The Secret World Talks Halloween, Issue #8

The Secret World released it's September Director's Letter today, the latest in a continuing series of updates by creative director, Joel Bylos. The missive begins by recapping the events of the last month before moving into what's in store for October and beyond.

The Secret World Whispering Tide Event

The world tree is being threatened by the evil substance known as "The Filth" and it will be up to the players to push back the coming darkness in the latest Secret World event; The Whispering Tide.

The Secret World: Spy vs. Supernatural

As I stepped back into The Secret World, I realized I’ve missed Funcom’s weave of supernatural storytelling. I’m not sure if it’s the familiar streets of London under my feet, or the peculiar blend of magic and modern-day, but I’ve always found the mirror-world intriguing.

But just like the world it portrays, The Secret World has been through turbulent times. Undaunted, Funcom stuck to its guns, removing the mandatory subscription and releasing regular updates as DLC. For game director Joel Bylos it’s a strategy that seems to be working, with players celebrating the game’s first anniversary this week.

Coinciding with the frivolities is Funcom’s latest content pack. Issue #7: A Dream to Kill is a discordant interpretation of the modern-day spy thriller, like a Grimm fairy tale with bullets and explosions. And, as I went on a guided tour through the new update with Bylos, what started out as a familiar tale descended into the disturbing.

The Secret World Issue #7 Preview

The next chapter in the conspiracy-horror MMO The Secret World has been revealed, along with an eerie teaser trailer that may leave a few chills running down your spine. Issue #7: A Dream To Kill brings new missions and more crucial story plot points.

While you're off killing dreams, this next addition to The Secret World's story may leave you with a few nightmares yourself.

The Changing World of Joel Bylos

The last time I spoke with Funcom’s Joel Bylos was at Gamescom 2012. As Lead Content Designer on The Secret World, the plucky Australian was eager to show off the New York Raid and tease the new zone of Tokyo. But even though the Norwegian developer has gone through some turbulent times, Bylos has weathered the storm, growing to become Creative Director, with Age of Conan and Anarchy Online joining TSW under his stewardship.

The Secret World: Buy-to-Play is Winning

The Secret World went Buy-to-Play last month, and the early signs show that it was a good choice. In a press release targeted at investors, Funcom announced a major boost in the play time and sales for the game as old players return to the game amongst the thousands of new players.

Issue Five Is Live

Any purported stumbles at launch or the free-to-play transition have done little to slow down the gang at Funcom. In fact, it seems that content updates for The Secret World have somehow been accelerated -- Issue #5 hit the servers today, entitled "The Vanishing of Tyler Freeborn."

TSW Adds End of the World Content

The Secret World's alternate reality game is surging in content. Not above poking fun at themselves, this video went up yesterday, where a Funcom employee goes berserk about the end of the world, then runs into the meeting room where others are planning content for TSW, and he yells, "You're making money off the end of the world?!"

More mysteries are coming up with the impending end of all things - more puzzles, mysteries, and investigations to be done in the ARG. The undead and gaint monsters called harbingers will be arriving all over the in-game world.


Joel Bylos, recently taking over TSW, will be updating a video series about the end of the world. If you haven't checked out TSW's ARG recently, now is a good time. 


Can you work it all out before it's too late?

Julian "Mirai" Williams

TSW: Bylos on Dropping Subscriptions

Other people reckon it’ll be zombies, but I’ve always thought that the Earth would be swallowed in a fiery nova, leaving nothing behind but a lifeless husk. I’m not sure why, it just seemed neater than hordes of brain-hunting undead shambling through the decaying hallmarks of our civilization. Besides, a global inferno that tears the land asunder has a kind of glorious finality to it.

Either way, for Funcom game director Joel Bylos, the argument has been won. Starting today, The Secret World no longer requires a subscription. Just pick up a copy and you can experience the entire game until the Mayan Calendar runs out, or even longer if the predictions of doomsday turn out to be inaccurate.

We asked Bylos if he’d take a break from building his apocalypse-proof bunker to tell us more about his decision to drop the subscription. During the interview, he explained why having no restrictions is the best for gamers, and what the future holds should we survive beyond the 21st.

The Secret World Drops the Subscription

I’m not sure which is tougher: building a haven from the End of the World, or battling against hordes of Funcom executives. Either way, game director Joel Bylos can claim victory. Starting today, The Secret World no longer requires a subscription. Just buy a copy to get access to everything the modern-day MMO has to offer.

Replacing the subscription is an optional membership, granting unique items, a $10 monthly stipend of Bonus Points to spend in the Item Store, plus a 10% discount off almost everything except content packs. You can find the full details on membership in Funcom’s FAQ. We’ve also managed to pull Joel Bylos away from bunker-building long enough to answer our questions on why they decided to switch, and what it means for The Secret World’s future.

Non-members are likely to be surprised by the level of restrictions they face: simply put, there aren’t any. The entire current game, with all the dungeons, lairs and PVP, is there to experience as much as you want.

Since launching in July this year, the Norwegian developer has released four major content updates, including a barbershop and plastic surgeon, rocket launchers and chainsaw auxiliary weapons, and the New York raid. Although these updates will continue, we’re told that some content will be sold as DLC. This will start with Issue #5 next January, although this will be free for anyone registering a copy of the game before the New Year.

In my own one-month-in review, I’ve previously talked about the brilliant storytelling, well-paced dungeons and clever server architecture that makes group-finding easy. I even declared the fiendish investigation missions “some of the most rewarding questing experiences I’ve ever had in MMOs.” If you’ve been on the fence about Funcom’s latest, now’s a great time to dive in.

After all, if the Mayans are right, you’ll only have 9 days left before Armageddon envelops us.

Gareth “Gazimoff” Harmer, Senior Contributing Editor