Torn asunder over Secret World Legends

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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. We haven’t heard much of anything about Season 2. Where’s the story, Funcom? WE WANT MORE STORY.
  8. 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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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).
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.

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13 thoughts on “Torn asunder over Secret World Legends

  1. Bhagpuss April 3, 2017 / 9:39 am

    One thing I found while I was digging around before I posted on this was a statement with actual numbers for how many other players you might expect to see in SWL. I wish I’d bookmarked it but from memory the gist is that it will still be an open-world game (not a Lobby with Instances like GW1) but you shouldn’t find yourself sharing the area you are in with any more than about ten people.

    What’s more, the same source also said that in TSW you share that area with up to sixty other players, which is a lot less than I would have guessed. It’s beginning to seem to me that some of these games have never been as “massively multiple” as we’ve imagined. I suspect there won’t feel like an awful lot of difference in adventuring with ten other players around than sixty. If they hadn’t told us many of us may never have noticed.

    Funcom clearly want out of the MMO business, though. I imagine the last thing they want anyone to be saying about SWL is “it’s still an MMO”. My strong feeling is that whatever they do it’s too late for the IP. It’s five years old. It already has a very well-understood reputation. Mostly, though, I think the Contemporary Conspiracy setting simply doesn’t have the draw of Fantasy, Science Fiction, Dinosaurs or Zombies. It’s not the 90s any more and we’re not all watching The X-Files. I guess if the Twin Peaks reboot really flies they might hang onto the back of that for a while but even then it’s hardly the same market.

    I’ll try it but I’m nowhere near as invested as you or the rest of the long-termers. For those people I really do think it’s a very deliberate kick in the teeth.

  2. Athie April 3, 2017 / 9:39 am

    The more I hear about the relaunch, the stranger it seems. Is it really true that the combat rework is going to be limited to mouselock and your two builders mapped to mouse buttons? Odd. And the reworked progression is just turning SP into levels I guess? I suppose we could also point to fewer people in each zone — but this doesn’t really matter much as far as I can tell. For the most part, it really seems that this is a set of minor changes — about in line with a GW2 feature pack patch — combined with what’s effectively a server wipe. Maybe it’ll be a bigger change in the end, but from what they’re saying right now it sounds like you could accomplish much of the relaunch for yourself right now by using add-ons and deleting all your characters.

    Oh, well. There’s still room to hope that they’ll at least do the reasonable thing and scrap or 100% change AEGIS. Oh, and augments. Hah!

  3. WoolyDub April 3, 2017 / 9:51 am

    Welcome back! The thing that has me concerned is the way they handled the announcement. Nowhere in it did it sound like they were making it into a new game and maintenance-moding the old one. The initial announcement made it sound like they were making improvements to TSW and going f2p. That leads me to believe that current info about the split could be just as murky or worse, misleading. I’ll stay optimistic and go with the former rather than the latter, but that’s probably naive of me.

    I honestly believe that they could do no worse with the combat so any change is a welcome one to me. It’s one of the first MMOs of the dozens I’ve played where I’ve deeply enjoyed myself but the combat was so terrible to me personally I couldn’t keep playing. I believe they had to change it in hopes to get some people like me back because I think there are a lot of people like me that, if they find the combat even decent would come back and maybe even find a home in the game.

    Anyways, hope your vacay was super dope! Peace!

  4. Bhag April 3, 2017 / 10:01 am

    I posted a comment under my regular identity and it vanished – could you ferret around in your Spam folder and see if it’s in there, please, Syp? I really don’t want to have to type it all out again!

  5. Syp April 3, 2017 / 10:49 am

    Done! sorry about that!

  6. Brazen Bondar April 3, 2017 / 1:04 pm

    As someone who followed TSW for almost 5 years before it launched and has played the game religiously for the past 5 years, the announcement of the reboot was very troubling. It seems clear that decision to reboot was made at least a year ago (if you look back with hindsight on the quarterly reports). It is pretty unconscionable that Funcom was not more honest with it’s player base about the change in direction. I just find that inexcusable. Secondly, if they are basing their hopes on action combat…well we will see how well that works. Third, I don’t see how the change will make money for them. Vanity items are already sold. You can already buy points. It’s true you could not sell your points. But will the chat now be filled with people advertising currency? Gee…you think that might happen (yes!)? So it seems the big money maker will be people buying weapon sheets. I don’t know how that will work out but I hope it works for them. Fourth: The content issue is still in the air in my mind. Tokyo isn’t even in the relaunched game, so the promise of new content still seems like a pipe dream to me.

