The Complicated Alternate Reality Of The Secret World And Its Secret Seals

The Secret World officially launches next week, on July 3. It's a somewhat unconventional approach to the MMORPG genre, set in the sinister, secret underbelly of the real world, the 21st century Earth we all inahbit.

While developers Funcom have been running the standard closed beta and public beta weekends, something more sinister has been going on around the edges.

A woman is tracing the path of a serial killer. There are clues available for the finding, dotted around the internet and around the world. And through working on them collaboratively, would-be sleuths loyal to the Templars, Illuminati, or Dragon have been slowly working their way through the mystery.

It's an alternate reality game, and ARG. And while ARGs are often used as part of a would-be viral marketing campaign for games and movies, for a game like The Secret World it's particularly apt. The entire point of the game and its story is to make us re-evaluate the history we thought we know, and to wonder if we should have paid a little more attention to our myths and legends. Funcom is dancing right along the edge of the world-that-is, and the stories we've been taught, carefully sprinkling just enough seeds of doubt around to grow a garden of conspiracy.

The tale has been unwinding through seven seals, and those who haven't yet jumped in can still follow along and catch up before the end with the instructions in these guides. In very brief, the story so far:

The first seal made everyone think about the Eye of Providence, and introduced us to a young woman we didn't yet know.

Seal two introduced a traitorous Dragon agent, and revealed that a serial killer is at the heart of the mystery. Our mysterious brunette was revealed to be on the case.

The third seal took us to the siege of Leningrad and Joan of Arc. We learned that our detective is Astrid Massing, and that she'd be attending a mysterious meeting at "Alcatraz."

Seal number four offered participants a chance to become a rogue agent. Three succeeded. Thanks to their assistance, Astrid was able to gain more access to the serial killer's profile.

In seal five, the Russian royal family began to tie into the story, as did a strange, elite organisation and their semi-secret annual meetings. Astrid acknowledged which researchers were helping her get closest to a solution.

The sixth seal began to tax participants' endurance. Where most could be solved in a manner of hours with some group work, Seal Six took days and delved into the seven deadly sins. It also drew us from Biblical mythology to... Cthulu.

The seventh seal? Well, that's in progress right now. The Blackwatchmen issued a new mission yesterday, warning only, "A small group of rogue agents is currently building a weapon." And your mission? Stop them. At any cost.

Want to jump in on the maddening puzzles? Go to, click anywhere on the page that isn't a link, and hit "33". It's a rabbit hole that goes deep. Good luck finding your way back out.


    Everyone should buy/play this's a fantastic and refreshing take on the MMORPG genre. It by no means changes everything, but if you love puzzles, mystery and good story - then you'll love this game...

      Agreed, played the last beta weekend and got completely sold on it. Just wish the cutscenes were better.

      Yeah I found myself enjoying it a lot after a while, I just can't stand the control system...maybe I'm doing it wrong? I just couldn't find an auto-attack command.

      agreed ! preordered, so excited for launch

    The setting and atmosphere of the game are cool, and the idea of investigation quests is great. I'd break my five-year break from MMOs for this, if it only had decent combat. Alas, this is not so. Maybe I'm just spoiled by all those fancy RPGs out there, but "press 1 repeatedly, occasionally throwing in 3 for good measure" just doesn't cut it for me anymore.

      I can understand where you're coming from, and even after a few tweaks the combat is still a little 'stiff'...but I played the last 2 beta weekends and hours rolled by without notice, without care...and once it was all over? I just wanted more, I'm hanging around the forums like a lost puppy...The kicker is I never even played MMO's before! I dabbled in Rift and Tear - but the setting, atmosphere and general game-play is the key. Everything will only get progressively better, and this is proven by Funcom listening to their customers all through the beta's. One thing that you should note, and it's in some youTube video's out there, the timing of skills and abilities factor greatly in this game, so don't think it's press 1 then wait for 3...there's a lot more going on here. At the very least you can get the game for 50$ with 30 days worth of time...and that wouldn't be a waste of money by any means...because you'll get more then 30 days worth of time out of that purchase.

      To all the other brother and sisters that have already pre-ordered, I will see you on the other side. Spread the word for this game, as I read in a recent interview they are relying somewhat on word-of-mouth, as they aren't the biggest company that can afford a huge marketing budget. So get the word out there, get more people involved. Lets have a good mature community that loves to get in and solve puzzles and mysteries together....oh and kick the crap out of some bad dudes!

        Well, I may have exaggerated slightly with that statement. The problem is I know that combat, even in an MMO, can actually be fun - look at RaiderZ (currently in alpha), which has actual hitboxes.
        I realise that I'm trying to argue with the converted, but TSW's style of combat has roots in a design that sought to bypass latency issues that (for the most part) no longer exist. Don't get me wrong - the combat is my only gripe with the game, but it's a fairly major component. It feels like WoW with a new coat of paint, and that just disappoints me, when it could have been so much more...

          True I am converted...but don't get me wrong, I'm with you on the combat being the weakest link in the game, all I was trying to say - was don't write it off, as it's early days. I mean if this game had Tera combat, it would almost be complete. But you can't please everyone and there's a lot of people out there that like the press 1, press 2 rubbish. I like to feel like I'm actually involved in the combat...It combat will get better, I believe that. Like I said, if your budget isn't that tight (and I know there is a lot of games coming out) then throw down 50$ and play for 30 days. Or just wait, and see if things get better in a few months. Are you going to be getting GW2?

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