I recently jumped back into The Secret World and rediscovered how awesome that game is. Yes, it's an MMORPG but don't let that dissuade you from checking it out. It does many things well, other things cleverly and many things fantastically. I love the setting which is a strange mix of conspiracy theory and horror sprinkled with good adult humor. It does a good job at being incredibly familiar yet feel unique at the same time. A hard thing to pull off.
Right off the bat you get to choose which ancient, secret society you wish to join. The Templars are all about old European tradition with a high class feel. The Illuminati are the modern bad-boys with high tech toys, kick ass uniforms and loads of attitude. Finally, the Dragon, is all about Eastern mysticism with a little anarchy for flavor. Whatever you choose you get a neat initiation movie and a crash course in your secret societies operations.
I picked Illuminati which turned out to be a good choice. Their attitude is pure Reagan-era, me-first, Martinis for lunch awesomeness. Right after your initiation you get into the action saving a New England town plagued by horrors that are mix of Steven King, H.P. Lovecraft and Romero. Inside jokes abound with names and themes ripped right out of literature, movies and television. If you know your horror you're going to enjoy things immensely and have a leg up on some of the puzzles.
The quests are where this game really shines. There's big focus on missions making sense rather than just creating busy work for you. You also have to interact with the world more to accomplish goals rather than just running around killing tons of random mobs. Then there are the investigation missions that will test the patience of even the most hardcore gamer. These require some high level puzzle solving and out of game investigation. Missions that force you to learn things...it's a crazy idea.
There are no character classes which can be a pro or a con depending on what you like. Instead you custom build your character by investing points into various weapon skills and combining unlocked abilities into a 'deck'. As different as this is you end up with tanks, ranged DPS and healers like any other game.
PVP is fairly traditional and quite frankly nothing to write home about. You can do the traditional battles but then there is the eternal 'secret war'. This large map is constantly running and you can take key areas to give all members of your faction a boost even out of PVP. So far every time I've jumped in there has only been a handful of players and little cooperation. I would imagine there are better times when guilds or 'cabals' as they're called, do runs to boost XP bonuses for PVE missions.
The Secret World is something of an overlooked gem in a genre that has become silly and overrun with pointless clones. It's smart, looks great and offers tons of initial content with new stuff still being added. You pay once then there is no monthly fee so it's not 'free-to-play' with limited missions and constant begging for more money. There is some premium content if you feel like it but no 'pay-to-remove' roadblocks. Overall it's highly recommended for a unique game experience. Illuminati for life!