Chaos Theory: Interview and impressions of Secret World Legends, part II

Last time, I told you my Secret World Legends tour with Creative Director Romain Amiel was too big to fit in just one Chaos Theory. Luckily, we aren’t restricted to just that one! After talking about the monetization and lockboxes, customization, and a bit about combat, we can focus on other facets of the revamp. Specifically, I’m delving into the accessibility of the new game. We’re told a big push for the revamp and relaunch was the fact that The Secret World had barriers to entry and retention that led to the loss of too many players for the conspiracy-laden game to remain viable. So SWL needs to hit that nail on the head. Does it? Honestly, I think it takes a mighty swing and lands fairly true. As much as I love TSW, this title does appear to be more accessible.

On top of accessibility, we take a long look at the new Agartha as well as touch on lairs, scenarios, open beta and launch. Grab a conduit and join us for the second half of the highlights of my tour and talk with Amiel.

A is for accessible

I am certainly quick to tell people how much I love the original, but there are a number of ways that Secret World Legends is proving to be more accessible to players (something I hope translates into great success and continued story development!). First but not necessarily foremost, it is going to be free to play. That means once the game launches on June 26th on the site and July 31st on Steam, anyone who wants to can hop in and experience the amazing story and atmosphere without worrying about purchasing the game. But the improved accessibility goes beyond that. The new tutorial, the dungeons, and Agartha also lend to a smoother experience.

The new tutorial gives a much better taste of what is to come in all aspects of the game. While I first worried I would bristle at the changes from my original (awesome) experience, I actually appreciate the final result. All of the cut scenes I knew and loved were still there, they were just interspersed with some gameplay tutorial and practice. The tutorial was true to the atmosphere and offered quick tastes of all three mission types. (Admittedly the investigation one was insanely easy for ayn investigation mission junkie, but it definitely introduces the feature well for those who’ve never experienced it.) It won’t be anything earth-shattering for old TSW players, but it is worth one run through just to experience the revamped Tokyo flasback. (Sadly, no you won’t be able to test of all the weapons in the Crucible like before; you can only use the two you selected with your class.)

During the new Tokyo flashback, players are no longer just walking through a scripted scene where they are invulnerable, restricted to just the shotgun. Now, the experience is an actual mission where the player is using his or her own chosen weapons. Amiel also noted that players could actually die here if they do super poorly (this I did not know!), although it is still meant to be fairly easy to get through. The point is there is still story and there is action, both aspects to grab the players and entice them to stay.

Story dungeons

Another increase in accessibility involves the dungeons. There are two modes now — the three-man story mode and the traditional five-man mode. Whereas the five-man is meant to be the endgame, hard core type of content, the story mode is an easier version meant to let everyone have a chance to experience the story aspect of it. “Our dungeons are great: They are very moody and have some great stories on top of having some very interesting bosses,” Amiel said. However, he noted that maybe only one-third of the players would do dungeons. Many of these folks would express they felt like they were missing out on story and content.

To fix this, SWL’s three-man story dungeons (that are run as players level up) have easier bosses with slightly less epic loot. Amiel stated that group composition doesn’t really matter either, quipping that three healers could even get though these. These dungeons are designed so that, as he put it, “As long as you are looking at the monster and clicking your abilities, it will die.” However, you still need to pay attention to environmental hazards! Besides opening up content that players may not have been able to get through for lack of groups or whatnot, it’s also a way to give folks some prep for the harder versions.

Story dungeons are also more accessible because you don’t have to take three people in: you can go solo or you could take more. The way you can accomplish this is by opening the group finder window and checking the Private Team box next to the sign-up button. This allows you to bypass the normal requirements and restrictions on a dungeon and take in your current group. The only requirement that can’t be ignored is the minimum level (so no, you can’t go to The Facility as a level 10, but you can do Polaris as a level 50).

A different scenario

Scenarios have also been reworked. Instead of going for 30 minutes, they now go for 10 to 15. Instead of having to run like a mad person between multiple survivor groups to deal with the various mob onslaughts, players will only have to focus on one group at a time. This comes in handy because scenarios now come only in solo and duo modes. I asked if the Private Team would be available here as well so that our regular group of three could do these together still, but Amiel said that is so far undecided. I hope they do! Amiel believes the scenarios are much more fun now and hopes players will participate in them more regularly now.

