By Remko Molenaar (Proxzor)
The Secret World is a special game with a very story rich world, but unfortunately it was plagued by two major elements. The graphics aren’t on par with the standards of this generation of games, and the combat was a little underwhelming for some people. Funcom decided it was time to give the game a proper update, and decided to relaunch their game under the new name Secret World Legends, and revamped the combat and updated the visuals to make it a lot more attractive to new players. While I did play the Secret World when it first came out, I never stuck around long, and I was very happy to be able to check out Secret World Legends early.
About five years ago when The Secret World came out I jumped in and did get a little discouraged by the combat system. It was very simple, not really appealing and innovative, and especially for that period of time I had my doubts and felt like the game was perhaps a little rushed. It came out in the good year of 2012 and surprisingly has had a decent following since. Remember 2012? The year Guild Wars 2 launched, and Blade & Soul came out in Asia; it feels very strange to compare these two games, but when you look at it from a visual perspective, and combat system perspective it is surprising that The Secret World maintained a fanbase against such opposition. The main reason? The setting and rich story drew in roleplayers and those just plain fed up with fantasy and Asian mythology tropes.
Five years later and here we are, Secret World Legends is around the corner and my question mainly going into this game was, ‘was it worth it’? Let’s talk about the visuals first. In the original the graphics weren’t really that bad looking, it was a very simplistic style but it worked, and the game doesn’t necessarily has to have it from its looks, but rather the gameplay. Secret World Legends definitely looks better but kept in touch with its simplistic yet sinister visual aura. The addition of the better looking graphics does really gives the game more of an atmospheric feeling when visiting all the different zones all over the world. Especially since The Secret World is a game that takes you to iconic places across the planet, now those locales can be presented in much more iconic ways. Especially since you are pretty much playing Tom Hanks with super powers in a Da Vinci code style of storytelling.
Now the combat was the biggest gripe people had with The Secret World. It was the kryptonite that held the game back and scared newer players, but it was the one actual con that you’d have to accept, and I myself had to be convinced when wanting to jump into the Secret World. I wanted to start a few months back, but when the news came out of the remake, I decided to wait and play the game with their upgraded model. Unfortunately I still have my doubts with the current combat system. Before the combat itself was very simple, it wasn’t very appealing and it simply felt like the interaction between fighting the actual monsters, and your spells was missing.
Whether throwing fireballs or firing off a semi-automatic, the reactionary animations all felt pretty linear and lacked TLC. This combined with how repetitive most build skill rotations were, as a more action oriented gamer I just wasn’t feeling it. And this is something I can honestly still see back in this remake. It definitely feels less stiff, and there is a little more playing around with your spells, but that ‘umpf’ that makes you think the combat is appealing and special isn’t there. Granted, the story that drew people in is more expansive than ever, and might just be the secret ingredient that makes this game a cult classic all over again. The combat still isn’t perfect, but the slight improvements might be enough to draw a new audience in again.
Stepping into The Secret World can be a bit pricey for newer players, especially since the old content has had a lot of new content and expansions, it can scare the new players even more. With the Secret World Legends coming up this problem is completely solved too – the game has received a completely free to play model and all of the current content is completely free. No money has to be paid to gain access to any content! The current model allows for everyone to enjoy the game fully, without dipping to far into the pay to win aspects. The shop is filled with mostly convenient items and cosmetics. When you are a player of the original The Secret World, and are coming back or still playing, you have the choice to transfer your account and all of the progress to Secret World Legends. The game will still be completely the same, although the start and progression has been adjusted to get new players a better initial experience.
The Secret World is one of the final stands of the western story driven MMORPG experience. These days the few surviving MMOs are just all about making the combat appealing, while the personal experience and adventure suffers as a result. You can only tell someone how cool a combat experience is in an MMO before the story sounds repetitive and dull, but with Secret World Legends’ hundreds of hours of puzzles that will make you scratch your head and have you use Google as if it’s the Dictionary for World Events and history of the actual planet, your gaming story library will only grow. Granted, if you are an addict on action combat, twelve or so hours into gameplay the battles will begin to feel stale. But to each their own.
The Secret World Legends definitely brings the concepts of the original game and gives them a much needed facelift. The visuals are a total improvement without losing their signature style. The combat is unfortunately still a bit lackluster, but if you plan to play The Secret World for the combat, you’re in it for the wrong reasons. The gameplay remains the same, and is still a very solid adventure with a rich foundation. With no paywalls holding players back, many gamers I know as well as myself will certainly be sinking tons of hours into it. Which of course means there will be a revived community at all levels to adventure with! If you are a fan of mysteries, love puzzles and a game that tests your senses, Secret World Legends is a game to look forward to.