The Secret World Articles RSS Feed | GameSkinny.com The Secret World RSS Feed on GameSkinny.com https://www.gameskinny.com/ en Launch Media Network Secret World Developer Announces Lovecraftian Horror Game On Mars https://www.gameskinny.com/ya2ml/secret-world-developer-announces-lovecraftian-horror-game-on-mars https://www.gameskinny.com/ya2ml/secret-world-developer-announces-lovecraftian-horror-game-on-mars Tue, 26 Mar 2019 15:18:40 -0400 QuintLyn

Fans of Funcom's conspiracy-filled occult MMO Secret World Legends have something new to look forward to. The developer announced a new game today that takes Lovecraft from Earth and creepy Maine towns to space.

Titled Moons of Madness, the game centers on Shane Newehart, a technician stationed at a secret base on Mars. The base is a pet project of one of the more tech-savvy and incredibly dubious factions in Secret World Legends, the Orochi.

It seems the Orochi had picked up a signal coming from Earth's neighboring planet and decided the best course of action was to build the Invictus base -- in secret, of course -- in order to discover the origins of the message without getting the public involved.

As is common with the Orochi, they aren't exactly honest with those under their employ as to what's going on either. Such is the case with Shane, who has too low of a security clearance to even know the signal exists. Just keep the place up and running until someone gets there. That's the job.

Unfortunately -- as anyone familiar with Secret World Legends knows -- things never go as the Orochi intend. So, it probably shouldn't be surprising that things are already going wrong. It's not just technical issues either. Shane starts seeing and hearing things, risking a full tumble into insanity.

Unless, of course, he's not insane and everything he's seeing is real.

While the game appears to be tied into the Secret World mythos, it's not a solo Funcom project. The company is actually publishing the game while Rock Pocket Games is the developer.

The game is being developed for PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4 and is slated to release on Halloween. Those interested in keeping upw ith what's going on with the game can sign up for update on the official site.

 

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The Secret World MMO Is Relaunching as an F2P Game This Spring https://www.gameskinny.com/6ztz0/the-secret-world-mmo-is-relaunching-as-an-f2p-game-this-spring https://www.gameskinny.com/6ztz0/the-secret-world-mmo-is-relaunching-as-an-f2p-game-this-spring Wed, 29 Mar 2017 11:57:49 -0400 Marc Hollinshead

When it first released back in 2012, MMO The Secret World  received mixed reviews. But now, developer Funcom has decided to relaunch the game as Secret World Legends. This new iteration will be free-to-play, and it is due to arrive this Spring.

Legends aims to rewrite the formula of the original title and give players a brand new experience that doesn't coincide with typical MMO tropes. Alongside improved visuals, combat and player progression are being reworked from the ground up to provide many, many hours of "mature storytelling and surprises".  

Players will take part in a supernatural war that enmeshes reality with myth. As they venture further and further into the mysteries of the world around them, they'll have to rely on their character abilities -- and even moreso, their own wit -- to find answers. 

In an official statement on what players can expect from Legends, Funcom said the game will include:

"A highly extensive and customizable arsenal of firearms, weapons, gear and otherworldly powers will give players the strength to battle the forces of darkness as they dig deeper into these vast and mysterious lands. Players can go at it alone and enjoy the over 100 hours of story at their own pace, or team up with others as they explore the world and unravel its mysteries."

The Executive Producer of Funcom, Scott Junior, also shared his own thoughts on the change in direction for the Secret World brand:

"One of our biggest goals in relaunching the game has been to reimagine the core gameplay experience in a way befitting a modern-day action RPG. Secret World Legends features combat that feels more natural, deep systems that are more intuitive, better structuring of the early game for new players, and improved mission flow to strengthen the pace of progression for players."

To accompany the announcement of the game's relaunch, a teaser trailerwas released as well. Check it out below:

Funcom hasn't set a hard launch date yet, but the Spring release window means we should be hearing more soon. Stay tuned to get all the latest info about this game as its re-release draws closer. 

Did you play the original The Secret World? How do you feel about the transition to Secret World Legends? Let me know in the comments!

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5 Underplayed and Underrated MMOs You Should Try Out Now https://www.gameskinny.com/8evky/5-underplayed-and-underrated-mmos-you-should-try-out-now https://www.gameskinny.com/8evky/5-underplayed-and-underrated-mmos-you-should-try-out-now Wed, 01 Feb 2017 07:00:02 -0500 SpaceGamerUK

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So there they are, the MMOs which feels underplayed or underrated for different reasons. Quite often this feel very unfair, as the games are good and highly playable.

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There is one more game which is heavily affected by word of mouth and popular opinions; EVE -- being known for a ruthless community and a very difficult steep learning curve in game. All of this sounds pretty bad, all the stories about new players losing everything, and being killed in seconds by skilled old-timers. But this is simply not the truth. Regardless of popular opinion about EVE being very difficult and cruel -- it is still in good condition and even growing.

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Do you know any underplayed or underrated MMO games. Are you still playing them? Why do you think other should play them as well? Let us know.

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Runescape
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Why has Runescape landed on this list? The game has been on the market since 2001 -- at some point it was probably one of the most popular MMOs. With a huge community of players, tonnes of content and a very playable realm, Runescape should be one of the winners.

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But it is not the case. At least not any more.

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It seems that issues started from 2007 when the game was heavily rebalanced, or for vast amount of active players -- unbalanced.

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From then on, more and more active players to left the game. Finally, the developer -- Jagex -- asked their player base for its opinion on the changes provided in 2007. 99% of them wanted to go back to previous system of game mechanics.

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While this should have solved the problem, Jagex -- in a separate referendum -- decided to also maintain the new rules on separate servers. This decision divided the existing player base into two communities, and since 2013 there are two separate versions of Runescape -- old school version and current version.

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It seems that this was not helpful for the franchise as Runescape moved quickly to the niche of MMO market. Although it is good to know that the game is still stunning and highly playable for anybody into fantasy worlds.

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DC Universe Online
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Let's see: we have all the superheroes from the DC Comics Universe, superpowers, tonnes of action and stunning visuals. Nothing should go wrong.

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DC Universe Online has also rather good reviews from the critics and holds reasonable base of players, reaching 18 million.

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For some reason most of those players come from the Xbox and PlayStation.

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DC Universe Online is underplayed by PC gamers, which are turning to other more popular MMO titles. It seems the biggest concerns for people trying this title are some limitation in character creations, shortages in storyline, and too long cinematic sentences.

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Personally I didn't notice any of above issues. Perhaps DC Universe Online is not exactly what I am looking for in MMO games, but certainly there is no reason for this title to be underrated by players.

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The game can be played for free, and MMO fans who have yet to try DC Universe Online should try it now.

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EverQuest II
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EverQuest II brought significant improvements to the EverQuest franchise. A 3D MMORPG situated in fictional world of Norrath, sometimes compared to un-doubtful ruler on the market -- World of Warcraft, EverQuest II never reached same popularity.

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EverQuest II offers a lot of different playable races and decent amount of character classes. While the storyline is very classic, players should not have any problems to connect with the in-game lore and expand it on their own. EverQuest II is solid example of classic approach to MMO.

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Game has been on the market since 2004, still providing new content and has a stable base of players. It just seem to be not popular enough.

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Certainly EverQuest II seems to be underrated, but with a free to play option added a couple of years ago, it is a recommended MMO for all those who did not try it yet.

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"},{"image":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/s/e/c/secret-world-7f48e.jpg","thumb":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/s/e/c/secret-world-7f48e.jpg","type":"slide","id":"149176","description":"
The Secret World
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How about an MMO which takes place in our times? It could be an extremely boring idea, but imagine this: every myth, every legend and every conspiracy theory is true?

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In this MMO the world is attacked by the occult forces. To fight them humanity has three different secret societies, known from conspiracy theories: The Illuminates, The Dragons and The Templars.

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Just the storyline should grant some attention from players, but this is not everything. The scenery and overall feeling of the game is stunning!

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The Secret World is set very contemporary reality, drawing aesthetics from folklore and legends, smoothly connecting monsters: Zombies in foggy England, mummies in Egypt and of course vampires in Transylvania.

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And there is more, The Secret World offers very playable classes (they are easy to learn and play with for the most part) and a reasonably easy to follow system for advancing your character. No steep learning curve and high playability.

