The Secret World Review

The Secret World by Funcom is a pay to play (no subscription) 3D urban fantasy MMORPG with sandbox elements such as no classes or levels, crafting, and trading/player economy. This MMO is also notable for its “real world” setting, epic story quests, cut scenes, voice acting, and puzzles.

the secret world screenshot


  • pay for the game only once
  • no subscription or monthly fees
  • no classes or levels
  • great story and setting
  • immersive gameplay

The Secret World Review

These days most developers simply go for a good themepark game. They figure that they can just create the same old type of MMORPG, give it good graphics, polish it up, make it free to play and, voila! A new hit MMO is born.

Funcom, on the other hand, looked at the MMO genre and really thought hard about what they could offer in terms of innovative gameplay. The Secret World is not your usual MMORPG.

No levels, no classes – unlike other MMORPGs, TSW has freeform character customization that allows players create exactly the type of character they want to play with no class or levels constraints. All of the abilities in the game are yours to choose whenever you want to learn them although only 16 of them can be active at any time. Players can mix and match every type of weapon or magic ability they want with no restrictions.

Setting – most MMOs are set in fantasy or futuristic, science fictional worlds. TSW, on the other hand, is set in our world, including recognizable locations such as London, New York, Seoul, Egypt, etc. Of course, it’s not exactly like out world. In TSW every conspiracy theory, urban legend, myth, and fable is true. It’s a world in which the Bogeyman feeds on the fears of children while vampires, werewolves, mummies, and other monsters are real.

Factions – since ancient times three secret societies (Dragon, Illuminati and Templar) have been working behind the scenes to control the rising darkness. Players must join one faction. In PvE players of all factions can work together but in PvP they fight against each other. The factions make for great storytelling, with shadowy puppet masters secretly controlling the rise and fall of empires.

Missions – this is one of the things that truly make The Secret World an innovative, fun game. There is an overarching story quest with lots of cut scenes and wonderful voice acting plus dungeon and main missions.

Main missions are divided into three categories: action, sabotage, and investigation. Action is your usual “kill things” type of quests found in other games while sabotage missions involve stealth actions like sneaking past enemies without being seen, wearing a disguise, hacking computer networks, etc.

Investigation missions are what TSW is somewhat famous for. These missions require you to think and even do some research. In contrast to most quests that tell you exactly where to go, what to do, and how to do it, investigation missions only give players clues which they then have to figure out on their own. Many clues are not meant to be taken literally or might be red herrings (misleading). Often, you have to use the in-game browser to research on some facts.

Crazy Clues (spoiler)

For example, to find a hidden location you are given the following clue:

“Time is the province of Kings and Gods. The hands of time point to truths written by kings in the words of God. The path is open to the enlightened.”

Spoiler: To solve this requires a lot of thinking. The word time gives you a hint – look at the clock which is at 10:10. The phrase “words of God” could refer to the Bible while “written by Kings” might be Kings I or Kings II. So your task would be too look up Kings I or II, passage 10:10 in the Bible using the in-game browser.

Kinda wacky, right? What other MMORPG would make you think so much and even look things up on the internet just to figure out a clue? The Secret World really takes its investigations seriously.


Right now you can buy The Secret World for less than $30 at their official website. That’s a great bargain because there is no subscription needed for TSW. This is a good game for social players who want something different from the usual medieval fantasy RPGs. Fans of urban fantasy or horror will enjoy TSW because it is just dripping with atmosphere. Gameplay is also unusual but if you liked what you read in this review then you should give it a try.

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Heather Mitchell

About Heather Mitchell

Yes, it's true, I do love playing MMO games and writing. That's why I like to blog about MMORPGs. Connect with me on Google+

4 thoughts on “The Secret World Review

  1. Pros: no levels, can get any skills and for the most part you can solo any part, yet at the same time can team up when you want to especially the dungeons.
    Cons: They don’t have classes which means no doc class per say, some servers or areas are either empty depending on what time you play.

  2. Have you played this game recently? I ask because I’m wondering if the game has gotten better with time or should I just leave this as a game that had an awesome trailer?

    1. I recently started playing it again (after months of being without a PC that could run it).

      It’s gotten steadily better since launch, and even since this article was published. Content comes out regularly, I rarely go more than a few minutes in the early parts of the game without seeing other players, and the players are generally friendly.

      I don’t know by your comment if something about it previously bothered you, or if you have never played it. If something bothered you, check the website or the wiki ( to see if it’s updated or changed. If you’ve never played it, you may have to decide for yourself if it’s worth paying for, as there’s not a demo or F2P model. Like many other games on Steam, it does occasionally go on sale, so it could also be something to add to your wishlist and pick up cheap whenever it’s next sale is.

      note that there IS an ingame store, and several additional full locations are available through it, but the “full game” you get by buying it (like $30 on steam) is absolutely adequate for a long time. All the non story quests are repeatable daily, and most of the content is interesting enough (and not generic go-here-then-kill-ten-wolves type of quests) that you tend to take your time anyway, and can easily get all the Ability and Skill points and gear you want without needing the new areas (released in “issues” like a comic book or a periodical).

      This is where the recent popularity of “Let’s Play” videos is your friend. Watch some footage of the game, you may like it.

      If you like story, the game is full of it. If you like conspiracy theories and mystery, the game is full of it. If you like difficult and tactical Boss Fights for the whole party (not just healer checks), the game is full of them. If you like the idea of not being locked into a class, that’s here too. For me, that was the sell. Knowing that I could pick abilities I like and make them work. If you check out the deck builder at you can see all the abilities available, which tend to make for a diverse set of ways to play the game. Those pre-built decks are optional, but can give an overwhelmed player something to work towards. Most styles of play could even be found there. There are Melee AOE decks, summoning decks, deck built around range control, some that give self-heals as you kill, or make defeated enemies explode in an AOE on death, multiple ways to be a healer or a tank, and quite a bit more. Many high-end players make their own sets of abilities, and can even eventually gain so many abilities that they can effortlessly switch between roles when needed.

      Then there are the clothing options. At first, you may feel limited, which is intentional, but there are clothing pieces all over the world, as well as from the in game store, as well as unlocked for completing a deck (wearable once you have it, even if you don’t stick to that deck). As you progress, you’ll realize you can gain a slew of outfits, if that’s your thing. These can further be optionally saved along with gear and a set of powers into a full set that you can quickly swap to. Want to shine like a beacon when you’re a tank, but wear your faction colors when you’re the healer? Easy as a few clicks (once you save them both).

      If you can’t tell, i’m an addict, but the game is excellent, and easily has my recommendation.

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