The Secret World developer Funcom is keen on the idea of episodic content, releasing regular 'issues' which add further to the already substantial MMORPG. September was a big month for The Secret World, with two of these issues being released almost back-to-back to bring a load of extra missions, character customisation options, new shops and the game's first auxiliary-type weapon, the rocket launcher.
The updates are far from over and at gamescom 2012 the Funcom team talked us through some of the additional content planned for the Secret World. First up was a brief demonstration of the New York Raid, TSW's first raid since launching in July 2012 and something Funcom have always promised fans they were planning to add since the beginning.
For anyone unfamiliar with the concept of The Secret World, it is a modern-day MMO set in a world of secret societies, conspiracies and Lovecraftian horror. You can read all about it in our review: - http://www.gamegrin.com/game/review/pc/the-secret-world-pc-review. The titular 'Secret World' is the world of monsters and mayhem which the secret societies kept hidden from the eyes of the modern day everyman through elaborate cover-ups and covert action.
Well, from the start of the New York Raid it is clear that it will be hard even for the powerful and mystical societies to keep the 'Secret World' a secret after this event. The mundane and the supernatural have collided in a spectacular way in the streets of New York and had very real effects on the cityscape.
At the beginning of the demonstration the player finds themselves in an underground subway station where a number of civilians have taken refuge from the chaos going on at street level. Everyone is in shock but nobody seems to have a full picture of what is going on.
As the player moves through the stations they can stop and listen to the conversations going on around them; hearing the fear in people's voices, their speculations as to what is happening, the people they have lost and their sense of helplessness. There are some fairly poignant tales amongst this group of ragtag survivors and it serves to show that the Secret World has grown to a degree that it is now having a real and profound effect on the civilian population.
The player leaves the subway by climbing out via a crashed train that has broken through to the surface and finds themselves outside amongst the carnage. The city is in ruins; many of the buildings in the area have been completely destroyed and those that haven't are damaged and burning. Air force planes fly overhead and army units patrol the streets.
The first sight of something truly out of the normal does not come until later, when after climbing through a damaged building for a number of stories the player sees flying monsters pass by while being pursued by Black Hawk helicopters.
The player then moves through the ruins into the Orishi Corporation building. The room is smashed beyond repair, with a huge hole torn into the side of the building overlooking the street beyond. A news reporter is here reporting on the unbelievable events that have transpired on the street of New York.
As the player looks down to the street below there is an ominous rumbling and the ground begins to shake as though an earthquake is coming. The road breaks and cracks, then suddenly bursts open and through the fissure emerges a gigantic, multi-tentacled monstrosity. At the appearance of this huge and utterly alien creature the demonstration faded to black, leaving us to wonder exactly how the players are intended to fight something so enormous and powerful.
One of the interesting factors in this demonstration was the total lack of minor mobs; usually such raid levels in MMOs are accompanied by a proliferation of weaker enemies along the way to pad out the experience and leave the final encounter as a boss-fight of sorts. By contrast, the New York Raid featured precisely zero hostile encounters along the way to the confrontation point, instead building suspense through atmosphere and environment as the player moves to the end point.
The New York Raid is scheduled for release in October's issue of The Secret World and will support up to 10 players simultaneously.
Following the introduction of the New York Raid the Funcom team were very excited to announce that an entirely new game region is planned for early 2013. Currently the game has three regional hubs, being Maine, North Africa and Transylvania; the new year will introduce us to Tokyo.
In Tokyo the player will be taken to explore 'Ground Zero', which anyone familiar with the Secret World will remember from the tutorial section in which your character has a vision, seeing events unfold through the eyes of another. The return to Ground Zero will give players the opportunity to learn more about the events that have unfolded in Tokyo and gain an understanding of what lead to such destruction.
Tokyo has been overrun by 'The Filth', a plague of tentacled darkness and death which infects the innocent, twisting and ravaging their bodies and souls and reincarnating them as mindless, undead monstrosities. In order to keep the spread of The Filth contained the government has erected a concrete wall around the infected area, creating an enclosed play area which the Funcom team describes as "Escape from New York meets Outbreak".
This sprawling urban setting will contain new enemies and monsters drawn from Japanese mythology and pop-culture as well as primary antagonists, The Filth. The team also stated that there are a large number of new investigation and sabotage missions being planned for the setting.
Other than general backstory not much was given away with regards to plot, but it is expected that the situation in Tokyo will be a large and substantial turning point for The Secret World. The story told in Tokyo will effectively end Act 1 of the game and answer a lot of questions that have arisen while starting the beginning of threads that will lead to Act 2.