A few days ago, we reported on the pre-beta The Secret War event which potential players of Funcom's upcoming MMO The Secret World would be able to participate in. It turns out that the choice of faction players make in this pre-game ARG will have significant consequences -- once you've chosen your faction, there's no changing.

"The factions, of course, are a huge part of the game and we want players to be as invested in their secret society as possible, before they even start playing the game," said creative director Ragnar Tørnquist in conversation with Ausgamers at Gamescom. "And that choice is final. When you've chosen to be a Templar, Illuminati or Dragon, that's it -- you're that for life."

What isn't entirely clear from Tørnquist's words is whether this faction choice is tied to your whole account or simply a single character. World of Warcraft characters can't switch faction without paying Blizzard a fee, for example, and this forces them to switch race, too, so there aren't any traitorous Orcs running around Stormwind. If faction choice is indeed permanent to the player's whole account, there'd better be a significant amount of unique content for each faction so players don't feel like they're missing out on two thirds of the game.

One way that this will happen, according to Tørnquist, is the fact that the factions will interact with each other during missions -- even if this is just a fleeting glimpse of an opposing player while you're trying to complete objectives. "There's a really interesting interplay there between the factions that's not just about PvP," he says.

You can sign up for The Secret World's beta now via the official website. The game is set for release in April of next year on PC.