The Secret World beta: hands-on footage and first impressions

The Secret World Templar Tutorial

I've played through the first few hours of The Secret World this week, from the Templar faction's tutorial in London to the zombie-infested streets of a small New England town. You can watch eight minutes of footage with commentary below.

Honestly, I'm torn about The Secret World. As a fan of urban fantasy, I'm squarely in Funcom's sights and for the most part the setting is executed well. There's lots of lovely environmental detail and knowing references for fans of weird fiction to dig up. That said, what I've actually done in the opening hours of the game has been pure MMO: action-bar combat and objective-based quests with little sign of the secrets and puzzles that the game promises.

Of course, they wouldn't be secrets if they were placed front and centre - but so far, The Secret World hasn't done much to place me on the breadcrumb trail. It's less willing to lead you by the nose than other MMOs, which is a good thing - but a difficult fetch quest is still a fetch quest. The presence of lots of mobs with wide aggro areas makes exploration tricky: I want to uncover Kingsmouth's dark corners, but I'm less interested in fighting the same three zombies over and over.

The Secret World is still in beta, though, and there's time for that bumpy initial experience to get smoothed out. My first few hours with the game haven't set the world alight, but they have given me a lot to think about. I'm looking forward to seeing how the game feels on a packed server, which the upcoming beta weekend should provide.

Read our preview from GDC for a look at what The Secret World has to offer in its later stages. Funcom are also running The Secret War metagame over on Facebook, which puts you in the running for beta access.

Will you be jumping in to The Secret World this weekend? If so, what are you most looking forward to trying out?

Chris Thursten

Joining in 2011, Chris made his start with PC Gamer turning beautiful trees into magazines, first as a writer and later as deputy editor. Once PCG's reluctant MMO champion , his discovery of Dota 2 in 2012 led him to much darker, stranger places. In 2015, Chris became the editor of PC Gamer Pro, overseeing our online coverage of competitive gaming and esports. He left in 2017, and can be now found making games and recording the Crate & Crowbar podcast.