Secret World Legends, A Quick Look

I spent a little bit of time Friday evening checking out the head start for Secret World Legends. I was actually surprised how many people on Twitter were downloading it. I don’t remember seeing more than a couple people express much interest in The Secret World on my timelines before.

Let me be blunt, like a politician: It’s the same game. It has slightly more action-y combat, in that you no longer have to hit the tab key to select targets. Instead, you point at the target you want to hit. (And when you point at a target, it “highlights” just as if you had tab-targeted it.) In my opinion, this does not fundamentally change the game at all. The animations are the same, the models are the same, the movement is the same.

In fact, I’m struggling to understand why they needed to wipe the player base and start over at all. The only technical reason I can think of is that they didn’t have the time or expertise to come up with a migration plan to convert a database of TSW players into SWL players.

New guy, same as the old guy. More or less.

My TSW character was shotgun/hammer-based, so of course I made a shotgun/hammer class in SWL. The shotgun in SWL is weird and nonsensical. It “reloads” with, as far as I can tell, random ammunition after every six shots. Why? I have no idea. I don’t think I’m going to use it very long.

To be fair, I’ve only played for about 50 minutes. I made an Illuminati character just like my old one. He didn’t look quite the same because the faces and hair in the SWL character creator look different. (The character creator was improved, by the way, though not dramatically so.) The character faces were updated sort of in the same way that the models in WoW were updated that one time. The same, but, slightly smoother. It is obvious that your character’s face is rendered differently than all the NPC faces.

The game sees us ingesting a bee in the same cut scenes as before. In the middle of destroying our own apartment, we get a brand new tutorial to introduce the game systems. We get a simple example of each type of mission (action, investigation, stealth, or whatever they are supposed to be called), then we go back to our apartment to finish the introductory cut scenes. A fast-talking recruiter knocks on our apartment door to invite us to New York. And off we go.

I feel like this fast-talker was new, but maybe I just don’t remember him.

I played until I got to the streets of New York (level 2), which were actually crowded with other new players. I was a little surprised, since I thought they had said they were removing some of the “MMO” from the game. Regardless, by then, I wanted to get back to Stormblood. :)

I guess the point I’m trying to make with this post is that if you’ve played TSW before and made any significant progress, there doesn’t seem to be much point in starting over and playing SWL, unless you’re just a glutton for punishment. The changes are not nearly big enough to make the game feel “fresh” again. It’s the same game, same graphics, same models, same animations, same maps, and obviously the same cut scenes and quests.

It’s one of the most illogical game development and publishing decisions I can ever remember seeing. They alienated their existing player base on the hope and gamble that they would pick up a brand new player base. It makes no sense.

The Hail Mary feel of this move suggests to me that Funcom must have been really up against the wall and had literally no other choice. It was either this, or shut down TSW completely. If that’s the case then I suppose I should commend them for trying, but wow, what a terrible choice to have to make. All I can say is good luck to them.

Still, if you haven’t played the game before, you should definitely check out Secret World Legends. It’s free after all. The stories and NPC characters are very, very good, even if the graphics and combat is a bit meh by modern standards.

If you’re a veteran who’s played through the whole game already then, um, sorry. It doesn’t look like there’s much here for you.

For myself, I played through all of the zones in the original launched game, but I didn’t play any of the subsequent Issues or get to Tokyo. There will be new things for me to look at–eventually–but I’m not looking forward to slogging my way all the way through to Transylvania again. I suppose I’ll pop in occasionally, more-or-less like I’ve always done with The Secret World, but it’s never going to be my main game.

P.S. Installing the new game also wiped out the launcher for the old game. I thought you were supposed to be able to play both at the same time, but no matter which launcher I run, I get SWL now. (Apparently there was a secret way to run both, but Funcom certainly didn’t tell anyone about it.)

P.P.S. This might be a good teachable moment for software developers: Always think about forward compatibility. Always. Always, always, always. If I were ever to teach a class in programming, this would be a very important topic. If updating the player database is going to break your game so badly that it requires a brand new launch and player wipe, you might be doing something wrong.

2 thoughts on “Secret World Legends, A Quick Look”

  1. The character creator is worse than the old one not better. That might be a matter of taste but I did go back and re-look at the old one again and I would contend the new one is objectively worse. It’s harder to navigate, less intuitive and gives the impression of having fewer choices even if, as I have heard claimed, it actually has more. The new one is also pig ugly.

    The game itself has changed more than you might expect. I didn’t really appreciate how much until I got well into Kingsmouth. They have cut a number of quests and streamlined others. There is much more hand-holding than there used to be. The entire flow and feel of the game is quite different. I’m actually curious to press further just to see how much different it is when you get to the more complex or challenging stuff.

    I was very fortunate in picking Chaos and Pistols, which are super-easy to use. When I heard how the Shotgun works I found it incomprehensible and apparently other weapons are just as crazy. I’m going to stick with what I’ve got.

  2. Shotgun is annoying. Assault rifles are worse: they can blow up in your face at random intervals if you fail a UI QTE. Many weapons have gimmicks you can just ignore. Sad that “you can ignore it” is my highest praise for any of the combat rework.

    I’m now grieving the Secret World. This “new” version is distinctly worse than the original in my view, although to be fair AEGIS and augments had botched that game for me as well. It was such a brilliant game…

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