The Secret World: Review and Gameplay: Page 3 of 12

The Secret World: Review and Gameplay
The MMO World's Best-Kept Secret

Character Customization

Egypt View

Dressed for the desert.

When you first sit down to create your character in The Secret World, you could be forgiven for thinking that the range of options on offer are pretty poor. The selection of facial types for both female and male character types is small, and most of them are pretty ugly; as are the various bits of attire you can dress your character in. So if you were hoping to strut out into London, Seoul, or New York with your pixel-perfect recreation of Lucille-era Lil' Richard, you're probably going to have your work cut out for you.

That's the thing about The Secret World: it doesn't make a great first impression when it comes to character customization, or much of anything else. What I hope that this The Secret World review will accomplish, though, is to encourage new players to persevere through the early parts of the game so that they eventually get to experience all the great features it has to offer; and one of the game's greatest features is without a doubt the character customization.

Not only is each and every The Secret World player character able to equip three weapons at once—including everything from flamethrowers and assault rifles, to gigantic war hammers and foul tomes of blood magic—but the player can choose from a selection of hundreds upon hundreds of clothing items to adorn themselves from head to toe as they see fit. Ingeniously, Funcom have designed the equipment system so that the clothing a character wears has absolutely no impact on their stats. The upside of this is that Funcom's outfit designers can go nuts with all sorts of weird and wonderful outfits, and players can go equally nuts mixing and matching them: believe me, that Lil' Richard look won't seem so out of reach after your wardrobe has expanded.

Players can customize a lot more than their characters look, though: the way your character plays is also completely up to you. The two weapons that you start out with, along with a third "auxiliary" weapon that you get later on, determine which active abilities your character has access to. For example, if your character is getting around with both sword and shotgun, you can freely pick and choose any abilities you have unlocked from the sword/shotgun ability trees and slot them into your action bar as you see fit. If you so desired, you might only use the sword to activate some defensive buffs before using your twelve gauge to make it rain zombie parts; alternately, you could go for a "strike and fade" approach, whereby you use the sword to quickly close the distance between your character and the enemy and deal a rapid flurry of cutting strikes before using the shotgun's blowback effect to rapidly rocket to a safe distance before your enemy can respond.

New player in London

Trendy threads for the streets of London.

As enticing as all that might sound, though, it's when you start experimenting with the mind-bogglingly huge array of passive abilities on offer that you begin to appreciate the many and varied ways that you can maximize your character's capacity for carnage. Unlike active abilities, passive abilities do not require that your character be equipped with any particular bit of gear in order to activate them. That means you can mix and match from any and all of the ability trees.

Returning to our blade/shotgun example, what if we equipped a passive ability that drastically slowed an enemy every time you scored a critical hit with a shotgun? That would mean that the blowback attack that puts you out of harm's way also has a chance of slowing your enemy to a crawl; leaving the poor fellow to nurse his still-bleeding wounds while he slowly shambles towards you so that he can repay the favour.

These are only the simplest of examples. Mixing and matching active and passive abilities is an art form in The Secret World, and those who know how to do it well can deal an awful lot of death (or, healing as they case may be). And if it all sounds a little bewildering, that's because it is; thankfully, the game provides pre-built "decks" for just about every playstyle and weapon combination a starting player could want. These decks function like classes in many other MMOs, but can be freely adjusted at any time by the player.

Raconteur of the RPG scene.
Favorite Genre: RPG
Currently Playing: The Witcher III
Top 3 Favorite Games:Fallout: New Vegas, Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

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