The Secret World: Manhattan Raid

The Secret World: Manhattan Raid

Manhattan Exclusion Zone


TSW promised players an upcoming raid, and after delivering The Facility I was tasked with designing it. It was supposed to be the largest encounter we’d done to date, and had some unique technical and design constraints that made it a fascinating challenge to tackle. I’m extremely proud of how it ended up. I got to write a dev blog about it, and below is the official trailer for the release, which makes it look way cooler than I ever could!

The brief I was given from the Creative Director was too recreate one of our early pre-production CGI trailers as much as possible, including featuring our signature NPC characters. He especially wanted to keep the size and scale of the monster, which was by far the largest and most complex monster our engine had ever tried to tackle.


This encounter had several firsts for the game:

  1. The longest single encounter by far, at 6-8 minutes on a normal successful run, 4 distinct phases, with several additional sub-phases. Each phase introduces a new mechanical element, until they are all combined at the end (with a twist!).
  2. The largest arena in the game (120m long), a necessity given the size of the boss and the need to let players occasionally see his entirety. The pacing of the encounter was designed to support this, requiring players to move across the large space and create opportunities for those stellar views of the monster framed at the end of Times Square.
  3. The most complicated monster in the game, which required custom tech just to handle the tentacles. Fun fact: each tentacle is actually a separate monster, riding on the main monster’s back! This required some prototyping and lots of back and forth with animation and physics programmers.
  4. The most extensive use of multi-character VO and dialogue within an encounter sequence, which required new scripting, and close cooperation with the writing, cinematic and audio teams to make sure it all synced up with and supported the gameplay.

The Manhattan Exclusion Zone was launched as new content with patch 1.4 on November 1st, 2012.

More work I did on The Secret World: