Video Game reviews and articles for console, PC games, and MMO's

The Secret World MMO Review (2012)

The Secret World Review



  Every once in awhile a game comes out of nowhere that surprises you, The Secret World is just such a game. I had heard of TSW (The Secret World) a few times before, during its development phase but nothing like the normal hype that I see surrounding most games that are released these days, especially the hype that normally surrounds an MMO.


  To be honest this one was flying so far under the radar that I nearly gave it a pass.


  The Secret World is not your typical MMO, it is not an EQ (Everquest) or WoW (World of Warcraft) clone. If anything it reminds me a lot of the first Guild Wars game, when you consider its design style.


  The setting for The Secret World is modern day Earth but with a twist. Imagine a world were magic is hidden away and yet very real, a world where ancient and powerful organizations decide the fates of nations while doing battle with Lovecraftian horrors. This is The Secret World.


  The tone of this game reminded me a lot of other games like Silent Hill and Resident Evil with a splash of the role playing games G.U.R.P.S. Illuminati and Chaosium's Call of Cthulhu, add in a dash of Fringe, the X-files, and Supernatural and you can see the kind of world the game is trying to create.


Video Game math The Secret World



  To begin your journey into The Secret World you have to choose to align yourself to one of three factions, yes you heard that right, finally another game has come out that realizes three factions will be a much more interesting dynamic then just two factions.


  The three factions are the Dragons, the Templar, and the Illuminati.


  The Dragons are all about chaos, change, and deception. It is the cabal's belief that to achieve balance there must first be chaos. The Dragon cabal HQ is in Seoul.


  The Templar believe in structure and discipline, without laws we are nothing more than animals. Being a Templar is to enter into a righteousness brotherhood, one whose traditions date back centuries. The Templar HQ is in London.


  The Illuminati are all about power. Black mail, treason, and deceit are the currency of the Illuminati. They do bad things because the world is a bad place, do unto others before they do it to you. The Illuminati HQ is in New York.


  The Secret World can be very surreal at times so be prepared for that. The game opens up with a bee flying into your characters room and then into your toons mouth, this leads to some very strange dreams.


not the bees

No not the bees!


  When your character awakens from the dream they find that they now possess strange powers. It will not be long before one of the three cabals makes contact.


  The first few minutes of the game can be a little too surreal but if you stay in till you reach the town of Kingsmouth you should really begin to enjoy the experience.


  Character creation is a limited process, you can choose between male and female but there is only a single body type. The only thing you can modify on the body is the head, skin color, eye color, hair color and style, facial hair, and clothing options. It still has an extremely limited feel to it and imagine my surprise when the very first NPC (Non Player Character) that I met in the game could have passed for my toons long lost sister.


Doctor Winters TSW

Foxy Lady


  The developers have already heard this concern from the player base and plan on adding in a plastic surgery option to change your characters appearance in a future update.


  There are no classes in the game, as you gain experience you collect ability and skill points to spend in an ability wheel and a skill bar.


  Once abilities are unlocked you can equip it to one of either your seven active skills or one of your seven passive skills slots.


The Ability Wheel from The Secret World

No classes in this game but you will still see everyone asking for the holy trinity (Tank, Healer, and DPS) for dungeon runs, so plan accordingly.


The main ability categories are;  




Pistols (Dual)

Assault Rifles








Blood Magic

Chaos Magic








  You can have two different weapons equipped at the same time and your character will switch accordingly to the needed one when you use an appropriate skill.


The Secret World UI

She has guns and she knows how to use them.


  Along with the ability wheel there is a second set of skills that defines the quality level of gear that your character can use while also giving you a passive non slotted buff. This is reflected in the selections you make with skill points.


The skills are
























Assault Rifle


















  Head Talisman

  Major Talisman

  Minor Talisman


  The Talismans in TSW are the equivalent of non weapon gear in other MMO's, the nice thing about talismans is that they do not change the look of your toons appearance.


  With all of these choices before you it can become very hard to decide on how to spend your skill and ability points, fortunately Funcom has thought ahead and included decks that can help you make choices. Each cabal has 11 decks based on different weapon combos and each keeps in spirit with the various motifs of each faction.


