We’ve finally left 2015 behind. And while it is perfectly natural to want to glance back in the rearview mirror over the last 12 months, in the case of The Secret World you can’t help yourself; there’s that odd sensation of something following you. While peering back, I half expect some shadowy figure to materialize in the corner of my vision and make my heart skip a beat. This is, after all, the king of creepy MMOs that we’re talking about.
Paranoia aside, the year was not a bad one for our favorite horror game. Sure, it had some downs tossed in with the ups, but that’s how life goes. And I think the year ended positive overall, with new content, new kinds of content, and the promise of even more content to come.
It never fails. I am too weak to resist a Secret World dev tour! Even knowing that spoilers will abound, I cannot help myself — I must see what’s in store. I call it my civic duty; after all, I need to report it to you, yes? Of course, you could just wait a smidgen and see for yourself when Issue #13 releases this week, but why torture yourself needlessly? I already tortured myself for you! I sat down with Lead Designer Romain Amiel and Community Manager Andy Benditt to play through parts of the new story, check out the holiday clothing, and (obviously) take tons of screenshots. I did manage to avoid reading the lore I collected at least.
So do you want to see what’s in Trail of Shadows? You are in the right place. Warning! Some spoilers lie ahead, but I try to avoid anything too major.
It’s the holidays, and in the spirit of giving, I am going I’m going to give you ideas — for gifts! Instead of waxing poetic about the awesomeness of The Secret World or explaining the amazing things about it to folks who may not have tried it (yet), I’ll be highlighting awesome and amazing things you can get for your friends and family who already love the game! That’s right, today is a special gift guide edition of Chaos Theory, where discerning shoppers — or those who just need to be hit with the +10 sword of inspiration — can search for that perfect something that says I get you.
But I won’t stop at just TSW: Funcom has other titles that also have dedicated fans. I’ll share a few gifts that might please the Age of Conan and Anarchy Online devotees in your life. And don’t think just because there is no more LEGO Minifigures Online to play that I have forgotten about those fans. Besides, we are talking LEGOs!
Following in the reveal footsteps of the second half of Issue #12, the details of The Secret World’s Issue #13 Trail of Shadows came by way of the official dev livestream, The Streaming Ones. And that’s not a bad thing. I have long loved my dev tours through the newest content — even though it always meant a spoiler or three. That’s because the devs’ enthusiasm for the game just can’t come through in a text announcement as it does in person. With the recent trend of livestream reveals, everyone has the chance to experience that — dare I say, infectious — excitement.
We’ve already had a few teases about the upcoming content; today, the devs dished out even more details. So here’s the run down on Issue #13’s story, features, cover art, and collectors edition goodies as well as the upcoming PvP updates. On top of that, we got a peek at the new Christmas event rewards. Oh, and Lead Designer Romain Amiel also threw out a few tidbits about Issue #14!
It is definitely no secret that I like The Secret World. I mean, I really like it. OK, so I adore it in a hug it, and love it, and squeeze it, and call it George kind of way. Personally, I just find there are many things to like about it (and have said as much in plenty of Chaos Theory columns and Stream Team episodes). But today isn’t about my esteem for the conspiracy-filled, horror-laden title. On this day of Thanksgiving, I want to reflect on why I am thankful for TSW. It’s more than just liking the game, it’s really appreciating what the game does for me and what it means in a grander scale.
In the beginning, there was surprise. Funcom is making a single-player experience based on The Secret World?! After a few seconds that shock melted away into excitement. Oh heck yeah — sign me up! Who hasn’t thought that TSW could make a killer single-player game (if not already be one, heh)? Then came the eagerness and anticipation as I waited for The Park, compounded even more by getting a taste of the game during my tour, then made nearly unbearable as I stared at the game on my Steam list while waiting to stream it. Finally, Halloween came and I was able to dive headfirst into the experience, full of hope, excitement, and even a little nervousness. And why not? It felt like a first date with TSW’s future. If things went well, the studio would be in a better place, which would mean more security for my favorite MMO. Success could mean good things for TSW, from more exposure to more development resources. First impressions were important.
I’m not normally one to kiss and tell, but The Park was not a disappointment. Everything about that date was awesome. I spent three full hours alternating between running and tiptoeing while exploring every nook and cranny, examining every single scrap of paper. (How I missed one achievement, I still have no clue!) It was a roller coaster ride — at one point literally — of emotions that was worth every second. And everything about the game tells me it is a portent of good things to come.
It’s finally here! This is truly the holiday I wait for all year, and The Secret World has the MMO event I anticipate all 12 months! And now through the 17th of November I can immerse myself in Halloween done right with an all-new mission that brings together many parts of the past in a whole new way. And it ups the creepy factor of my holiday a few notches.
Called The Seven Silences, this year’s mission is tied to Funcom’s TSW offshoot, The Park. Now, as much as you may want to jump in and experience the new content ASAP, Lead Designer Romain Amiel issued me this warning: “You should really play The Park before you play the Halloween event; storywise, it’ll link better.” He went as far to tease that he’d suspend my account so I didn’t peek! Luckily, there are the previous year’s events to tide me over. If you can resist the urge to jump in, or if you are new to TSW (or simply missed events in previous years due to illness, travel, or not being able to access certain zones), you have the chance to complete The Broadcast, Spooky Stories, and The Cat God now for all the thrills, achievements, and goodies.
