From Massively's "Chaos Theory" Column about the Secret World. (LINK)


Chaos Theory: Five fantastic NPCs in The Secret World



Before I was sidetracked by Sidestories and totally engrossed in the Halloween event, I talked about quests that I felt were top notch in The Secret World. At that time I also promised to give the NPCs of the game their due with their own spot. And here it is!

Why would I devote an entire column to singing the praises of Non-Player Characters? Because it is the characters within the story that make the game so compelling! The characters' lives, their mannerisms -- they really bring TSW to life. From deep and perfectly quirky personalities to the top-notch voice acting, it's the NPCs that tie everything together and make missions so memorable. And while all of the characters play vital roles (even those who just pop in for brief appearance as supporting cast), these five stars steal the show.

Before I delve into five of my personal favorites, I have confession to make: There is one name you won't see on this list that may seem surprising. Unlike the majority of people I talk to, I am not that impressed with Kirsten Geary, the Illuminati handler. Yes, she definitely has character, but it is not an endearing character to me. Part of it is that I am not a fan of her personality or her language. That's just personal taste. I know plenty of players think she's the best thing since sliced bread (heck, even some other NPCs do -- have you been to the bathhouse in Kaiden yet?), but I mainly tolerate her.

So if I am not a fan of arguably one of the best characters in game, whom do I like? These other names will probably ring a few bells.

I don't know about you, but I would love to have Hayden Montag as the principal of my school! This no-nonsense headmaster of Innsmouth Academy has a charm that is simply unbeatable. He's never nonplussed, no matter what is thrown at him; he takes occult happenings as matter-of-factly as we do eating a bowl of breakfast cereal. Add to that the blue gloves Montag wears (a fun nod to Firefly, whether intentional or not) and the amazing voice work of Jeffry Coombs, and I am all smiles when I see him.

Besides his dialogue offerings, Montag gives out four separate missions, plus makes appearances in the cutscenes of others, so you get plenty of opportunities to hear him impart his headmastery wisdom to you. Heck, I have redone his missions just to hear him again!


Who doesn't like the scrappy Edgar and his two junkyard dogs, Tango and Cash? With a personality that just busts right out of his overalls, Edgar exudes a charm that is a complete 180 degrees from the refined intellectualism of Montag. He's like a favorite crazy uncle. But don't let his lack of book learning fool you; if I were surrounded by viscius beasts of the supernatural variety, I'd much rather have Edgar watching my back. He could jury-rig something up to help us out, whereas Montag would just as likely sit back and watch, detached but curious about the outcome. Just look at the auxiliary weapon the Quantum Bracer: The fact that Edgar is the one who invented it is that much more awesome precisely because he used his personal brand of smarts. In my opinion, Edgar definitely needs more screen time!

As excitable as Edgar is, my next favorite is back on Montag's end of the calm-and-collected spectrum. The biggest difference is that this one is undead! Said the mummy is in no real rush, having seen plenty of centuries come and go. He is, however, still a businessman with plans. Luckily for him, his long-term goals can be stretched out much longer than those of any of the humans populating the planet around him. Said can afford to sit back and bide his time, and I am just dying to really see what all this guy is up to! I appreciated getting a glimpse of his back story, but I really want more.

Oh, and Said lets me time travel. That is definitely a plus!

You had to know that music would come into play here sometime, yes? The next character to make my list of favorites is the movin'-and-groovin' Nassir from the Marya Encampment in Egypt. Here the world is falling down around jim, and this guy can still knows how to have fun. Nassir is the kind of character you think would be a blast at parties, keeping things from getting too serious. You may even be a bit wary about letting him near live ammunition. But under all that joviality, he's hiding a loyalty that makes you think twice about underestimating his abilities.

The fifth entry is the second one involving music. A recent addition to TSW thanks to Sidestories: The Last Pagan, Ricky Pagan has a larger than life personality that you just have behold. No one has a cutscene quite like his; certain no one else has his or her name in lights! The fact that Pagan channels The King (Elvis Presley!) endears him even more to me. It doesn't hurt that his mission is a whole lotta fun and definitely one of my favorites!

Unfortunately, Ricky is locked behind the content and pay wall of Tokyo. If you can't experience him for yourself and simply can't wait to see what the fuss is about, you can do so vicariously through The Stream Team adventures.


There are just too many to really stop at five, so this is my bonus addition to the list: Harrison Blake. Name not sounding familiar? He's the head of the Orochi group blocking off the northernmost bridge in Kingsmouth. He earns his nod not as much for the fun banter between him and Ann Radcliff but for his pop culture references that are just too perfect. I mean, come on -- when Tuvok from Star Trek Voyager's voice starts talking about redshirts, it's just a priceless moment. It's the most memorable example of how real-life Easter eggs are interwoven into the game for folks to find and appreciate. Obviously those who don't know Star Trek wouldn't appreciate this little homage, just as many other little treasure play on other knowledge. That just makes me wonder what ones I have actually missed! I want to get all the references.

There are two more entries that need to be on this list for the sheer awesomeness of them, so these get an honorable mention.

First are the radios from The Broadcast. Just because the radios aren't a living entity does not diminish their deservingness of inclusion here. The radios quite literally tell some of the most compelling and mood-enchancing stories available in the game. True, they are only old radio shows (that you can find and listen to on your own), but they were used so perfectly here. They enhanced the ambiance like nothing else and fit in so seamlessly, making what is possibly the best holiday event I have ever seen implemented in a game. Too bad they are so short-lived; if you missed hearing them this year, you will have to wait until next.

The second honorable mention goes to a mob, or rather a collection of mobs. I'm talking the filth-infected folks that wander about the zones -- specifically, they once were ordinary citizens. The power in them comes not from their punches (though they can certainly pack a whallop) but from the amazing way they add to the ambiance of the game. Nothing says creepiness like wandering by these monsters muttering about orange juice and lost keys in sing-songy chatter that just plain gives the shivers! And by showing you that they actually retain a semblance of their former selves, they also remind you that these were people too and tug a bit at the heartstrings for the calamity that has befallen them -- but not enough to keep you from eviscerating them when they attack, of course. If you haven't yet, just stand near a few and listen to their monologues. Whoever did voices for these should be recognized as much as those who did the big parts!

Of course, these are not the only memorable characters. Which ones are your favorites in The Secret World? Is it their part in the story, their personality, the voice acting, or their crazy antics that make them so? Share your choices in the comments below!

Conspiracies, paranoia, secrets, and chaos -- the breakfast of champions! Feast on a bowlful with MJ on Thursdays as she infiltrates The Secret World to bring you the latest word on the streets of Gaia in Chaos Theory. Heard some juicy whispers or have a few leads you want followed? Send them to mj@massively.com and she'll jump on the case!