Dragon Decks

Dragon Cabal


Martial Artist

  Chaos Magic and Blades

    Active Abilities: Escalation (Chaos Magic), Reality Fracture (Chaos Magic), Brandish (Blades), Chaotic Pull (Chaos Magic), Smoke and Mirrors (Chaos Magic), Illusion (Chaos Magic), Immutable (Chaos Magic).

    Passive Abilities: Inevitability (Chaos Magic), Intensity (Chaos Magic), Agitator (Turbulence), Master of Illusions (Chaos Magic), Brandishing Support (Blades), Prodigal (Chaos Magic).



  Pistols and Blood Magic

    Active Abilities: Hair Trigger (Pistols), Shoot Out (Pistols), Exsanguinate (Blood Magic), Anesthesia (Blood Magic), Drone Kit (Pistols), Sticky Drone (Pistols), Gun Crazy (Pistols).

  Passive Abilities: Torture (Blood Magic), Increased Focus (Pistols), Culmination (Blood Magic), Sanguineous (Blood Magic), Critical Help (Pistols), Mad Skills (Pistols), Seal the Deal (Pistols).



  Fists and Assault Rifle

    Active Abilities: Cauterize (Fists), Ground Work (Assault Rifles), Surgical Steel (Fists), Anima Vessel (Assault Rifles), Inner Spark (Fists), Vigor (Fists), Fired Up (Fists).

    Passive Abilities: Healing Sparks (Fists), Improved Bursts (Assault Rifles), Improved Groundwork (Assault Rifles), Kindle (Fists), Hot Iron (Fists), Empowerment (Fists).



  Assault Rifles and Shotguns

    Active Abilities: Safety Off (Assault Rifles), Fire at Will (Assault Rifles), Stopping Power (Assault Rifles), Incendiary Grenade (Assault Rifles), Tactical Retreat (Assault Rifles), Buckshot (Shotguns), Shell shocker (Assault Rifles).

    Passive Abilities: Extra Bullet (Assault Rifles), Rapid Reload (Shotguns), Lucky Bullet (Assault Rifles), Beanbag Rounds (Shotguns), No Contest (Assault Rifles), Pinned Down (Shot Guns), Demolition Man (Assault Rifles).  



  Fists and Blood Magic

    Active Abilities: Claw (Fists), Bloodshot (Blood Magic), Tear'Em Up (Fists), Cage Fight (Fists), Contaminate (Blood Magic) Bushwhack (Fists), Gore (Fists).

    Passive Abilities: Sharp Claws (Fists), Salt in the Wound (Fists), Blood Sport (Fists), Vital Fluids (Blood Magic), Blood Bank (Blood Magic), Killer Instinct (Fists), Adrenalize (Fists).  



  Shotgun and Elemental

    Active Abilities: Wildfire (Elementalism), Riot Act (Shotguns), Inferno (Elementalism), Coldwave (Elementalism), Kickback (Shotguns), Takedown (Shotguns), Shotgun Wedding (Shotguns).

    Passive Abilities: Riot Control (Shotguns), Purgatory (Elementalism), Beanbag Rounds (Shotguns), Over Penetration (Shotguns), Highly Strung (Elementalism), Body Piercing (Shotguns), Close Quarters (Shotguns).



  Blades and Elementalism

    Active Abilities: Delicate Strike (Blades), Clearing the Path (Blades), Blaze (Elementalism), Surging Blades (Blades), Flashpoint (Elementalism), Ice Manifestation (Elementalism), Four Seasons (Blades).

    Passive Abilities: Fortunate Strikes (Blades), Aidelon (Elementalism), Twist the Knife (Blades), Incision (Blades), Sudden Return (Blades), Delicate Precision (Blades), Flight of Daggers (Blades).



  Blood Magic and Chaos Magic

    Active Abilities: Bloodline (Blood Magic), Exsanguinate (Blood Magic), Pulling the Strings (Chaos Magic), Liquidation (Blood Magic), Anesthesia (Blood Magic), Helter Skelter (Chaos Magic), Plague (Blood Magic).

    Passive Abilities: Unholy Knowledge (Blood Magic), Breakdown (Chaos Magic), Pattern Recognition (Chaos Magic), Sick Society (Chaos Magic), Circulation (Blood Magic), Torture (Blood Magic), Gross Anatomy (Blood Magic).



