Posted in The Secret World

Secret World Legends first impressions

There’s a metaphor for how Funcom treats its players in this picture here. I can’t quite articulate it, but it’s there.

All right. Here goes. The Big Reset. Starting over from scratch. Secret World 2.0, AKA Secret World Legends. It was probably best I missed the messy head start weekend, but even so I feel a little behind.

Before I dive into all of this, let me just share that I remain intensely conflicted over all of this. I deeply love The Secret World as a game, but Funcom can eat doggy doo for making all of us start over and forcing these changes on us. There is no good reason why a better combat system, a new business model, and some of these other changes couldn’t have been worked into the existing game. It’s a weird case of there not being ENOUGH change to warrant a “nuclear” hard reset of an entire playerbase’s progress. Some change, sure, but at the core SWL is still TSW. It hasn’t magically transformed into some exciting new beast, and I really can’t help but think that all of this is a cheap ploy at new reviews, at grabbing a different audience, and at Funcom’s lack of ability to think of a more elegant solution.

Anyway. Rant over, let’s look at the game itself.

To start things on a good note, the legacy transfer went off for me without a hitch, and my newly created Yeti (Yeti 2.0, even more Leet than before) had most of her cosmetics, pets, mounts, and her grandmaster status brought over.

I did my best to make her look as close as possible to my old character, choosing as 80s as a look as possible. The roller skates please me to no end. I wasn’t entirely pleased that you couldn’t just mix-and-match your weapons at character creation; you had to choose a fixed pair. I went with shotgun/hammer, although I’m angling at doing shotgun/chaos as soon as I can find myself a chaos weapon to equip.

The NEW and IMPROVED tutorial ended up being LONG and ANNOYING and VERY LONG and IS THIS THING STILL GOING? It’s a weird mish-mash of the old intro cutscene, the old tutorial, a new four-stage tutorial quest, and the faction transition bits. It took far too long from character creation to getting into Kingsmouth, which I feel is far more of a detractor.

Oh! New Agartha, let’s talk about that. This is one of the big changes I’m actually really pleased about. Agartha got its own social/vendor hub that’s large and impressive, and — even better — now has jump pads that take you right to zone hub portals. No more weird whizzing about forever on paths trying to get to the third area of Transylvania.

I probably spent a good half-hour at the start trying to sort out the new user interface and control scheme. I won’t lie, it’s a shock to go from The Secret World’s setup (which wasn’t bad at all) to this. I got the most annoyed at not being able to zoom in with my mouse wheel to see finer details and take first-person shots (you now have to hit V to go to the vanity camera and then do that sort of thing). It’s a little like Neverwinter, and bit by bit, I was able to ease into it. I do think there needs to be more gameplay options in the settings.

Probably the most off-putting thing of the first night was some weird bug or glitch or something that made every NPC talk as if they were horribly dubbed and their jaws were (as Aywren put it on Twitter) a Nutcracker’s mouth. The lady who came to do the Templar invitation talked so badly and was animated so poorly that it was like a deleted scene from The Room (anyone see that movie?). This did get better following a hotfix on Wednesday… but I still stand by my character’s dubious expression up here.

I really want to know how this zombie got all of the way up to the top of this gas station sign. The birdies flew him up? Got thrown? Parachute? There’s a story here, darn it!

OK, so I’m just going through combat clicking like crazy and kind of enjoying feeling like my shotgun is actually doing damage (I do like the shell-changing mechanic). Everything having levels is weird. The combat animations don’t seem that radically different, however. Again, why was this so radical that it required a reset?

The quest flow is an interesting change. The whole zone isn’t open for business when you first get there; quests open up slowly as you venture through and unlock them, so you can’t just go willy-nilly everywhere. Probably better for a coherent story flow. I do like that the map turns icons from color to grey when you do a quest, so it’s easier to figure out what you have left to do if you’re a completionist.

Another positive map change is that rares are labeled when you’re in the vicinity of one, and since they have loot bags — and you really do need those now that loot isn’t dropping that often — they’re definitely worth taking down.

One rare I fought was Susie of Susie’s Diner. Can’t recall ever seeing or fighting her before, but she was something else. Multiple rows of teeth, one bloodshot eye, claws, and way too powerful for me. While the mobs of zombies have been pushovers so far, Susie at level 8 took my level 4 character to school. I gave it a couple tries but couldn’t take her down right then. Maybe later.

