The Secret World is an MMORPG set in a modern day environment, but with elements from urban legends, myths, magic and conspiracies. There are real cities such as Seoul, New York and London, but also completely fictional locations. The three cities represent the home base of the three secret societies (factions) that are available: Dragon, Illuminati and Templars respectively. Players work together, or against each other in PvP combat, with a larger story of monsters threatening the world.
Character building through experience is entirely skill based; there are no levels or classes. Instead skills trees and abilities provide customization options for clothing, weapons and supernatural powers. Classes are replaced by decks, pre-suggested templates of complementing abilities that forms 11 types for each faction, but these can still be fully customized. Crafting is also supported, through a process of assembly and disassembly to create new items or break them down to their base components. The game puts very few restrictions on combinations, allowing the player to create a very specific playing style. There is much focus on combat defeating monsters to solve quests.
Next to the main story with sidequests there are investigation missions that introduce puzzles to the game with elements of ARGs and social networking to look up clues, also on the internet outside the game, to find clues and complete the quests. Other missions involve stealth, sabotage or hunting. Missions are interspersed with rendered cinematics.
As of December 12, 2012 the game changed its business model: similar to Guild Wars, after buying the game once there are no monthly payments required anymore. However, an optionally subscription offers advantages like monthly points which can be redeemed in the store, e.g. for DLCs (so-called "issues" which continue the story and add other content). The first four updates are free for every buyer and update five is free for everyone registered in 2012.
2009 – #6 Best Trailer of the Year
GameStar (Germany) / GamePro (Germany)
2012 - #5 Best Online Game of the Year (Readers' Vote)