Chaos Theory: The prickly side of Secret World Legends’ less-than-ideal scenario situation

    
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See, I said that wouldn’t take too long! Here we are back at the Secret World Legends scenario discussion. This time, however, we’ll be addressing the bad and frustrating side of the newest scenario, Occult Defense, as well as scenarios in general. Now, before you go thinking I am nothing but a negative Nelly, go ahead and read part one to see all the things that were great and cool about it. There I focused on all the positives.

This time, however, we cover the other side. Remember my less-than-ideal comment? (Hint: If not, it’s in the title!) All is definitely not a bed of roses in SWL scenario land; there’s a good share of thorns. And those thorns pricked me good when I dove in for the first time this week. While I do expect a mix of good and bad with gaming changes, I was pretty disappointed with the bad side — mostly because I feel they are unnecessary negatives.

Before I delve into this prickly situation, I want to be very open that I purposely ignored scenarios once SWL launched last year. I did this because I enjoyed them in TSW and played though them plenty, so this time around I was waiting for something new before diving in again. Why tell you this? Because it factors into the gut-punch of disappointment I experienced when I finally jumped into scenarios. It really did hit me hard: You can hear the raw rant during my first run-throughs on OPTV. Some of the most frustrating things are more so because they are so unnecessary. With a few alterations, the entire scenario experience would be better.

So let’s discuss how scenarios could improve.

Endgame ain’t the end-all, beat-all

So I am just going to come right out and say it: Why on Gaia’s green and filth-covered earth do scenarios have to be an endgame-only endeavor? Why is this content locked at 50+ with high IP (Item Power)? I’m pretty confident that endgame gear grinders are not the only players in Secret World Legends. Are they even the majority? Or are they just the ones more apt to spend in the cash shop to power themselves up? (I’d love to see numbers compared to those who are more casual or RPers who spend on cosmetics and fluff stuff!) I know there are people who enjoy that, and I do think they should have content as well, but why are things that were not endgame now only for the top gear grinders? (Don’t even get me started on the change to faction missions!).

You might argue that scenarios of old were also endgame. But they really weren’t. Yes, you had to get to Issue #8 to run them, but there were seven issues still after that. And while they were more endgame-y in the beginning, Funcom gave a variety of difficulty levels so more players could participate. In fact, when the regular level turned out to be too much of a challenge for those just starting and in turn scaring them off of scenarios, devs added in the novice level to give a taste and let folks practice. With so many levels, including the nightmare level for those who wanted serious challenge, the feature was open to so many more players, and enjoyed by so many more players.

So now let’s look at scenario levels. You’ve got varying elite levels for the Seek & Preserve and wave levels for Occult Defense, but those are still gated behind elite. Funcom saw the importance of a story mode for the dungeons so that players could experience those, so why isn’t there a story mode for the scenarios? Why can’t we have a novice level that offers less/lower rewards? It would let players get the feel for, perhaps even a taste for, the scenarios and work up to playing them more. Why does it have to be elite and endgame only when you can have both? Where are the scenarios for folks who want to play them for fun instead of gear grind? Bring in a scenario story mode!

Less is not more

OK, so I understand that there needed to be changes between SWL and the TSW we knew and loved. Some of it really made sense for the transition, and some concessions had to be made. Yes, Secret World Legends stripped stuff away in the process of rebooting. I may not have loved the idea, but I did love the idea of the world continuing. I think I rolled with those punches pretty well.

But when things are stripped out seemingly totally unnecessarily — that’s too much. And that’s where scenarios fall. Scenarios were needlessly stripped. Perhaps one of the most maddening things to me was the stripping away of choices. The first of these was the novice levels and ability to participate without being elite endgame. But there were more.