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Regardless of the fact the game has stayed on the market since 2012, and had a lot of positive reception, it seems to be hidden gem. Overpowered by much more popular titles on the market.

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The Secret World is based on buy-to-play model, but there is 10 days free trial giving full access to the game.

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My advice would be to jump in, and feel the different approach to MMO offered by this title.

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Dungeons & Dragons Online
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This classic MMORPG game stayed in the market since 2006. Based on the tabletop RPG, which was hugely popular before computer MMOs were even "a thing."

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The action takes place in and around the city of Stormreach, somewhere on the fictional continent called Xen'drik. The continent is mostly unexplored but some time in the past it was the centre of highly prosperous Giant Civilisation.

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With stunning visuals, huge amounts of missions and very classical approach to RPGs, Dungeons and Dragons Online should draw a lot more attention and is one of the titles underplayed by many MMO fans. 

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The game has a unique approach to the characters levelling up system. Traditionally new skills are gained by killing monsters, while in Dungeons and Dragons Online skill improvements can be gained by completing quests.

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It is quite possible that sourcing this MMO from the classic RPG can make some players reluctant as it suggests a high level of complication and very slow dynamics of the game. But once you will step into Dungeons and Dragons Online, it is easy to see that there is nothing to worry about. The game is classy, beautiful and highly playable once player would soak into the lore.

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"},{"image":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/l/a/n/landmark-61b6d.jpg","thumb":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/l/a/n/landmark-61b6d.jpg","type":"slide","id":"149174","description":"

An MMO Universe is as big as the imagination of the developers who are designing new games. But the popularity of any MMO title is determined by the amount of people willing to play a particular game for longer than a few days.

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I will ask why some MMO titles did not achieve the success which was expected, the answer could be very simple; lore, content, character progression were poor or too difficult to grasp -- I believe that in the case of 80% games vanishing from the market this is exact issue.

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But it seems that there is whole group of games which did not achieve success regardless of being very decent products. They are somehow underplayed, even if hanging on in the market for long time. Still, regardless of having a dedicated but small player base, they could use some additional love treatment from MMO fans.

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Let's take a look on 5 Underplayed MMO's You Should Try Out Now.

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The 5 Best Real-World RPGs You May Have Never Heard Of https://www.gameskinny.com/jfdyc/the-5-best-real-world-rpgs-you-may-have-never-heard-of https://www.gameskinny.com/jfdyc/the-5-best-real-world-rpgs-you-may-have-never-heard-of Fri, 01 Jul 2016 12:30:01 -0400 Noor Sami

RPGs are known for their fantastical elements, whether through medieval settings like Skyrim, science fiction worlds like that of Mass Effect, or the recent flood of post-apocalyptic environments like those in the Fallout series. Games set in our modern-day world, however, are much less common. Here are 5 of the best real-world RPGs to date.

Earthbound

The 1994 JRPG for the SNES initially performed poorly in the United States compared to its relative popularity and critical acclaim in Japan. Though the premise of the game involves a journey to stop the destructive forces of the alien force, Giygas, it was unique at the time for its primarily real world setting.

Protagonist Ness must travel the world, across resorts and deserts and boarding schools, to find a way to stop Giygas. Designed to be a satirical portrayal of Western culture, the game eventually gained something of a cult following and was reissued for the Wii U Virtual Console in 2013.

The Secret World

This horror folklore-themed MMORPG, developed by Funcom, was released in 2012 to fairly positive reviews. Throughout the game you must fight creatures like werewolves, vampires, and ghosts -- but the setting is ultimately contemporary.

A New England fishing village hides zombies, and Transylvania is home to vampires and werewolves. Despite critical appreciation for the game’s storytelling and atmosphere, it has remained largely under the radar and sold far fewer copies than Funcom expected.

The World Ends With You

Square Enix and Jupiter’s urban fantasy for the Nintendo DS is set in the Shibuya shopping district of Tokyo, and follows Neku Sakuraba and friends as they participate in a high stakes game.

The World Ends With You’s missions and gameplay borrow from Japanese youth culture to lend the game a unique and realistic feel. Critics largely praised the game for its graphics, setting, and soundtrack. However, the planned spinoff ended up cancelled because of a lack of interest.

Costume Quest

This 2010 Halloween RPG follows a child trick-or-treating when their sibling is kidnapped by a monster. For the rest of the game, you must wander the neighborhood in search of tools to help fight the monster, with an emphasis on the child’s costume as a means of battle.

It is available on multiple platforms: Windows, OS X, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360. A sequel was released in 2014, and both received positive reviews.

Parasite Eve

Square Enix’s first M-rated game was Parasite Eve, a horror survival RPG based on a novel available for the PlayStation. It tells the story of Aya Brea, a New York City police officer fighting to stop a monster bent on destroying humanity.

The game was praised for its graphics and gameplay and went on to spark two sequels and a manga adaptation. Special attention was paid to the soundtrack that accompanied the game, and it was well-received enough that two album releases came of it.

What are your favorite real-world RPGs? Let me know down in the comments!

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Transparency: 3 Solo gameplay experiences every MMO needs https://www.gameskinny.com/2pq3m/transparency-3-solo-gameplay-experiences-every-mmo-needs https://www.gameskinny.com/2pq3m/transparency-3-solo-gameplay-experiences-every-mmo-needs Fri, 06 Nov 2015 08:17:03 -0500 Larry Everett

When Star Wars: The Old Republic released, many people -- especially long-time MMORPGers -- complained that the game was far too much like a single-player game. Many of these same people were those who had played World of Warcraft for nearly ten years. At the same time, many other MMOs had embraced the single-player nature of the leveling process. But even though it was overshadowed by the amazing single-player-like leveling process in vanilla SWTOR, the multiplayer aspects of the game were plentiful if difficult to find sometimes.

Since the launch of SWTOR, other MMORPGs have also embraced the single-player content of the genre. The Secret World probably embraced it the most successfully. The stories in TSW have been touted as some of the best in the MMO industry. The intricate puzzles and amazing voice acting allowed that game to overcome a combat system that many people have complained about.

I am an MMO player almost exclusively. I love me a good story-driven single-player game like Batman: Arkham Knight, but I live in an online world. I’m also a huge proponent of the multiplayer aspects of MMORPGs, but many of the things players do solo in an MMO actually help a game feel more dynamic and alive. That is why today I’m making a case for single-player aspects of MMORPGs. Here are three important aspects of recent MMOs that are also soloable.



1. Heroic story

Since the launch of SWTOR, MMOs have begun to advertise that they have an epic story. To be honest, most who advertize that really do not have an epic story, and SWTOR is hardly the first MMO to make your character the hero of the story and really make your actions feel important. I recall friends who jumped into the original Guild Wars explaining that this is the way that MMOs should feel. And although it was a little bit more ambiguous than SWTOR, it was clear that your character played a major part in the story of GW and its subsequent expansions.

GW wasn’t the only one. Old-school MMO players remember Age of Conan and its beginning zone, Tortage. You were the one hero of Hyboria and so were the thousands of other people who played the game.

It seems counterintuitive to make the player the single hero in a game that was designed to house thousands of players at once. AoC was criticized by the MMO community at the time, but ultimately the single-player, a heroic story gives the player a sense of ownership. Of course, there are other ways to grant ownership to players other than a heroic story, but it is a viable way to present the game’s lore at the same time.

2. Crafting

I know not everyone crafts in the combat simulators that we call MMORPGs, but I believe that a good crafting system and economy are the cornerstones of any MMORPG. The whole crafting "game" can be done by yourself, and although other people are involved, many crafters really only treat them like glorified NPCs.

Of course, people will argue that crafting in MMOs are usually a multiplayer construct, requiring many people to work together in order to make the system even function, let alone be effective. And I agree. However, crafting can be and usually is a solo endeavor. I had a reader, who is now a part of my guild, introduce himself as someone who just plays the auction house. His game consists of amassing large sums of credits and items just so that he can say that he has them. In fact, he doesn’t really even play any other aspect of the game. For him crafting and economy is the game, and for the longest time he never really spoke to another player. To me, that’s solo gameplay.

3. Solo dungeons

Two MMOs recently launched an aspect that seems to be gaining new steam. It’s not exclusive two these two games -- the original Guild Wars had a version of solo dungeons -- but it appears to be making a positive impact on these respective games. Elder Scrolls Online includes an instance in the Orsinium DLC called the Maelstrom Arena, and SWTOR now has solo Flashpoints in its expansion Knights of the Fallen Empire.

