The Secret World Gold Articles
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The Secret World Gameplay

The Secret World is a massively multiplayer online role-playing video game set in a modern-day real world under attack from occult forces. Ragnar Tørnquistled development of the initial game for Funcom. The Secret World uses a subscription-optional, buy-to-play business model, requiring players only to buy the game with no additional subscription fees, with additional benefits to those members still paying a subscription.

In 2017, The Secret World was relaunched as Secret World Legends.

In the game, the player's character joins one of three world-controlling secret societies attempting to repel, mitigate or exploit the attack of Lovecraftian entitiesand other immortal beings in coastal Maine, rural Egypt, Transylvania and a quarantined section of Tokyo, and advance their society's agenda over that of the others.

The game uses a contemporary setting, borrowing heavily from the horror fiction genre and folklore, with a fog-ringed, zombie-infested New England fishing village for the novice player, mummies and cultists in Egypt for the mid-level player, followed by vampires and werewolves in Transylvania and ghosts, robots, Oni demons and an interdimensional occult cancer in Tokyo. Mission content bleeds into player faction headquarters in London, Seoul and the DUMBO neighborhood in Brooklyn, and into the game's transport network, along the subterranean branches of Yggdrasil in Agartha.

Unlike many other MMORPGs, there is no need to stop to use most of a character's attacks and abilities; as a result, combat is faster and movement-based. The character is free (and at higher levels, occasionally obliged) to redevelop their abilities on the go, to better prepare themselves for specific threats or better integrate into a group. Unlike traditional MMORPGs, advancement is primarily through equipment, using experience points to buy additional abilities and more powerful weapons.

Initial release date: July 3, 2012
Developer: Funcom
Designer: Ragnar Tørnquist
Genre: Massively multiplayer online role-playing game
Platform: Microsoft Windows
Publishers: Funcom, Electronic Arts


Starting a character

The Secret World allows the player to control a character or avatar within a game world in third- or first-person view. This character can be used for exploration, fighting monsters, completing missions, and interacting with players and non-player characters (NPCs).

The game starts with the player choosing a default "dimension" while playing solo. This also decides which battlegroup the player is placed in within Player versus Player battlegrounds. The game makes use of a single server technology that allows players to meet up with people from any of the different servers, both in regular gameplay as well as instances and dungeons.

The Secret World character starts the game by joining one of three "factions": the Illuminati, the Templars or the Dragon. This determines the character's home city as well as a set of faction-specific missions and their allies in PvP. After choosing their faction, the player is taken to the character creator where they can choose their character's gender, height, face, hair, makeup and clothing.

Combat and Abilities

The Secret World offers players a choice between tab-targeted combat or a more action-based combat where the target is selected with a crosshair in the middle of the screen. Abilities can be activated by pressing a certain hotkey and most abilities can also be activated while the character is moving. The player can choose from 9 different weapon types, divided in three categories: melee, magic and ranged. Melee weapons include: blades, hammers and fist weapons. Magic weapons include: blood magic, chaos magic and elementalism. Ranged weapons include: shotguns, pistols and assault rifles.

The player can wield two of these weapons simultaneously and is also allowed 7 active and 7 passive abilities at a time. Active abilities are further divided between builders and consumers. Builders build resources either on the target or the player, which are then consumed by a consumer ability. The amount of resource consumed then decides the amount of damage that the consumer ability does.

The game has a total of 525 abilities which are stored in an "ability wheel" that allows the character to change their class and weapon types, as well as customize their character's roles, at any point in time.[note 1] This differs from traditional MMOs that lock the player to a class at the initial character creation phase. There is also an auxiliary wheel which includes a different type of weapons, referred to as auxiliary weapons. These auxiliary weapons can be unlocked by playing specific missions and they allow the player to add an additional active and passive ability for this auxiliary weapon. A total of 5 auxiliary weapons have been released: flamethrower, rocket launcher, quantum brace, chainsaw and whip.

Abilities can be further improved by augments gainable by doing a specific set of missions referred to as scenarios. Augments are divided in four categories: damage, support, healing and survivability. Augments add direct increases to abilities such as increasing a certain stat or effect for this specific ability. Completing issue 11 also unlocks a special "ultimate ability" that does a high amount of damage to up to 30 enemies in a 9-metre radius. This ability has to be recharged by killing mobs and can only be used on a mob once every ten minutes. Ultimate abilities have been disabled in PvP.


