The Secret World Overview

Most of you probably know by now that Funcom‘s MMO The Secret World has had a payment model change. While the traditional subscription is still offered, it is no longer a requirement to jump into the game. All that is needed to play now is an initial software purchase of a box or digital copy of the game. You can purchase the MMO directly from Funcom for $29.99, catch a new copy from any of your favorite auction sites, or catch it on Steam (which seems to be running discounted pricing every few weeks on the game).

I eagerly anticipated The Secret World at launch, played the beta, and subscribed for a few months after release. I didn’t walk away from the game because it was awful, but like many, I just felt that the game didn’t warrant my subscription. My main issues at the time were the combat and the general game flow. It wasn’t a game I wanted to play everyday. Granted when I did play I spent hours in game, but everyday was a bit much for me given the occult nature of The Secret World and the overall questing style. Because of those reasons I let my subscription expire and sadly, like many others, walked away from the game.

With the buy-to-play and cash shop shift Funcom introduced in December, I jumped on the chance to get back in game. Like others, I had to spend nothing. I already owned the game. I’ve played a great deal since then and I thought it might be nice to give you some info on the current state of The Secret World.


If you don’t know already, The Secret World takes place in a modern day setting. The cities and zones in this MMO look like cities and towns you either live in or have vacationed to…with the possible exception of the strange occult happenings going on at just about every turn. Three factions; The Illuminati, The Templars, and The Dragon, are all vying for more power. The player is thrown into a world of the supernatural and is assisted (or manipulated?) by the faction they choose as they rise in their own personal abilities. The core of the main story line for each player is to uncover more of the mysterious “conspiracy theories” that turn out to be true and, of course, do so faster than other factions. It’s all about the power baby!


Graphics and Sound

While the graphics in The Secret World are not “top of the line” they suit the overall mood of the game well. Rolling fog, good music, and eerie sound effects all add to the overall ambiance. While low end computers will have a bit of a challenge with this title, most mid to high end machines should not have too many issues with decent performance.


The Secret World does not follow the traditional “gain levels to gain power” formula. Instead, you are free to progress in strength any way you wish. You are rewarded for completing quests and killing monsters with experience. When the experience bar fills to certain lengths you are awarded both Skill Points and Ability Points. Enter player choice. You are free to spend these points as you wish. Do you want to use Skill Points to open up the ability to use Shotguns and maybe some Blood Magic? Feel free. You can then use the Ability points (which accrue much faster than Skill Points) to unlock active or passive skills for those particular weapons. You can mix and match Skills and Abilities anyway you want and the more points you spend on a skill the stronger the associated abilities become. The Secret World includes “Decks” that new players or those that just want to experiment can use as well. Think of a “deck” as a template for a certain play style. Instead of experimenting with skills, you can select a deck that is suited to the way you want to play and the template will show you where to spend your points as you gain them. There are even rewards for completing decks (i.e. unlocking all the necessary abilities). Players that are dedicated and have the time can even eventually unlock every ability. Since you only equip 7 active abilities and 7 passive abilities initially, you can swap play styles for what your group requires as long as you have the points and equipment to do so!


PvE content in The Secret World comes in tweaks to common MMO practices. Questing, Instanced Dungeons, and Raids are all present. Questing options include standard fetch or “Kill 10 of X” varieties but also include Investigation Missions and Subterfuge Missions. These quest types usually involve the player being very aware of their surroundings in game (don’t forget to look up!), having to sneak around enemies, or even having to look things up online. The Secret World includes an in game browser so as to not break player immersion and Funcom has even built dummy company websites to assist in hiding relevant information. While players may be tempted to spoil a discovery mission by looking up the solutions, I would discourage this because the down side of these types of missions is that once they are solved they provide no additional challenge when played through a second time. If you spoil it for yourself once, you spoil it forever.

Dungeons and Raids (for the most part) follow the traditional pull, pull, pull, boss structure and the MMO trinity (tank, healer, DPS) is usually in full effect. MMO veterans will find a comfort factor in the way instances work and those new to MMOs will enjoy the ride and the learning curve The Secret World has for group content. Bosses have different mechanics that will involve coordination and learning on your first walkthrough.



PvP in The Secret World comes in 3 main formats:

-Fight Clubs – Each major city in the game (New York, London, and Seoul) has a Fight Club. Here you can organize multiple match duels including 1v1, 3v3, and 10v10 matches.

-Battlefields – Three faction PvP in a 5v5v5 format. The two maps offered right now are Stonehenge and El Dorado

-Warzone – An “always on, all the time” zone dedicated to three faction PvP. Factions are free to team up against the third, but in the end a back stab is probably coming.

You’re going to want to spend some time mastering PvP if you come to The Secret World specifically for PvP. Due to some imbalance issues (namely faction population imbalance) and long queue times, PvP is sometimes challenging to jump into.

Payment Tiers, Updates and The Cash Shop

If you buy the software you have access to the entire game. The Secret World does offer a subscription option for those that wish to receive cash shop discounts and in game currency each month. Standard patches are free to all players but full new content releases (referred to a “Issues” in The Secret World) will have to be purchased by free players as they are released. Prices of these Issues will vary based on the amount of content added. The Cash Shop itself offers no statistical advantage to players who purchase items. Items for sale include costume parts (or entire outfits), cosmetic pets, Ability Points Timed Boosts (there is no Skill Point Boost though), and some beginner equipment should new players wish to have a slight stat advantage at the beginning of the game only. Barbershop and appearance modifiers are also available in the cash shop.


