While I consider The Secret World to be one of the best (if not the best, period) storytelling engine that I’ve seen in MMOs, it’s a little strange how my character has yet to say a single word in the entirety of her adventures. Unlike Guild Wars 2 or SWTOR, none of the player characters are voiced. We can prod NPCs to open up by clicking on subjects, but us asking them to talk about these things is left up to our imaginations. Apart from that, all of the other characters seem more than happy to talk up a storm (and to do so quite entertainingly) in cutscenes without our assistance.
Some people love this approach and some miss having their character being more involved in these discussions. It certainly avoids the issue of having voice actors that some players will invariably hate or feel don’t match their character, but it also puts us more on the sidelines in the cutscenes than I’d like. This game world and its inhabitants are so incredibly interesting, but I still don’t quite know who I am.
I start thinking about this a lot when the NPCs start making judgment calls about who my character is and what I represent. Sometimes there’s some venom directed toward the secret society I’m a part of, or how they have to live in these places while I’m just passing through. The Vampire Hunter in Transylvania ripped me a new one the other night while telling me that I had to go on a tour to see the human cost of the dark things going on.
But that’s not my fault, I wanted my character to say. Once in a while I want my character to intervene or have the NPCs ask me about myself. My character is a consummate listener, but absolutely mute. I’d love to defend myself against such attacks, or to offer comfort to hurting NPCs, or to offer up a wisecrack of my own when Nassir is goofing it up.
Maybe it’s all supposed to be in my head. Maybe that’s where the personal roleplaying begins. It’s not the game that’s filling in the speech blanks for me, but my own imagination. Am I jaded by what I’ve seen? Horrified by it? Do I have sympathies for certain characters or factions over others? I guess that’s up to me to decide.
What I want to know more than anything else is that my adventures are helping the world and these people instead of just being self-serving and an instrument of my secret society. That I’m not just a mindless killing machine, but a soldier sent to protect innocents from the brunt of the secret war. I may be death, but I don’t want to be the NPCs’ death.
Who am I? I don’t know yet. Maybe the bees took that too.