Oh man, whom am I kidding: I can’t wait! Holding out until Halloween night to stream The Park is hard enough. I am not going to deprive myself of The Seven Silences as well. So in I go! Here’s a slightly-spoilerish-but-not-a-full-walkthrough guide to get you going. For full spoilers, watch our
Stream Scream Team mission walk through on Thursday, October 29th, at 8:00 p.m. on OPTV.
Decisions, decisions. When you are invited to a special sneak peek of The Park, the upcoming single-player game based on The Secret World’s own Atlantic Island Amusement Park, guided by Joel Bylos, the very guy who created said park, it is hard to say no! On one hand, you really want to be completely surprised by every little detail when you get to play the horror game for yourself. On the other, you get to pick the brains of the man behind that amazing park and learn all sorts of juicy behind-the-scenes tidbits that aren’t available during a personal playthrough. In the end, it wasn’t much of a choice: Talking with Bylos totally won out. The result? I learned the origin story of The Park, tasted the atmosphere, and experienced a few fun moments in the game. Now I am even more excited to play it than before!
Thankfully, Bylos promised to not reveal many spoilers (though one accidentally popped in), and I in turn will avoid them here as much as possible. Instead, I’ll focus on the story behind the story, the goals of this thriller, and the possibility of more projects in the future.
It’s pretty common knowledge by now that Lead Designer Romain Amiel really likes to give teasers and spoilers for The Secret World. Unlike Twitter, which limits these little peeks to only a short sentence and an image or video clip, the official dev livestream can pack in the information. And this week’s The Streaming Ones definitely delivered! During this ninth AMA, Amiel and the team showed of some incoming Halloween items, dished out secret information on Carter, and talked about a few of the features coming in the second half of Issue #12. Oh, and Funcom also announced that Issue #12.5 was being released next week! (And on a totally unrelated note, the livestream also showed that Amiel’s inventory is worse than mine.)
If you missed the stream, you can can watch the replay on Twitch, though it is broken into a few parts, but we’ve also got the highlights right here for you. We also have the proof saved for all posterity that developer Joshua Doetsch has committed to naming a his first child MassivelyOP! (We probably won’t hold him to that, though.)
It’s certainly been a week of expansion news! More than one game that had sworn off expansions in the past has circled back to them. That isn’t a bad thing in and of itself because expansions are pretty awesome! Not everyone, however, is celebrating: Such news has some Secret World fans feeling left out (and maybe even a bit jealous) as they, too, would like a big, meaty expansion to fill their favorite game with oodles of additional goodness. But even without expansions, TSW is still steadily moving ahead. In fact, this past week has delivered a few more small steps along the road of progress. Between soliciting player opinions to new cosmetic mounts to new currency, Funcom shows that you don’t have to have mega expansions to keep delivering — and that’s not even counting the latest DLC issue.
After my initial dev tour through The Secret World’s Issue #12 , I couldn’t wait to get back into the newest dungeon, The Manufactory, on my own Illuminati. Heck, I was so excited that I went ahead and poked into it without a full group — an endeavor that did not end so well, I might add. The Manufactory is no pushover by any means, especially in the Nightmare version, which leaves little margin for error during the fights. Luckily for me, I had the opportunity to go through my first time with Lead Designer Romain Amiel and Communications Manager Tor Egil Andersen, who shared tips and tactics on how to face the trouble down in the Orochi Tower’s basement — tips and tactics I am happy to pass along to you! And for those who aren’t as geared up as a dev-tour toon (like all my personal characters!), I’ve got a few tips I have gleaned from my own run-through.
In the interest of letting folks discover all tactics on their own if they prefer, I forewarn you that this little guide does contain spoilers! However, I am not providing a step-by-step walkthrough to lay out exactly how everything should go; rather I am just giving a peek so players know a bit of what to expect. If you’ve got plenty of time to kill (our run went nearly three hours) and want to see the fights through the eyes of a front-line battle photographer (me), you can check out our streamed run.
Do you think a little thing like being in another country and having dismal internet could keep me from touring The Secret World’s Issue #12 with Lead Designer Romain Amiel and Communications Manager Tor Egil Andersen? Of course not! Where there’s a will, there’s a way, and trust me — I had the will. So even though the connection was far from ideal, I was able to poke through the new dungeon and raid, summon a world boss, and look at the new quality-of-life features to get a taste of what’s in store with today’s To the Dark Tower Below update. I also asked about TSW’s future and how the team is faring amid Funcom’s public search for investors. Read on!
Funcom is in trouble? Say it isn’t so! No, seriously — giving it words feels like personally putting a nail in the coffin, as if I am jinxing it or something. Discussing the matter feels like some sort of betrayal of my love for The Secret World. It’s just not something I relish dwelling on long-term. But going all ostrich and burying our heads in the sand really won’t help any, either. Ahh, the old darned if you do/don’t conundrum.
While no one could argue that the company hasn’t been struggling, fans of TSW have still been hoping for the best for the horror and conspiracy-laden title. How could we not? To lose a treasure like The Secret World would be a huge blow for the genre. Sure, plenty of folks would ask, “Who’s really going to notice? The game is pretty niche.” Yes, it is. But that does not negate the fact that it’s also one of the few out there that dared to really break free of the mold that has a stranglehold on the MMO genre. People demanded different, and they got it. It offers something very special that would be a tragedy to lose.
Because of that, you better believe I would buy TSW if I could. And I hope someone with the funds to do so sees it for the gem it is and snatches it up.