Secret World Legends opens its spooky doors today

Last night, a hipster necromancer (or maybe she was a thaumaturge?) stopped me from becoming the main course at a zombie diner. Just a regular evening in Secret World Legends [official site], I guess. I’ve been dabbling in the relaunched MMO’s head start phase for a wee while, but it launches properly today.

It played Secret World Legends for a couple of hours this weekend and it seems quite good; all the best bits, like the puzzles, conspiracy-filled yarns and long list of delightfully eccentric characters, remain intact, while the systems have been spruced up quite a lot. Combat, progression, and the business model are all different. Where previously there was a buy-to-play fee, you’ll now get access to both the base game and all the DLC that Funcom’s churned out over the years without spending a dime. Of course, you can spend a dime and much more if you want to, on things such as extra character slots and cosmetic items, but so far it seems generous and there’s very little pressure to spend money.

The video below has more detail on what Secret World Legends changes:

Even if you’ve played the original game for years, you’ll need to create a new character and start fresh, albeit with some extra perks that properly new players won’t get. All the cosmetic stuff that you’ve bought and unlocked can be transferred over, plus you’ll start out with access to every type of weapon in the game, making it easier to switch from a gun-toting soldier with a PhD in blood magic to an elemental mage with a penchant for big hammers.

I confess that I miss my old characters, but making a new one is an opportunity to learn how to play all over again, and that’s necessary given all the new combat mechanics. Getting to grips with all the changes hasn’t been easy, however, and Funcom haven’t done a great job of making things clear during the head start phase. I’m not sure it’s really going to be as newcomer-friendly as the devs are hoping, though there’s a workman-like tutorial that explains the very basics and, more importantly, lots and lots of players willing to lend a hand.

The Secret World was good enough that it deserves a second (third?) chance at finding an audience. Secret World Legends won’t be appearing on Steam until July, but for the time being, you can play by grabbing the launcher from the official site after signing up here.

38 Comments

  1. Zealuu says:

    Probably going to give this a whirl, I loved the setting and puzzles of TSW, as well as the interlocking, free-form character building and cosmetic variety, but the combat system was always just functional. And there’s a lot of combat.

    Did they do something to mix up skill tree synergies? After the initial rush of creativity, people seemed to fall into a range of cookie-cutter builds that crystallized due to heavy synergies between some skill sets (fortunately my Assault Rifle + Blood Magic build was one, but I’d wish more oddball combos were considered viable).

    • MasterPrudent says:

      I’m very much a newbie but they appear to have doubled down on synergies. You pick a character class at the beginning (there are something like eight of them) and each class has two weapons that are each tied to their own skill trees.

      • Zealuu says:

        In a way that’s disappointing, given how you could mix and match any two previously. But that freedom came with the risk of many people making their first character either unviable later on, or shoehorning themselves into roles they may not have wanted to play – so if they weren’t going to be less opaque about lategame synergies or straight up suggest viable combinations for various roles (the holy trinity of MMO character was very much alive), this was probably the logical step to take.

        But still.

        • Premium User Badge

          Aerothorn says:

          To be clear: you can unlock all weapons for your character (and returnig players start with them all unlocked).

          • Zealuu says:

            Still not sure if that means you can combine weapons freely as before, but regardless, I’ve done the account transfer thing and the client is currently downloading, so I guess we’ll see!

          • malkav11 says:

            You can potentially (after picking a class and going through the tutorial) switch over to a different two weapon combo if you’ve got the pages unlocked (as everyone who did a transfer from the original release will). But it’s still nowhere near as flexible as the original because you can’t equip passives from weapons you aren’t currently using and there are no cross-weapon keyword effects like Blast or Chain.

  2. Vilos Cohaagen says:

    I’m confused. Is it still a MMO? Or is it a Borderlands style ARPG? Their marketing videos are really unclear, which itself is not a good thing. I wanted to love the original Secret World but I have no idea what the Secret World Legends is.

    • MasterPrudent says:

      It’s still very much an MMO but the combat has some action-y flourishes like actively dodging certain big telegraphed attacks.

      • Vilos Cohaagen says:

        Ah that’s a shame. I was hoping for something with multiplayer for 4 players or so rather than an MMO. Thanks for clearing that up!

