Game Mechanics

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No Classes or Levels

Main article: No Classes or Levels

The Secret World has no classes or levels. Freeform character customization allows you to create the character that you want to play. Choose from hundreds of different powers for your character without ever having to re-roll, completely eliminating the need to follow a set path of progression throughout the game. Choose the powers, the weapons and the clothing that you want to use.

The Secret World does not force you down a set path of progression. You are free to do anything you want at any time. If you ever get tired of doing missions or slaughtering demons, why not return to your secret society and perform tasks for them so you can rise up in their order? Do so, and you will unlock even more powers, weapons, and even unique uniforms. And, of course, untold secrets![1]

7 active and 7 passive

Main article: 7 active and 7 passive

For the uninitiated, The Secret World has, at last count, 525 abilities which are divided into 9 weapons. 3 ranged weapons (Rifles, Dual Pistols and Shotguns); 3 melee weapons (Blades, Hammers and Fists/Claws); and 3 magic disciplines (Elementalism, Chaos Magic and Blood Magic).

Your character, however, only has access to 7 active and 7 passive abilities at one time. If you’re coming from a regular MMO background it can seem a bit limiting to only have 7 and 7 abilities, as oposed to the 25 or so you’re probabyl used to having, but if you give it a chance you’ll see that The Secret World could never have been any other way.

Just like playing poker, you can’t have all the cards in your hand at once. You take 5 cards and its up to you to swap those cards until (if you’re lucky) you’ll have some cards that work well together. If you have in your hand: 10, 10, Jack, Queen, King, you might win the hand if nobody else has anything higher than a pair of 10′s. Or you can swap one of the 10′s and (if you’re lucky), get a 9, and crush everyone under the weight of your flush.

In TSW that luck is removed and it all depends on the skill of the player. You’ll need to think about what abilities to include in your deck and which ones to leave out, and how those abilities interact together and create synergy.

Synergy is a word you’ll hear a lot when playing TSW. Synergy is when abilities interact to create a beneficial effect. You might have one active skill which weakens the enemy, and another active skill which does extra damage to weakened enemies – two perfect abilities to include together in your deck. Or you might have a chain attack which does damage across several enemies, and a passive which adds a DoT to all chain attacks – another perfect synergistic pair.

And then there’s builders and finishers. All weapons have resource points associated with them, and most skills either build points or use them. Its important to note that all builder abilities will build resource points for both of your equipped weapons at once, so there is no need to take a builder for each weapon, unless you really want to. Finishers will use up the resource points to a greater effect.

It’s important to note that resource points work differently depending on which weapon you are using:

  For magic, resource points start at 9 and build up to 5 just as you’d expect.
  For melee weapons, resource points start at 5 so you can burst in with a finisher and go full throttle right from the start.
  For ranged weapons, resource points start at 0 and build up to 5, but they build upon the enemy not the player. This means that if an enemy dies or if you change targets, your resource points will fall to 0. However, there are skills that take advantage of this. You can, for instance, have enemies which die with ranged resources on them explode, doing a small AoE or heal friendly targets around them when they die.

And you’ll have to make some important choices when designing your build. What role will you play? Tank, Healer, DPS, or a combination? Will you focus on single targets, or AoE groups of mobs at once? All of these choices mean the skill of the game is firmly in the lap of the player. All players have 525 abilities at their disposal, which means everyone can do everything, but not all at once.

Death

Main article: Death

Death, or Physical Exhaustion, leads to your Anima Form, or what I like to call a ‘ghost’, appearing at the nearest Anima Well. Anima Wells are scattered throughout each zone, and upon death you can choose to run back to your body to respawn, or you can use the World Roots at the Anima Well to respawn right there.

During major boss battles in dungeons you cannot return to the fight at all after death, while the fight is still on. This makes team-play and co-operation a must, as one of your party must still be alive to take down the boss, or else you’ll have to start the battle over from scratch. Each major boss must be taken down in one go, not zerged to death in bits and pieces until you wear it down to nothing with your power to res fast.

Part of TSW’s death penalty is durability loss. Each weapon and talisman has a durability, which does not reduce during regular use, and does not effect the damage output of the weapon until the weapon is "broken". At that point you will need to visit a vendor to "repair" the broken weapon and/or talisman.

But death isn’t only for corpse running. The Secret World uses death in other, unique ways. Some missions require you to die to complete an objective, and there are some sights that can only be witnessed while dead, in your Anima Form, so keep this in mind while you’re exploring the hidden corners of The Secret World.