On top of this, scenarios also no longer give augments. Instead, they give glyphs, and this will be the main way to acquire glyphs. Anyone who didn’t really understand or put much time into the augment system might be glad to hear that it is gone. Instead, Amiel explains that the role of the augments have been woven into the passive abilities and some equipment.

Other accessibility

Like scenarios, lairs have also been revamped and made easier to participate in. One of the changes is that players no longer have to find and assemble all those pieces of a key in order to summon the lair boss. Taking place of looting those pieces is doing daily missions in order to acquire the keys. The lairs themselves are also harder, Amiel said, scaled for five fairly well-geared players instead of three. Of course since it is an open play field players could still go in with raid groups of 10. Player who manage to get one of the mega world bosses will actually summon them from a specific portal right in Agartha and zone into the fight. At that point, the open portal is advertised by its changed color so that others will have the opportunity to join in, up to the max of 40 persons, with priority going to group and cabal-mates first.

More accessibility is also seen in the combat. We’ve heard about how the complexity of the old systems were very off-putting to many new players. The new combat combats that by streamlining the abilities. But that’s not the only thing. Part of the development of this mode of combat, Amiel explained, was so that players who for whatever reason couldn’t or wouldn’t play with a mouse (including any disabilities) could still play with the keyboard only. “It was one of the things that was unacceptable for me that someone from TSW would not be able to convert over to SWL because of something they physically couldn’t do,” he said. “I wanted to make sure we avoided that at all costs.”

In addition to all this, other increases in accessibility include tweaking the main mission early on and giving players the ability to advance in even more ways. At first I was actually quite disappointed that tier 4 of Endless Night, the main mission in Kingsmouth, was dumbed down. That exact quest was what made me totally fall in love with The Secret World. It blew my mind that my other knowledge and abilities would contribute to winning in the game. I knew the more obscure password hint because I love classical music. Now the answer is pretty obvious. However, I realize that an investigation element this early on did actually create a barrier to some folks, as the main story cannot be completed unless you get past this. Amiel confirmed that people got stuck and it was just too much too soon. I certainly don’t want folks to feel pushed out by a quest they can’t just skip. He did assure me though that the later quests were not tweaked as such, and the actual investigation missions themselves were not tampered with.

As for advancing in other ways, XP and anima shards (the third new currency) are granted for collecting lore, which are now called legends. Oh wait, this means that there game is actually named after lore! I knew lore was all important!

Agartha is awesome

I mentioned one of the changes to Agartha when talking about the lairs. But there is so much more to it. Besides the change in the ability wheel to weapon pages, this zone’s revamp is the most visually obvious change. Devs had noted way back when that the faction cities — and London in particular — were mean to be hubs. That didn’t work. Most congregating happened in Agartha. Devs took that and ran with it, souping the region up to meet players’ needs. I have to say that I am really impressed with Agartha.

With Agartha revamped, SWL makes the playfields more accessible, raids and lairs more accessible, shopping and banking more accessible, and even roleplay more accessible. Instead of long runs across branches to get to the various zones, players will jump pad to where they want to go. (Amiel revealed that there are still secrets you can discover if you explore and find ways to other less accessible branches.) There is a mega hub in the center hollow of the tree that has bankers and merchants, group finders, even large venues for roleplayers. There is a dance floor and DJ set up that Amiel said will be like the Horned God in London, with the light up floor and dancing NPCs. There is tons of room and all the amenities that players would need, giving them ample reason to be in Agartha. Amiel believes this will make finding groups and such even easier, allowing players to get more involved in content easier.

Personally, I never liked hanging out in Agartha. It was totally immersion breaking; I only went there when I had to. Now, I want to hang out! I think devs did a really great job seeing a need and filling it here. It also just looks really cool. Getting around is easier and quicker, and lollygagging is more rewarding. I look forward to exploring and finding those hidden lores and such.

Opening up and letting folks in

Sadly, I couldn’t really get much information about an open beta or when the NDA might drop. Amiel did state that a new wave of beta invites were due to be sent out Monday, and one more round would also go after that. There is also talk of bringing people in via key giveaways elsewhere (this answer in response to me asking about the possibility of giving keys away on OPTV stream). The idea of an open beta isn’t really solid and may not happen. We will just have to see.

