First Impressions on Secret World Legends

7 Overall Score
Gameplay: 8/10
Graphics: 6/10
Performance: 6/10

Great story, lore and atmosphere, combat weapon/magic mechanics are very interesting, excellent world building, fun “non-combat” missions

Graphics are already dated, premium lockbox-keys business model, no real PVP

By: David Puig

We checked out the new launch of Secret World Legends from Funcom, the revamp of their previous MMORPG The Secret World. Spending a few hours in the game, advancing as a member of the Templar faction we wanted to see how the re-release of the title shaped up. From public forums, comments and message boards the relaunch definitely seems to have polarised the original community and Secret World Legend’s changes appear to be something you love or hate. One thing we can get excited about is that the game is now fully free to play.

The premise of the game is that the world is constantly under threat from supernatural forces, the myths and legends of old that we thought were just stories are in fact real evils. These evils constantly threaten the modern world and are fought by three factions: the Illuminati, the Templar and the Dragon, each of which control certain regions across the world.

 


Our experience with the original is limited to a few developer previews at various gaming conventions, never actually subbing to the original game, so to make direct comparisons is hard for us to do. However, upon jumping into the game it was clear that this “new” title was definitely an older game and whatever graphics and animation revamps Funcom have done has still left us with a pretty dated looking MMORPG. One of the major things that stood out from the initial tutorial and beyond was the cinematics/cut scenes with voiced characters were pretty awful. The animations and syncing to the mouth movement was terrible and the pacing of the dialogue felt way too quick and rushed.

The environments on the other hand (actual graphics aside) were extremely well done and the lighting, sound and general layout of the locales were great. The ambiance and sinister tone was felt throughout, from walking through a “filth” overrun Tokyo subway to a creepy cemetery were all extremely immersive. Added to this our experience of walking around the developers version of London (not a replica bust most definitely inspired) it was fantastic being able to walk around the streets, enter shops, find little back alleys and places of interest that would yield exploration and lore rewards.

So onto combat, one of the big changes between the versions was that the game has now switched from a tab targeting system to a reticule aiming based “action” combat. As a Magus using Elemental and Chaos magic we had to manually aim some of our spells at the target we wanted to hit, whilst running around and dodging attacks. It wasn’t too bad, but at times felt a little clunky, with enemies not having nameplates unless you hover over them it was hard to target the unit you wanted in the myriad of swarms we constantly faced.

 


What we did find extremely interesting was how the magic and weapons skills had been added to the game with unique mechanics. Each of the “starter classes” are essentially a combination of two of the main weapons/magics, which gives you quick access to some of the primary skills for those weapons. Players can still spend AP and SP to unlock skills from all the different weapon/magic trees though, allowing for a lot of customization. One of the things we very much didn’t like the look of was the ability to buy AP/SP with premium currency, which essentially lets you pay to level up your character.

The unique mechanics were the vastly different ways in which magic and weapons were used; for our Elemental magic we had access to lightning and fire conjuring spells as well as some Ice spells. When casting fire and lightning it increased our heat gauge, that would not only increase the power of our spells as it got higher, but also changed the animation effects of the spells. However, if we cast too many spells then we effectively overheated, and needed to mitigate this by the occasional use of ice spells to cool us down. In contrast our Chaos magic built up charges and when triggered would give a completely random effect ranging from spawning clones of ourselves to help us fight, or randomly buffing nearby allies.

 


The same unique mechanics were adopted by the weapons (not that we used any as we had not unlocked the weapon skills with our class). The shotgun uses different ammo and when a player runs out of shots and reloads they can reload with shells that have different effects. The blade weapon builds up chi with each strike, once it is filled then it creates a legendary spirit weapon for a time that does extra damage.

Unlocking the lore and finding out more about the world was extremely interesting; the combination of setting, environments and the balance of myth into modern society really does create a mystery MMORPG. What we also loved was that whilst the shift between the new and old version has focused on action combat, there were still plenty of missions that focused on solving puzzles, using stealth to creep around enemies, or acrobatics and level jumping platform challenges to complete the mission.

Overall Secret World Legends is a pretty decent game on its own, the world, environments and general concept of the game are very interesting and if you’re the type of player that gets engrossed within a world and its lore then it could be a good game for you. The combat isn’t terrible, but it’s not the best combat system we’ve experienced; the mechanics behind different skills and customization options seem to be quite extensive (albeit a little dumbed down from what the original seemed to be like). The biggest issue, at least from the few hours of early gameplay, is that the graphics and engine are a little on the old side and it won’t be too long until this “new” MMORPG is going to start looking really tired. With the changes that they’ve added to the game and the lack of support we’d expect to see for The Secret World shut down in the coming months (why run two games that are essentially the same?) it does beg the question: would it not have been better to just update the original?

By: David Puig