It was an obnoxious, brute-force decision that greatly alienated many TSW players, and in my opinion, did not pay off as well as Funcom had hoped. Without allowing us to port over our characters or perhaps figure out a way to transform the old MMO into a free-to-play model (like so, so many other MMORPGs had), the studio forced us into a Sophie’s Choice. Did we say goodbye to the game we knew and loved (or worse, remain in a stagnant game forever), or did we start over and put up with the changes?
Grudgingly and not gladly, I started over. I spent a half-year leveling up a brand-new character just to get to the same place that I was before all of this started. And now that we are on the verge of the start of season two, I have time to reflect on why, exactly, I put up with the reboot and didn’t bid this game universe farewell. Here are my reasons.
1. This game world is incredibly unique
Let’s get this out of the way right now: This column isn’t going to come to the conclusion that the reboot was worth it. I don’t think it was a horrible mistake, but it increasingly feels unnecessary for what Legends ended up doing. But yes, I’m still with the game, and one of the reasons is that there is no video game universe — MMO or otherwise — that’s as unique and engrossing as this one.
The combination of conspiracies, secret societies, every horror genre ever, different cultures, contemporary settings, ARG elements, and incredibly colorful characters keeps me glued to this game because I just can’t get this mix anywhere else.
2. I didn’t mind revisiting some of my past favorite missions
The whole idea of “starting over” is one that I typically embrace in other MMORPGs, although I was a little more hesitant here because of the sheer time and effort involved. Still, I focused on getting to experience once more some of my favorite characters, missions, and storylines, especially after having been away from certain zones for a long time.
3. It allowed some use out of my lifetime subscription
The year prior to the Legends reboot, I had purchased the grandmaster status for my account — a lifetime sub, basically. I don’t usually go for those, but I had some extra Christmas money and wanted to show my support for a game that I loved. And since some benefits from this sub transferred over to Legends when it came online, it made sense to use it or lose it.
4. I was curious if the new changes were any good
I think that curiosity brought a lot of people to Legends’ doorstep last summer. Funcom certainly was talking up the new action combat and F2P business model, and as someone who had criticized The Secret World for its awkward combat, I was hoping that the new system would be better.
Long story short, it wasn’t that much better. It was kind of like the studio replaced one sort-of functional combat system with a different sort-of functional combat system of equal enjoyment (or lack thereof).
5. It’s a fun game to discuss
It really is. I blog about a lot of MMOs on Massively OP and my personal blog (shameless promotion), and I have always loved to talk about Secret World’s missions and world. I have not gotten tired of it, really. There are always details to notice, screenshots to take, and memories to make. In a game where the combat is the weakest part of the MMO, the strongest part is what keeps us talking.
6. I knew I could redo this faster with previous experience
While I was giving Funcom serious side-eye over having to start over — seriously, developers, you said that you could have transferred characters in an interview I did, only that it would have been hard, so this smacks of expediency and laziness — I didn’t despair too much because I knew that my knowledge of quests and the world structure would lead to a faster run-through this time around. This turned out to be the case, and by December, I had brought my new character all of the way up through Tokyo.
7. It’s where the active community went
Again, we had a choice to stay in an MMO where no development was planned and there was a good possibility it would be shut down or go over to Legends and put up with the reboot. Most of the community that didn’t leave in disgust did just that, and I wanted to remain in that community as long as possible. You go where your friends and the crowds are. It’s as simple as that.
8. I wanted more story
Probably the biggest incentive for me to go to Legends was Funcom’s assurance that it would be finally, finally adding more missions and storylines to the game after an extremely long drought. And now we are getting just that with the new South African zone, about two years after Tokyo wrapped up in the old game. I want to see where this game goes from here. I want answers to so many questions that these stories have raised.
9. I knew I’d regret it if there were future updates
And to be honest, I would be in agony if I had opted out of the reboot and then seen friends get to play more Secret World missions while I was left out in the cold by my own choice. Playing was a strategy to avoid future regret, and I’m glad I did now.
10. Because I want this game franchise to endure
Listen, I have no idea how financially successful Legends has been and continues to be. I’m still very concerned for its future, especially at the slow pace of Funcom’s development. But we know that TSW was headed to cancellation due to its business model and lack of incoming revenue, so any chance to keep the game running and in development, even as a reboot, is one that I’ll take. But I don’t have to like every last aspect of what the studio did to get to this point.