The solo flashpoints for SWTOR are simply flashpoints that the player can run through for the purpose of story. There are good rewards for doing them. They are repeatable, but the main purpose is to simply see the content. It seems like it shouldn’t work. But the community is eating it up, and more people are seeing content they’ve never experienced before.

The Maelstrom Arena is a challenge arena for the solo player. It pits the player against wave after wave of enemies, each level a greater challenge. However, it’s more than just a dungeon for players to experience the content. There are leaderboards for those who like to pit themselves against other players. Not many MMOs do something that caters to the Bartle’s Killer type that isn’t some sort of direct PvP system. Kudos to Elder Scrolls Online.

I am not usually a solo player in MMOs, but the more I see these additions being added, the more I think they are important to the overall MMO experience. If you disagree, I’d like to read your thought-filled comments below. If you agree, I’d like to read your thoughts on the subject, too. If there are other big solo aspects of MMOs that I missed, tell me what they are and maybe they will make a future article.

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The 6 best subscription-free MMORPGs you have to play https://www.gameskinny.com/m5poq/the-6-best-subscription-free-mmorpgs-you-have-to-play https://www.gameskinny.com/m5poq/the-6-best-subscription-free-mmorpgs-you-have-to-play Sat, 12 Sep 2015 13:42:02 -0400 Rob Thubron

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1. Guild Wars 2

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Sometimes, developers can try to take all the best elements from various games within a genre, mix them together, add some new stuff, and end up with total crap. Other times the mix works perfectly and you get a game like Guild Wars 2 

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GW2 really does take everything that people enjoy about MMORPGs, remove the worst parts and adds it own spin on it. Take the whole social aspect of MMORPGs - playing online games with loads of other people can be great fun, but let’s face it, some people can be a-holes. By putting an emphasis on casual co-operation, ArenaNet managed to get rid of some of the unfriendly, toxic competitiveness you’ll often find in MMO games. 

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Guild Wars 2 is set in a persistent world that responds to players’ actions. The dynamic events it features may be a bit more scripted that the developers like to claim, but it still makes players feel like they are part of an ever-changing, living, breathing world. 

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The game can be incredibly complex yet is completely accessible, even to someone who’s never played an MMORPG before. It looks beautiful, has some of the best PvP in the genre, rewards exploration instead of punishing it, has multiple methods of tackling objectives, and does everything an MMO should do - only better. 

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In my opinion, Guild Wars 2 is still the best MMO game in the world today, subscription-free or otherwise.

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What MMOs do you think deserve a spot on this list? Let me know in the comments below!

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2. Star Wars: The OId Republic

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Few MMORPGs garnered as much excitement in anticipation of its release as Star Wars: The Old Republic. Star Wars, you say? Bioware, you say? How can this possibly not be the greatest game ever made in the history of video games? The first reviews of the game seemed to suggest it really did live up to its hype; 93% in PC Gamer, 9/10 on IGN, 4/5 on Gamespy. But then something started happening, subscription numbers dropped rapidly and people started abandoning the game in droves.

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Thing is, SW:ToR really is a great game, but like a really awesome rollercoaster, once you’ve experience the initial thrill a few times it starts to lose its appeal – especially when you’re paying a monthly fee for the pleasure. The game also suffered from its own ambitions; trying to stuff the equivalent of four MMORPG’s worth of story into one fully voiced MMO game was a titanic task.

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But then Bioware did something sensible and SW:ToR began offering a free-to-play option, a model they probably should have adopted from the beginning. It does come with some pretty annoying caveats, though, such as reduced speed, slower leveling, and no mounts. Despite all this, it’s still an excellent MMORPG. 

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3. WildStar

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In case anyone didn’t know: WildStar is going to start offering a true free-to-play model this fall. The game previously had a C.R.E.D.D system, which allowed non-subscribers to buy game time using game-world gold. Like most MMORPGs using free-to-play, anyone who continues subscribing to Wildstar after the change will receive in-game benefits.

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WildStar has been called the first ‘modern’ MMORPG. The game cherry-picks the best bits from other massively multiplayer online titles, but cites World of Warcraft as its biggest influence, especially in its structure, questing and visual style. One area that is unique to the game is its very cool combat system; this places more emphasis on arcade-like skills that require manual aiming. And it has one of the best housing systems of any MMORPG. 

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Full of fun quests, adventures and packed with character; WildStar’s a massive, fun experience that’s worth returning to for any lapsed subscribers - once the free-to-play mode kicks in - and a great starting point for newbies. 

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4. Rift

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Despite Rift being very popular, absolutely massive, and incredibly beautiful, many detractors point to the game’s lack of originality as its downfall. It’s worth reminding these people that while innovation in games should be encouraged, a lack of originality never stopped a title from being fun or popular (the Lego games, Call of Duty, FIFA, etc, etc, etc).

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Despite the perception that Rift contains nothing we haven’t seen before, it still has a massive and dedicated userbase. The game won numerous awards upon its release in 2011, including ‘Best PC Persistent World/MMO Game of the Year’ from IGN. At the time, it was also hailed as being the first MMORPG that could challenge World of Warcraft’s dominance of the genre.

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Rift went free-to-play in 2013, offering an optional ‘Patron Status’ subscription service that gives players bonus buffs, improved abilities, store discounts and even expedited customer support! Moving to this free model improved desirability for the game no end. For some awesome PvP, beautiful looks, super gameplay and one of the most welcoming communities of any MMORPG, check out Rift.

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5. The Secret World

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The Secret World is one of those games that could be listed under the word ‘polarizing’ in the dictionary. While a great number of players praise its originality and open-ended skill system, others complain that it’s just an archaic, unambitious MMO that would have made more of an impact if it had been released in 2008 instead of 2012.

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Whichever camp you fall into to, it’s impossible to deny that The Secret World’s puzzles, setting and especially its atmosphere are some of the best ever seen in MMORPGs. Any fans of horror maestro HP Lovecraft will love the many homages the game pays to the author. 

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TSW is quite different from the majority of other MMOs, which could be what makes it such a ‘love it or hate it’ type of game for so many people. In many ways it can sometimes feel like a single-player title, but that’s not always a bad thing, especially when you’re looking for a different kind of MMORPG experience. It’s incredibly innovative; some missions even include puzzles which require you to search the internet for a solution using an in-game browser! 

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The Secret World eventually moved from a pay-to-play to a buy-to-play model, meaning that you now just have to pay for the base game. Anyone wanting additional benefits such as experience buffs, monthly gifts, and store discounts still have the option of forking out for a monthly subscription. 

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If you value elements such as story, skill systems and uniqueness over MMO staples like PvP and crafting, then you’re likely to love The Secret World.

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6. The Lord Of The Rings Online

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I personally spent many, many hours exploring the enormous world of The Lord of the Rings Online. The game’s been around since 2007, and even today offers the most immersive experience of Tolkien’s world you can find.

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This massive game is divided into 25 separate regions, including fan favorites such as The Shire, The Misty Mountains and The Ettenmoors - you can even explore the Mines of Moria and Isengard in the expansions. You’ll also meet characters such as Gandalf, Frodo and the rest of the fellowship in your travels. The whole thing is like a love letter to Middle Earth; if you’re a fan of the books or the movies (or both, of course) then this is definitely worth checking out.

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There are plenty of your usual MMO staples here: crafting, questing, PvP, PvE, banks, healers, etc. And the fact that you can buy and decorate your own home makes you feel like you’re an integral part of Middle Earth.

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The game switched to free-to-play a while ago, but anyone who wants to pay extra gets some fancy perks that’ll speed things up and allow access to more areas.

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It may be a bit long in the tooth and not have the subscriber numbers it once had, but The Lord of the Rings Online is still a classic MMORPG and a must-play for any Middle Earth diehards who have yet to experience it. 

"},{"image":"http://s3.amazonaws.com/gameskinnyop/d/3/6/d3677f4c9533f3c0a7a15da134486a86.jpg","thumb":"http://s3.amazonaws.com/gameskinnyop/d/3/6/tiny_d3677f4c9533f3c0a7a15da134486a86.jpg","type":"slide","id":"83451","description":"

Massively multiplayer online role-playing games have been around a while. The first generally accepted ‘true’ title in the genre was Neverwinter Nights way back in 1991 which cost players an astounding $6.00 an hour to play. Since then, MMORPGs have developed into the behemoths we know today - such as the mighty World of Warcraft - and many still use a pay-to-play subscription model, though thankfully they don’t charge on an hourly basis anymore.  

