Choose My Adventure: It’s all the same in Secret World Legends

Choose My Adventure: It’s all the same in Secret World Legends
I was a bit disappointed to see that last week’s poll for Secret World Legends went to the Illuminati. I played the Illuminati my first time through, you see, and while I quite like the Illuminati, it does rather give me a dearth of new experiences, yes? But then, the point was that this was all supposed to be new experiences, so I shrugged it off. We’re back to the organization that treats secret lore like corporate data points, spectacular.

That may sound a bit dismissive, but it’s not really meant to be. And hey, this will provide a useful point of comparison when contrasted against my original experiences. So I start up, click through the character creator, and find myself thinking that it used to be a fair bit more flexible. Maybe not leaps and bounds, but at least somewhat, right? There used to be more options for hair color and facial features, yes? Or am I deluding myself?

Then I log in, and it’s the same damn game as it used to be.

'Neath the halo of a streetlamp, I turned my collar to the cold and damp.Obviously, this is somewhat hyperbolic, but the introductory experience in New York kicks off in exactly the same way as it had back when I first played the game. The differences exist, mostly in mechanical elements, but my first impression was literally staring and cursing that it’s the same damn game.

Things start changing once you get into the first bit of the prologue that sees you exploring your new abilities, kicking off a little bit in the way of new abilities. It has some interface weirdness, though, starting with the fact that the keybindings are weird right out of the gate. You can mess with some of it, but you can’t actually reposition abilities on your bars at all until you get your secondary weapon, which is a bit later in the tutorial.

Of course, changes to the game’s combat mechanics were kind of the whole point behind the whole-cloth rewrite of the game, weren’t they? So putting those front and center is pretty important. And to the game’s credit, the redone dream sequence tutorial is very welcome simply because it actually involves interaction and shows off what the game is supposed to be. You get combat, puzzle solving, and sneaking all in one convenient package, even if it’s the most low-key version of each.

I picked Trickster as my starting option mostly because I have a long-standing and well-documented love of Chaos Magic from the original The Secret World. That meant that my first mechanic introduced was the whole Paradox mechanic: Each time I deal damage divisible by 8, a gauge rises, and when it caps out one of several abilities trigger off of it, all of which is out of my control, unless I take several specific passive abilities that alter the rate at which the gauge fills and how the trigger abilities work.

My first instinct here was to rant about how this isn’t really much of a mechanic, but I actually warmed to it pretty quickly once I started looking into those passives. That’s the trick of it, really; while the mechanic doesn’t naturally change your playstyle much, it can change your passive layout, and you can choose to double down on it if you want, or you can just let it happen or not over time while focusing on other mechanics. That’s a nice balancing system.

The fact that both of your weapons have their own weapon resources also strikes me as working nicely, in the long run; by giving both of them a minigame you can focus on or largely ignore, you free up more space for builds, and giving them both different resources means you have a reason to use abilities from both weapons. It does seem like it would rather cut down on your overall build flexibility a bit, but it makes passives more immediately comprehensible. I can live with that.

Plus, it nicely answers why you can’t just solely focus on one weapon; you can focus pretty heavily, but resource consumption alone encourages back-and-forth, at least from an early glance.

I am notably less enthusiastic about the fact that the game’s story has not, apparently, been changed much if at all. All of the actual story beats are identical, and that rankles me simply because there’s no reason to completely reset player progress if they’re playing through the same game with slightly changed mechanics. More to the point, it still delivers story in the same way, with one NPC setting to a monologue whilst your character stands there and, possibly, occasionally gestures to make it clear that she’s listening.

Dramatic lighting!Sometimes, of course, this makes a certain amount of sense. Geary not letting you get a word in edgewise does seem like her. But it always felt to me like I was basically just an audience for the NPCs here, and while they’re entertaining NPCs that didn’t feel like it ever spilled over into “great story” so much as “great setting.” Unlike, say, World of arcraft, you actually show up in the cutscenes, but you still don’t seem to be an active participant in what’s going on. You’re a witness, not an actor, and everyone is constantly talking at you rather than to you.

