I first saw Funcom's upcoming massively-multiplayer spookfest The Secret World at GDC in San Francisco in early 2010.
In a hotel room overlooking the convention center the two lead designers showed a small group of journalists some very early gameplay footage of Kingsmouth, a fictional zombie- and monster-infested island off the coast of New England. The system is flexible (and complex), letting you equip seven active and seven passive skills out of a possible pool of upwards of 500. The inner ring is filled with basic attacks that are specialized to your damage type -- ranged physical damage, magical damage, and close-combat physical damage. A lot of the passives also affect specific skills, effects or stats such as an increased chance of bonus damage for specific hammer abilities. While most of the skills that affect each other are clumped in the same section of the Wheel, that's not the case for all, which means creating a very powerful character could involve spending points in many sections of the power wheel.

Simply type in a word that you're looking for -- "fire" for example -- and any ability that contains the word in the name or description will appear, letting you seek out very specific attributes to slap on your character. I found I had a good deal of range and killing power against single targets, but when waves of enemies began to swamp me or a single strong enemy began to close the gap I'd take a good deal of damage that I struggled to recover from. I entered the skill menu, searched "heal," and discovered a skill that would heal my character for small amounts every time I landed a "penetrating" hit. Penetrating hits are an attribute unique to ranged weapons like the assault rifle, and I had an ability that turned my standard strong attack into a weaker attack that would hit four times in rapid succession for essentially the same amount of damage. Most active skills require that you have a specific weapon equipped, but every character can equip up to two different weapons.
Hammer powers come with area-of-effect damage skills and the ability to push enemies back, giving me more time to use my rifle abilities.

I could have just as easily gone with one of the magical weapons for extra healing, damage, or crowd control, or blades for defensive abilities.
Simply choose an archetype character you want to play as (a warrior, for example) and it'll point out the best skills. I'm definitely looking forward to filling the wheel out when The Secret World comes out in April next year.

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