Hopefully, folks will still give the game a go. Amiel did say that a big marketing push was planned for the June 26th launch. Additionally, the Steam launch will be pushed in July. Hopefully all this, as well as revamp, will entice new and returning players back into our favorite land of myths and legends. I know I will be there, and I hope you will join me in giving the game a chance. Amiel understands that the changes can be hard, but he emphasized that everything that the team is doing is for the benefit and greater good of the game. He stated, “Everything is done so that we can go to season 2 and continue telling that story.” Ideally, he hopes that existing players will agree that SWL is a better game. He added, “If the game had been this way from the start, maybe it would have been more successful now.”

We will see. But I am rooting for the best.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE
Code of Conduct | Edit Your Profile | Commenting FAQ | Badge Reclamation | Badge Key

LEAVE A COMMENT

54 Comments on "Chaos Theory: Interview and impressions of Secret World Legends, part II"

Subscribe to:
Sort by:   newest | oldest | most liked
Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Peregrine Falcon

All of this sounds great and I really look forward to trying Secret World again when SWL comes out!

I have yet to see any actual improvements in combat gameplay though and I am concerned that this game will fail, just as the first one did, because of it.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Ekphrasis

I like the talk of simplifying some of the more convoluted mechanics and features to make the game more accessible.

From some of the leaks I’ve seen/heard about I get the impression that it’s not going to be as drastic a shakeup as some (myself included) were hoping for but I’m reserving judgement until I try it for myself.

I do wonder how much player feedback has been taken into consideration vs. how much was Funcom’s view of how they thought revamped systems should work though.

Reader
Loyal Patron
Patreon Donor
Kickstarter Donor
Paragon Lost

I played each faction through and geared up my main. I liked the game, I loved the world environment and setting. I always thought that the mechanics were spotty, that the world was too small and narrow and that Funcom didn’t gives us enough activities to do and that the UI was crappy. (Wife and two of my adult kids also played pretty extensively)

All I am seeing here is a retread of what they’ve done with a new engine, simplified mechanics and a lot more RNG mechanics. Repainting the beat up old jalopy doesn’t change the fact that it’s still a beat up old jalopy.

Nothing about SWLs feels legit in other words to me. It feels like a shell game, bait and switch. They want to make money with the least amount of effort and want us to be invested. Why? So once again they can screw us over by abandoning it? Never fixing issues? Never expand it like they should have with TSW or AoC.

I wish them well but they aren’t learning from their errors as an mmo developer, they keep repeating the same crap and players keep buying it. Honestly I find myself totally befuddled that so many keep drinking the Kool Aid that Funcom keeps handing out. I know I’m done with them and seems that my other family members are as well.

Reader
Loyal Patron
Patreon Donor
ogged451

Do we not learn from the past in order to repeat our mistakes even more magnificently than before ?

Reader
John Mynard

An alternate description of SWL is a last ditch attempt, by a team who dearly loves the material and wants to get it out there but is faced with financial insolvency and the very real possibility that their bosses will close them before they’ve been able to tell their story.

Based on what we know has happened with Funcom and it’s finances the last few years, which scenario seems more likely.

This isn’t EA and their deep pockets throwing a few million dollars at a dying pig to dress it up so they can offload it before it’s totally dead. This is a company on the edge, who still gives enough of a damn to try and save a beloved product from the chopping block.

I know it’s tough these days, with all the (mostly manufactured)social unrest and fake news, but please, for the love of sanity, and your health(cause it will kill you), could you try and tone down your cynicism?

Reader
Suikoden

Any word if there is controller support MJ? It seems like they are moving in that direction.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
wild-abyss

I wonder how events like the summer golem thing will work with 10 people per map. That’s my favourite group activity and I come back for it every year if I’m not playing at the time. Coordinating in /event and having sentinels on different maps, the rush when a guardian shows up… I hope we don’t lose that sort of community excitement.

Reader
Sleepy

Hang on, there’s a nightclub in Agartha? The mystical, between worlds, guarded by precursor golems ‘elsewhere’ has a ******* nightclub?

*gets coat*

Reader
Jason O'phee

the nightclub is awsome the music is even good

Reader
lottery_in_babylon

dont care about “accessibility”… is the combat still shit? animations still shit? EVERYONE knows the story and atmosphere is good. when we arent geeking out over rehashed Lovecraft stories, we are doing combat – lots of combat. Everyone is saying its still shit.