But that setting? Still great. There’s material for miles here, and it would make for a great tabletop game right out of the gate. And while it’s a pity that the game’s whole renewed focus didn’t actually translate to any sort of change in story or interaction with same, I’m still a huge fan of how the story makes humans and mostly humans as the central players even as they’re trimming up the edges of things far bigger.

And then I get to Kingsmouth, and again, it’s the same game. This is the same game that I’ve played before, right down to the quests being identical and triggering long-forgotten memories. It is, of course, possible that I’m fabricating those memories; I certainly remember having to jump on cars to attract zombies which I subsequently set on fire from back in the day, but if our readers would like to tell me that this is new to the game, please, set me straight.

But again, I’m pretty sure this hasn’t changed at all. Truth be told, I’m pretty sure that none of this has actually changed, which does not exactly fill me with hope for the rest of the game. It’s not that I remember it being bad, mind you, it’s just that it needs to justify that large-scale reboot that the game sort of sold itself on.

Right now, it’s not doing that. In fact, outside of a different Argatha and a few bits of different tutorial, the only real change is in combat… which did not require a “shut down and start over” to be effective. So I am left more than a little nonplussed.

The combat does feel rather significantly improved thus far, though. So that’s something.

Of course, half of the weapons I’m using right now were not my weapons from back in the day, so it’s possible that I haven’t even seen the best side of combat. The good part is that it is possible to unlock at least one additional weapon without utterly destroying myself, or so I am told, and thus I turn to the readers to see what extra weapon I ought to unlock. Go forth! Vote!

CMA: What weapon should I seek to unlock?

  • Blade (11%, 20 Votes)
  • Blood Magic (18%, 32 Votes)
  • Elementalism (15%, 26 Votes)
  • Fist (9%, 16 Votes)
  • Hammer (13%, 24 Votes)
  • Rifle (7%, 12 Votes)
  • Shotgun (17%, 30 Votes)
  • None, stick with what you have (10%, 18 Votes)

Total Voters: 178

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Votes are open until Friday at 6 p.m. EST, because that’s how we do it up in these parts. It’s predictable, yes, but why mess with a formula that works? And your feedback is welcome even past that point, if you’d like to point out that I am recalling the early levels of the pre-reboot game incorrectly or what-not. You can leave that in the comments or mail it along to; you’ll get another chance to shout at me as I continue leveling and exploring the rather familiar setting of Kingsmouth.

Seriously, I’ve driven through, visited, and lived in towns that feel exactly like this place, except usually they contained fewer zombies. But we’ll save that whole discussion for next week.

Welcome to Choose My Adventure, the column in which you join Eliot each week as he journeys through mystical lands on fantastic adventures — and you get to decide his fate. You may have noted that he specifically said fewer zombies, not no zombies. New England is like that.

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Ryon Magnus

SWL is one of my favorite games. I attempted to play the original SW with my friends years ago. I instantly fell in love with the ideas and settings presented in the game. The Facebook event, just before launch, where we sent out friends to control sections of the world had us all hyped! but the combat was so staggeringly horribly not one of us was willing to pay the monthly sub.
SWL most certainly appeals more to the player’s who wanted to play SW but for whatever reason didn’t. Verse thoes who continued to play the original. I for one am overjoyed with the re-release.
I do feel obligated to mention that the combat is still this games’ weak point. While functional it’s still the most outdated and clucky combat system for a ‘modern ‘ MMORPG. That being said every other aspect of the game is enjoyable and while no one could ever argue that the combat is ‘good’ in SWL. At least now it’s not SO bad that it should deter anyone from giving the have a shot.


Reticle Targeting in Dungeons is huge, specifically E5 and up for some bosses, Ankh is probably the best example from orbs on boss one, and Doctor Klein’s minions. It’s practically a critical change.

Overall though reticle control is literally what brought it from wtf, to omg this is so much better.

Jeffery Witman

To clear up some of your concerns:

Secondary weapons regenerate energy at half the rate your primary does, plus it’s subject to a DPS penalty for being offhand. It’s better than relying on your basic attacks most of the time, but not by much. It actually gets less useful the further into the game you go.