The missions come in several varieties. The main plot follows a faction-driven quest storyline. Characters can also take on a main mission, a dungeon mission, faction-limited side quests, and three open side quests. Some missions involve fetching items or fighting monsters; others include a variety of puzzles that are quasi-alternate reality games that require "searching the Internet" for clues with an in-game browser. Investigation missions have players find facts and solve problems, and differ from the hack-and-slash missions. Sabotage missions require players to navigate areas, preferably without being spotted by enemies or automated traps.

The Secret World also supports groupings of characters called "cabals," each made up of members from a single faction, although many players have opted to develop their own off-game groupings to unite characters from different factions.

How to make The Secret World

Hello Everyone! Since SWL has a lot of significant changes over TSW, I figured there will be plenty of people – both new to TSW and old TSW veterans – who will be confused about certain game mechanics, or otherwise have questions. There is also a high probability that some of these questions will be asked again and again and again by multiple people.

To help the community, reduce amount of questions, and just make the experience of starting SWL a bit better for everyone, I’ve decided to make this post. It was created with help of various people over at SWL closed beta forums (while game was still under NDA), and saved until NDA was lifted – which is today. I will be posting links to this guide in-game using scripts, and I would ask that any of you able to do the same please help me spread the message.

Last but now least, if you disagree with any statement here, or have more questions, or feel like I’ve missed an important point, please leave a comment and I’ll do my best to update the OP!



After you pick a starter class for your new character, you are NOT locked to that class for rest of game. SWL classes are not like “wow” classes or “FFXIV” classes – they are more like “hearthstone base decks”. Your starting class unlocks two weapons for you, and lets you use those weapons at level 1. You can spend in-game currency to unlock additional weapons, and nothing stops you from being able to use ALL weapons in ANY combination later on. Your class affects ONLY your starting weapons. Do note however that unlocking additional weapons is rather time consuming, so try and pick a correct weapon combination right away. There is nothing wrong with restarting a character early on if you feel like you’ve made a poor choice with weapons (to save the time later in unlocking new type). Also note that ALL weapon combinations are viable. Just because there is no “blade/shotgun” combination, for example, doesn’t mean you can’t make it yourself.


There are 3 main currency types – Marks of Favour, Aurum and Anima Shards. There are also some other bonus currencies like marks of third age.

MARKS OF FAVOR (look like a black/white polygon with a lion in it) are earned via daily challenges. If you click in top left corner of your screen, and select Daily Challenges, those are the things that reward MOF daily. You are limited in number of MOF you can earn daily, as the challenges reset per day. There might also be additional ways to earn MOF at late game (such as raids etc), but these are not yet confirmed. This is by far the most valuable (and most rare) currency, as it is used for buying inventory space, buying new weapons, unlocking sprinting, etc. For TSW veterans, MOF is essentially the new pax merged with black bullions. ANIMA SHARDS are things you earn doing quests and killing mobs. You use them for upgrading and fusing weapons and talismans (more about it later). They are the new “quest reward / loot reward” currency, and you will have plenty of them early on, but they might become a bottleneck in your item upgrade process in lategame.

AURUM (looks like gold bars) is the premium currency that is bought for IRL cash. You can also buy it on exchange from other players (more about it later). You spend aurum for various things – cache keys, clothes, pets, store items, unlocks, etc.


Before you can use a weapon, it needs to be unlocked. You start the game with two weapons unlocked (based on your class pick), and you need to spend Marks of Favour to unlock additional weapons. When you want to unlock a weapon, you need to buy its “Active” and “passive” pages – there are two separate costs for these. It costs a total of 40,000 MOF to unlock first weapon (20,000 each for active and passive pages), but that cost increases for additional weapons (I believe second weapon is 45,000 MOF). The ACTIVES weapon page contains active abilities you can use with that weapon – for example, “double shot”, “anima blast”, etc. Those are your skills and attacks. You unlock them using AP points. The PASSIVES weapon page contains passive abilities that affect the weapon they belong to. The passives page also contains round circular icon passives, and these affect your character always, regardless of whether you have the weapon equipped. You may have a total of 6 actives and 5 passives equipped at a time – you always need 1 basic ability (costs no energy, does low dps), and its recommended that you also have 1 consumer ability (costs energy, does more dps than basic). The other slots can be filled either with additional consumers, or actives (“cooldowns”), or 1 elite ability (long cd, high dps). You gain AP and SP by gaining experience, and you can also gain some by fully completing zones (all quests, fully explored, etc). You can also purchase some from in-game shop.

