Tim stared around the room in utter bafflement, sliding his fingernails over slick palms. He’d been to a firing range, once, researching shooting for his third book. He’d squeezed off a few shots, though he found himself pulling the trigger incorrectly and throwing off his aim. The handgun bucked in his grip, his arms throbbed for days afterward, and all his villains form that point favored knives.
However, the pictures he’d been shown–pictures of this “King’s Mouth”–included lots of dark, bloody shapes standing with cocked heads and outstretched arms. Figures with pale, clammy skin that reflected streetlights like cephalopods caught in a diver’s flash.
Zombies, in the parlance of the time.
What little Tim knew of the shambling dead indicated that overwhelming stopping power, applied directly to the skull, was the most effective solution.That meant a shotgun, and Tim gently caressed the dark metal of a Mossburg’s barrel. His fingers trembled down the stock, his arms shaking with remembered exertion as he hefted the weight up into his hands.
Then again, Tim mused, Harry Potter never had sore forearms.
So The Secret World is pretty fresh. The man some know as Tim Willard’s constant postings regarding the beta was what finally pulled me into pre-ordering the game; previously I’d intended to wait out the first month or so and see where the goofer dust settled before dropping the cash on a purchase. I’m glad I jumped in when I did, though, since it got me a few days of early access to play around with builds and comprehending the game before things started up proper.
I ended up rolling three characters, one per faction: Tim “Lee” Zhau (no relation to the aforementioned Tim Willard, in blood or deed), an Asian character who seemed a perfect fit for The Dragon; Cornelius Banks, a Scion of Ogoun who seemed appropriate for a Hammer/Fist Templar; and Daniel “Dirty Dan” Salle, a character based on a frat brother who was already pretty well a member of the Illuminati. The first of these characters was Tim, though, and I’ve worked very hard to stay loyal to my “main” in exploring the game.
It’s been easier largely because The Dragon is absolutely the faction that holds my heart. This is in spite of the “magic blowjob” you receive during an early cinematic (and I’m still curious how that plays out if you run a female character, or if there’s any change). Fellatio aside, The Dragon ticks all of the boxes that an aspiring Taoist with a Masters in Eastern Classics and appreciation for quantum theory could hold dear. I also enjoy how the faction suits the most expedient roleplay for a new MMO; I can help or be helped by any faction because there’s none to say it’s not part of the Dragon’s mysterious plan.
The game does drive one to rp, as that little taste of fanfiction at the beginning indicates. Even if you’re just traipsing through an area slagging mobs, the excellent writing and ample cutscenes combine with the numerous ambient quests to leave one feeling engaged in a very real world with its own consequences and politics. It’s also incredibly satisfying to run through lower-level areas–which is both motivated and facilitated by the existence of vicious quests in each realm that are best attempted after journeying a few areas ahead and returning–slaughtering zombies and spraying wide-eyed newbies with corpsegore, remembering all the while what a challenge the creatures were a few short hours ago.
Playing the game for the past week and a half or so, I’ve drilled down into a few different areas I think are worth discussing. While I work to balance out the thoughts on those various topics, though, I wanted to be sure I put down a strident exhortation to give the game a shot and thoroughly explore its systems and plot.
Also, seriously, shotguns.