  Hammers and Chaos Magic

    Active Abilities: Ground pound (Hammers), Haymaker (Hammers), Pulling the Strings (Chaos Magic), Helter Skelter (Chaos Magic), Beatdown (Hammers), Uneven Ground (Chaos Magic), Eruption (Hammers).

    Passive Abilities: Breakdown (Chaos Magic), Pattern Recognition (Chaos Magic), Street Fighter (Hammers), Bully (Hammers), Tenderizing (Hammers), Gnosis (Chaos Magic), Thunderstruck (Hammers).


Chaos Theorist

  Chaos Magic and Fists

    Active Abilities: Wheel of Knives (Chaos Magic), Karma (Chaos Magic), Berserk (Fists), Bushwhack (Fists), Helter Skelter (Chaos Magic), Chaotic Pull (Chaos Magic), Strange Attractor (Chaos Magic).

    Passive Abilities: Wheel of Misfortune (Chaos Magic), Hysteria (Chaos Magic), Breakdown (Chaos Magic), Sick Society (Chaos Magic) Concussion (Fists), Renewal (Fists), From the Abyss (Chaos Magic).



  Elementalism and Blood Magic

    Active Abilities: Arc Flash (Elementalism), Electrical Storm (Elementalism), Infection (Blood Magic), Ice Manifestation (Elementalism), Anesthesia (Blood Magic), Coldwave (Elementalism), Whiteout (Elementalism).

    Passive Abilities: Chain Reaction (Elementalism), Criticality (Elementalism), Elemental Force (Elementalism), Blood Bank (Blood Magic), Molecular Exploitation (Elementalism), Live Wire (Elementalism).


Templar Decks

Templar Cabal



  Elementalism and Shotguns

    Active Abilities: Ignition (Elementalism), Raging Bullet (Shotguns), Flame Strike (Elementalism), Short Fuse (Elementalism), Coldwave (Elementalism), Kickback (Shotguns), Whiteout (Elementalism).

    Passive Abilities: Violent Strikes (Elementalism), Social Dynamo (Elementalism), Punisher (Shotguns), Gunsmoke (Shotguns), Elemental Force (Elementalism), Final Fuse (Elementalism), Live Wire (Elementalism).



  Hammers and Chaos Magic

    Active Abilities: Rupture (Hammers), Blowout (Hammers), Aftershock (Hammers), Reality Fracture (Chaos Magic), Trucker (Hammers), Stonewalled (Hammers), Unstoppable Force (Hammers).

    Passive Abilities: Extend Fracture (Chaos Magic), Agitator (Turbulence), Stone Cold (Hammers) Improved Blasts (Hammers), Bullhead (Hammers), Inevitability (Chaos Magic), Forged in Fire (Hammers).



  Blood Magic and Fists

    Active Abilities: Linked Veins (Blood Magic), Cauterize (Fists), Creature Comfort (Fists), Angelic Aegis (Blood Magic), Vigor (Fists), Infusion (Blood Magic), Cold Blooded (Blood Magic).

    Passive Abilities: Splatter (Blood Magic), Angel's Touch (Blood Magic), Sanguineous (Blood magic), Making Amends (Fists), Glimmer of Hope (Fists), Vessel Walls (Blood Magic), Clotting (Blood Magic).



  Hammers and Pistols

    Active Abilities: Hair Trigger (Pistols), Start and Finish (Pistols), Bone Breaker (Hammers), Area Drone (Pistols), Marked (Pistols), Sticky Drone (Pistols), Gun Crazy (Pistols).

    Passive Abilities: Closer (Pistols), Mad Skills (Pistols), Punishment (Hammers), Insult to Injury (Hammers), Tenderizing (Hammers), One in the Chamber (Pistols), Seal the Deal (Pistols).  



  Fists and Chaos Magic

    Active Abilities: Prey on the Weak (Fists), One-Two (Fists), Four Horsemen (Chaos Magic), Helter Skelter (Chaos Magic), Bushwhack (Fists), Chaotic Pull (Chaos Magic), See Red (Fists).