Note that all previous TSW players have all weapons unlocked at start by default, as long as they have linked their accounts.


The weapon equipped in the LEFT slot on your character screen is your PRIMARY weapon. The weapon equipped in the RIGHT slot on your character screen is your SECONDARY weapon. The only difference between primary and secondary weapon is that your secondary weapon gains energy half as fast as your primary. You are also only allowed to slot a basic ability from your primary weapon, not secondary. Due to this, as a basic “rule” (unless you know what you’re doing), you should always try and have more abilities for your primary weapon than for your secondary – because your primary will be getting energy faster. Every weapon has two “resources” – energy and weapon-specific gimmick. For example, a shotgun has Energy and Shotgun Shells. Energy is restored automatically over time, and is used to cast “consumer” abilities – these cost energy, but deal more damage than basic attack. If you’re out of energy for a weapon, you can either cast basic attack for that weapon, or use a consumer for your other weapon (energy is separate for both weapons). For example, your basic attack would be [Cost 0 energy, deal 10 damage], and your consumer might be [Cost 3 energy, deal 15 damage]. This is also why its usually recommended to have a consumer for your secondary weapon as well – because it will be more dps to use a secondary consumer than a primary basic, but it depends on your skill build. Weapon gimmick is unique to each weapon type – shotgun has shotgun shells, pistols have spinning barrels, elementalism has the temperature bar, etc. These gimmicks affect how the weapons perform, and significantly impact your playstyle. You can usually read about these gimmicks in the weapon pages for the weapons, if you press the question mark.


After you learn all active abilities for a weapon, you will be able to put AP points into something called Mastery (also referred to as “capstone”). Mastery for each weapon has 9 total levels, but to unlock higher levels you need to have unlocked lower levels on other weapons – basically, the max mastery level you can reach on a weapon can never be higher than total number of lvl 1+ masteries on all weapons. So you can learn mastery 1 on fists right away, but to learn fists lvl 2 you need to have unlocked lvl 1 in something else, say shotgun. To learn fists level 3 you need to unlock something else again, like blood. And so on.


At the top of your weapon pages you can see an Expertise level. You gain expertise as you gain experience with that weapon equipped – from any source, like questing, killing, etc. Both of your weapons will get same expertise, even if you only use primary (or only secondary). Expertise levels add a +% critical chance and +% critical damage to any abilities used by that weapon, but this bonus WILL NOT be visible on your character stats window. It will still be applied, just not visible.


Some stats always apply their effects, others only apply during specific conditions.

  • Weapon stats are weapon power and any glyphs / special effects attached to the weapon
  • Expertise bonus is +%crit and +%critDamage from expertise level Weapon stats WILL be displayed on your character sheet, and will be active whenever your weapon is active. Let’s say you have pistols with 100 power and sword with 200 power. If you place a Damage Over Time debuff on enemy with pistols, and then activate your sword, the DOT will be ticking using the 200 power of your sword, because that is the active weapon, that is providing you its stats. Expertise bonus WILL NOT be displayed on your character sheet, and will be applied to any abilities used by that weapon. Using same example as above, if you have +5% expertise on pistols and +1% expertise on swords, if you cast a pistol DOT on enemy, and then swap to sword, you will STILL be getting +5% bonus for that dot from your pistols expertise.


All gear has three “properties” – rarity, quality and level. Gear level is a number in bottom corner, indicating what level the item is. For example, a sword could be level 13. Gear rarity is the color of the item, and it can be either white (common), green (uncommon), blue (rare), purple (epic), legendary (yellow) or artefact (red). Gear quality is different for armor (talismans) and weapons. For talismans, quality is indicated by the little “dots” on the bottom, going from Faded to Luminous to Radiant – you can also usually see this in the item name (i.e. Radiant lucky dice). For weapons, it is indicated by the name affix, such as “Mk. I” or “Mk.III” – i.e. “Shotgun of hotdogs, Mk. II”

Obtained items will almost always be level 1, and need to be levelled by you using an upgrade mechanic. This mechanic will be explained to you in-game via a tutorial rather early on, but to outline it quickly,

  1. Open upgrade window (NOT fusion window)
  2. Place item you want upgraded in top left corner
  3. Place items you want to destroy to provide exp to your “good item” in bottom squares
  4. Press Upgrade.

