As I recently moved on from Blue Mountain to Scorched Desert in Secret World Legends, it was like night and day — in more ways than one. The abrupt and significant shift in the zones, themes, and even horror genres is a lot to take, especially when you’ve spent so long getting used to the previous area.
Back when I was first following The Secret World, I was under the assumption that areas like Solomon Island would be about the size and length of a standard MMO zone and that we would be hopping all over the world to many, many such zones. I didn’t realize that at launch there was only going to be three areas divided into eight zones and that we’d be spending significant time in each of them. That investment of time and interest acclimates one pretty strongly to Solomon Island, Egypt, Transylvania, and Tokyo so that while we may be ready to move on, the actual move itself is slightly traumatic.
Here’s the basic flow of the game:
We start in Solomon Island, which is dark and murky, set in New England and sporting the most “American” aesthetics (holidays, architecture, etc.). The horror genre is a blend of overt Lovecraft and Stephen King as well as a hearty dose of the zombie apocalypse and ghosties.
Then we shift over to Egypt, where the sun is blazing and the architecture is old and couched heavily in the desert biome. There is some modernity, but more antiquity than what we had before. The horror genres du jour is more mummies, creepy cults, giant insects and a dash of Indiana Jones and Aladdin.
Once we’ve adjusted to two zones of sun-blasted heat, it’s over to the old world of Transylvania with its craggy countryside, Soviet architecture, and European style. The three zones embrace a lot more of folk tales and traditional horror staples, such as vampires, werewolves, cannibals, ghouls, and fairies (yes, fairies are horror staples, at least to me). It’s… more Brothers Grimm and Van Helsing.
The final shift, at least for now, takes players to the “ground zero” of Tokyo, which is a golden opportunity for the devs to capitalize on all of the Japanese horror tropes. The Filth is by far a greater threat here than in zones previous, but there is plenty of room for spectres, Japanese demons, and intensely clean places that are sullied with too much blood. Tokyo is also the most modern and urban of all of the adventure zones, so there isn’t much in the way of roaming a countryside.
I love the diversity, even if moving from one area to another can be a shock to the ol’ gamer system in me. Egypt only pleased me in the fact that there was more light, but I couldn’t wait to leave it before that long.
It makes me wonder a lot about what’s ahead for the next adventure area. I could see both the Congo and South America as featuring more primal horror in jungles and whatnot, but Antarctica could hold a few surprises with snow-shrouded scares (just watch The Thing for some inspiration).