Let me start out by saying that there is nothing so frustrating for an MMO blogger than when some major, groundshaking news comes out about a game you love when you happen to be away on vacation. I was standing in line at Epcot’s Test Track when I looked at Twitter and saw the news about Secret World’s reboot come out. I knew that it’d be a week before I would be able to sit down and blog about it, and thus I had to resign myself to just reading up on it and sorting out my thoughts.
In hindsight, it’s probably best that I had that week, because I still don’t know how I feel about all of this and would have just blathered all over the place if I’d posted the day of. I don’t recall any other piece of MMO news that has made me feel so conflicted and torn asunder between the poles of excitement and dread, between elation and anger. So I think the best way to get it all out there is to look at this reboot — Secret World Legends — from both perspectives.
Why Secret World Legends makes me hopping mad
- It’s major change to a game I love as is. You have to understand that among all MMOs, there are only a handful that have really cultivated intense, strong devotion from players that see these titles as something much different and much more special than the rest of the pack. The Secret World has always been one of these, thanks to its unique world setting, its storytelling strengths, and its creative mission design. When you really love a game, you feel very protective of it and don’t want anything bad to happen to it. So for Funcom to up and announce that it’s completely retooling the title (including combat, mission flow, and business model) would induce anxiety whether or not it would end up being a good thing. I wasn’t against work being done on some of the game’s more problematic spots, but this is far and above what I would have suggested.
- Action combat? Bleh. Very few people profess to love TSW’s combat, but I don’t think we were exactly clamoring for MORE action combat. I would have been happily content with a more standard tab-targeting MMO experience, but now we’re going the other way. If they don’t get combat right with this reboot, it’s going to prove to be a big dealbreaker.
- Funcom’s betraying its MMORPG focus. Funcom, you have me officially worried. You used to be about really great MMOs, and now you’ve jumped hardcore onto the survival sandbox bandwagon and been backpedaling away from MMOs at an alarming rate. AoC and Anarchy Online are in maintenance mode, and TSW is being remade into an online game that isn’t an MMO but more of a lobby experience. If I can still group up, see others, socialize, and have text chat, I think I’ll be fine here, but I am not happy at all with Funcom suddenly deciding that MMOs are “teh devil” after a decade or so of cultivating an MMO community.
- It’ll fracture the community. Yeah, it’s nice that TSW will remain online, but now there are going to be TWO versions of the game, only one of which will receive ongoing support. I think we all assumed that the reboot would have reworked the existing game and left the community intact, but no. And there are SEVERELY ticked-off players over this who are just going to leave and not stay in either game.
- It’s the end of The Secret World. So what if TSW stays online? It’ll be forever in arrested development, abandoned by Funcom. And our characters we’ve been working on for five years? Also abandoned. I’m wincing so hard at the thought of all of the effort I put into both of my characters that is now rendered moot. If I want to continue the story, and I do, there’s only one option here — to reroll on the new server. It’s a huge shame that the classic server won’t be getting the story updates as well, and I would think that anyone who remains there will do so with the understanding that it’s only a matter of time before Funcom retires that game.
- I’m going to have to play everything all over again. I think I have another playthrough in me, but it is so disheartening to think of doing all of these quests over when I’d much rather be continuing on with the story. I’m going to have to do Cost of Magic again. People: Cost of Magic.
- We haven’t heard much of anything about Season 2. Where’s the story, Funcom? WE WANT MORE STORY.
- This kind of kills my playthrough series. For about two years now I’ve been documenting a full playthrough of TSW’s missions and recently wrapped up the first zone in Transylvania. Now? What’s the point, if the story isn’t going to be continued here? In one fell swoop, I’ve lost any reason to keep playing classic TSW.
Why Secret World Legends has me kind of excited
- A fresh start. As annoyed as I am that I can’t just import my characters, there’s something appealing in starting over with everyone and going through the whole story again.
- This might be necessary for the future of the game. While Funcom hasn’t dwelt on the point, the whole move to reboot TSW sounds like that it was needed to keep the game alive instead of retiring it altogether. Funcom needs more money from this game to justify more story and development, and it clearly sees this as the best avenue to make it happen. If in the end we get Season 2 and the continuing story, then any gripes I have will be soothed.
- Some of the changes sound great. I’m all for better mission flow, visual improvements, and reworking that overly complex ability wheel. Combat? Needed work but we’re going to have to see what the end result is like. Feels pointless to speculate on that right now.
- It could bring in a lot of new players. TSW fans are forever evangelizing how great this game is, and this relaunch is a major opportunity to rope in a whole new crowd. Secret World Legends is going to get a lot of publicity and promotion this spring, and it’s going to need it to build up a big launch base. While the buy-to-play model was fine and not that prohibitive, free-to-play means that there’s no initial barrier to entry (and keeping all of the story content free is a very nice move).
- Veteran players are getting some perks. We will be able to bring over most of our cosmetics/pets/mounts (especially store-bought ones), transfer our Grand Master accounts, and start out with all weapon pages unlocked. Oh, and we’ll be able to reserve the same names we use right now in TSW. Again, it’s not all that I would have preferred for veterans, but it’s better than nothing.
- We will still be able to group. It’s not completely taking the game offline into a single-player experience, but more like making it akin to Destiny or Guild Wars 1. It still allows for a community, guilds, grouping, and even large-scale events in specially built areas.
- Funcom is finally talking. After way too much silence, the dam has broken and Funcom is out in force to chat up the relaunch. I’ve been impressed that the studio is fielding so many fan podcasts and site interviews as well as putting out an informative site and FAQ. Lots and lots of communication is the only way that disgruntled players are going to settle down over this, so keep it up.
As I said, I won’t be playing the game until the relaunch happens, but after that I anticipate playing and blogging about it as I would with any other MMO. I’m going to consider what to do with the Secret Adventures series. It’s at least on hiatus until I get my new character up to Transylvania. Maybe I will continue it in the future, we’ll see.