Simply, The Secret World is not a game for everyone. The environment and story are just not going to be every player’s cup of tea. The Secret World is a PvE focused game that happens to have PvP. Players that are looking for a twist on the traditional MMO should give it a try provided PvP isn’t their MAIN reason for playing the game. Having said that, players who are intrigued by the modern day world, love conspiracy theories, and are up for a good investigation puzzle are sure to enjoy the dark and macabre world set before then by Funcom in The Secret World.

 To Check Out The Secret World Click The Button Below!

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  • Monstercloud

    It’s not F2P… 

    • Michael Byrne

      My comment made no sense…so I made it disappear :)

      • Monstercloud

         Damn, missed it. I enjoy foot-in-mouth comments.

        • Michael Byrne

          Hehe, you would have been disappointed then. I was just asking if you could point me to where you saw “free to play” since I wasn’t seeing it anywhere in my article, then I noticed the URL so asking for your help made no sense. We don’t really have a “Buy to Play” category on the site so yeah, it got lumped into F2P but the article explains what’s what right from the start so there’s no confusion.

          • Monstercloud

            The splash screen said and facebook says “Free to play”, and I don’t follow the developments that closely, which led me to think there was another change in the model. Let’s just blame it on this “Missy”

          • Michael Byrne

            HAHA! Fair enough :)

  • Alex Andrews

    They most likely left ‘free to play’ within the address for SEO value

  • Pete Cuellar

    Its Buy to Play….and no I’m not gong to try it.

  • Templar7202

    Finally some love for this game from the Gamebreaker crew!  This game is impressive and content comes frequently.  Love the DLC model they went with as now you can decide what content you want and dont want.  It’s worth the sub on many merits but it is worth checking out and playing the F2P model when burned out on the other MMO’s that are out there.  This game is so different and fresh and some people can’t grasp that…haters are gonna hate as the three below me just have!

  • Templar7202

    It’s the same F2P as GW2…how can you miss that??

    • Dularr

      Not exactly.  You do have to play for new non-expansion content.  Unless this has changed. Last I tried following this game, new content updates would cost $5.

      • Michael Hogg

        That’s no different from GW 2 and its coming expansion packs (the same they did with GW 1).  Templar7202 is right in that they’re the same.

        • Dularr

          We haven’t seen a GW2 expansion yet, so it’s too early to comment on that.  Maybe it will be like GW1, but I’m not convinced.

          We will see when Arenanet releases an expansion. 

  • Lycronis

    I’ll get it if it drops to around $5 but I didn’t enjoy the beta very much. I’m sure it has been improved since then though.

  • Rich E.

    hmm why was there a EA logo at the beginning of this video? I thought this was a Funcom game?

    i mean… Funcom is pretty suspect with the botched Age of Conan.. but i can overlook that. EA on the other hand… i avoid like the plague.

    I know I would really get into Secret World. Atmosphere and story are what lures me into MMOs.. but if EA gets a penny from my purchase – nope, deal breaker.

    • Bear Powell

      EA is the Publishing partner for Funcom on TSW.

  • Bear Powell

    I really wish they’d do a combat overhaul for the game. Otherwise I think it is an excellent title.

  • Jonnara

    No point in picking up this title until they change the combat.

  • Pay Perveiw

    This is the longest ad I’ve ever seen. What Funcom doesn’t seem to get tho, is just because you make the game f2p it doesn’t make the game itself any better. Funcom keeps bragging about the “tons of stuff constantly added”, but the things added is just varied elements of things already there, not the things the game are lacking.

  • Mike Richardson

    Since EA’s name is on the game I won’t even touch it.  But even if their name is not on the game I probably would pass on it.  I just doesn’t grab me enough to try it.

  • Nathiest

    $29.99 is still not worth it. Let me know when it’s $19.99.

    • GameEntity

      Eh, $9.99.  :P

  • Poordevil

    I play Funcom’s other gem, Age of Conan. I been thinking of giving this a whirl but my biggest obstacle is peeps saying the combat is bad and the animations are poor. Both those features are outstanding in AoC. I don’t understand how Secret World could drop the ball in that regard.

  • Raul

    I beta tested the Game, and started following the ARGs shortly after they Began.
    Ragnar is one of the Best Designers in the Business, Imho.

    That being said, I managed to kite/kill mobs many many levels higher than Me,
    simply by jumping over the 2 foot high vehicle barrier on the road.

    There is more to animation than simply motion capture, 
    and I certainly hope they improved the AI and it’s pathing.

    Those were My 2 biggest issues,
    good Game otherwise.

  • Indren Cole

    my two favourite MMOs are Secret World and Age of Conan, nothing comes close and I wonder why they have so weak marketing. Both games are most amazing.

    • Christoph Bauer

      ikr ? I played AoC until the population on the Euro servers was so low, it drove me to other games. Then i started playing TSW a while ago and the same happened again.