to do a Raid the next, and have to switch to a PvP match. As any MMO player will tell you, one lone build is not ideal for every situation so having this option to us is a high plus. It almost makes up for there only being seven active, and seven passive ability slots. Almost : )
Whether using Decks, or choosing abilities on your own you must follow a weapon tree’s lay out in order to obtain other abilities. I.e. you want ability C but in order to get ability C you need to get ability A, and B first.
This maybe a downside to some as you will end up with abilities you don’t want, and never use. Also it can be viewed that this will waste valuable ability points you have earned which you want to use to get abilities which cost more the higher you go up a weapon tree. However a counter argument which we have seen in forums when the game is talked about is that given the ease at which you obtain points offsets the fact that you use x amount of points to gain abilities you don’t want to get to the ones you do want. Basically who cares if you have to get this ability to get that ability? You will have so many ability points you can more then afford to waste a few. Personally we tend to side with the first argument, but do understand the logic of the second argument.