Perfect Ten: Why I (grudgingly) put up with Secret World Legends’ reboot

Less than a year ago, I faced a crisis as a fan and player of The Secret World. Funcom abruptly announced that it would be throwing the current game — the one I had spent about five years of my time playing and leveling — into maintenance mode and then rebooting the title as a free-to-play quasi-MMO called Secret World Legends.

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.

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Rolan Storm

Yeah, everything is there.


Good read, thx.

For me TSW was cool, but it was clunky, awkward, a mess. Sure i like complicated games, things you need to figure out but when you’re fighting a horrific ui with even worse controls and absolutely the shittiest combat known to man kind, well that’s not cool or fun, that’s just stupid, i mean no disrespect if you loved TSW, you’re just whacked it’s not your fault /jk lol

It’s not about putting up with it, it’s about they needed to do this, get the game right, appeal to a “normal” crowd of players, TSW was a plethora of unhappy, angry, miserable, rude, self entitled elitist idiots “mostly”. So if you were able to manage your way through the nightmare controls ect, now you’d have to become an angry gamer to fit in.

Remember SWL is only TSW done right.

They should have just revamped the original game instead of breaking it into two but… oh well, thinking about it was probably a good idea to leave them all back on troll island and they can feed among themselves.

Yea felt ranty, lol, naw TSW was cool, awkward, but cool, and yea the revamp really brought the game back to life and as they said, here it is… new content! SO STFU /jk

Fred Douglas

They should’ve just done a new/temporary server with rules, like the saga server on Age of Conan.

AoC doing something right, how about that.

Malcolm Swoboda

I wasn’t exactly against ‘SWL’ (though I dislike the title and especially dislike the change of LOREEEE to Legends), but I think they could have handled the transition better, more kindly, and more honestly than they did.

I never felt good about the TSW metagaming, many of its systems, difficulty at points, all that. Its not that I’m against a challenge – I just don’t have the same perception of TSW’s necessary design that some seem to. The ‘nerf’ to the game in SWL is something I’m mostly cool with, actually.

1) Yes, but SWL would have been a better offering with something new of the setting given to players up front. 2) Yes, though some of this content still isn’t in SWL and it really should be by now… 3) No, since I didn’t grab a lifetime. 4) Yeah, and agreed. But its one I generally like better, even though its a far cry from what will be required from any theoretical console release. 5) Yes! 6) Yes and I did. Hammered through the content for the most part. 7) Well yeah, for better or worse. 8) Of course more story. Again though it should have released with this instead of stringing along for so long.. again. 9) Definitely. Secret World isn’t a very hard game for me to pick up, personally, so I’d have just facepalmed myself if I didn’t bother. 10) At this point I want one of the following: a) a gradual die down of story til 2019 b) just a ‘Season Two’ over to at least 2019-2020, c) a strong Season Two that produces a capacity for ‘Season Three’ —- any of these, that actually goes into a Secret World sequel for the 2020s. Its impossible for now, but I don’t want this IP dropped. Like for RIFT, I want some core plot to be resolved (in this case, the Age/Filth/Orochi/etc setup), and once it is, give another game a shot.

Sally Bowls

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.

I just don’t get this. If you recall, Funcom was in a very fragile financial state. TSW had essentially failed and Funcom simply lacked the resources to keep trying. Regardless of the strategy, TSW was going into maintenance mode; there was no decision there. Funcom’s sole decision was whether to launch something like SWL or do nothing new. Their decision seems like the least-bad, feasible option.

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I think he meant to describe having to start over from scratch in SWL, rather than allowing a character transfer. Funcom can come up with whatever technical excuse for not doing a character transfer, and as a consumer, none would be good enough.

Toy Clown

I was a player that thrived in the reboot, where I had given up on the original. I had friends that hated the reboot and abruptly refused to start over again, staying in the old Secret World, where I suppose they still are today. I checked in on one of them when news hit about Season 2 and he had a lot of regret for not moving into the reboot. He’s struggling through SWL now, trying to get back up to par so he can enjoy Season 2.

Castagere Shaikura

Well i’m glad you liked because i didn’t. The old game is so much better than this version. My character in the old game was almost into the end zone and i feel i got screwed over again by Funcom just like with Anarchy Online. All my friends also quit playing it too.

Bryan Correll

He didn’t say he liked it, just that he could tolerate it. I finally decided I couldn’t and quit.

Dug From The Earth

I wish they would beef up the graphics engine. Its still got wonky rendering issues and performs like mud in many areas (police station in kings… just for example). I doubt it will happen though. They adamantly refuse to even add options in the video settings to adjust things like depth of field and bloom, which games have been doing since 2008.

For me, the game (just as before SWL) still suffers from “single player mode”. Despite being an mmorpg, most of your time in this game will be spent solo when you are questing and following storyline. The LFG tool is mostly garbage. Its awful for even finding dungeon groups… it works, but barely earns a passable score.

Then there is the god awful itemization system that decided to take an example from mobile games. The “Combine two A’s to get a B. Combine two B’s to get a C. Combine two C’s to get a D” system. The problem is that you dont get enough A, B or C’s to realistically get your gear to D (or E of F or whatever the max is) Unless!!! Unless of course you subscribe which not only gives you free loot, but also gives you more opportunity to get loot in instances. Add that on to how loot is completely boring and dull. (oh look, you got another generic hammer that looks no different than the hammer you had the last 3 times) and you have a horrible system.

Oleg Chebeneev

“there is no video game universe — MMO or otherwise — that’s as unique and engrossing as this one” thats quite a statement considering how many unique and brilliant settings there are in game industry

John Mynard

I still have trouble, after 4 years in The Secret World, trying to explain the concepts behind the game. Nevermind the actual lore. So yeah, there’s nothing quite like this setting and I’m glad for it.

Oleg Chebeneev

It i the world where you have powerful secret societies and mystic creatures that come from all kinds of folklore and legends. You play as an agent of one of those societies, complete its tasks, get to know the world’s citizens and help them with whatever their needs.

Took me 5 seconds to explain.

Bruno Brito

There’s also a huge issue with TSW:

Why are we part of a secret society, who clearly dwells in corrupt dealings, and we’re herolike.


I’d say our heroism came from being one of Gaia’s magic bees.

Axetwin .

I use vanilla Secret World as my goto game when I defend my position in the “Gameplay vs Story” debate. I will always go for gameplay over story, because a bad story can be ignored. Bad gameplay can’t. I won’t say the game play in SW was bad, but it was unfun. SWL fixed it. It’s still not great, but it’s *better* than what it was.


There’s no evidence that the number of people who find SWL better is larger than the number who find SWL worse.

Bruno Brito

I will always go for gameplay over story, because a bad story can be ignored. Bad gameplay can’t.

Wait…what? This is a terrible line of thought.