The server shutdown and relaunch was about the business model, not the game itself. There were significantly more changes in the auction house, currencies, subscription, and cash shop than anything that has to do with actual gameplay.

And yes, it’s the same game with some heavy simplification and heavy handed “guidance” through the early game. Some of the bugs from 2012 were and are still in there, in fact.

As for opening a new weapon, I have all three tank weapons (chaos, Hammer, and shotgun) with almost all their passives, too. Shotgun is a fantastic solo weapon. Hammer and chaos combine to be the ultimate tank setup. Hammer is pretty awesome in general for damage. Shotgun is all you need for primary if you’re sticking to story mode and not getting into the dungeon grind.

Melissa McDonald

I always suspected this was the same game with a new colour of lipstick. All that being said, i enjoyed it. Not sure why it had to be remade.
Assault rifles are good fun after so many games where I’m an archer.


I’ll thumb up but i hate AR’s, they make some E5 and up runs difficult to navigate with explosion’s mess, a couple examples DW’s Dark House Sorcerer, and HE’s Eblis, frost on Eblis is a super treat to try and navigate.

I normally run with the same crews and none of us use an AR or similar ground garbage effects thanks goodness. When i pug an E5 and up, that took some adjustment for sure, my favorite is the AR user whom effectively kills themselves because THEY CAN’T SEE THE LINES. lol.

Bryan Turner

Fist, I always found it amusing that you could heal people by fisting them supposedly.




Yeah, if you were hoping for something completely new storywise you’re going to be disappointed for this entire thing. Sorry man. Best of luck with the rest of it.

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I really struggled with the silent protagonist as well. The cut scenes are pretty and the voice acting tremendous, but because my guy just stands there like a mute idiot the whole time, the whole thing transcends from “great” to “goofy” for me.


“So I start up, click through the character creator, and find myself thinking that it used to be a fair bit more flexible. Maybe not leaps and bounds, but at least somewhat, right? There used to be more options for hair color and facial features, yes? Or am I deluding myself?”

You’re deluding yourself. They changed the way you select them, but the number of options is the same.

“I was a bit disappointed to see that last week’s poll for Secret World Legends went to the Illuminati. I played the Illuminati my first time through, you see, and while I quite like the Illuminati, it does rather give me a dearth of new experiences, yes?”

Yeah that’s disappointing. Personally I really like Dragon. A lot. I really flow with their whole philosophy and all. It’s not chaos in the random chaotic way it sounds, but controlled chaos. Ultimate knowledge of everything from the biggest to smallest scale which ends up being ultimate power basically. You learn what little things to nudge in what seems like chaos to cause whatever it is you want to happen. How to deflect a tiny particle that then causes massive change to happen in the way you want.

Honestly I don’t know if it was all translated completely into Secret World Legends the same or not. There are parts of the story where you used to get sent back to your home base to do certain things that you no longer do, unless it happens at a different time than it used to (which maybe it does, I’m far from finished with the story lines).

There are major parts of event stories missing however and that’s so weird for a game so deeply based in story. People are really missing out and it’s sad.

Ian Wells

I am curious, I am half way up the tower and one question still plagues my mind a bit from the first area: Who is that blonde in daisy dukes palling around with Loki? She alludes to being someone important, her last words to Loki being a call back to something he said to her earlier (“Do you even know who I am?”) and then walks into a portal and never shows up again. I thought when Lilith showed up she must have been another disguise, but Lilith never is seen with Excalibur and “Cassandra King” certainly isn’t one of her 17 names.

Michael Lehner

No, this is where you are wrong. Options got -significally- less for character creation, it’s not just a display thing.

Many old players were unable to recreate their characters. One good example: my character in TSW had a grey beard. You had a number of styles of beards available and a color selection, so you could combime. In the new pile of -insert word here- you can also have my characters style of beard, and it can be “any color”, as long as it’s brown, black or blonde.

And that’s just one example of many. Sure the new character creation interface looks better than the old one, but the actual number of options is a fraction of what we had in the good game.

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My main character is wearing Templar Reinforced Armour for the remainder of her digital life because I wasn’t able to recreate it even remotely.

This new character creator is a real piece of … work.