        • Darthus says:

          It’s actually not quite as clear as it seems. What’s the difference between an MMO and a co-op ARPG? Aside from conventions, it’s the number of players around you. What they’ve basically done is taken whole huge maps that were akin to MMO “zones” before, and now you’re the only person in them. Or you can play them with your friends in a team. They’re basically just removed all the random other people much of the time. You only encounter them in the big “hub” non-combat areas. So essentially they’ve tried to make it more of a single player/co-op RPG, but with larger scale multiplayer hubs. I’d say give it a go and see what you think.

          • Richard Cobbett says:

            Not quite true. You’ll occasionally meet other people even playing solo. The player count per zone is just waaaaaaaay lower now.

      • SaintAn says:

        From what Darthus says it’s not an MMO by definition anymore. So not an MMO, just a multiplayer/co-op game. Like Legion, which went from an MMO to a multiplayer game when they added sharding in Legion.

      • malkav11 says:

        It always had those. The big differences are 1) mouse targeting instead of tab-targeting (which I loathe, because it means you have to manually switch into “interact with the UI mode), 2) you can only build down very specific paths for your chosen pair of weapons and can’t use cross-weapon passives, and 3) every weapon now has a “specialty” with some little unique quirk to manage – for example, assault rifle skills will sometimes enable a grenade that you then need to toss before it explodes in your hands, or elementalist magic builds a “heat meter” that makes your attacks more damaging as it builds but which will overheat if you don’t either let it cool down or blow out some heat with a cold attack.

    • SaintAn says:

      No, it’s not an MMO anymore. Just multiplayer/co-op.

      • malkav11 says:

        It is still 100% MMO in every meaningful design sense other than a reduced player count in questing areas. If people dislike MMOs, especially if they didn’t like the original TSW, they aren’t going to like this. Unless their main problem was the combat or the number of people in silly outfits running around, in which case, well, the former is changed (IMO for the worse, but I liked TSW’s combat and I know many didn’t) and the latter is lowered. But I don’t think that was the problem for most people.

        • Premium User Badge

          Ninja Dodo says:

          Do bosses/quest areas still respawn instantly after defeat while you’re still standing there collecting your thoughts, because that was super dumb and kinda ruined the game for me. Like here’s this cool quest that affects the environment in a significant way! FIVE SECONDS LATER: Reset everything!

          • Premium User Badge

            Ninja Dodo says:

            (after you defeat them, I mean)

          • malkav11 says:

            I didn’t play enough of the new version to run into that sort of thing myself, but since you can still repeat quests and you are still sharing the area with other players, I pretty much guarantee stuff still respawns basically the same way it always did. Bosses, I believe, mostly spawn when someone arrives in the area while on the proper phase of the quest, but you still see them when someone else has spawned them.

  3. ran93r says:

    I pumped about 15 hours in to it over the weekend (well, Saturday mostly as it was down for a good chunk of Sunday due to some cheeky chappies finding a way to game the currency system, AH is still down at the moment).

    It’s not all that different. They changed the skill wheel to a linear looking tree but you still have access to everything if you desire (and eventually you will get everything by having nothing else to do with AP/SP as it’s capped at 50, you have to spend it).
    The combat still feels a bit janky and the targeting looks very much geared toward controller play (perhaps I’m smelling a console launch?).

    Still bugs, still crashes but still one of the only really good experiences of a non high fantasy or sci-fi mmo with great quests and setting.

    The restrictions on the free player are minimal although the big one is the quest lockout. You could replay them in the original game after 24 hours (I think) this is down to 8 hours for patron subscribers but 72 hours for free players. It’s not a huge issue if you just want to plod through the story though.

    • malkav11 says:

      They locked down skill builds a great deal, actually. The weapon trees are entirely linear and fenced off, and there are no auxiliary weapons.

  4. Kem0sabe says:

    Game doesnt have much of a future, funcom has been financially incapable of updating and expanding the story of the game for a long time now, they went from subscription to buy to play and now to free to play, loosing players and money with each change.

    For such a niche game, their player base has been extremely loyal, putting up with a mediocre barely supported engine (it now runs worse than before and is still 32bit), just for the story, and funcom not only made them do it all over again as now adds needless f2p hurdles to dungeons, guild bank, etc, that a buy to play player never had to deal with.

