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My Ups and Downs in Funcom’s Revival

William Murphy Posted:
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Secret World Legends has been very good to me. But it’s also been slightly annoying. On one hand, I’ve been enthralled with the game for the first time since launch. Combat, pacing, and adventuring all got a leg up over the original. But with this massive step forward came a big step back. You see, though the gameplay itself feels more enticing, the actual progression and rewards tracks are left feeling a bit off. There’s not enough of either.

Re-envisioned as a Shared World RPG, Secret World Legends is still very much an MMORPG, just with less people in each single zone. But what’s missing? Loot, man, loot. There’s hardly any at all in Secret World Legends. And no, I don’t count the copious amounts of lock boxes dropping as loot. I get that SWL needs income, and that a good portion of that will come from stuff like lock boxes. I also like that loot always comes at the end of a quest to help you increase the rankings of your items.

But there’s a problem with this system. It never feels like I’m getting an upgrade as I level through the game. Instead, I’m basically trashing every new item to upgrade the one I found ages ago. I’m gaining levels and power, but what I have equipped is never changing. In the 40+ hours I’ve spent with SWL, I’ve only obtained one new piece of clothing too, so my looks have been the same the whole time.

My proposed solution? Make clothing and cosmetics part of the quest rewards more often, and let the real world drop talismans, glyphs and weapons. It’d probably take a herculean effort to redo the loot system in SWL, but as it is now, it just doesn’t feel rewarding at all. Even the loot boxes, as a Lifetime member, I’ve opened one in several dozen from daily rewards where I’ve actually gotten something cosmetic. Funcom, buddy, if you want to do lootboxes right, look at ESO’s Crown Crates. Not only do they give a ton of stuff with each, but it’s all either useful or tradeable for store currency.

Progression is the other area that doesn’t feel quite as good as it should. From the 500+ skills that were in TSW, to the few hundred now in SWL, I’d say the cutting of so many skills was actually a good thing. I also like that you level up now through content, and that you increase in power and can track how far you’ve come. But I feel like the aforementioned gear problems, and ranking them up, creates a situation where you find yourself locking into two weapons early and sticking with them through the game. I’ve spent some Marks on upgrading a Chaos Weapon to try it with Pistols over Hammer, but I miss when in TSW it was just “get a new weapon, try it out” without having to power it up first. It’s enough that you need to get skills to make the weapon useful, you shouldn’t have to also power it up before you can try it. And if that system must stay, perhaps Funcom can make it so that you can transfer power between two weapons for a Marks cost. That, I think, would be a fair solution.

Secret World Legends is a bold move. It’s also largely a successful change, in my eyes. I’ve had more fun in SWL than I did with TSW for years. It plays fundamentally better in this new incarnation and gives me hope that the IP will see updates, dare I say even a sequel, down the line. Put this thing on PS4 and XB1, while you’re at it, Funcom. But before you do, tweak the progression and rewards a bit more, okay?


William Murphy

Bill is the former Managing Editor of MMORPG.com, RTSGuru.com, and lover of all things gaming. He's been playing and writing about MMOs and geekery since 2002, and you can harass him and his views on Twitter @thebillmurphy.