*In this process, you destroy gear to upgrade other gear. Note that you can only upgrade talismans using talismans, and weapons using weapons. You can use any kind of weapons/talismans to upgrade (i.e. you can upgrade pistols by destroying shotguns), but you will be getting a 2.5 experience bonus if you sacrifice items that share a type.

You will get 2.5x experience if you upgrade:

  • Weapon with a same weapon type (i.e. shotgun with shotgun)
  • Talisman with a talisman of SAME SLOT and SAME TYPE (i.e. Dps necklace with dps necklace)
  • Glyphs (unlocked later in game) with a glyph of SAME TYPE (i.e. penetration glyph with penetration glyph)

Aside from the matching bonus, there is also a chance to get Critical bonus. This is entirely RNG, and you cannot affect it in any way except by being lucky. It seems to award either a flat +exp, or give an additional +50% exp. It is also very important to note that item level does NOT affect how much exp it will provide if it’s sacrificed to upgrade something – level 20 pistols will provide same exp as level 1 pistols. As such, it is almost never a good idea to sacrifice items that have any levels on them already.

All items have a “level cap”, that is dictated by their rarity. - Green items can be max level 20 - Blue items can be max level 25 - Purple items can be max level 30 - Yellow items can be max level 35 (unconfirmed) - Red items can be max level 40 (unconfirmed)

Upgrading items costs a certain amount of Anima Shards. The price of Anima Shards increases with the rarity of items being upgraded. Here are some reference values from SWL beta (NOTE: may be different in Live):

Green: 200 Anima Shards

Blue: 400 Anima Shards

Purple: 600 Anima Shards

Yellow: 800 Anima Shards

Red: 1000 Anima Shards

Some activities (like dungeons) can also reward you with a Distillate. A distillate is something you can use instead of an item to upgrade something – i.e. by sacrificing a distillate to upgrade a sword, as if distillate was another sword. Distillates also do not consume any anima shards when used to upgrade items.

From SWL beta, here are the values that you can expect for upgrading. Note that these may have been changed for the Live version:

Unmatched green: 100xp

Matched green: 250xp

Major Distillate green: 250xp

Potent Distillate green: 400xp

Unmatched blue: 400xp

Minor Distillate blue: 500xp

Matched blue: 1000xp

Major Distillate blue: 1000xp

Potent Distillate blue: 1600xp

Unmatched purple: 1600xp

Matched purple: 4000xp

Unmatched yellow: 5600xp

Matched yellow: 14000xp

When you get your item to a max level, you can fuse it. Fusing items allows you to jump to the next “rarity” stage – and requires you to “merge” two items of lower rarity.

To merge items, you need to have two items of same type, both at max level.

  • You can fuse two weapons that are same type (shotgun to shotgun)
  • You can fuse two talismans that are same slot (dps neck to hp neck, or dps neck to dps neck)
  • You can fuse two glyphs that are same type (crit glyph to crit glyph)

You will also get an in-game tutorial for fusing, but to outline it quickly,

  1. Open the FUSION window (IMPORTANT!!!! NOT UPGRADE WINDOW!!!)
  2. Put the item you want to be used as BASE on the left side (order is important, read below)
  3. Put the item you want to be used as a catalyst on the right side
  4. Press Fuse

Let’s say you put two level 20 green swords in the fusing window. Your result will be a single Blue sword at level 1. Now, ordering is important when fusing – the left (base) item will provide its stats to the result item. Let’s say you’re fusing a green radiant dps necklace (A) to a green faded healing necklace (B). If you put A on the left side, and B on the right side, your result fusion item will be a blue radiant dps necklace. But if you put B on left and A on right, your result will be a blue faded healing necklace instead.

Item quality (faded/luminous/radiant, MK.I/II/III) and item stats (of healing, of dps, of tanking) are ALWAYS taken from the LEFT item. So make sure you fuse correctly.