    Worse still, they have no update plans announced beyond re releasing content that was already in the base game, with season 2 of the story depending on the game being a sucess that it never was before. Just look at age of conan to see how that business model has worked for players seeking regular updates.

    Sadly, TSW is done.

  5. MasterPrudent says:

    I have to ask long-term players what the appeal of the Templers is. Because if the opening spiels is right you can be a power hungry bad girl/boy, a shadowy manipulator of fate or put a giant stick up your arse.

    • Wulfram says:

      They’re the good guys. More or less.

    • Veav says:

      The Illuminati are a bunch of hipster assholes too cool for school. The Templars are lovely dry british humor through and through.

      Dunno about Dragon, I’ve never tried them.

      • NetharSpinos says:

        It’s been a few years, but I think The Dragon wanted to either control fate, or just manipulate it in a sort of ‘let’s do this thing and see what happens’ kind of way?

        To be honest, I don’t really know. I took my orders from a mute toddler.

        I pretended to be a robot to get by.

    • Zealuu says:

      Their main advantage as far as I’m concerned is that what they actually want is very easy to discern, and kind of hard to disagree with – save the world from the monsters. Illuminati is all “save the world yes but first, profit” and I’m still not sure what The Dragon actually wants even though I played as one for years. Maybe that’s the point.

    • Unclepauly says:

      Relax guys, he just wanted to crap on morals. SCREW MORALS! YEAH!

      • MasterPrudent says:

        Nah it was more the way they presented themselves. If I’m going to play be the good guy in a videogame I sure want something more interesting then a faction full of characters like Disciple from KOTOR II.

  6. Nibblet says:

    Perhaps i am missing something, but i just don’t see how deleting years of work for your existing fanbase (the transferable cosmetics are nothing next to the various currency/gear/rep/skill grinds they implemented), and tacking on reticle targeting to an already clunky combat system is going to increase your player base.
    TSW’s primary problems were always the engine, which still remains incapable of handling the massive part of an “mmo”, and the clunky combat, which is now even clunkier.
    Unless they have finally figured how to run in on consoles, as it was intended/designed to do from the start, this just seems like a terrible business decision.

  7. trollomat says:

    visceral

  8. BarneyL says:

    Is there an RPS guild (or equivalent) for this? I’m planning on giving it a go out of curiosity and having a few others around usually eases the process.

  9. Replikant says:

    TSWs settings, story and quests were truly remarkable. Easily the best I ever encountered in a MMO and heads and shoulders above the majority of single-player RPGs as well. Really good.
    What finally made me stop playing after arriving in Transsylvania was the obvious MMO short-comings: Zero effect of single-player actions on the world (areas stay fucked-up even after you’ve supposed to have fixed them), uninspired groups of enemies standing around on the map and the combat (maybe I did something wrong, but I found it didn’t offer enough choice while in combat).
    I can accept the (immersion-breaking) MMO shortcomings, but I would dearly love to see improved combat.

    • Replikant says:

      Oh, and Kirsten Geary, the Illuminati agent handler. Completely over the top character, of course, but I chuckled. A lot.

  10. Askis says:

    So the Launcher mentions 15 Gigs are needed for the “minimal” client, which is supposed to cover everything for the first five hours of play.
    What it doesn’t mention is that it still needs a total of 35 Gigs of space…

  11. Someoldguy says:

    I finally tried this today for a couple of hours. Initial impressions aren’t good. Combat feels clunky when compared to Guild Wars 2 that also came out in 2012. For that matter, it feel clunky compared to City of Heroes. I don’t think I’ll be sticking with it.

  12. malkav11 says:

    I would characterize the F2P changes as pretty gross, personally. You don’t get loot drops in dungeons, you get caches that have to be opened by keys that you only get a few of each day (subscribers get more, and I think you can buy them). There are GW2 style loot boxes that drop regularly with real money keys to open. You can literally buy AP and SP. There are hooks for real money transactions all over. There’s a daily login reward. And they substantially reduced subscriber benefits (which used to come with free real money currency every month, albeit way less than you’d get just buying directly for the subscription price, for one rather large point of contention) but are charging the same. Honestly, it’s questionable whether either version was worth it, but this version is definitely less so. (I care because I have a lifetime subscription, which was previously rather nice as a buy-to-play thing.)

    The core game is still really good, but so far Legends does not seem like an improvement.

Comment on this story

XHTML: Allowed code: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>