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One thing that puts a lot of people off MMORPGs is that they don’t want to commit to a monthly subscription, which is why many of them now don’t require monthly fees. Several titles on this list started out with paid-for services, but eventually moved to a free-to-play model that offers benefits to those who wish to continue subscribing. The criteria for getting on this top six is that the game must be, essentially, free to play. A few of these titles do charge for the base game, but don’t require any monthly subscriptions in the way something like Warcraft does.  

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So if you want to dip your toe into multiplayer online RPGs, or maybe you’re a lapsed subscriber who wants to return to these amazing worlds, here are the 6 best subscription-free MMORPGs you can play today.

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Hands On With The Elder Scrolls Online: the Good, the Bad, and the Lovely https://www.gameskinny.com/twd9u/hands-on-with-the-elder-scrolls-online-the-good-the-bad-and-the-lovely https://www.gameskinny.com/twd9u/hands-on-with-the-elder-scrolls-online-the-good-the-bad-and-the-lovely Fri, 07 Feb 2014 05:44:47 -0500 Jason Winter

Editor's Note: Jason is a member of the press who is authorized to report his experience. Please note that the NDA remains in full force for all ESO beta testers. Do not publish information related to your testing experiences unless you have express permission from ESO. We now return you to your regularly scheduled article. 

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The Elder Scrolls Online is one thing and another. It's an MMO and an RPG, a themepark and a sandbox, a single-player game and an online adventure.

This dual nature is both its biggest strength and its greatest weakness.

 Instead of making each side happy, it's highly likely that it will piss each side off that it's not 100% what they want

As I told a friend while playing in the press beta last weekend, ESO half-appeals to MMO fans and half-appeals to Skyrim fans – and, as is the case in the MMO world, instead of making each side happy, it's highly likely that it will piss each side off that it's not 100% what they want. That's the nature of the MMO industry: With so many options and long-entrenched preferences, people are more likely to find something they dislike that gives them a reason not to play than they are to find something they like that gives them a reason to play.

But ESO isn't totally unlikeable. It takes a little work to figure it out, but it can be an enjoyable game, if you let it and are open to a new way of doing things. It's a mix of point-to-point themepark and go-anywhere, do-anything sandbox. Whether that's an intentional design decision or something that happened by accident, we'll likely never know. But you can still enjoy the game, regardless of the developers' – or other players' – intent.

The Secret Tamriel

One of the most open-ended progression systems you'll find in any MMO

As I was playing, I couldn't help but draw numerous parallels between The Elder Scrolls Online and The Secret World. Both games have some point-to-point direction, but you're encouraged to explore, to go off the beaten path and find things to do outside of quest-givers.

Take the screenshot above, for instance. Your first instinct is to go to the city and explore there. That's what you do in MMOs, right? Find the set pieces and scour them for enemies and loot. But did you notice the backpack nestled between the rocks on the right? There are spots like this all over the world of ESO, as well as partially obscured crafting nodes and other hotspots. Having no minimap enhances the need for exploration and encourages looking at the environment instead of icons.

There are occasional riddles to solve, clues strewn haphazardly along the landscape with no way to guide yourself except by your wits. Skyshards, which give you more points to spend on skills, are also hidden away, with no indication as to where to find them. And it's got one of the most open-ended progression systems you'll find in any MMO.

With all that flexibility, of course, can come confusion and frustration.

Ignore that other guy and play the way you want to.

Chat will be filled with people trying to progress as quickly as possible, asking “Where's the hidden treasure chest?” and “What's the best build for a Breton nightblade?” That's fine, and if it's how you want to play the game, go ahead.

But I go back to The Secret World for one last bit of advice. When browsing the forums a few months after it came out, I came across one guy who said he rushed to the end, ignoring all the complex storyline and plot elements and was “kicking myself” for it.

If you're a longtime Elder Scrolls player, you should know that it's not just about following the main storyline and moving directly from one quest giver to the next.

Pretty much everyone has taken “time off” from the main story to explore Skyrim (or Cyrodiil or Morrowind) and just “see what's out there.” That's hard to do in an MMO, where you get the feeling that if you don't advance as quickly as possible, you'll fall behind. There's a guy with shiny armor and a flaming sword! I have to get that, and soon, or everyone will know what a failure I am!

Or... maybe you don't.

Maybe it's best to treat ESO like a single-player game in this regard. Ignore that other guy and play the way you want to. If that's fast and progression-minded, that's fine. If it's not, well, that's fine too. Elder Scrolls games have always been about the journey more than the destination, and I think ESO is meant to be played that way too.

A fighting chance

Just like how people who love The Secret World will still grouse about the combat, fighting in The Elder Scrolls Online takes some getting used to. It might not be for everyone, and I've yet to sample large group encounters, but there is a certain amount of skill one can utilize in ESO.

I played a melee character in my earlier play session and liked it enough to give it a positive review, but in the intervening time I'd heard enough complaints about the combat in ESO that I thought I'd give it another shot.

Upon further review – and like everything else in ESO, it seems – it has its good points and its bad points.

While you'll do some blocking, especially if you've got a shield, as I did most of the time, this is the aspect of the game that probably feels the least Elder Scrolls-like. Sure, there's active combat and no tab-targeting, but the strikes lack the kind of impact you expect from a game like Skyrim, where when that Nord smashes down on you with his warhammer, you just feel it. It probably would have taken a more complex physics system than an MMO can handle to do justice to that kind of combat, but it's a notable omission.

It devolved into a kind of mad, chaotic, free-swinging scrum, which is realistic and not entirely unappealing

Still, you can get used to a rotation of skills and strikes, and the give-and-take of fighting an enemy, at least in one-on-one encounters. I did group up for a while, to run a few quests, and when we encountered multiple foes, it devolved into a kind of mad, chaotic, free-swinging scrum, which is realistic and not entirely unappealing – and, for anyone who stormed Whiterun in Skyrim, very much in line with Elder Scrolls gameplay – but might be a detriment to people looking for very rigid, tightly controlled, trinity-style MMO gameplay, where the tank controls everything in a nice, neat spot and leaves the DPS and healers unmolested.

Personally, I think MMOs need a little more chaos.

Especially in PvE, so that encounters aren't just the same few steps repeated over and over until loot drops. We got a decent look at how this can work in a recent dev video and I look forward to trying more formal group content in the future.

Leave your expectations at the Oblivion Gate

Focus on what the game is, instead of what it isn't, and you'll do fine.

There's plenty to like in The Elder Scrolls Online – and plenty to dislike, if you're of a mind to do so. Despite ZeniMax's best efforts and desires, it won't be a game for everyone. It's going to take patience and willingness to accept that some things will be different – not necessarily bad, but different – from what you've come to expect from the Elder Scrolls and from MMOs in general, and that's a risky proposition. Forcing players to spend $60+ to find out if they'll like it or not makes things even riskier. People will look for any reason to not invest money and time into an MMO, and there certainly are plenty of hurdles to jump through before you can appreciate ESO.

But I think there's a solid game there, if you have the patience and will to find it.

Being a fan of the Elder Scrolls universe helps, but it also helps to go in with as few preconceptions as possible. The Elder Scrolls Online is an MMO and an Elder Scrolls title... and it isn't. Focus on what the game is, instead of what it isn't, and you'll do fine.

 

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EVE Online's Secret Sauce: An MMO Menu for the Future? https://www.gameskinny.com/f25rt/eve-onlines-secret-sauce-an-mmo-menu-for-the-future https://www.gameskinny.com/f25rt/eve-onlines-secret-sauce-an-mmo-menu-for-the-future Mon, 26 Aug 2013 16:31:22 -0400 Mat Westhorpe

CCP Games has made significant contribution to the shape of modern MMO development, but it has taken some time for industry competitors to identify this. Only in recent years have we started to see other studios embrace more active development of the ideas successfully implemented in EVE Online.

A decade is a long time in game development and, although the confluence of ideas and their implementation worked at the time, that doesn't necessarily mean they would be as effective out of the box today, nor are individual elements certain to be successful if implemented in isolation.