The next choice stripped away is what original scenario you can run. While this isn’t an issue with the new occult Defense, it is one for Seek & Preserve. Instead of getting to choose whether you want to run Franklin Mansion, Transylvania’s castle, or Egypt’s hotel, you are forced into one randomly. In SWL, if you have queued up with the group finder and end up with someone who just really hates/doesn’t want to do the scenario you’ve landed in, they can just bail, leaving you with the difficulty set for two.

Conversely, if you are in the mood for one scenario but not for others, you either must run solo and keep jumping in and leaving until RNG is nice to you (so unnecessary!) or you can just bail on your duo and hope the person doesn’t chew you out. If you are with a friend, you might be able to coordinate at least to leave together. But seriously, what on earth was the point of this change? Who really cares if people prefer one scenario over another and it gets more play time? It’s really maddening because we had that choice in TSW. (The same for elite dungeons too, but that’s even more of a rant.)

You know what other choice we had in TSW that was ripped away from us here? The ability to run with a group. Now scenarios are for solo or duo only — no groups. What, you’re just too much of an anomaly to have more than a single friend as a gamer? I’m sorry, but all my fun in scenarios was with three or four of us scrambling between survivor groups, even racing each other to see who could protect them first. OK, fine, I get that maybe you don’t want to artificially gear up those who don’t “deserve it” by allowing groups to queue into solo and duo modes like we could in TSW… but why remove groups altogether? And was that really such a big deal? Rewards were based on the mode and level. Nightmare, with the best rewards, didn’t let you bring extra folks in to help, and that worked. It still gave plenty of players options to participate in scenarios. Those options now are just gone.

An event for only the elite

Now this really chaps my hide. Thanks to the locking of this entire feature behind endgame and then putting limited-time lore in the feature, you’ve just prevented scores and scores of players from participating. (Note: If you want the spoilers on where these lores/legends are located, check out the guides in part one.) Frankly, I still think event stuff should be accessible to all. Locking people out of a limited-time event is just cruel. As it stands, if you aren’t max level and endgame ready, you won’t be able to fully participate.

One thing that isn’t quite certain is if the Stonehenge Simulation event lore will remain in the scenario after the event ends, like the Albion Theatre event lore. If that’s the case, at least it will be there waiting for you once you can get to that level. If not, well tough luck for six more months.

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Scarlet_Shocker

I think this is unduly harsh as a review and to a large extent revisits issues covered in the past, the whole SWL vs TSW debate.

I actually really enjoy this scenario, especially in a duo. It’s actually turned into one of the best ways to test builds and weapons and the rewards are decent. It sure as hell beats the heck out of bashing blue dummies to see if that build feels right, and takes about as long as you want.

SWL has been around for well over a year now, anyone who’s invested any time in it should have at least one 50 by now, so I feel like that’s a gripe for its own sake and my understanding is this scenario will stick around after the event so those few who don’t have 50s will be able to play it when they do (but if I’m wrong on this correct me.)

Let’s also remember this is not in any way meant to be main content. It’s a casual filler given to us by the devs primarily for a warm up to… oh yes, it’s Christmas very soon in SWL so get people primed with a mini-event and hopefully they’ll stick around for Hallowe’en which is THE SWL event.

Is it perfect? Of course not. Is it fun? I genuinely think so and if you’re running with a buddy you can swap ideas and banter and stuff too, but it’s equally accessible to those who dislike teaming for any reason.

There are many team events in game so I’m not hugely bothered that you can’t run this in a five man team.

I think, if you accept it for what it is, it stands under its own merit.

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Hirku

The positive side of this (for me, at least) is that it’s made me think of reinstalling TSW to enjoy as a SP story. I kept trying to get into SWL because I didn’t want to miss out on all the future content. Nothing to worry about now, that’s for sure.

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Greaterdivinity

Honestly…I’d stick to SWL for that. The aegis grind in Tokyo in TSW absolutely murdered my desire to keep playing, and for all its flaws at least SWL did away with that nonsense so you can get through that story without issue.

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Hirku

I’d rather take my chances with a bad grind at the end of TSW than the awful stuff I have to deal with through the entirety of SWL.