Here is a quick chart for reference:

  • Fusing two level 20 green items results in a level 1 blue item
  • Fusing a level 20 green item with a cash-shop Catalyst results in a level 1 blue item
  • Fusing two level 25 blue items results in a level 1 purple item
  • Fusing a level 25 blue item with a cash-shop catalyst results in a level 1 purple item
  • Fusing two level 30 purple items results in a level 1 yellow item
  • Fusing a level 25 purple item with a cash-shop catalyst results in a level 1 yellow item
  • Fusing two level 30 yellow items results in a level 1 red item
  • Fusing a level 30 yellow item with a cash-shop catalyst results in a level 1 red item

I have now discussed how to change your item level, and how to change your item rarity. There is no normal way to change item quality (faded/luminous/radiant, mkI/II/III). When an item drops for you, it will be randomly assigned a quality, and it will stay that quality forever. There is no way to ever change a luminous talisman into a radiant. When fusing, the quality of LEFT item will always carry on to the fused item. HOWEVER, Im intentionally lying a bit. There is no “free” way to ever change item quality, as it’s just RNG. However there is a way to use in-game currency Aurum to buy a catalyst, that will upgrade the item to the highest quality. That is one of the uses of the Aurum currency. Note that just because you got a low-quality item, it doesn’t mean that it’s useless. You can either use it as an upgrade material, or you can upgrade it as well. Remember that fusing requires two max-level items, which means you will be needing a LOT of levelled items to keep fusing your gear. It takes two max – level greens to get a blue, two max level blues (so 4 greens) to make a purple, 2 max level purples (so 8 greens) to make an orange, etc. And don’t forget that it costs more and more to upgrade items as they get higher quality as well – so you will ALWAYS have some use for gear you find.


There are 6 types of missions in TSW, and you can tell them apart using icons – MAIN STORY, DUNGEON, INVESTIGATION, ACTION, SABOTAGE and SIDE MISSION.

Main story looks like a blue movie reel (from old physical movie reels), and leads you on the main storyline that lasts until level 50 and then onwards into further content. This is what will lead you from zone to zone with one overarching quest. You cannot abandon it, and you will always have it active in some form.

Dungeon mission is only active when you’re inside a dungeon, and just asks you to kill last boss of that dungeon. Nothing special. Icon looks like a group of players on purple background.

Investigation mission requires you to think outside the box. It won’t ask you to go kill 5 boars or deliver an item, it will usually give you a puzzle and some clues, and leave you alone. Solving investigation missions is hard, and is meant to be hard – don’t be discouraged just because the solution isn’t apparent, some missions take a long time to figure out! Search everywhere, explore everything, consult all the clues you have. Sometimes you might even need to look a little outside the game (not the walkthrough websites, but rather you might need to search for the year of death of some king, or translation from latin, etc). The icon is a green background open laptop.

Sabotage mission requires you to sneak into some place, and essentially involves trying to avoid being seen. Sabotage missions are NOT about direct combat, and you will often find yourself oneshot by difficult monsters if you try to bumrush it – look around carefully, plan your path, find different solutions. If there is a door guarded by a robot, maybe you can disable the power somewhere… Or perhaps there’s an ID card you can give robot to let you through? The icon is a pack of TNT on yellow background.

Action missions are the “bread and butter” mmo quests – go kill 20 zombies, go collect some pamphlets, go hack a terminal, go sabotage a nuclear silo, etc. Killing, running, shooting, everything is fair game. Icon is a running man on red background.

Last but not least is Side Missions. These are things you pick up while doing other things – commonly they involve little work or effort, and just ask you to do something while you’re in the zone. For example, while hunting a werewolf, you might find a phone that belongs to one of the victims, and side quest would be to bring it to their family. The icon is a delivery box on either green background (kill/locate/fetch) or light blue (find out/figure out).

There’s also a PVP mission, but that is only active inside pvp areas.


From level 15 onwards, you might notice a large purple “loot lantern” appearing near some corpses. Those are agarthian caches, SWL’s version of “crates” – you need to use a key to open them, and keys can only be bought with Aurum (premium currency). Inside you can find a variety of items – pets, mounts, costumes, weapon upgrade materials, etc. If you don’t want to use a key, you can always vendor these boxes to get some Anima shards in return.


In the main hub (Agartha) in same interface as Auction House is an exchange. Exchange allows players to buy and sell Marks of Favor and Aurum to and from each other.

