Exclusive Interview: Funcom on the Secret World Legends reboot and the end of updates for The Secret World

Don’t miss this morning’s explainer piece on The Secret World’s reboot as Secret World Legends, now a “shared world action RPG.”
You wanted answers, we’ve got answers! As soon as Funcom sent us the press release and the FAQ about the launch of Secret World Legends and its effect on The Secret World, we fired off some questions to get more details and some clarification. Game Director Romain Amiel has now expounded on different aspects of both games for us, including the use of the Ability Wheel, changes to progression, Grandmaster status in both games, future development, and more. Here’s what he had to say.

(Bad news spoiler: Your hopes of having continued content in The Secret World or a new graphics engine have the same lifespan as an Orochi agent.)

Massively OP: To start us off: Does the reboot mean that all current DLCs (through Issue #15) will be completely free-to-play?

Romain Amiel: Yes, all content including current DLCs will be completely free-to-play, including all the content in Solomon Island, Egypt, and Transylvania.  Most of the issues content will be available at launch. Tokyo and all the issues related to that region will be released in the weeks following.  All future content, including season 2, will also be free to play.

How will Funcom profit from the game? Will there be changes to the item store or what is offered in it?

All the story and quest content in the game is free for everyone.  Players will be able to purchase a variety of in-game items and services including additional characters, unlocking new weapons, extra inventory space, exclusive vanity items, and more.

What does the change away from an MMO to an RPG mean for future content? Such as, we know that the stories for season 2 and 3 are already written — will we still get to see them? Will the seasons be expansion packs that will now be purchased (as opposed to smaller DLC issues)?

All future story content and quest content will be free.  One of the main reasons we are relaunching is to enable us to release the rest of the story content for Secret World Legends. We will be releasing the first part of Season 2 later this year.

Is the Ability Wheel still intact for combat? Can you detail a bit what those changes to combat are?

We have changed how the ability wheel works in Secret World Legends.  Actives and Passives have been separated into their own unique sections for each weapon.  In addition, we have redesigned the actives and passives for each weapon to make the game easier to approach for new players.  We still allow the combination of two different weapons to make a completely unique build.

What does “improved mission flow” mean? Are missions gathered together into hubs, or is there a system that directs players where to go as opposed to finding the mission nearby after completing another (as currently happens)?

The major change with mission flow is that the main story missions will guide the player around the playfields more so than it did in TSW.  We use side quests to lead players to mission-giver NPCs and other areas of interest.  Exploration is important in Secret World Legends, and players will need to go off the guided path to discover everything in a playfield.

Can you detail the new progression system?

The progression system has been made more traditional and more accessible: As you progress through the game, your character will earn experience, earning levels which will increase your survivability and damage output.

A large part of your power also comes from your equipment. All gear found in the game can be further refined and improved to increase their power and attach powerful effects. We will have more information on this in the coming weeks!

Additionally, every weapon that you master will grant you lasting benefits.

With the line that players can enjoy the game entirely on their own or team up with others, does this mean players now have friends help them in all aspects of the main story missions?

We are updating most aspects of the main story missions to be doable with friends. A few instances with stories crafted specifically for solo play will still require you to play those on your own.

Does “updated visuals” mean that character models have been improved/changed?

We have made improvements to visuals like character models, character heads, combat effects/animations, lighting in playfields, and we’ve increased view distance in some playfields. Keep in mind these are improvements, not a generational jump in graphics. We are still using the original graphics engine.

Regarding “offering a fresh start for new-comers and long-time fans alike”: What will these changes offer players who have been a part of TSW since the beginning and have completed all available content?

A lot of improvements have been done to many of the missions. The story mission has also received several changes, new information has been added, and the story flow has been improved throughout the game. Additionally, the changes to combat and progression system make the game feel different and even more enjoyable than it was the first time around.

For returning players, you will be able to re-live the full story, complete with high quality voice acting, and experience it with the new and improved combat and progression systems, which we believe is an overall more enjoyable gaming experience.

We’re confused on the status of the original TSW — will it still be fully accessible and playable, or is it being outright replaced? If it will continue on separately, will original TSW receive updates and future content like the much-anticipated season 2, or will all new development only be in the new Legends game?

Anyone that owns The Secret World will be able to continue to play it.  Secret World Legends will exist as a separate product so it will have its own account system, installation, server, etc.  Future development will be focused on Secret World Legends exclusively.

Will players who then play both versions get to keep their benefits in both versions (such as grandmasters continuing to get Membership Rewards as well as as the Patron Rewards in the RPG Legends)?

Yes. Once Secret World Legends launches, players will be able to link their SWL account to their TSW account.  Linking will do several things, but one of them is take a snapshot of any remaining Membership Rewards time you have in TSW and copy it over to SWL as Patron Rewards time.  After this one-time account linkage, any purchases in TSW will be separate from purchases in SWL.