Reader
Drainage

Whom is everyone?

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
zoward

Hmmm … SWL wasn’t really on my summer radar, but after reading this, I think I’ll give it a shot. I’m still wondering how much of what I acquired (either via the game or the shop) will carry over from TSW. Guess I’ll find out later this month. I don’t really mind replaying from the beginning – Kingsmouth remains my all-time favorite zone, after all. Thanks for the writeup, MJ!

Reader
Lunganor

I’ll try this (if I can get my rig back to life). I basically played TSW solo anyways, so I don’t see the problem with Legends.

Reader
Castagere Shaikura

I agree with this unless the combat is still crap.

Reader
Loyal Patron
Patreon Donor
ogged451

It’s largely the same, except for the reticle targeting,the weapon gimmicks, building resources passively, no more synergies between weapons and fewer status effects.

Yangers
Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Yangers

I have basically found the new game much less confusing.

The atmosphere is the same though – which is great! I’ll probably sink a ton of time into this in between guild wars 2 living story updates. Always found the games systems and setup to off putting, but the changes are good.

Reader
Drainage

The new Agartha is really nice, I second that comment.

Anyone should understand how to play the game after the tutorial.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
BalsBigBrother

*rubs eyes* Blimey its a real thing then who would have thunk it, an actual SWL article that I don’t feel negative about. It answers some of the things I have been feeling anxious about since the whole thing was first announced.

Will it be enough to keep me playing when everything else Funcom have said so far has not done much for me. Honestly I have no idea at this point and June 26th can’t come soon enough so I can finally give it all a spin.

Reader
kidwithknife

Ehh. I’m giving it a shot, for sure, but the info about scenarios isn’t super encouraging. Getting rid of augments is a great move, but making scenarios the main way to obtain another item type just replaces the old problem with a new one; you’re stuck doing scenarios one way or the other. If the new take on scenarios is really good maybe this’ll be a non-issue, but given how much scenarios SUCK in TSW I’m not enormously optimistic about that.

On the upside, the story mode dungeons sound like a great addition. It’s always seemed strange and foolish to me not to have an “easy mode” version of high level content to ease players in and give them a feel for it so they can feel more comfortable if they want to get into the higher level version later.

Reader
Oleg Chebeneev

That last Agartha screenshot is a good showcase of whole TSW revamp: quick, cheap, with minimum effort and talent

Reader
Loyal Patron
Patreon Donor
Ryuen

I’ll give it a shot when it launches, I just hope I don’t dislike this versions combat more than I did the original (yes, I actually see that happening)

Reader
David Harrison

I am so looking forward to playing this game!

Reader
Dug From The Earth

My only problem with the old Agartha was the ridiculous amounts of bloom and depth of field the engine used, making it look like i staring at headlights through a fogged up car window.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Tobasco da Gama

I have to say that when I hear “story dungeon”, I picture something a lot closer to LOTRO’s solo/duo mode for Epic Battles than a 3-man easy mode. Maybe some of the dungeon mechanics literally can’t scale down for less than three people? I dunno, I didn’t do dungeons in TSW.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
BalsBigBrother

Story dungeons are also more accessible because you don’t have to take three people in: you can go solo or you could take more.

Solo is possible it seems.

Reader
Schmidt.Capela

You will likely need to be a skilled player (or come back at a higher level) to tackle them solo, as they are tuned for a trio. Tuned to be easy for a trio, true, but tuned for a trio nonetheless.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
BalsBigBrother

While we will have to wait and see the fact that they mention not having to take three people in makes me think it will be doable on level or maybe only slightly over. It may take longer or require a bit more work but then that would be expected.

Reader
life_isnt_just_dank_memes

Isn’t the NDA dropping soon? Can’t wait to hear about the combat. That’s the make or break deal for me. I wouldn’t have left the original game if I personally hadn’t found the combat to be my stumbling block. Also, I am glad MJ is optimistic about it.

Reader
Russell Hunt

Do people who bought the game get any kind of bonus? I bought it but stopped playing, mainly due to the fact that the dungeons I just could not get a group for and continue the storyline.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Tobasco da Gama

For one thing, TSW owners who link their account will get all the weapon pages unlocked. F2P players will have to pay to unlock weapons beyond the two they start with.

