Real-ish-world supernatural MMORPG The Secret World will relaunch reworked and free-to-play as Secret World Legends [official site] this spring, developers Funcom announced today. It'll look prettier, fight better, and rework quest flow, all of which sounds great. The Secret World is a wonderful game at heart, with a weird and well-written world I hugely enjoyed getting to know and some cracking puzzles, but it has suffered from its MMORPG baggage. Funcom aren't even calling Legends an MMO - it's "a shared-world action RPG". TSW dropped subscription fees years back but Legends will be properly free-to-play, with all content free to everyone too.
Secret World Legends is a full relaunch, starting everyone fresh with new characters and only the zones, scenarios, and dungeons from its initial launch. Then, over weeks and months, Funcom will start rolling out everything and everywhere else now in The Secret World. They say Legends also "has updates befitting a modern-day action RPG."
"This includes a redesigned combat system to make action feel more natural, more intuitive systems to interact with, enhanced visuals, and an improved flow of the quests, as well as the structure of the early game for new players."
I'm interested to hear more about that combat. I really dig designing builds in The Secret World, picking seven active and seven passive (or eight, later) from a pool of squillions to create and exploit synergies, but the actual combat suffered from fitting that into an MMORPG numbertapping framework. If they can make action more like an action game, that'd be grand.
The free-to-play model sounds fairly generous on paper. All content will be free, unlike The Secret World where the 'Issue' add-ons cost extra. Legends will have microtransactions, of course, though Funcom say "You will be able to earn everything in the game without spending money." They'll sell things like extra character slots, extra inventory space, and vanity items. Optional subscriptions will bring the usual perks. Players will only have one character slot but Secret World lets players effectively switch class and even (sorta) level at will, as well as replay most quests, so the restriction is less punishing than it would be in other
MMOs shared-world RPGs (its three factions do have some different quests and flavour, mind).
Funcom will keep The Secret World's servers running for players who want the old game and their old characters. I'd guess their focus for the future will be on Legends, though. Lifetime subscriptions will carry over to Legends, as can virtuacash and "some" vanity items. I hope I get to keep my stylin' white cowboy threads.
If you're new to this whole 'Secret World' thing, the basics are: monsters, ghosts, ghoulies, and cosmic horrors are real and kept under wraps by feuding secret societies. After accidentally eating a bee in your sleep, you gain superpowers and join in the supernatural scrap. So off you go, romping around New England, Transylvania, Egypt, and other myth-laden places, duffing up monsters and following a central story mission. A lot of it works like a singleplayer RPG with some good writing and great voice work (Jeffrey Combs!), and I still sorta wish it were one. Even quests simply about killing X monsters can sometimes be interesting, and there's some real fun in the investigative missions which can involve real-world research, even if Googling these days turns up quest walkthroughs before hints.
I'm quite keen to see how much Legends changes and might return myself. I've only played in the Dragon faction and I hear the Illuminati have a great tone.