For the consumer, it is great news that more developers will be embracing what were once considered niche ideals, and we can look forward to a refreshing and interesting future for online gaming as a result. Funcom's The Secret World and Sony Online Entertainment's Everquest Next are both aiming for the sandbox market, NCSOFT's Wildstar will feature a PLEX-like system, and there are many other MMO developers who will be reaching beyond traditional solutions as the market continues to change.

For CCP Games, having now reached a point where they have begun to diversify, it will be interesting to see if they can adapt their own secret sauce to other products. Last year's rather bland but improving DUST 514 release suggests that the process is not certain. Forthcoming projects such as the recently announced and potentially far spicier EVE:Valkyrie will certainly put the formula to a further test. And lets not forget that lurking somewhere in the shadows is the vampire MMO World of Darkness, which could offer an enticing base for a variation on the EVE Online recipe.

The MMO landscape has changed significantly since the turn of the millennium and consumers' palettes have diversified and refined. What the flavour of the future will be is anyone's guess, but I'll certainly be keeping my eye on the Icelandic menu.

Bon Appétit.

CCP's Secret Sauce Article List

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When Should New Players Start PvP? Right Now, of Course! https://www.gameskinny.com/u3xst/when-should-new-players-start-pvp-right-now-of-course https://www.gameskinny.com/u3xst/when-should-new-players-start-pvp-right-now-of-course Fri, 02 Aug 2013 15:02:26 -0400 Kazz in space

The chance to indulge in Player V Player (PvP) combat is one of the greatest aspects of any online game. Here you can pitch your mettle (or  your metal) against the skill, brains and tactics of other real people. These pixels won't stand still whilst you hit them in the face, and they won’t make it easy for you. They want to pop your ship, smash your body, steal your loot, and add your death to their tally. And they will use every skill, pot, weapon, tactic and dirty trick to make that happen.

It is the ultimate online challenge and once you get bitten by the PvP bug it can become quite addictive.

But should you start PvPing when you first set out in an MMORPG? Or should you level/skill up first before diving in? Plenty would tell you to wait and I've seen a lot of arguments against diving straight in. I would like to explore some of these arguments and explain why I wholeheartedly disagree.

You cannot compete with players who are at higher levels

True, for the most part. But does this actually matter? A new player should never go into battle expecting to take down someone who has all their shiny end-game gear on. You will die, a lot, so accept this and get over it. You are heading into combat to learn and not to come out on top of the scoreboards. Relax and enjoy the experience, even if you are a little bit sore afterwards.

You will contribute nothing

There are plenty of PvP situations where every scrap of heal or point of damage will count for something. In addition, whilst good gear and vital statistics are important, a great PvPer knows that experience, knowledge and the use of good tactics are just as essential. So why not start learning all the tricks you can now? Spending time around other PvPers (even getting pulverised by them) will allow you to learn how they play - that goes for both your allies and your enemies. Take the earliest opportunity to start seeing first-hand what works and what doesn’t. Learn the etiquette expectations such as with loot or coms. Become fluent in areas/maps and how to use the environment around you. The sooner you dive in the sooner you start picking these things up and this knowledge will serve you well in the future.

It is unfair on the other people in your group

Really? That one level five player cost everyone else the whole battle? It is a moan quite popular in battleground type scenarios, particularly where mechanics result in player levels not being divided up particularly well. But if the game mechanics allow it then having a go at people for joining in is pure ignorance. Any such moans should be directed at the developers, not the gung-ho newbies who want to get stuck in.  If you are that cross about it then make your own private group and don't play with pick-up-groups (PUGs).

You need to be level X/in X gear type before you can take part

Yes there will be times when this is true but, again, if the game mechanics allow you to take part then why should you not? As per my previous point, using a random PUG will always result in a mish-mash of player skills and abilities and you have to run with what you get. Going back to point one again many players fail to see the benefit of experience and tactics - it's never all about the gear or the level. But if you want a super-twinked shiny group of experienced players then organise your own pre-made.

You will just get farmed

I'll quote someone far cleverer than I for this point: 

"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

That is definitely something to bear in mind here. If you are a new player and you want to start PvPing then you need to be prepared to die. But that doesn’t mean you have to keep doing the same thing over and over again. If your route is blocked, is there another way around? If pre-mades are dominating the battlegrounds perhaps its time for a 30 minute break? If you are getting farmed by someone can you get some friends together and then go back?  Have you considered joining a guild that can help you learn the ropes?

At the end of the day being the noob makes you an easy target, but if you keep going back to the same situation with no new approach or tactic then don't expect things to change. There are always options open to you it's just a matter of finding out what they are.

Some final thoughts on why you should go for it
  • Feel the fear and do it anyway - get over those "PvP shakes" whilst you are "young".
  • Gear/stat losses at lower levels will often be easier to deal with than when you are higher up or wearing later level gear..
  • Being vulnerable makes you work harder and learn more. Easy PvP teaches you nothing!
  • You never know, you might actually enjoy it. So get over that minor issue of death, ignore the haters, get stuck in and enjoy the pewpew.

A few sites for further reading on this subject:

Warhammer Online:
http://www.almarsguides.com/war/rvr/
http://warhammeronline.wikia.com/wiki/Realm_versus_Realm

Eve Online:
http://jestertrek.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/EVE%20Guides

The Secret World:
http://forums.thesecretworld.com/showthread.php?t=60445

GuildWars 2:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5FGTYRnMkLk

 

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The Secret World - A Dream To Kill https://www.gameskinny.com/jczkf/the-secret-world-a-dream-to-kill https://www.gameskinny.com/jczkf/the-secret-world-a-dream-to-kill Wed, 10 Jul 2013 20:44:46 -0400 Smoky Grey

The Secret World's newest DLC went live for members this week titled Issue #7 A Dream To Kill. This update has it all for all those secret super spies out there. The overall theme screams James Bond to me but they seem to be avoiding that name.

I have played a lot of The Secret World and I don't really understand all the negative reception it has been getting. It was one of the best MMOs I have played in a while. It has a great story and you dont spend all your time reading tiny boxes of text because almost all of the game has voice acting. Some of the missions are the standard go here and do this, but every mission has a cut scene so it keeps you entertained.

This new issue keeps the pace going with the spy theme. This new issue will take you on a new story arc through Transylvania, and with snowmobile chases and base jumping off bridges you will be able to live your spy fantasy. You will get a new auxiliary weapon, the flamethrower, as well as new enemies and locations. Werewolves are going to join the woods of Transylvania too. There will even be a super villain to narrowly escape from.

 

Overall I feel this is going to be a good issue. The story will also be setting up more of the Tokyo story with filth pouring in and infecting Agartha, so be on the lookout for more of that. Check it out and grab it today at The Secret World.com.

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The Secret World Issue #7 Just Around the Corner https://www.gameskinny.com/rlpx4/the-secret-world-issue-7-just-around-the-corner https://www.gameskinny.com/rlpx4/the-secret-world-issue-7-just-around-the-corner Thu, 27 Jun 2013 20:18:44 -0400 Kazemusha

Funcom's latest MMO, The Secret World, has a major patch just around the corner. For those who haven't been following this modern day MMO of magic and conspiracy theory, the major content patches are released like a comic or graphic novel, in issues! Each issue features new story content, and a beautifully rendered comic book cover.

What's the Issue?

The Secret World's upcoming content patch, Issue #7: A Dream to Kill, features a James Bond inspired storyline. Set in one of the games major zones, Transylvania, players will take part in a thrilling, sexy, spy inspired mystery, that would make Ian Flemming proud!

So you can imagine when players booted up their patchers and saw something was downloading, they were pretty excited. Sadly, the patch that released today was not Issue #7. Instead, The Secret World got some much-needed bug fixes that addressed problems across the board. Everything from world visuals and GUI problems, to PvE and PvP balancing were addressed! Additionally, Funcom has put in place some key elements that Issue #7 will take advantage of. Essentially, Funcom has primed the pump for Issue #7 with this in-between patch.

Go Out There and Save the World Again!

Now it's my turn to get on my soap box and share something with you all:

If you have not tried The Secret World, and you're a fan of either MMOs, adventure games, or urban fantasy and conspiracy theory (I'm looking at you X-Files fans!) you absolutely need to give this game a shot!