    Passive Abilities: Ripple Effect (Fists), Cutting Thoughts (Chaos Magic), Ferocity (Fists), Follow Through (Fists), Healing Sparks (Fists), Pressure Points (Chaos Magic), Adrenalize (Fists).



  Pistols and Assault Rifles

    Active Abilities: Hip Fire (Assault Rifles), Big Forty Five (Pistols), Frag Grenade (Assault Rifles), Tactical Retreat (Assault Rifles), Razor Wire (Assault Rifle), Sticky Drone (Pistols), Shellshocker (Assault Rifles).

    Passive Abilities: Lucky Bullet (Assault Rifles), Steady Hip Fire (Assault Rifles), Quick Forty Five (Pistols), Closer (Pistols), Explosive Expert (Assault Rifles), Accuracy (Assault Rifles), Demolition Man (Assault Rifles).



  Blood Magic and Blades

    Active Abilities: Boiling Blood (Blood Magic), Destiny (Blades), Exsanguinate (Blood Magic), Anesthesia (Blood Magic), Liquidation (Blood Magic), Trial by Swords (Blades), Plague (Blood Magic).

    Passive Abilities: Corrupted Blood (Blood Magic), Blood Bank (Blood Magic), Destiny Fulfilled (Blades), Fortunate Strike (Blades), Unholy Knowledge (Blood Magic), Circulation (Blood Magic), Gross Anatomy (Blood Magic).



  Chaos Magic and Assault Rifles

    Active Abilities: Wheel of Knives (Chaos Magic), Fire at Will (Assault Rifles), Karma (Chaos Magic), Uneven Ground (Chaos Magic), Helter Skelter (Chaos Magic), Razor Wire (Assault Rifles), Black Hole (Chaos Magic).

  Passive Abilities: Wheel of Misfortune (Chaos Magic), Sick Society (Chaos Magic), Leeching Frenzy (Assault Rifles), Hysteria (Chaos Magic), Lethality (Assault Rifles), Breakdown (Chaos Magic), From the Abyss (Chaos Magic).


Witch Hunter

  Blades and Hammers

    Active Abilities: Smash (Hammers), Haymaker (Hammers), Dancing Blade (Blade), Beatdown (Hammers), Trial by Swords (Blades), Touchdown (Hammers), Eruption (Hammers).

    Passive Abilities: Street Fighter (Hammers), Bully (Hammers), Tipped Scales (Blades), Expose Weakness (Blades), Below the Belt (Hammers), No Pain No Gain (Hammers), Thunderstruck (Hammers).



  Shotguns and Hammers

    Active Abilities: Striker (Shotguns), Raging Bullet (Shotguns), Aftershock (Hammers), Buckshot (Shotguns), Beatdown (Hammers), Touchdown (Hammers), Point Blank (Shotguns).

    Passive Abilities: Strike Force (Shotguns), Improved Strikes (Hammers), Punisher (Shotguns), Rapid Reload (Shotguns), Tenderizing (Hammers), Invasive Measures (Shotguns), Close Quarters (Shotguns).



  Blades and Pistols

    Active Abilities: Hair Trigger (Pistols), Chop Shop (Blades), Shootout (Pistols), Trial by Swords (Blades), Spiral of Death (Blades), Destiny (Blades), Master's House (Blades).

    Passive Abilities: Seven and a Half Samurai (Blades), Increased Focus (Pistols), Finish the Movement (Blades), Fortunate Strike (Blades), Incision (Blades), Destiny Fulfilled (Blades), Flight of Daggers (Blades).


Illuminati Decks

Illuminati Cabal



  Elementalism and Shotguns

    Active Abilities: Wildfire (Elementalism), Fire Manifestation (Elementalism), Lightning Manifestation (Elementalism), Shotgun Turret, (Shotguns), Ice Manifestation (Elementalism), Bomb Squad (Shotguns), Hard Reset (Elementalism)

    Passive Abilities: Grounded (Elementalism), Lightning in a Bottle (Elementalism), Elemental Precision (Elementalism), Critical Control (Elementalism), Blast Corps (Shotguns), Dead on Target (Shotguns), Big Bang (Elementalism)



  Blades and Hammers

    Active Abilities: Forking the Paths (Blades), Steel Palace (Blades), Aftershock (Hammers), Crimson Theater (Blades), Martial Discipline (Blades), Point of Harmony (Blades), Silver Streak (Blades).

