Billed by Sony as a "pick-up-and-play" experience, The Agency will allow players to participate in drug smuggling, assassinations, espionage, and counter-intelligence assignments across varied locales around the globe. Set in a modern-day world, the game will provide for group and solo play during story-driven missions. Like many MMOs, The Agency will ask you to choose from one of two major factions: the UNITE spy organization, or the ParaGON mercenary group. As players gain rank in their respective faction, they will be able to build their own agencies, which will apparently function as guilds do in other games within the genre.
The combat will take place in real-time from a first person perspective. Player vs. Player combat will be available from the beginning, and form part of the core gameplay. High-skill players will have the opportunity to overcome a gap in resources by besting experienced, resourceful opponents with superior aim and strategy.
The Agency will also feature a unique approach to class systems. Rather than being restricted to predefined roles, characters will be augmented by what they wear, gearing up for specific missions with attire that supports stealth, combat, support, or undercover assignments. A new approach to loot will also be in place, as players can collect Operatives which function as "living loot" NPCs. Operatives will assist players during missions by gathering intelligence, providing satellite scans, or building sports cars.
"It's different from anything SOE has released before," said SOE Seattle director of development Matt Wilson. "Our goal is to break from traditional online games and provide players with a 'fun now, no waiting' gameplay experience in a dynamic, ever-evolving online world." The team is looking into the feasibility of enabling PlayStation 3 agents to compete against PC users, but at this point nothing has been decided.
The game's existence was unveiled by SOE president John Smedley earlier this year. Billed as a fresh perspective on the MMO genre, Sony Pictures Digital president Yair Landau put it this way: "We think it's okay if you have MMOs where you wear tuxedos and carry a silencer, not just tights and a mace."