The Secret World has some of the highest quality story telling of any MMO out today. The game features full-length cut scenes that are fully voice acted, and voice acted well! Characters are expressive, stories are mind probing and in-depth; every character has a story to tell, and you come to care about every single one of them.

For those of you that continue to play The Secret World, get ready for you own thrilling Jame Bond style adventure, and enjoy the bug fixes!


As always,

Comment below, game hard, and stay safe!

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Have Zombies Shambled Over The Shark? https://www.gameskinny.com/uu4lo/have-zombies-shambled-over-the-shark https://www.gameskinny.com/uu4lo/have-zombies-shambled-over-the-shark Tue, 16 Apr 2013 12:50:29 -0400 Jason Winter

Gamers have always had to contend with shambling, odorous sub-human creatures capable only of expressing themselves in guttural grunts and moans. These days, though, they're less likely to be your roommates and more likely to be the murderous zombie hordes you find in a distressingly high percentage of modern games.

 

It wasn't always this way. A long while back, zombie games were rare and interesting – and, most of all, creepy. Remember the first time you played Resident Evil? As a friend described it to me when I first got my original PlayStation, it wasn't a game you wanted to play with the lights out – or even with the lights on.

 

Now, zombies and zombie games are everywhere, which might be fine if they weren't... well, I don't mean to say they're all bad, per se, but too many of them seem to use zombies as so much disposable bags of flesh for players to hack, shoot, and incinerate.

Can zombies be actually interesting again?

Day Zzzzzzz...

 

Here's where I make everyone mad by criticizing DayZ. Don't get me wrong, as an open-world, multi-player, survivor shooter, it's great.

 

But it's not truly a zombie game.

 

Yes, it has zombies, but they could just about as easily be robots or goblins or orcs. They're just not that scary when you can see them in daylight from 500 meters away through your scoped rifle. The tension in that game comes from other human players, not from the mindless hordes that most people just run past.

 

DayZ, when it works, is generally considered a good game. Since the start of 2012 alone, we've seen roughly a jillion games, of various levels of quality, with zombies – even if they weren't directly labeled as such – as major antagonists, like: 

 

  • Dead Space 3
  • The Secret World
  • Lollipop Chainsaw
  • ZombiU
  • The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct
  • and no fewer than three Resident Evil releases.

And then there was The War Z – the less said about that one, the better.

 

Zombies are the new Bacon

 

 

Both shirts available on Zazzle (if you don't have them already)

 

Zombies have become the go-to bad guys for modern action games, just as orcs have for fantasy games. And, just like orcs, they're overplayed. If “another fantasy game with orcs” sounds dull to you, should “another modern-day shooter with zombies” be any different?

 

It's not just gaming, either. Zombies are hotter than ever in books, movies, and TV. The Walking Dead. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. World War Z. Game of Thrones – and no, I'm not talking about Cersei, who's colder than any wight. Zombies have moved past the realm of schlock B-grade horror and solidly into the mainstream. Games want to attract that mainstream audience, and they do it by bringing in the too-familiar zombies.

 

A part of it, I think, is that we've become a tiny bit more sensitive about the portrayal of violence, at least against other human beings, in popular culture. Blowing away other people? Not so cool, especially in the wake of recent tragic mass shootings. Blowing away things that look like people but aren't? Somewhat more acceptable. And when it's something we somewhat recognize ("Uncle Fred?" "That thing isn't Uncle Fred any more. Frag it!") it adds another level to the personal interaction.

 

Rise up!

But zombies aren't people. The occasional assassin aside, people are generally visible and not exceedingly scary. Zombies-as-people might fulfill the cannon-fodder requirement of movies and video games, but in doing so it diminishes their overall impact. They become about as scary – and as menacing – as the battle droids in the Star Wars prequels, the perfect example of “We want our heroes to mow down hordes of enemies, but don't want those enemies to be human because it might offend people.”

 

(Though if we're going to talk about games as mass-murder simulators, why hasn't there been a game where you play as a Sith and slaughter gungans? It would be a best-seller, without a doubt. Hey, maybe LucasArts can make it! Oh, wait...)

 

Zombies can still work

 

They can still bring that tension, that creeping horror that's so rare in today's offerings. But I also think they're a perfect example of “less is more,” not just in the number of games that feature them, but in the number of them you encounter in any given game. Fifty zombies coming up over the hill are just targets for automatic-weapon fire. One or two stalking you or leaping out from the darkness – now that's something.

 

I like sandbox-style games like DayZ just fine, but maybe, when it comes to tense zombie encounters, this is a case where scripted, mostly linear games are the better choice? Though Skyrim is anything but linear, its dungeons mostly are, and when you're in a narrow corridor in some Nord tomb and the corpses start rising up to rip your head off... that still gets me. Well, until I one-shot them with my Axe of Overpowerd Death-Dealing.

 

The zombie cat, however, is out of the bag. There might still be a few games, like the Amnesia series, that utilize zombies as effective, scary enemies, but the mass market will probably dictate that most “zombie games” are frag-'em-all shooters. That's OK sometimes, as anyone who's played Left 4 Dead will attest.

 

But even if a zombie game is well done, we're left with one question: Are there too many of them? Like orcs, are they overplayed? The answer is probably yes, and it's going to take some other phenomenon to supplant them as the industry's decomposing darlings.

 

That transition could take years, though, so for the moment we'll have to make do with what we've got, and probably endure more than a few bad titles that simply try to cash in on the zombie money train.

 

Pass the shotgun shells. It's going to be a long night.

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What Drives Your Tastes in MMORPGs? https://www.gameskinny.com/rcwnh/what-drives-your-tastes-in-mmorpgs https://www.gameskinny.com/rcwnh/what-drives-your-tastes-in-mmorpgs Tue, 02 Apr 2013 10:39:12 -0400 Ashley Shankle

Why do I like MMOs? What keeps me playing the ones that I like? I have trouble answering when someone unfamiliar with the MMORPG genre asks me why I play them. Having been doing so on and off for over a decade, it's still not something I can simply put my finger on.

2005 was a simpler time. Note my awful bars.

Everyone looks for something in particular in their MMOs, whether they realize it or not. Some people prefer sprawling landscapes and open-world PvP, some look for games with everything to do and a community to welcome them as their own, and yet others look toward MMOs for their dose of developed storytelling or a robust roleplaying community.

Having jumped head-first into a huge chunk of the free to play market and tried my hand at most of the big name titles, I'm still not sure where I stand. I used to think I valued combat over all else. I've been an avid PvPer since my beginnings as a wee nubcake -- but after putting several months into TERA and coming out no better (nor entertained) for it, I don't know whether the sweet, sweet taste of beating the poop out of other people is really the main draw to the genre for me anymore.

It's certainly not dressing up, though it is hard to resist.
Very hard to resist.

After having come back to Aion again, it's so hard for me to really explain why I like the game to my friends wondering why I've grown to like it so much.

GameSkinny's own Jeremy bothers me to play RIFT all the time, begrudgingly trying Aion every once in a while to try to figure out what all the fuss is about. Having tried RIFT myself, I can't say I enjoyed it much.

Both of us are avid players of the genre with extensive experience in multiple titles, but neither of us can come to a consensus on which MMORPGs are fun. We can both see when one is well-made and constitutes a good game, but we just can't agree on one to play together. That's just the way it is.

It's not uncommon for groups of friends to find their passion in completely different titles. In my group of friends, we have people who play World of Warcraft, Aion, RIFT, The Secret World, EVE, Guild Wars 2, TERA, and a whole slew of miscellaneous free to play titles. That, again, is just the way it is.

What is your poison?

What game devours your soul, makes you wake up early, stay up late, and gets you pumped up? It's easy to say which MMOs you enjoy, but it's not so easy to say why.

The competitive aspect of the genre, I think, may be what drives me. Comparing DPS (or heals), gear, and PvPing are all aspects of the genre I like and thrive on; though I cannot say they are my only reasons for enjoying the games I like and there are times when I hate those facets of the genre.

What drives you, as a player and a person, to connect to your favorite MMORPGs? I really would like to know.