    I will try the new game, but I don’t like action combat. I love when the community fights an open world boss,. That isn’t going to work will with 10 people so I guess those kinds of fights will go by the wayside. I am not terribly interested in replaying content I finished almost 3 years ago, and as a TSW grand master I have absolutely no incentive to give FC any more money and given the way they handled this, I wouldn’t chose to support them with my money, as I have in the past. But, I think FC knows that many grand masters will feel this way and they are OK with it. I don’t think this reboot is intended to pull too many of us in. They’ve enjoyed our money (and the money of all of the players of their other MMOs) and now they ready to move on to fresher fields. FC has the right to make that business decision, but they sure have handled it poorly.

  7. Sylow April 3, 2017 / 1:14 pm

    I also have very mixed feelings here. I mean, in my eyes there’s only one thing speaking for FC in my eyes: They clearly do it out of desperation. They want the IP to survive and see no other option any more. I mean, what sane businessman would slaughter a cashcow MMO in the attempt to get a new audience for it to make more money? That’s been tried once, and NGE is still remembered so many years later.

    So i think Funcom is not pulling the Sony, but they rather stand with the back to the wall.

    But despite knowing this, i am unhappy on the changes. I mean i do love the game. I have over 154 days of playtime clocked, i met my girlfriend in this game and several cabal members are invited to our wedding in this year. Also i dare to see that FC advertises the new game with “over 100 hours of gameplay”. Somebody could wonder where i spent the other 150 days of playtime, and the answer is in the social aspect. This also is something i always admired, as TSW is far ahead in this field. (For example show me any other MMO since SWG which has something like the Albion Theatre in similar quality. )

    Now they want to cut down on the social aspect. I consider this a massive mistake.

    Also the whole thing with combat. I mean hey, sure… a lot of bloggers here also were all too busy tearing down the combat system. But in five years of the game being around, nobody ever was able to give me just one actual solid example where this games combat system would be inferior to the much praised GW2. Targeting and ability use is virtually the same. By themselves animations of TSW actually are better, GW2 just covers them below piles of particle effects, so you most people never really see them.

    Similarily, people blame the ability wheel and Aegis. But if they are so tough, why are many people able to handle it, and if Aegis was that imposible to get, then how could it be that it usually took us only a short time and answering a few questions to usually have new Cabal members to not only get along well with Aegis, but in some cases even like it? Also interestingly enough, people consider killing in TSW to take too long. I find this astonishing, as for me the killing speed in GW2 generally feels slower for me. Oki, i mean perhaps i play the wrong classes or it’s a gear question, as only 7 of characters in GW2 have ascended weapons and trinkets and only one is in full ascended armour… and if you don’t get the sarcasm, then let me help you here: combat in TSW never was slower than in GW2, unless you used a bad setup. Which is a case of “problem exists between the keyboard and chair”, and the games biggest flaw being to treat the player as a competent person and not the clueless child who needs handholding, which many players apparently are. 😦

    So yes, this might sound harsh, but in my eyes, a lot of those “TSWs combat is bad” people should take a good look into the mirror, especially if they kept repeating that on blogs and wherever. They might see one of those people who worked hard in bringing TSW down.

    Also note that my eyes one other very big reason for many people finding that TSWs combat would be bad was that GW2 was released so soon afterwards. It’s a case of gamer psychology at work: they wanted to now play GW2, just a month after getting into TSW. But they could not “desert” a game, that would be “disloyal”. Thus the only way to “honorably” switch was to “unfortunately find out” that TSW had fatal flaws which made it unplayable. Say welcome to “not impactful combat”, a term which nobody within five years was able to really explain, but definitely it broke the game.

    So good job everybody. You managed to make FC change combat. You managed to force them to effectively wipe everything we achieved in five years of gameplay. (Sorry, but the old TSW is dead. No new accounts, no new content, it will bleed out in no time. )

    As a bonus, i wouldn’t even know which game i -can- end up in. Several of the people i spent a lot of time in the old TSW were only able to really play it thanks to its combat system. After all, once you invested half a minute of brainpower, it was playable even if you didn’t have “mad shooter skillz”.

