Years ago Funcom released a new MMO entitled The Secret World which had a fresh idea on the genre. It was highly anticipated and it received mixed reviews. Many didn’t like the combat system at that time, so Funcom set out to improve their game by re-releasing it entirely. It is now called Secret World Legends and it’s free to play.
‘Secret World Legends’ Summary
First, let’s begin by saying that I enjoy this game thoroughly. In fact, the last four or five days I’ve spent almost every waking minute playing. Its story is amazing, the game is visually stunning, and it brings something different to the MMO genre. This is the type of MMO that requires players to think about what they’ve read and seen, allowing for gameplay to be more than just kill enemies. Leading up to the launch of Legends, Funcom released an ARG (alternate reality game) which gave players the opportunity to earn something unique in the game.
The very first thing to talk about is the new skill tree. In the original rendition of this game, your skill tree was a wheel. It wasn’t designed to be based on level or class. At various experience point thresholds, you would gain AP and SP (Ability Points and Skill Points respectively). These are what you use to increase your skills to progress. Because the game didn’t require a player to pick classes in the sense of Healer, Tank, and DPS, these functions are bound to the weapon type. As a result, finding people for Dungeons has never been easier.
Next, we look at the quest progression. Instead of picking up a quest never knowing if it’s an escort quest or not (because we all know people read the quest texts…), this game has quests separated by type. There is one main story mission (light blue), three side quests (dark blue), an action/sabotage (red), investigation (green), and a dungeon slot (purple). Players know exactly what type of quest they are picking up by the color and its location on the sidebar. But the separation of quest type isn’t the only amazing thing about this game. Players are actually forced to do research. In Secret World Legends, quests require you to go into the browser to search for information on Bible verses, hieroglyphics, or hex coding. Even the lore you find in the game is used as clues to various puzzles. Any trivial knowledge a person has acquired in life has potential to be useful in Legends.
Did I mention that the game has an in-game browser? Those of you single monitor warriors can use this to find all of your information by pressing “B” in the game. It defaults to the Legends main page. It’s easy to open Google to find clues and information required for a quest. It’s a nice feature that allows players to remain focused on the game.
Let’s talk about the combat. I’ve seen the reviews and many people dislike the new system but I find myself wondering why. In the original version of the game, combat was hard and living was sometimes harder. Hearing the public outrage over the new combat system seems ridiculous.
Funcom set out to update the experience and made changes for the better. Combat is streamlined. Creatures are easier to kill. But, that doesn’t necessarily make the change bad. From the perspective of Funcom‘s development team, they took an ambitious leap by creating a combat system that doesn’t force players into little boxes. It’s flexible and easy for people to understand.
The focus of Legends is different from other MMOs because this game requires knowledge, observation, and calculation. In my opinion, the developer made the game more accessible by streamlining combat and adding content.
This game in its original installment did not have any vehicles or waypoints. It has ‘Agartha’ which is a living tree that you traverse to different locations via a door. It’s weird to explain so below is a picture of it. Anyways, players would get around the map by sprinting everywhere but that isn’t the only way to do it now. Each resurrection point now acts as a teleport location. When doing quests, players receive a ton of currency that is used to upgrade weapons, buy faster sprinting speed, and buy a teleport to the resurrection points. Players can finally travel across the maps more easily than before, which is another nice addition.
At the beginning, players have a few options when it comes to character creation. In no way does this game have the customization of something like the Sims or Skyrim or any other game that players could spend hours customizing their looks. It gives you a bunch of options for look and the rest you get to buy with currency. Herein lies the ‘issue’ with this game. Because it’s a free to play MMO, something has to give, usually being features that people must buy with real money. Given the content, purchasing cosmetics in the game does not bother me in the slightest.
No game is completely flawless, and if you think that, you haven’t run into enough of them. Secret World Legends had a few quest bugs on launch that even hindered my progression. It isn’t good if the main story quest bugs out. Anyways, in the original game, these issues were present also. So, one would assume that Funcom would have fixed them. The reality is that I would be hard pressed to assume such a thing. Many people are still complaining of bugs with either the launcher or with the quests. In short, the developers have a bit to go if they intend on keeping their players. That said, typing /petition in the game can help.
The story is quite enjoyable. Each faction (The Illuminati, The Templars, and The Dragon) all have unique flavors to them which fit their style. The introduction to the game is lengthy but intriguing. Funcom altered the intro to include a basic tutorial on combat that doesn’t bog players down. In Secret World Legends, players choose a ‘class’ and are given weapons based on it. Keep in mind that just because you start with this new set of equipment, doesn’t mean that you can’t switch weapons later!
I chose Illuminati again, partly because I loved the faction missions but mostly for my love of the character Kirsten Geary. She’s a real treat and adds flavor to the game. It’s best to experience that yourself.
That said, in Legends, they did away with the faction missions. These required players to go back to the home city (New York, London, or Seoul depending on faction type) to do the rank up missions.
While the faction missions were unique, they often slowed down quest progression. Instead, Funcom did away with faction missions and they conglomerated the ‘issues’, the DLC for the game, into Legends.
Visuals and Sound
Aesthetically the game fits the Lovecraftian and horror theme. There are occasional jump scares and creepy missions that play on individual fears, but nothing extreme. In fact, creepy is a more accurate description of what this game is.
As for the sound, there isn’t much of a soundtrack. When players aggro creatures, the music elevates in volume with a drum heavy piece. Its purpose is to reinforce or perhaps tell players that they have entered combat. At other points, like in the skatepark, sounds of the radio on the table can be heard. Though, none of the sounds are intrusive to the gameplay. It’s hardly noticeable throughout the game making it complimentary but otherwise non-existent.
As a free to play model, Funcom added paid features to make a profit. They re-released a subscription-based game as a free to play model. Funcom added all of the previous DLC issues into the base game, which allows for a full gaming experience. As such, they needed to find a viable way to generate profit. Instead of going back to a paid subscription model, Funcom added purchasable cosmetics, lantern drops (requiring a purchased key to open), and paid items. Many have claimed that by adding buyable equipment makes Legends a pay to win game. This isn’t entirely true since all it does is speed up progression.
Despite any of this, Funcom has made some solid improvements to the game, and have some crashing bugs to fix. Overall, the game is quite solid and free to play. What’s not to like about that?
Anyways, I think it’s worth the play through even if the new combat system is a point of contention.
All images like in-game screenshots are the property of Funcom.