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xpsync

So is this coming down to what dead game do you want to play?

TSW or SWL

TBH i shouldn’t be so negative, i had such an amazing time, met all kinds of new players, rocked end game to E10 so hard, not going to lie it was unforgettable.

Many of them have moved on which i find the worst as these peeps were vets from beta or whatever from the original game.

They walked, that’s how spurred they are. We all keep in touch and when i got the first invite to join in on “insert mmo” i thought yea i could see him moving on. Then a few weeks later a couple in the team same thing, hey were playing “insert mmo” come join us. Then trend never stopped. It’s more like come join me in Warframe, hehe. 2 guys tried Warframe but didn’t click with them, well not yet ;)

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ogged451

The lore that comes from the SD card reward of the initial mission will probably be gone until next year, but the others should be around all the time I guess.

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Greaterdivinity

This sadly is what I thought would be coming in “the bad” part, as I haven’t even bothered to log in.

Funcom makes no sense to me, at least the folks working on SWL. I totally get that teams are small and budgets are limited given that this relaunch doesn’t seem to have quite taken off (unsurprisingly given the changes/quality) and that Conan Exiles continues to seem to be the main bill payer, but this is just…ugh.

The whole point of the relaunch was to attract new players since us old/salty vets weren’t spending enough for ongoing new content but the literal last two updates – this and the faction missions finally returning seem both squarely aimed at hardcore players, not new/casual players. I’m casual hardcore and I’ve no interest in the gear grind, and being locked out of content makes me even less interested in even logging in. It seems they’re back to just the old salty vets from TSW and are trying to at least appease them since I imagine that SWL simply monetizes them better than TSW does.

I continue to be absurdly disappointed with the missed opportunities and missteps that have taken what could have been a great relaunch for TSW, and a relaunch I was actually pretty excited about, and instead end up with a different and arguably worse version of TSW. But hey…at least we finally got some new story content in the like, 5 SA missions that take around an hour or two to do : /

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xpsync

Over and over again people would say this would happen. What i thought was why reboot it? To make it popular again more relevant with today’s expectations.

OK success, that totally happened, the game was as hot as a blazing sun, even when they were doing “at the time” regular dev streams for the game they even stated the money coming in blew away their most optimistic projections.

So i thought what company would look at that and then say, meh let it die? Are we sure the people that ran Wildstar aren’t ultimately in control of this too?

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Brother Maynard

If Funcom genuinely believed that SWL would attract new crowds, they were completely delusional. Everybody playing TSW could see that. (I’m not talking about the usual 1-month doubling of the game population due to the ‘new game’ promo.)

A couple of cosmetic changes to the combat system won’t attract anyone new – compared to brand new action games out there, it will remain as atrocious as it always has been. Even playing completely F2P action games like Warframe will show SWL’s combat in a pretty bad light. The main selling point of SWL pushed by Funcom was completely beside the point.

The TSW veterans sitting on their choppers in Agartha were there in SWL on day one, sitting on the same choppers, as SWL ‘newbs’. It wasn’t a breath of fresh air, it was the same stale air moved from TSW to SWL.

The only reasons behind the SWL move was for FU&com to get rid of grand masters, chop up the game into tiny pieces to be sold separately and to re-sell everything again to all the TSW veterans who couldn’t live without the game.

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xpsync

“The only reasons behind the SWL move was for FU&com to get rid of grand masters”

Everyone i played with was a lifer, seemed i was the only one paying a sub. It took a year but the original game (TSW) beta, alpha, day one, whatever, vets actually moved on to other games.

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Katriana

Ugh. I wasn’t particularly fond of scenarios before and it’s sounding like I’ll be even less so now.

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xpsync

Scenarios were a necessary evil to upgrade glyph’s for end game players, they were enjoyable the first couple times but that was about it, rounding the hundredth time, not so much, lol.