Today was my first day playing The Secret World, the new MMO from Funcom/NVIDIA/EA. My background with MMORPGs stretches back quite a way. I think my first one was Asheron's Call, and I played through various and many before sticking like glue to World of Warcraft for nearly 7 years. During that time, I dallied with other games but they never held my attention. I broke my Warcraft addiction in the Spring of 2011, and didn't return to MMO gaming until Star Wars: The Old Republic came out. I had high hopes for the game, but it only held my attention for six months.
Now, The Secret World has come out. The premise is non-fantasy, which suits me fine as I'm kind of burned out on fantasy. It reminds me a lot of the Shadowrun world from the table-top rpg. It's all about the three "shadow organizations" that run the world - the Illuminati, the Templars, and the Dragon (Asian chaos faction). I think the Gnomes of Zurich would have been hilarious to include as a faction, but that's just me.
Character creation is pretty smooth. The amount of options you have to customize your character are decent - not as many as Skyrim but more than Lord of the Rings Online. And it's neat that the game has no "armor" per se - all of your stat boosters come from your weapon and various trinkets/jewelry your character wears. After all, the point is to look like an average person so there is a lot of street fashion and "regular clothing" in the game that does nothing other than make your character look unique.
The server technology is great - sharding servers was one of the biggest mistakes SWTOR made with its implementation. If a server is full in Secret World, you just select a different server and your character gets moved over there seamlessly. Zero queuing or wait times to play.
I'm still getting used to the interface. It's been a while since I played an MMO that requires me to click on things to see what they are (vs. nameplates), and expects me to remember keyboard hotkeys to bring up menus which are otherwise inaccessible in the interface.
There are no levels, and no classes. Everything is skill based and how your character plays is determined by the combination of two primary abilities that you select out of the following list: blades, hammers, fist weapons, pistols, shotguns, assault rifles, blood magic, chaos magic and elemental magic. I like the fighting style of a lot of the various choices - and you get to try them all out shortly after you first create your character when deciding what you might like to play.
There's a nice mix of standard "boar snout" questing and puzzle-solving questing which all meshes nicely into the overarching storyline. I have yet to feel like I was doing something for an NPC in the game without it making sense in the larger context.
The initial area (after you get out of your faction-specific area) is called Kingsmouth and is pulled completely from the pages of H.P. Lovecraft. It feels like every time I turn around there's a Lovecraft reference, or I'm fighting something out of the water that's very Lovecraftian. The story so far is highly enjoyable, especially if you have the literary background from which to draw.
I'll write more about the game over the next few days as I delve deeper and deeper into it. But after one day, I'm having a great time!