Always makes me wonder about Andy when he casually throws in “human sacrifice” as one of the darker sides of town life. Guilt eating you up there, man?

Over the course of two nights, I made good progress into Kingsmouth and leveled up to 10. And I also started to feel my impressions change from irritation — at the UI, the combat, the changes — start to shift to enjoyment. Not ecstatic delight, but I started to see some definite positives to this revamp.

For starters, combat is no longer a soul-sucking slug-fest. Encounters are, for the most part, fast and fun, and instead of avoiding mobs during travel, I found myself getting into fights just for the XP and fun of it all. And I started to hunt down rares, take on the new random missions (just local tasks that pop up to kill X whatevers or do X things), and even ran Polaris (which was a success). Once I started to get a feel for this new format, it started to click. I think I could live with this, yes indeed. I just need to get a good build going.

Speaking of which, instead of chaos as a secondary, I went with assault rifle. Guess I just like my range, plus I couldn’t find a chaos weapon for the life of me no matter how many loot bags I opened. Mapping a single-target DPS ability to the left mouse button and an AOE to the right gave me quick options on the fly, with the other four skills on the bar dedicated to more specialized situations. I’m also kind of excited about gadgets, which are new to Legends. I have a healing one and a stun one, both of which are useful in a pinch.

We will see how it goes. I’m not 100% happy or satisfied, but I’m not running away screaming and declaring the end of Secret World. Slight changes to the world itself keep throwing me (where’s that ice cream truck?!?) and the combat/UI takes some getting used to, but if TSW taught me anything, it’s that it is important to adapt to new challenges.


14 thoughts on “Secret World Legends first impressions

  1. I’m glad that I’m not the only one who felt the tutorial was way too long. Maybe this is just me being an impatient long-time player… I really just wanted to get to Kingsmouth (and not just because I want to check on my stuff).

    Kingsmouth is one of my favorite zones in this game… and maybe across all MMOs I’ve ever played. I remember my first experiences there, and just getting this chill when I looked out across those strange tornado-storms in the distance. I don’t know why, but I loved it and a lot of areas in Solomon Island.

    Stormblood has been eating up my time, but I’m determined to shake off the rough start I’ve had with SWL and get to Kingsmouth. I’m sure once I can get there, I’ll enjoy the creep-factor I used to once again.

  2. The tutorial is dismal. It does indeed take far too long but it’s also incoherent and in places actually misleading. Also, why does it have to be so dark? I know it’s the theme of the game but there’s no need to be so literal about it!

    The new Agartha annoys me so much I haven’t been back since I passed through it to get to Kingsmouth. It’s about as out of sympathy with the feel of the rest of the game as it could be. I entirely agree with turning it into a service hub – it’s *how* that’s been done that I find objectionable. It reminds me of nothing so much as the central mall in Otherland, only not as classy.

    Combat is interesting. It’s certainly faster and easier. I would say it’s probably more fun too, although I generally enjoyed TSW combat. I very much like the upgrade system, at least at low levels; easy to understand, easy to maintain. How that will work out at higher levels I’m not so sure.

    I’m at the end of Kingsmouth now and overall I’d give the revamp a C+ on what I’ve seen so far. The UI and the way they’ve implemented the “action” controls is poor, the quest changes are clumsy, the unique atmosphere has been diluted. It’s a weak imitation of what it was. It’s not unplayable though and it offers a degree of fairly mindless fun.

    As for why they did it, I fear you have hit the nail squarely on the head. A revamp to a five-year old MMO would gain no traction in the media or with the public at all. Relaunching as a supposedly New Game gets them the publicity they need to have a hope of gaining at least a little attention. It’s not going to work for more than a few weeks at best. This is not going to be FFXIV:ARR. Funcom will be lucky to get the dead cat bounce WildStar got.

  3. My adaption was to uninstall and head for new challenges in other games.

    I mean sure, there are some weapons with which combat is somewhat enjoyable. But even under best conditions, it’s just bearable tof me, but not fun. There are some games with good reticule based combat, e.g. DCU and ESO, this one is not.

