Secret World Legends Review
Pros: Fantastic concept, story and lore, the unique “skills” mechanics are innovative, the environments are worth exploring, “non-combat” missions are fun
Cons: Dated graphics, bad voice-syncing animations, lockbox-key cash shop model, not much in the way of PVP
We took a look at Funcom’s newest MMORPG Secret World Legends, just released the game is a re-launched version of their currently existing title The Secret World. As far as a difference between the two games goes it appears to be an update with the combat system, some new animations and new mechanics, that and the game is now free to play. What hasn’t changed is the lore, missions and environment which, for the most part, is exactly the same.
The main story-arc is unchanged for the original, with the exception of a tweak or two here and there. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing as the overall concept of the game and the missions themselves are fun and were never much of a complaint for players. What has changed is that the game now has a levelling system and so where before solo players would keep progressing through the main story-arc until they hit a point where they were too weak to get passed; now players just do not get access to the next quests in a chain if they have not hit the level requirement.
For us it was exciting to explore the different areas and really feel immersed in the game, whether stalking through a creepy Tokyo subway, a zombie filled rural U.S. town, or walking through the streets of London. London was the starting location for our Templar character, whilst it’s more of an imitation of London as opposed to a recreation, the buildings, shops and back streets were superbly designed and really prompted exploring (and rewarded it with collections). Whilst many of the missions in the game are combat focused, there were others that focused on stealth, solving puzzles, or jumping/environment challenges that all further enhanced the exploration/non-combat element of the game.
Whilst the environments were really cool and captured the atmosphere perfectly, the graphics are a little dated. Even with the supposed graphics and animation updates, the game is still five years old and looks it. The character models are low quality, the textures sometimes blocky, and the animation in cut-scenes with characters talking are synced up really poorly, combined with most of the characters speaking at an uncomfortably fast pace sometimes.
Combat is one of the big changes, switching from a tabbed targeting and lock on system the combat now relies on players aiming with the cursor reticule to direct their shots at their targets and actively dodging incoming enemy attacks that are shown with a targeting telegraph upon the ground. With no health bars over enemies until you target them, and (at least in the early game) the majority of enemies being in groups, it was very hard to single out a particular enemy. Fortunately as we’d picked the Magus class the majority of our skills were AoE focused.
The “class” system is also a new introduction, something implemented to make it a little simpler for new players joining the game. The main breakdown is that there are nine primary “skills” that allow you to use different weapons or types of magic, e.g. a shotgun, pistols, elemental magic, etc. Each comes with passive and active skills that you spend earned AP and SP points to improve (either through levelling up, completing quests or actually purchasing them with premium currency). The implementation of classes simply allows players to choose a class that has two of these skills unlocked by default and some early skills, but effectively players can open as many skills as they like and build their own characters, albeit the talent trees are very simple and linear.
For our Magus we had Elemental and Chaos magic, both of which had a unique system to them as did all the other skills/weapons. For Elemental magic we could cast fire, lightning and ice, by casting fire and lightning we started to heat up as shown by our heat gauge and the higher our gauge the more powerful our spells became. If our gauge maxed out then we would overheat and couldn’t cast those spells for a while, so we had to keep our gauge cool by casting our ice spells. In contrast the Chaos magic would create a number of charges through use and then when initiated it would give completely random, yet powerful effects, ranging from creating clones of our character to fight alongside us, or huge buffs to our allies, but there was no way for us to manage the random nature.
The weapons also had their own unique mechanics, which does add a very interesting element to the game; for example pistols had duel pistols with two separate bullet chambers, by lining up certain bullets in the chamber the player could initiate powerful effects on their opponent. Similarly with the Shotgun, after a set number of shots players had to reload their shells and could quickly reload with different types of ammo.
The biggest take away from all of this is the question: was this new game needed? Funcom could have no doubt just updated the original instead of displacing the majority of its customers (Legends has really polarised the community who seemingly love or hate the new changes), plenty of games switch from a paid business model over to a free to play. What Funcom now have is two games that are, for the most part, exactly the same but one side has a bunch of older customers who very soon won’t be able to cross their characters over to the new game. When the customer transfer window closes, we can’t honestly see the developers running two near identical games (even with the changes the bulk of Legends is still very much the same). It feels like a major disturbance for the original players to try and bring in some new ones, but by still offering a five year old game.
That aside the game is here and it was an enjoyable experience. The missions, story and environments are truly captivating and add action, thriller and horror in one MMORPG, the modern day setting also provides an interesting relatable element that many other MMORPGs don’t provide. The combat isn’t the most fluid system we’ve experienced, but could hopefully improve in time; all in all if you enjoy exploration and story-focused RPGs then Secret World Legends could be the game for you.