    Passive Abilities: Perseverance (Blades), Enervate (Blades), Regeneration (Blades), Shadow Play (Blades), Agitator (Turbulence), Immovable Object (Hammers), Sith Sense (Blades).


Bounty Hunter

  Shotguns and Pistols

    Active Abilities: Pump Action (Shotguns), Stopping Power (Shotguns), Set'Em Up (Pistols), Kickback (Shotguns), Sticky Drone (Pistols), Takedown (Shotguns), Shotgun Wedding (Shotguns).

    Passive Abilities: Sawed Off (Shotguns), Pinned Down (Shotguns), Bad Break (Pistols), Gunsmoke (Shotguns), Invasive Measures (Shotguns), One in the Chamber (Pistols), Close Quarters (Shotguns)



  Fists and Assault Rifles

    Active Abilities: Prey on the Weak (Fists), Three Round Burst (Assault Rifles), One-Two (Fists), Incendiary Grenade (Assault Rifles), Bushwhack (Fists), Cage Fight (Fists), Gore (Fists).

    Passive Abilities: Healing Sparks (Fists), Bloodsport (Fists), Follow Through (Fists), Short Controlled Bursts (Assault Rifles), Lethality (Assault Rifles), Call Your Shots (Assault Rifles), Adrenalize (Fists).



  Assault Rifles and Elementalism

    Active Abilities: Suppressing Fire (Assault Riles), High Explosive Grenade (Assault Rifles), Blaze (Elementalism), Coldwave (Elementalism), Flashpoint (Elementalism), Tactical Retreat (Assault Rifle), Red Mist (assault Rifles).

    Passive Abilities: Molecular Exploitation (Elementalism), Shoot'Em Up (Assault Rifles), Aidelon (Elementalism), Leeching Frenzy (Assault Rifles), Explosives Expert (Assault Rifles), Elemental Force (Elementalism), Demolition Man (Assault Rifles).



  Chaos Magic and Hammers

    Active Abilities: Deconstruct (Chaos Magic), Schism (Chaos Magic), Bone Breaker (Hammers), Helter Skelter (Chaos Magic), Uneven Ground (Chaos Magic), Beatdown (Hammers), Prisoner of Fate (Chaos Magic).

    Passive Abilities: Sick Society (Chaos Magic), Cutting Thoughts (Chaos Magic), Paradigm Shift (Chaos Magic), Tenderizing (Hammers), Street Fighter (Hammers), Breakdown (Hammers), From the Abyss (Chaos Magic).



  Assault Rifles and Blood Magic

    Active Abilities: Anima Burst (Assault Rifles), Transfuse Anima (Assault Rifles), Linked Veins (Blood Magic), Blood Pact (Blood Magic), Energize (Assault Rifles), Mortar Support (Assault Rifles), Re-Animator (Assault Rifles).

    Passive Abilities: Sanguineous (Blood Magic), Vessel Walls (Blood Magic), Anticoagulant (Blood Magic), Leech Therapy (Assault Rifles), Post-Op (Assault Rifles), Shadow Medic (Assault Rifles), Veteran (Assault Rifles)



  Blood Magic and Fists

    Active Abilities: Boiling Blood (Blood Magic), Blood Spike (Blood Magic), Tear'Em Up (Fists), Anesthesia (Blood Magic), Cage Fight (Fists), Bushwhack (Fists), Plague (Blood Magic).

    Passive Abilities: Dark Potency (Blood Magic), Iron Maiden (Fists), Third Degree (Blood Magic), Doom (Blood Magic), Corrupted Blood (Blood Magic), Salt in the Wound (Fists), Gross Anatomy (Blood Magic).



  Assault Rifles and Blades

    Active Abilities: Bamboo Cutter (Blades), Clearing the Path (Blades), Incendiary Grenade (Assault Rifles), Spiral of Death (Blades), Fire at Will (Assault Rifles), Trial by Swords (Blades), Four Seasons (Blades).