    And this is before using some of the most annoying weapons here, where your worst enemy is not some mob, but the weapon itself. Many of the weapons here are based about random things to happen. As long as it is along the line of “sometimes something random happens and does something beneficial for you”, i can bear that. But once it boils down to “quite often something random happens and it affects you negatively”, it’s just not fun.

    I wanted to love this game. I tried. But it punched me into the face every time i launched it. Life is too short for bad games, so i decided to move on. I wish i could say it was just one say eye, but more truthfully it’s with tears in my eyes.

    Many of us fought long and hard, during several phases of the beta, begging the developers for sometimes really small changes, which would have made all the difference in making some weapons bearable, instead of them being instruments to torture the user. Anybody who is aware of my writing can imagine that we produced plenty of text there. It was not much “we hate”, it was a lot of “it would really be better if…”

    The developers decided to throw this under the bus. I will keep my eyes open and wait for the reboot of the reboot, hoping that the the game somehow survives till there is another Iteration, which will be fun to play again. Chances are low, but that’s currently my biggest hope here. 😦

  4. A couple of tips I found extremely useful.

    1. In case you didn’t know, Ctrl+mouse wheel zooms you in-out without having to go to they HUD mode.
    2. A really important one if you’re healing: you can select your defensive target as usual with F1-5, but you can rotate between your party members (and yourself) using the mousewheel. This one is huge and will make any healing attempts a lot smoother, especially if you are in a situation where you need to dance around the boss dodging crap.

    Finally, buckle up, Polaris is easy enough but from Hell Raised and onwards you will either need to bring your A+ game to not die or some actual heals. Going in with three DPS as full YOLO will get you wiping fast, mostly to the environmental damage each boss has.

  5. The tutorial is horrible. The Agartha changes detract, IMO, from the uniqueness of the story atmosphere. I mean… is it a party hub. The saddest part for me was the simplification of the world. Now we have to be hand held on where we can go and what we can do. When I went into the basement of the museum in Kingsmouth my eyes actually welled up with tears. Lasers you could just walk around ?! What challenging game play did that change produce? On the combat, I’m not going to bother to learn anything because it seems if you just mash the bottom, the mob will die. No thinking needed. I didn’t see or feel anything that would motivate me to replay content I finished over three years ago. I promised my gaming partner I would finish Kingsmouth with him, but after that, I’m going to finish up my museum in TSW and then move on to some other game. I’ll keep reading Massivelyop coverage and if new content ever comes out, maybe I will return.

  6. p.s. Justin there was always a higher level mob in the diner. We just didn’t have a giant sized icon to warn us we might face a danger…Ooh scary.

  7. Are you sure? I always went in Susie’s diner for photos and never remember seeing her behind the counter.

  8. A large hulk-like … thing… spawned in Susie’s as part of a mission, but that’s gone and Susie was put in instead as a named mob.

  9. Yea, Susie always was there. The difference is that formerly she didn’t have the “damage is multiplied based on how many levels the mob is higher than you” mechanic.

    Former Susie had more health and did more damage than normal mobs of the area, but not more than five times of other mobs. So as you sometimes fight four or five zombies at once, old Susie was a bit more durable than a group of zombies but not really more dangerous. And if you had a halfway decent beginner setup, everyting in Kingsmouth already melted quickly in beginner gear in TSW.

    In SLW Susie now hits like a truck the first time you meet her, as you’re Level 3 or 4 when you first time get there.

    I actually tried it during the beta: make a few levels, unequip your gear (so you don’t have equipment advantages) and visit Susie again. Once your level is higher than hers, she just softly fondles you, barely more dangerous than any other mob. It’s only the higher level she has, which gives her both high damage output and damage mitigation.

  10. And yes, i think Tithian also is right. It was part of a mission formerly. But i am actually not sure on that, would have to check. I just remember that i already saw her in old times.

  11. Haven’t even booted up the game since the relaunch. Can’t say I was ever a big fan of the game, I mostly liked it because of it’s odd quirky nature but I did make it as far as Tokyo. I’m just not a big enough fan to re-level another character from scratch. Maybe I’ll pop back in and check it out over Halloween since I always get an itch to play around then.

  12. What was good it was removed from game with Legends, what was bad is now 10 times worse. Disappointed more and more every minute I still try to find any enjoyment. I have enjoyed a lot original release, now is nothing like.

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