For another, most cosmetics that you had in TSW will transfer over to SWL. You won’t get some things that they expect you to unlock again through gameplay, but anything you bought with Pax or Funcom Points will be applied to your SWL account.

Reader
Drainage

You can also reserve one character name.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
zoward

Thanks for posting that – I didn’t know it. I just went and reserved my main.

Reader
Russell Hunt

Thanks! How do I link my account?

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Tobasco da Gama

You can’t link your account yet, I don’t think that will be a thing until the game goes live.

But you can still do a name reservation like Ryuen says.

Reader
Loyal Patron
Patreon Donor
Ryuen

I noticed you can add games from the TSW account page, SWL is no option yet but other FTP games are so I guess they’ll just the option there.
Name reservation is available already from the TSW account page btw.

Reader
Russell Hunt

I don’t see Name Reservation on TSW account page…where on the page is it?

Reader
Matthew Yetter

You know, there’s another game that did a big reboot and had it work out swimmingly: Final Fantasy XIV. If Funcom can accomplish something even half as successful, they’ll be in great shape for the future.

From what I’ve seen in these last two articles, it looks like they might well be on their way to doing just that.

*Fingers Crossed*

Reader
Lord Zorvan

Square Enix invested real time, effort, and money into a complete revamp and rebuild of the failure that was FFXIV 1.0. Failcon is doing the bare minimum they can to just barely justify using the word “revamp”. Absolutely no comparison, and in fact you just insulted S-E.

Reader
Koshelkin

There’s also no comparison between SE and Funcom. SE is a big, financially stable developer and publisher who was able spent the budget for a new game on FFXIV and a full development team.

If it hadn’t impacted their stocks they probably wouldn’t had cared what happens to FFXIV(to their own loss, but yeah, no one knew then).

Reader
Lord Zorvan

Failcon is a publically traded company with investors and shareholders, same as S-E. The only time FC ever does anything is when their quarterly reports are coming due. FC also has yearly multi-million dollar grants from the country of Norway. The main difference between S-E and FC is one knows how to run a successful company, and the other does not.

Reader
Koshelkin

If you think there’s any comparison possible between the finances of Funcom and Square-Enix you have no clue whatsoever and should rather keep your opinion for yourself.

Reader
Lord Zorvan

And if you’re too ignorant to follow what I said, you should get off the internet and go back to school.

Reader
Thomas

These sound like very good changes to me, although it wasn’t clear to me from the article whether the 3-man story dungeons are soloable because they’re so easy or soloable because they scale to the number of players.

One of my biggest peeves with “story mode dungeons” (GW2, I’m looking at you) is that anything that’s “story mode” should be soloable. Period. Group dungeons are fine with me, but making story content “player group only” basically kills any sense of immersion a game might have and is the primary reason I won’t run them.

Reader
Terren Bruce

But to be fair GW2’s dungeons aren’t part of the main personal story (except the Zhaitan fight which is now soloable). And the dungeon story is only referenced once in the personal story.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Bhima Jenkins

It didn’t help that some of GW2’s story-mode dungeons were also harder than the explorable modes, especially if you went into one at the base level requirement decked out in greens you found off of mobs. That alone turned my friends off of GW2 almost immediately.

Reader
Sally Bowls

Cool! At first glance, this struck me as one of the more upbeat articles I have read in a while.

I don’t get the Beta push though; I just don’t see much value to the players or Funcom to get people set up in mid-June for a free-to-play in late June game?

hurbster
Reader
hurbster

If I can solo dungeons I might actually do some.

Reader
Ben Worley

This really does seem, more and more to be what the Secret World should have always been. This is basically a do-over that seems to be getting it right. It will always… always burn that I’m losing my character from the original game, but I can’t help but root for something that’s seemed better and better with every article. :-)

Line
Reader
Line

Cautiously optimistic.

I just hope that they’ll keep their new focus on story and more casual play.
I tried to come back to Wildstar when they claimed similar things… but all I got was a new map and then they just fucked around and only added more “endgame” group content and stats to grind for the more invested.

If you want to go for the casuals and the solo players, do it. Don’t market your game to the wrong crowd if that’s not what’s getting worked upon.

wpDiscuz