    Reticle based combat goes the other way. Even while i plan to give it a try, i know how my GF reacts to that kind of gameplay and that she refuses it. She wasn’t able to handle ESO for too long… but hey, we both have GM accounts, we’ve spent a lot of time there, she just runs a few Radio Free Gaia shows a week, i guess it’s fine to dispose of us, to make space for the great new customers who’ll pour in endless ammounts of money to save the IP…

    So yes, i consider this to be much more likely to crash and burn than to be any noticeable success. But i also see where FC is coming from: their financial situation is dire, they take any straw. I can’t really blame them to go to these extremes in the weak hope of saving the IP. But all those “non-impactful combat” people: thank you, enjoy your “victory”. It was a hard fight, but you managed to bring this game down.

  8. Tyler F.M. Edwards April 3, 2017 / 2:20 pm

    I don’t like a lot of what I’m hearing about the new game, but I think I could have lived with it if I had been able to keep my characters. I can’t get over losing the characters I’ve sunk hundreds of hours into, though. That feels like a total betrayal by Funcom, and all the more shocking because loyal TSW veterans like me were basically the only thing keeping the company in business for the last five years. Now that they have the money from Exiles, they don’t need us anymore, so they’re fine throwing us aside, it seems.

    I also want to second Sylow’s comments on the combat. I’m so tired of that ridiculous meme. TSW has virtually the exact same combat mechanics as GW2, and nobody ever complains about the combat there.

  9. Isey April 3, 2017 / 2:52 pm

    I loved everything about The Secret World except the MMO parts =) For a newcomer* it would be an awesome RPG – which is who I am guessing they are hoping to get. I played through Egypt and all I could think of on my solo adventures is how awesome this game could be if it was solo player focused. The MMO parts were taking away a lot of the fun. And considering I rarely saw another soul it didn’t feel one bit like an MMO anyway.

    The drawbacks of it being an MMO is what made me stop playing it. I am guessing most new people have, and the existing people aren’t paying enough to keep it strong. This is a good chance for them to get new players. I can’t wait to try it!

    The danger here is that while they attract NEW people, they lose the existing, DEDICATED people (some of them here, long time supporters of the game in the MMO parts).

    Sensibly, in order for them to take this gamble, you would have to suspect it was either this or close it down. Couldn’t see any other reason to take this chance if there were supporting revenues.

    I hope it is a good branch between the existing players who can still share an on line space together, and brings/attracts new players (like me) to ensure more content gets made going forward.

    #crossesfingers #optimist #naive?

  10. Sylow April 3, 2017 / 4:41 pm

    On “loosing my character”: actually if all i would loose would be skills and equipment, i could live with that. Taking away my lore and achievement collection is more painful already. But the worst part for me is that i loose my friends list.

    I mean, the community will be split in three parts: those who remain in the old game till if completely dies, those who move to the new one, and the many who simply give up. In the old game i will still have my friends list, but i doubt i’ll still be there much or that i’d see many people there still. On the new game, i might still soon get those people from my cabal who i arrange with, but there’s also a number of people on my list who only turn up once a while and just to chat for a bit. I wouldn’t expect to still have them in the new game.

    Shredding the community like that is a terrible idea. I actually believe that killing the old game and moving everybodys characters to the new game, despite all the massive damage this does, could still be the better choice.

  11. Athie April 3, 2017 / 8:23 pm

    I get the sense that the budget for SWL might be, uh, small. But just in case: a partial palliative to this mess might be linking chat between tge two games?

  12. Dez Tal April 4, 2017 / 4:45 am

    I’m actually looking forward to the SWL. I got as far as Egypt then I slowly lost interest and moved to other games. Mainly ESO. So if there is similar combat it will be familiar. I look forward to starting fresh with a new character. Since I signed up with a GM account and a lot of the benefits are transferring over I’m glad I can continue to get some of the money I paid up front. Maybe also I can bring a few players over until some of the other cooperative game comes out.

  13. tithian April 5, 2017 / 9:40 am

    I’m looking forward to the reboot, and especially the combat revamp. TSW is the only game that makes movement seem sluggish and combat floaty at the same time. I don’t know how they managed that, it’s an achievement really. I doubt we’ll be getting full action combat a-la Conan Exiles, as that would be too much of a departure IMO, but hopefully they learned a few lessons about animations, impact etc.

    As a GM, I feel like we are getting the best of both world here: updating old tech and getting new people interested in the game. For those that are already in communities it might not seem like a big deal (or even a loss, as people will be reluctant to switch) but this might be the push needed to finally convince my group of friends to play the game past the initial 30 minutes of gameplay.

    And the fact that it will not be considered an MMO is a boon imo, as far less people will wonder in and whine about lack of raids, dailies or other activities of that sort. I’ve had Cabals die simply due to those expectations from people coming in, and the Nightmare Modes could only do so much to provide the typican MMO endgame.

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