To use Exchange, you need to set how much of Aurum/MOF you want to sell or buy, and at what price. You can say “I want to sell 100 aurum, and 15 marks (or more) per aurum.” Or you can say “I want to buy 1500 aurum, paying no more than 22 marks per each”. If bob has 100 aurum, and wants to sell it for some MOF, he will go to exchange and make an offer to sell – for example, 100 aurum at 35 marks per aurum. Now John comes along, and he has it the other way around – he has a lot of marks, but no aurum, and he wants to buy aurum. So he places a buy order, saying “I will buy 250 aurum at 40 marks each or less”. Because the system will always try to give cheapest offer to people buying Aurum for marks, it matches John with Bob. John was prepared to spend 40 marks per aurum, but bob’s offer is for 35 marks per aurum, so it still fits because It means John pays less than he was prepared to spend. As a result, John will end up spending 3500 marks (which will go to Bob), and getting 100 aurum in return. Bob will now have no offers on the exchange, and John will still have a buy order for remaining 150 aurum at 40 marks each or less.


By default your inventory will be rather limited. You can upgrade the size using Marks of Favor. You also have access to bank, with 10 slots being free, and additional ones available by upgrading using marks. You will notice that you have a + sign in top right corner of your inventory. This allows you to “split” your bag into additional windows – so you can have a separate “window” for potions, for example. Note that this can be a bit confusing for some players, because your UI will show you a lot of “empty spaces” in your bags, making you think that you’ve got inventory spots available. That is incorrect. The UI is made to be resized and customized to fit your demand, and as such it will ALWAYS display additional “slots”, even if the inventory is already full. You should ALWAYS trust the number in bottom left corner (45/100 items).


You may have noticed yellow honeycomb squares floating around here and there. If you interact with these, you will unlock a piece of lore, called Legend – it gives you some exp and anima shards, and also unlocks a little bit of text about what’s happening in the game. These are usually sorted by location and topic, and collecting them can give you some good stuff – as well as expand the lore. TELEPORTING If you open your map, you can teleport to any discovered Anima well, at the cost of Anima Shards. This makes journey around faster if you really want to avoid running somewhere. This cost is removed for Patrons.


Sprinting is SWL’s version of mounts – way to move around faster than walking. You can unlock faster sprinting by going to Sprints and Pets menu in top left corner, and spending Marks of Favor. You can assign a hotkey via settings to activate sprint – after a small cast time you will run faster. This effect is cancelled if you use any ability or get hit. You may also notice vehicles – while these look different from sprints visually, they are functionally same. A person riding a bike is same as person riding a horse, and is same as a person just running fast. It’s just a visual thing.


There are a total of 8 zones in base SWL release, with additional zones coming soon after launch. The base zones are Solomon Island (Kingsmouth town, Savage coast and Blue Mountain), Egypt (Scorching Desert and City of the Sun God) and Transylvania (Besieged Farmlands, Shadowy Forest and Carpathian Fangs). Your story mission will guide you along them – but don’t feel like you should rush into new zones if you want to do additional missions in your current ones. There are also some missions which unlock when you hit a specific level – these were previously part of “DLC” content that was included in the base SWL game. These quests are a lot of fun and give good rewards, but might be missed because they are given by NPCs who you’ve already spoken to before.


Make sure to include some healing/defensive abilities or passives in your setup, as you WILL need them. You get stronger as you level, but so do the monsters, and some of the later areas you might struggle if you have no supporting abilities.


To zoom in our out, hold CTRL.


It is VERY important to avoid enemy telegraphed attacks, either by running out or by dodging. These are forgiving early on, but quickly become very dangerous. Learn fast, and be quick! Remember, dead players do zero dps ;p


You link items by opening chat box and ctrl+right clicking the item you want to link.


The Secret World gold farming

MMO newb turned Secret World fanatic Brenna Hillier offers a set of hand-tips for fellow beginners and MMO veterans alike looking to get the most out of Funcom’s subversive new game.

Press J to open the Journal

If you’re not the type to listen attentively to cutscenes and dialogue, read textual prompts, and note down clues, The Secret World is going to seem a bit baffling. There’s not a heck of a lot of handholding going on, but even so you can get around most problems by just paying attention as you go. Be patient. Listen. Read any prompts and pop ups. Look around. Hover your mouse for tool tips. Read the instructions before smashing buttons blindly.

Although there are leaps of logic you’ll have to make on your own, if you’re stuck the Journal will often solve all your problems. Check the quest tier you’ve reached – if you closed straight out of a clue, there’ll be an image of whatever it was you found, which you can check over at your leisure rather than running all the way back.

Press B to open the browser.