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Ultimate Game Mashup: SPIRIT, the Multi-Genre Dynamic Storytelling RPG Toolkit https://www.gameskinny.com/3dret/ultimate-game-mashup-spirit-the-multigenre-dynamic-storytelling-rpg-toolkit https://www.gameskinny.com/3dret/ultimate-game-mashup-spirit-the-multigenre-dynamic-storytelling-rpg-toolkit Mon, 18 Mar 2013 13:11:13 -0400 Mat Westhorpe

Skinny Banter #1: Your Ultimate Game

If you could take your favorite game elements of all time and combine them into the ultimate digital experience - the one game to rule them all - what would it be? How would it work? Describe your digital nirvana, build your ultimate game from the still twitching parts salvaged from other titles.

Trying to find my perfect combination of game elements for Skinny Banter #1: Ultimate Game Mashup has proven to be a bigger task than I first realised. After some related soul-searching on the subjects of Meaningful Gameplay and the fact that MMOs have missed the point. I need to return to the roots of pen-and-paper RPGs and tabletop games to describe the essence of my gaming utopia.

The Spirit of Gaming

The real secret sauce to the likes of pen-and-paper systems like Dungeons & Dragons, Warhammer Fantasy Role Play, Cyberpunk 2020 and BattleTech wasn't in the rules system, it was in granting a group of players the means to work together using their humour, creativity and wits to participate in epic tales about engaging characters. Every gaming session was an imagination workshop where encounters, challenges and confrontations were played out, leaving indelible memories as powerful as any classic movie scene, yet far more personal.

I want to recapture to magic of being able to create and explore worlds with my friends. Let us have the power to tell stories and to craft mythologies of our own. Give us a game experience which is tailored to the needs of friends without being forced to interact with strangers. Sometimes I want to be able to join my trusted friends to wander through a convincing virtual environment created by others (or even one of us) without fear of an immersion-shattering bunny-hopping gold seller/beggar/griefer.

This wouldn't be a game about min/maxing and stats, it would be about stories and people – the real spirit of of the roleplaying game. So I'll give it the working title of SPIRIT.

Harvesting Concepts

Neverwinter Nights made a good attempt at providing a powerful tool set (Aurora) to deliver a Dungeon Master-led gaming experience for a select group of players. Sadly it came saddled with the AD&D rule set, which is one of the most cumbersome and nonsensical RPG rule systems available and meant that all gameplay was restricted to the medieval fantasy Forgotten Realms narrative environment. The principle however, was genius and I will be ripping out some of Neverwinter Nights' vital organs for use in the SPIRIT system.

Garry's Mod grew from Half-Life 2's Source engine to deliver a versatile tool set for users to deliver the game experience of their choosing. This would provide a perfect additional layer of tools which would provide far more customisation options for our nascent storytelling toolkit as well as realistic physics for the game world itself.

The Movies and The Sims will provide us with a fantastic multi-genre concept with its provision of sets, assets and characters to deliver convincing and varied game environments spanning historical, fantasy, contemporary and futuristic. There will also be a set-builder tool to allow the creation and importing of 3D assets to allow custom characters, props and objects. Powerful camera and recording tools will be included, enabling both the capture of adventures as they play out and the production of scripted machinima projects.

EVE Online's metagame community is an asset in itself, capable of producing an endless stream of quality content outside the game client. Such a fervent fan-base would be a huge boon to the SPIRIT project as they would undoubtedly produce a wealth of free content which would showcase the power and the versatility of the tool set.

Whilst SPIRIT will clearly benefit from the creations of a keen community of amateurs and budding games designers, officially licensed story packs, possibly from multiple studios including Funcom's The Secret World team, but also consider BioWare's Mass Effect writers, Valve's Half-Life team and The Witcher's CD Projekt RED.

These would set the standard for polish with finely-crafted experiences of immersive storytelling. These premium DLCs will be finished packs with bespoke audio, art assets and story which could deliver a single-player, co-operative or massively multiplayer experience across a variety of game universes.

Resurrecting Creativity

The end result would be a powerful and versatile modular gaming package which would scale to the needs of the user. At one end it would open a doorway to a multitude of single-player or co-op immersive episodes in a genre of personal preference at the other it would set the stage for a grassroots creative community with access to a simple but powerful software development kit.

The key would be in the scalability of every aspect, from networking to content. There would be game content for single players, exclusive groups and inclusive communities. It could allow for offline solo gaming, classic RPG party experiences and networked commercially-managed MMO environments. Content would range from user-created to licensed material. Participation would be anything from consumer to creator.

For me, SPIRIT would reclaim the real power of meeting up with friends to play a role in a mutually created game experience. But for you, it might be something entirely different. Essentially, this would be the system to let you create your Ultimate Game Mashup for real.

 

Image Credit:

The Little RPG Group by Merinde-DE (Deviant Art)

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Nordic Cool: EVE Online and Alan Wake Developers Discuss the Game Design Superpower of Scandinavia https://www.gameskinny.com/typg0/nordic-cool-eve-online-and-alan-wake-developers-discuss-the-game-design-superpower-of-scandinavia https://www.gameskinny.com/typg0/nordic-cool-eve-online-and-alan-wake-developers-discuss-the-game-design-superpower-of-scandinavia Sun, 03 Mar 2013 21:15:12 -0500 Mat Westhorpe

EVE Online's lead designer Kristoffer Touborg and Alan Wake developer Saku Lehtinen joined USA Today's Mike Snider for an hour-long discussion of the Scandinavian influence on game design at the Nordic Cool 2013 festival at the Kennedy Centre, Washington.

Both developers gave brief presentations of their studio's products before settling in to talk about the Nordic game development scene and the innovation that it brings. Lehtinen fielded the idea that, at least relative to the population, Nordic countries could be considered a “game designing superpower”.

It is certainly a claim with some merit, with the region boasting studios like Finland's Remedy (Alan Wake, Death Rally, Max Payne), Rovio (Angry Birds), Supercell (Clash of Clans, Hay Day), Funcom (The Secret World, Age of Conan, Anarchy Online, The Longest Journey), Iceland's CCP Games (EVE Online, DUST 514) and Sweden's Mojang (Minecraft) to name a few.

Even Kristoffer Touborg, who is half-Danish and half-Swedish, expressed surprise, not realising how many titles that he had played which were of Scandinavian origin.

When analysing why the region produces games of such quality and originality, Touborg offered the explanation that it is perhaps due to operating in “an isolated gaming culture."

"If you're in a game studio in LA, there's tons of other game studios around, you'll go out, you'll meet other people. In Iceland, there's just water. Thousands and thousands of miles of water. There's no one I can talk to about games in another studio there. Of course that has its disadvantages because you're not part of this big community that gets together, but it also has the plus side of us having to come up with something on our own and not having a culture that homogenises what we do.”

A good example of this high-risk Nordic approach to design decisions was given by Touborg, describing CCP Game's recent innovation in linking sci-fi MMO EVE Online (PC/Mac) to the console shooter DUST 514 (PS3) as a “bad idea... but now it's working for us it seems like a good idea.”

He then provided the following colourful description of the integrated EVE/DUST experience to an amused audience;

“When you sit in a spaceship and someone in another game calls in an air strike and you bomb that from a totally different game, you will get the biggest nerd boner you've ever had.”

However, there are no figures available to determine if Nordic game development has any influence on the local birth rate.

Next: Part Two - Touborg and Lehtinen discuss The Nordic-American Relationship and the future of the industry.

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The Secret World: Roadmap to Transylvania, Tokyo and Beyond https://www.gameskinny.com/olai0/the-secret-world-roadmap-to-transylvania-tokyo-and-beyond https://www.gameskinny.com/olai0/the-secret-world-roadmap-to-transylvania-tokyo-and-beyond Thu, 28 Feb 2013 09:19:06 -0500 Mat Westhorpe

With Issue #6: The Last Train to Cairo about to depart Funcom station, Joel Bylos gave a brief overview of the road map (rail route?) further into The Secret World's future in his recent Game Director's Letter.

Here's an overview of the destinations and concepts for the downloadable content just over the horizon.

Issue #7 – Transylvania-bound to work with a Vampire Hunter on an investigation for the Council of Venice. Bylos describes it as “James Bond vs Eldritch horrors”. The Romany Camp, Carpathian Fangs and Orochi will also feature.

"Issue #7 should end with a bang, a bang that starts a new in-game event that will run right up until we introduce the Tokyo zone." - Joel Bylos, TSW Creative Director

Issue #8 – In this issue, there are plans to move away from story-arc led DLC to a “repeatable content feature” which will “add value [for] everybody who plays the game”.

