Review - 'The Secret World - The Vanishing of Tyler Freeborn'
'The Secret World', available from Amazon
With the switch from a traditional subscription based model to the current 'buy-to-play' model back in December, Funcom also made the decision to change the focus of new content developed for its MMO, The Secret World. While, before, new content came in something of a 'scatter-shot' approach (with a handful of new missions spread throughout all areas of the game, adding to existing story-lines), the new approach is to simply focus on area - to offer a new chain of missions which tell a coherent, and self-contained, story. These new DLC packs are clearly intended to form a large part of the game's future revenue (alongside the cosmetic items available in the Funcom store, of course), now that the subscription requirement has been dropped - so, naturally, there would have to be some pressure to make sure that they are worth the money that Funcom are asking.
So, with a third DLC pack soon to be released (and, with me finally having a character capable of playing through the ones that are currently available), it seems like a good time to play catch-up, and to have a look at what has been added.
The first of these DLC packs, The Vanishing of Tyler Freeborn, will see you returning to Solomon Island (the H. P. Lovecraft inspire opening section of The Secret World) in order to finally learn the secrets of the mysterious fog responsible for so much of the trouble currently plaguing the area. This is something which, as players may remember, wasn't actually addressed the first time through. Players spent time in the bleak environments, fighting zombies (and, worse), then left once their goal was complete - but, when they left, they did so knowing that there were still a lot of unanswered questions.
With The Vanishing of Tyler Freeborn, though, you will finally get some answers to these questions. The new mission chained offered by this pack will see you following in the footsteps of Tyler Freeborn, blogger and conspiracy theorist, as he investigates the fog, and the creatures that emerged from it. Tyler has been investigating the strange occurrences on the island since well before the fog arrived - driven by a fascination with the supernatural, and a long-held determination to uncover the truth. It seems only fitting, therefore, that his efforts have earned him the attention of many of the factions operating in the Secret World - well beyond the single secret society that you represent. The Orochi Group, who long-time players may remember for their ability to make a complete mess of just about anything they involve themselves in, are also on his trail for reasons of their own - and, it seems that they have a head start. So, the race is on to find Tyler Freeborn and learn what he has uncovered, before the Orochi Group get their hands on him.
Throughout this new story, you will find yourself pursuing Orochi agents (while being shot at by a helicopter flying overhead), infiltrating an Orochi base to steal information, recovering video recordings left behind by Tyler Freeborn which show the progress of his own investigations, and falling into (and, escaping from, of course) a variety of traps. Finally, you will be given the opportunity to push beyond the wall of supernatural fog which surrounds Solomon Island, in order to finally see what lurks beyond.
The star of this story is, naturally, Tyler Freeborn himself. The various recordings that you will recover show him to be a resourceful and determined young man - and, much braver than you would expect from someone in his situation. Those brief insights into a single, solitary, man's determination to uncover the truth (along with the player's own knowledge of how close he is to actually achieving his goals) should be more than enough to encourage most players to follow his story. But, as fascinating as all of that is, it is that moment when you finally push beyond the wall of fog that marks The Vanishing of Tyler Freeborn as a truly worthy addition to an already great game. I don't want to go into too much detail - but, let's just say that, in a game already containing its fair share of genuine creepiness, Funcom have managed to outdo themselves here.
So, is The Vanishing of Tyler Freeborn worth buying? Well, I would have to say 'yes' - but, honestly, if you're a long-time player of The Secret World, then you've probably already bought it. If you're just starting out, or thinking about starting out, then it's probably worth bearing in mind that the the DLC packs which Funcom are currently releasing are designed for players who have already reached the end of the current game - so, it will be some time before you get to experience it for yourself. Either way, it's about $10 for a few hours of new content - which is about the same as you'd expect to get for any similar DLC released for a single-player game.
© 2013 Dallas Matier
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