Review: Secret World Legends

Great Old One now Free to Play.

Review: Secret World Legends
Developer: Funcom
Publisher: Funcom
Available At: Steam, official site

At its core The Secret World was about its universe and story. Secret World Legends doesn’t change that. Instead it revamps a lot of the more complicated game systems to allow players to focus on the game’s narrative strengths. 

It’s the same alternate-universe where all our myths, legends, and stories are true. It’s the same quests and brain-busting puzzles for you to unravel while interacting with the same memorable characters. 

If you played TSW and didn’t like those things, Legends won’t be a game you enjoy, but if instead you didn’t like game systems such the combat, crafting, or somewhat directionless skill wheel, there’s some good news!

First off though, even if you played TSW previously, be prepared to start from square one. New character creation, new tutorial, the works. You can link a TSW account to transfer some cosmetic items, but that’s all; somewhat understandable when you consider the scope of the changes.

There’s a different and reduced set of classes. Though you’ll be fighting the same enemies with what are pretty similar skills, the classes are better defined, making it easier to understand how they fit in to MMO archetypes and how challenging they are to play. There is now also a combat point spending system that works differently for each weapon type, but is timed like a cooldown rather than relying on builder skills to gain spender points.
Combat moves away from MMO-style select target and click skill, to a more action-based system using a manually aimed reticule for ranged attacks and player-centred area of effect skills. It can make targeting a particular enemy difficult sometimes, but because enemies also seem to have been weakened, it’s easy enough to draw them in with ranged attacks and finish them off in close with AOE.

Crafting no longer requires obtuse build pattern arrangements, and gear upgrades are now simple drag and drop affairs that use your trash gear to level the stuff you want to keep. It’s a nice way to keep players’ gear progressing along with their level.

Oh, levels are back by the way. TSW’s “no levels” system was interesting in that it sometimes required a change in approach when faced with difficult missions rather than grinding mobs until strong enough to tackle them, but it led to careful gameplay that could border on lethargic, so Legends does away with it entirely. Players gain levels, and still get action points (AP) to spend on active skills, and skill points (SP) to spend on passive skills. Each is depicted in skill trees that show clearly what the player is unlocking and working toward.

In 2012, I said of TSW in these pages “I love this game, unequivocally. And I sincerely hope you do too.” Secret World Legends is faster, more immediate, easier to play and understand, but the things I loved – its characters, its writing, and its world – are still intact. And it’s entirely free to play now too, so you really have no excuse.

8 10
Writhing out of its niche, slithering, roiling tentacles endlessly grasping for the larger audience it most definitely deserves.
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