If you are a Grandmaster (lifetime member) in TSW then you will have lifetime Patron Rewards membership in Secret World Legends, and you will keep benefits in both versions.

Thanks very much for your time! Readers, you can get the scoop on the reboot in our original article from this morning.

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Grave Knight
Reader
Grave Knight

…level system that increases your survivability. :| That is one of the things I liked about it, that a starting character’s health pool wasn’t that much higher than a end game character’s (granted that does put more emphasis on gear and skills).

Reader
Sim

Honestly, TSW is the only mmo that I don’t mind running the same story missions again. But I still worry that they will simplify the game so much it changes the core of the game.

Disclaimer: I’m one of very few people who actually find the combat in the game interesting.

Crow
Reader
Crow

The largest issue I have is that I’m uncertain if they have a real model for providing additional content. It isn’t part of the massive overhaul and re-launch, and they very much are leveraging existing content in an almost prog-server-like means to avoid having to produce new content.

My concern is because they confirmed that 1) Season 2 isn’t even in dev yet; 2) They don’t have plans beside Ragnar’s ~2011 plan with annotations; and most concerning 3) They do not have a new writer and are likely paying Scriv more than they should via-a-vis an in-house writer to “consult”.

Content cost was what killed TSW. Not having a clear plan to address this is something super concerning.

May have missed this, but will TSWL be the same cutscene/voice-acted as TSW? If so that is concerning from a simple revenue consideration. Unless there exists evidence that what killed TSW has been actually fixed, there’s no real ability to see this as a long-term solution.

Reader
Jonny Sage

RIP Secret world.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Blaaznar

We have made improvements to visuals like character models, character heads, combat effects/animations

THANK YOU!

Reader
John Mclain

Don’t get too happy, he clearly said that it would be just an improvement not a massive one, and still using their same ancient game engine. so by “improvement” it may just mean “Not quite as ugly.”

Reader
Arngrim

“We are still using the original graphics engine.” So characters will still look ugly af. Got it. Hopefully the combat will be improved at least.

Reader
Craig Sharp

I’m genuinely looking forward to this, but I hope they realise that even using the same engine, there’s going to need to be significant optimisation improvements, and a decent injection of further activities and mechanics if a new playerbase is going to stick around.

The story is great, but without some of the bells and whistles of other modern mmos it’s not going to keep people playing long-term on its own.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Ekphrasis

I’m OK with this – and I hope it brings TSW the visibility and cashflow it needs/deserves.

The real measure of success (for me) will be in the new implementation of the combat.

As a GrandMaster, also happy that’ll carry across in some fashion and I’ll continue to purchase Funcom points to support future development as I was doing when I was actively playing TSW.

Reader
Mr_Planthead

I enjoy running around solo and seeing other people in the game, makes it feel like a real world then. This just killed my excitement for their re-launch though I imagine others will be happy about it. :(

Reader
Leiloni

They said you’ll see other people in the world, just less then a WoW type game. But honestly that’s exactly how TSW works right now anyway, so it doesn’t sound any different.

Reader
Witches

Not good news, but at least they are trying to keep the IP alive, also the game will still be available in maintenance mode, but this relaunch is sounding a bit…lackluster…no engine change, levels, apparently more linear story, i’m not sure these are things the core audience is/was longing for.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Greaterdivinity

This relaunch isn’t really aimed at the core audience. It seems like they’ve been pretty clear about that given the fact that they said it wouldn’t come with new content. It was very much directed at getting new/lapsed players back into the game to bring some life into it. It’s not going to survive much longer if it only holds onto the remaining shrinking playerbase. It desperately needs new blood, and that means making some big changes.

And if it ends up being successful, it will be a boon to the core audience. It will mean more revenue for a larger team, progress being made in season 2/3 of the story, which is already written. I’ll gladly take some of these less popular changes with the relaunch if it means we’ve got a solid shot of actually seeing season 2/3. Because as things stand now, I’d be surprised if we even got through season 2 with how much life is left in the game.

Reader
Jeffery Witman

Lapsed players are part of that core audience. In fact the reason they have so many lapsed players is because they 1) didn’t listen to their complaints seriously from day one, and 2) stop releasing story-related content updates a long while ago. How long has it been since Tokyo was released? How long have complaints about the combat system been voiced?

The fact that they’re choosing this method of addressing those concerns, requiring a full reset with no new engine or anything substantial beyond a console/f2p software port speaks volumes about the future of the game.

Reader
Nathan Aldana

Honestly, speaking as a lapsed player, nothing but a combination of both a better combat engine and new story content will bring me back. Just improved (and that remainds to be seen if it actually is) combat aint enough.

Reader
Leiloni

This is very well said. It’s the truth and I don’t see that as a bad thing. Hopefully more players see this as well and are happy for what’s truly a good thing for the game.