Why would you alt-tab out of game when your character is equipped with a smartphone? Any time you’re not in a menu, tap B to open a stripped down and pleasingly snappy browser. You can Google the solution to any quest that’s stumped you right from the game itself, with The Secret World forums in particular offering all manner of user-created hints and walkthroughs for common stumbling blocks.

Too easy for you? Well, indeed. You’ll have the most fun with the browser when you use it as your character would – piecing together simple in-game clues and real-world resources to find the password to a secure terminal, for example. There’s also a whole world of Funcom-created resources out there which will help you in main quests and fill in fine narrative and story details, which you’ll have to discover for yourself – check out for starters.

Press M to open the Map.

Kingsmouth, the first area you’ll visit in The Secret World, can be sprinted across in a couple of minutes, but it’s still pretty easy to get lost thanks to some wonderful hilly design. There’s also plenty to see off the beaten track, as sidequests and NPC dialogue in particular should have alerted you, so there’s plenty of reason to go find out just what’s around the next bend – wendigos! – and become horribly lost.

Radar blips are all very well but The Secret World keeps its HUD fairly minimal for a reason – you’re supposed to be pretending this is weally twoo. So pull out your in-game map, figure out what roads to take, and navigate old school style. The map is admirably clear and well designed and can be held open as you travel – should you not mind the risk of smashing face first into mobs. Ask your friends to meet you on the corner of Main and Elm (or whatever) and then enjoy their confusion.

Press Shift+F to open the Friends menu.

One of the coolest aspects of The Secret World is how easy it is to hook up with your friends, and for some reason, this isn’t terribly well documented. Once you have the Friends menu open, just add your mates by their nicknames – it doesn’t matter what server you and they are on, although it may take you a few tries to get the add to work.

Once you’ve got a few friends on board, click the menu icon to the left of their nicknames to expose a list of hidden options including, most importantly, “meet up” with online buddies. This quick little tool prompts your friend to accept a meeting and then warps you to their location and server, and adds player icons to your map. Since there’s no decent grouping tool yet, this is a great way to gather enough combatants to venture into tougher areas.

Press Y to open the Crafting menu.

Actually, scratch that. Go to Kingsmouth. Near the stairs leading to the roof of the sheriff’s office, you’ll find a quest giver standing at a workbench. On the table by his hand you’ll see a side quest, which is the only crafting tutorial you’ll see for quite a while.

Crafting in The Secret World isn’t terribly intuitive and the tutorial quest, like all the others, is a little obtuse. Read the instructions carefully and when you’re prompted to examine the book, note down the pattern of whatever item you’re going to make – like Minecraft, you’ve got to lay the materials out in the right way. You’ll also need a one-use kit each time you craft. You can make weapons with special properties by crafting, whereas the nearby Council of Venice vendor has only basic equipment, so this is the easiest way to acquire a decent secondary – or even primary – weapon.

Press N to open the Abilities menu

OK, look – the skill tree is circular and that is frightening to you. But it’s really not hard. It’s divided into nine sections, each representing one weapon type. Each weapon section is further divided into two initial branches, both of which must be completed to unlock higher tiers. Click on one of those initial wedges and you’ll notice a menu open on the left side of the screen – here’s where you purchase and equip new abilities using AP. You’ll need at least one ability in an equipped weapon type to use it at all.

You can purchase every ability from every tree if you like, but you can only equip two weapons at a time, plus eight active and eight passive abilities. But see that deck menu on the far left? There are suggested builds here – you’ll discover your own eventually, too – and you can use these to rapidly switch in and out of builds with the equip key.

At the top of the screen you’ll see a link to the Skills menu. It’s a good idea to keep a couple of SP on hand at all times, as you need ranks in various skills to equip more powerful items. Some early quests give talismans (armour) which require a skill rank to equip, and when you find a sweet rare weapon of your favourite type, you’ll be glad to be able to pile SP on to play with it straight away.

Press nothing to have a good look around.

ere’s something you might have missed while dashing from quest marker to quest marker: head down to the beach and watch the draugr reproduce. There’s a whole little ecosystem there which is hinted at in a main quest but many players are completely unaware of it. The many enemy types scattered around Kingsmouth are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to cool little mysteries. I nearly crapped my dacks running into what I strongly suspect was a Slender Man yesterday.

It’s a complex and somewhat unusual MMO that throws you in the deep end and largely leaves you to cope for yourself, but The Secret World’s setting and story more than make up for the initial bafflement. Take the time to learn and explore – the all-Templar VG247 crew needs you.

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