Issues #9-11 – Tokyo, a new “urban adventure zone,” featuring the continuation of the story mission as well as “a new lair, a new dungeon and a plethora of new action, sabotage and investigation missions.”

Issue #12 - “Now we are getting into forbidden knowledge! This is another new adventure zone, directly tied to revelations in Tokyo and exploring the background of one of the more notorious factions in the game!”

Bylos also explains that this is the outline for the PvE content only and there is a separate road map for new features and PvP content.

There is no exact release schedule for all this content, although in his Game Director's Letter, Bylos detailed all of the above under the heading “So what does 2013 hold for The Secret World?”.

In a brief interview with Massively, Bylos gave further clarification.

Regarding update speed, we want to stick to regular updates, but I want to move away from saying monthly updates. When Ragnar talked about monthly updates, the team was a very different shape and size -- I'd prefer to say regular updates and stick to delivering on quality and not worrying about slipping by a week here or there.

Restructured, reorganised, but ever focused, Funcom continue to offer a magical mystery tour into a mature, sinister realm of the unexplainable and the unimaginable.

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The Secret World Tips its Fedora and Cracks its Whip for Issue #6 https://www.gameskinny.com/sjb59/the-secret-world-tips-its-fedora-and-cracks-its-whip-for-issue-6 https://www.gameskinny.com/sjb59/the-secret-world-tips-its-fedora-and-cracks-its-whip-for-issue-6 Thu, 28 Feb 2013 08:46:46 -0500 Mat Westhorpe

Joel Bylos, Creative Director of The Secret World (and now also MMO stable-mates Age of Conan and Anarchy Online) holds the treasure map to the future fortunes of Funcom's occult world.

He is quick to point out that it is important for the development of a massively multiplayer title to stay light on its feet, identifying the “constantly evolving, dynamic process”, but even so he was able to share the location of a few potential X-marked spots for 2013.

The next content release, scheduled for an early March release, is Issue #6: The Last Train to Cairo. This new content will feature a “multi-layered storyline involving Said, Nassir and Abdel Daoud and leads you through the past and the present to steal a valuable artifact from a roman cult and thwart the atenists plan to turn Cairo into a second Tokyo.”

Judging by some released art previews (see title image), The Last Train to Cairo is not afraid to tip its fedora to a certain whip-toting archaeologist, with what appears to be an action set-piece involving trains and tanks in the desert and “the new and unique Whip Auxilliary weapon.”

But why not - after all, the Indiana Jones series itself was a Lucas/Spielberg love letter to the action matinee cliffhangers of yesteryear. If Funcom developers hadn't “got their Indy on” in Egypt, there would have been an outcry at the missed opportunity.

It's not all about the Nile delta though, with something sinister going on in the South Pacific (please Joel, not a musical). Details are vague but there's mention of “an epic confrontation with an immense foe” and “Jaws of Steel” requiring groups of ten. There's no mention of whether you're likely to need a bigger boat.

In addition to these features, a new veteran and recruitment system will be introduced and a new ranking system in PvP combat.

An exact release date for Issue #6: Last Train to Cairo has not been announced beyond "the beginning of March," but premium members will get access to the content two days early.

What lies beyond Issue #6 is shrouded in mystery, but Bylos has given us some hints - read on.

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The Secret World and Journey in the Running for Music+Sound Awards https://www.gameskinny.com/hhenj/the-secret-world-and-journey-in-the-running-for-musicsound-awards https://www.gameskinny.com/hhenj/the-secret-world-and-journey-in-the-running-for-musicsound-awards Tue, 19 Feb 2013 14:09:03 -0500 Mat Westhorpe

The second UK Music+Sound Awards are being held in London on Thursday 21st February and will see The Secret World and Journey amongst those representing the video game industry in a celebration of audio excellence across the realm of entertainment media.

The award for Best Original Composition: Gaming has four nominees; The Secret World (Marc Canham/Simon Poole), Journey (Austin Wintory), Wonder Book: Book of Spells (Joe Thwaites, Jim Fowler) and Dear Esther (Jessica Curry).

The Secret World is also competing in the Best Sync/Use of Existing Music: Trailers + Promos for its use of Max Richter and Dinah Washington's 'On the Nature of Daylight – This Bitter Earth' in the 2012 The Secret World Launch Trailer. The other nominees include Playstation's Gamescon 2012 trailer, some British television trailers and the movie trailer for Lawless, which features music from The Heavy, who will also be performing at the ceremony.

The Music+Sound Awards were launched in 2011 to “fill the gap left by other media awards programmes that fail to recognise music and sound design in the advertising, film, television and gaming industries” and last year's video game winners were James Bond 007 Blood Stone and the Dead Island trailer.

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The Secret World Developer Closing Beijing Studio https://www.gameskinny.com/kasq0/the-secret-world-developer-closing-beijing-studio https://www.gameskinny.com/kasq0/the-secret-world-developer-closing-beijing-studio Sat, 26 Jan 2013 06:39:35 -0500 Ashley Shankle

Funcom, the developer behind The Secret World, is closing its Beijing studio branch amidst a hefty company restructure. Not only is the company's Beijing office closing its doors, but they are cutting the employee count in both their Montreal and Raleigh, North Carolina offices.

The Beijing studio was responsible for the art and animation found in The Secret World. The Raleigh studio will now be handling the development and upkeep of Funcom's three primary games, as well as the art and animation for the developer's future endeavors.

Some Montreal staff were moved to the Raleigh location, while others weren't so lucky. The Canada-based office will now be focusing on new technology and mobile development.

The details of the restructure point to Funcom focusing more on mobile, casual titles instead of the MMORPGs that they are known for. The announcement states that the company intends to "implement a strategy of developing smaller, high quality online games with more limited budgets and shorter production timelines".

(Via Develop)

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The Secret World Issue #5 Updates https://www.gameskinny.com/4ih5x/the-secret-world-issue-5-updates https://www.gameskinny.com/4ih5x/the-secret-world-issue-5-updates Wed, 16 Jan 2013 11:55:10 -0500 Mat Westhorpe

Having survived the Mayan apocalypse, the developers of The Secret World have returned to cultivating their occult MMO. Funcom have diligently delivered two updates since the December release of their most recent downloadable content pack, Issue #5: The Vanishing of Tyler Freeborn.

Following the introduction of the new missions and changes in Issue #5 came the inevitable wave of tweaks and fixes to content new and old. Here's a rundown (with pointless commentary in parentheses).

UPDATE 1.5.3 - JANUARY 16TH

  • The Dynamite from the mission 'Nobel Calling' can no longer be used outside of the intended mission area. (First Bioware segregates gay PCs, now an enforced online explosive ghetto? Oh internet, Y U so mean?)
  • The charge ability of the Ak'ab Hatchling Pet no longer puts friendly NPCs in combat. (“Follow me guys, I'm right behind you.”)

UPDATE 1.5.2 - JANUARY 10TH

General
  • The Research of Tyler Freeborn - Tier 3: The Guardian assault should no longer keep going past 2 minutes. (Because Guardians eat too many pies and have no stamina.)
  • The Research of Tyler Freeborn: Players on mission "Survive the battle" should have the assault start for them when they run to the holding cell while there are no Orochi guards around. (Winner of the 2012 'stating the bloody obvious' mission title.)
  • The Anubis Mask now has a red glowing eye effect. (Because the camp wink effect just wasn't cutting it.)
  • Female Dawnbringer Garb should no longer have clipping issues with hood and most hairstyles. (No clipping now means female Dawnbringers are considered hairy and dishevelled with poor personal hygiene.)
  • The cooldown on the Time Accelerator item has been fixed. (This is a quantum paradox that may end the universe.)
  • The Dust crafting material should work correctly again. (Because the world will always need dust.)
  • Two exploits have been fixed. (Oh go on, tell us what they were. Please.)
PvP
  • If you lose a resurrection point that you are signed up to respawn at, you will now resurrect at the closest resurrection point instead of having to wait for the next respawn wave. (This is an excerpt from the rules of the fun new party game 'Dead by Dawn'.)

Although these maintenance updates will obviously continue, the new payment model means any future additional content for The Secret World will require further transactions. The next planned DLC, the as yet unnamed Issue #6, will be set in Egypt and will featuring Indiana Jones inspired gameplay.

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