Chaos Theory: Which faction should you choose in Secret World?
Why would faction choice matter? Although Creative Director Romain Amiel told me in our interview that faction PvP is something the new game was hoping to move away from, factions are still a thing. Beyond determining the hue of faction-colored armor (if that ends up being a thing in SWL as well), factions really flavor a good chunk of your game experience. So picking the right one for you could affect your level of enjoyment. If you played The Secret World, you have already faced the quandary that new players will face: which one? You might already have a favorite faction that you will automatically choose. However, maybe you are interested in experiencing the story from a slightly different perspective. The question then becomes which secret society should you pledge to this time? If you’ve never played before and will be starting fresh in Secret World Legends, you may not know anything about the differences in the three organizations. So how do you choose?
With SWL coming soon™, now is the perfect time to deploy this faction guide project that has been percolating for the past year. Today’s Chaos Theory is the beginning of a short series of guides that will explain why factions matter, and then delve deeper into each faction to give you a feel for each in order to help you make that decision a little easier come character creation. (Note: Although this guide can be useful in preparing for Secret World Legends, there is a chance some of it guide may change when the game launches. The info provided here is all gleaned from the The Secret World itself.)
It makes sense that a game about secret societies, myths, and legends would have players be a part of a secret society. While players will be introduced to four factions in game, only three are playable. There’s the London-based Templars, the New York City-residing Illuminati, and the Seoul-headquartered Dragon. If you were to Google Templars and Illuminati, you’d get a pretty good glimpse at the attitudes behind those organizations as the ones in game are lifted right from our own reality. The Dragon, however, is more of an ideal embodied into a third faction for the game. (The premise, if you want a hint before the main Dragon article, is the that chaos is more than a theory.)
OK, so there’s the list. Three secret societies, each one hoping to nab you for their ranks. But other than fitting the philosophy to what you want to embody or even roleplay in game, or picking your favorite color (Templars = red, Illuminati = blue, Dragon = green), does it matter which one? Yes, it does!
Why factions matter
The importance of faction is demonstrated from the get go. Which one you select is your very first choice in character customization. (No, server selection doesn’t count!) That says something: It alerts you to the fact that this choice is meaningful. Why is it meaningful? You actually get a hint in the introduction videos offered right there at selection.
No matter what you know — or think you know — from before about secret societies, I urge you to click and play all three faction videos. They show that each faction has a story. And it is well-known that TSW is all about the story! The videos offer the first taste of the story you’ll be heading into once you start playing. Maybe it won’t give away any specific plot, but it will give you a little backstory by introducing you to the main players of the story arc (the secret societies) as well as giving glimpses of defining characters within them.
More than the fact that factions have their own story, they influence your story! And since TSW is all about story, it stands to reason that your faction will impact the story. Each faction’s story weaves throughout the entire plot of the game, and which faction you choose determines whose story you hear as you play. That’s the key. How you view what is happening around you and what info you have available is dependent on your faction. This is done through faction-specific missions as well as regular missions.
In The Secret World, the faction missions may have similarities, such as where you go, but objectives are different (as is who is to blame!). You learn more about the overarching story, but the knowledge is filtered through your faction handler; your cutscenes with your handler will share information about you and your factions’ role in the world and the issues at hand. You’ll also learn tidbits from your handler in the form of communication with your handler after completing many of the main missions. You glean information from these, which are provided in the voice and personality of that specific handler.
What might not matter
Currently, in The Secret World faction matters when it comes to PvP, except in the case of Shambala. Stonehenge, El Diablo, and Fusang Projects all are faction-based PvP battlegrounds; you will only ever fight the other factions. Shambala, however, is a random mixing of all factions fighting together on teams. Will this be the case in Secret World Legends? We have Amiel’s comment that the team is hoping that faction won’t be much of a player in PvP, but other than that we’ll just have to wait and see.
Another place where faction matters in TSW but may or may not in SWL is in cabals. Currently, players can only form faction-specific cabals. That means when your friends all chose to play Dragon at launch, you had to play Dragon in order to be guilded together and enjoy those benefits. Want to share stuff via a convenient cabal bank? Yup, you’ve got to be the same faction. There’s some hope that this won’t be a factor when Legends goes live. This hope is fueled by the comment during a dev livestream that it might be possible.
One thing I wouldn’t mind not mattering in SWL involves the special faction outfit rewards for completing decks. In The Secret World, each faction has special decks with corresponding outfits for completing them, and other factions do not have access to those outfits. Will these be available in Secret World Legends? We don’t know yet. We just know that, according to Amiel, your starter class will give you your first “deck outfit” and you can earn the others by acquiring all the skills of weapons. I don’t necessarily mind if the faction deck outfits become accessible to all factions, but I definitely do want those outfits available! My all-time favorite outfit is from the Templars’ Puritan deck. I must have the outfit in SWL! Faction outfits for faction rank, however, are free to stay faction-specific.
Eeny, meany, miney, mo
As legitimate of a selection philosophy eeny, meany, miny, mo is, that may not result in the game experience you want. Don’t resort to just blindly picking if you don’t want to! Stay tuned for the rest of the series where we look at each faction and introduce you to some main characters so you can get a better idea of which might be the best fit for you.