    Passive Abilities: Shoot'Em Up (Assault Rifles), Leeching Frenzy (Assault Rifles), Twist the Knife (Blades), Sudden Return (Blades), Incision (Blades), Sharp Shooter (Assault Rifles), Flight of Daggers (Blades).



  Elementalism and Pistols

    Active Abilities: Arc Flash (Elementalism), Semi Auto (Pistols), Electrical Storm (Elementalism), Deadly Aim (Pistols), Sticky Drone (Pistols), Flashpoint (Elementalism), Gun Crazy, (Pistols).

    Passive Abilities: Chain Reaction (Elementalism), Chain Feed (Pistols), Mind Over Matter (Elementalism), Elemental Force (Elementalism), Criticality (Elementalism), Running in Circles (Pistols), Seal the Deal (Pistols).



  Hammers and Shotguns

    Active Abilities: Fire and Forget (Shotguns), No Mercy (Hammers), Both Barrels (Shotguns), Beatdown (Hammers), Touchdown (Hammers), Stonewalled (Hammers), Unstoppable Force (Hammers).

    Passive Abilities: Blast Corps (Shotguns), Improved Blasts (Hammers), Tenderizing (Hammers), Stone Cold (Hammers), Gunsmoke (Shotguns), Bullheaded (Hammers), Forged in Fire (Hammers).


  As you can see there are a wide variety of builds available, don't feel constrained by the choices that are offered for each cabal and if you want to play a Gunslinger Templar go right ahead! The only disadvantage is that you will not be able to unlock that particular decks special outfit if it is not part of your cabal.


  As you can see most of the builds here use two different skill sets but don't feel limited you can mix and match to make pretty much anything. I am currently running around with a few passives from Fists and Blades that compliment my main abilities in Pistols and Blood. The idea is to look for synergies in your build.


  Creating new Decks is half the fun.


Knights Templar TSW


  There is no limit to how many ability and skill points you can earn in TSW, this means that eventually you can learn every skill and ability in the game. The mixing of equipment and the seven active/passive ability slots make this game a theory crafters dream scenario.


  There is no respec in TSW but you can change your active and passive skills on the fly as long as you are not in combat. If you find that you chose an ability or weapon that is not panning out for you then just grind out more skill and ability points to unlock what you need. No need to reroll the toon.


  This game may have the best voice acting of any game I have ever seen, all of the characters are memorable and well acted. The only downside is that your own toon has no voice and is the typical mute hero of every other game that has come before it. This is a real shame as adding that little additional level of interaction to your characters would have knocked this one out of the park.


  The writing and story of TSW is where the game really shines, think of the entire game like it was a big puzzle dumped out onto the table, as you sift through the pieces and begin to connect them together, you begin to see the bigger picture.


  Questing in The Secret World requires you to think outside of the box... literally! Some of the quests cannot be completed until you search for answers in the real world. This is why an in game browser is made available to you.


  To give you an idea of the kind of things you will encounter here is a real game scenario.


:: Slight Spoiler Alert ::


  You need access to a password protected laptop, the laptop is even nice enough to give you a hint option, but the hint is "my wife's name". You have to find the owners name badge and then look up his about information on a fake company website set up in the real world to find his wife's name.


  Another thing to be aware of is that not all items that are needed for quests glow as they do in other games, some items do but not all of them, in fact sometimes you will encounter fake items or clues that can lead you astray. This is very much a thinking person's MMO.


  One of my bigger concerns about The Secret World is that it is a subscription based game with an item shop; I don't care how many people say it is only for cosmetic items we all know how fast that slippery slope is fallen off of.


In Game Store Demotivational Poster

What could possibly go wrong...? Oh Hai LOTRO and STO.


  If you like Easter Eggs you will love this game, there are so many nods to other mediums throughout TSW.


  Overall a very intelligent, very fun and mature MMO that is a theory craters delight. Funcom didn't quite break the mold with this one but they did put some sizable cracks in the mold (this is a good thing).


Final Verdict for The Secret World 9/10 The thinking person's MMO, well worth the box price and subscription fee but beware this game is definitely rated Mature 17+ for a reason, not a game for the younger set.




The Secret World Launch Trailer


Dark days are coming trailer for TSW



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