Go Down the Rabbit Hole in Our Secret World Legends Review

By Jeff Francis
Secret World Legends review

One of the most intriguing mmo games released over the last ten years was The Secret World. There was a lot of interest in Funcom's game as it eschewed the typical fantasy setting prevalent in online games. Instead of travelling through wooded glades to fight dragons, players in The Secret World belonged to a secret society and delved into a dark reflection of the world that was populated by conspiracies, myths, legends, and horrors. While the game was incredibly immersive, some of the mechanics were not universally liked, with the ability wheel as a prime example. Eventually, Funcom decided to revamp the game from a systems point-of-view, so Secret World Legends was born as a free-to-play game. How well does this new version of a dark and mysterious world compare to the original? Is the setting still crazily immersive? Find out in our Secret World Legends review.

Let's begin our Secret World Legends review with character creation. As with most free mmo games, players get a single character slot with the option to buy more if they wish. First off, the player is tasked with which of the three secret societies they wish to join: Illuminati, Templars, or Dragon. There's a short video for each to help players decide which faction is the best fit for them. From there, the player chooses the character's appearance. There's a healthy amount of options available for the head, face, hair, eyebrows, eye color, facial features, and makeup. The makeup options are interesting if you want to go for some really crazy looks. Then the first real difference between Secret World Legends and its predecessor shows up in that the player picks a class. (TSW had no classes.) Overall, there are nine classes, and the game does a good job of describing them as well as giving players an estimate on how difficult it is to play the class. I opted for Gunslinger as I enjoy slinging lead.

After creating a character, it's off to a quick tutorial to get players orientated to the game. I have to say that, for the purposes of this Secret World Legends review, the game does an admirable job of explaining the basic mechanics of the game to the player in an easy-to-understand way. Movement, combat, skills (more on that later), and interacting with objects are covered. What really raises the tutorial up is that puzzles and a sabotage mission are included. One of the best features of The Secret World (and Secret World Legends) is that players will have to use their wits as well as their combat abilities to succeed. Exposing players to this aspect of the game right off the bat is smart. I like how the player learns the keypad code by examining the chassis of a destroyed construct. Overall, the introduction to the game is very well done, and it appears the length of time needed to get to the action has been decreased. I also like how players can bypass the cutscenes if they wish to do so. Normally, I would advise against this, but I've created a few characters for TSW, so I was familiar with the opening storylines and didn't wish to sit through them all again.

Secret World Legends fortune teller

Once all the preliminaries are out of the way, the player reaches Kingsmouth and begins their exploration into the game's dark world in earnest. Now let's turn our Secret World Legends review to the changes that Funcom made to this game (which you can play for free here). The first is that the ability wheel is gone and has been replaced with skill trees. There are active and passive skills/abilities for each of the weapons. Skill points and action points are still gained and spent on abilities/skills, but the new layout is much more accessible for most players. There's a clear progression for players to follow, but a good thing about this system is that the player isn't locked into the character's class. The player can purchase skills/abilities for other weapons and use them if they wish. Players can pick and choose which active and passive abilities they want running.

Now let's turn our Secret World Legends review to the other major change in the game: combat. A lot of players were not fans of the combat system in The Secret World, so Funcom went a different route this time around. Now the game sports a reticle-based, action-style combat system that is a lot of fun. Every weapon has an energy pool that is used to power combat abilities, and this energy recharges slowly in combat (but quickly out of combat). I found myself switching back and forth between my pistols and shotgun to keep a constant barrage of firepower going. This system is easy and flexible and is something that every new player can quickly pick up. There's also another layer to weapons as there's a metagame aspect as well. Shotguns have different ammo types, which will randomly be chosen when the player reloads. As for the pistols, the wheels of two revolvers will spin when fired/reloaded. If the top chamber on both wheels match in color, then damage is increased, and there are three different colors that range from a mild increase up to a huge increase. Again, combat is a lot easier to understand and get into in this game as opposed The Secret World.

As for the setting itself, I can say that Secret World Legends is just as creepy and immersive as ever. The differing mission types (investigative, etc.) are all here, and the mission introduction cutscenes really thrust you deep into the game's conspiracy-laden world. This is one aspect of the game that Funcom did not change at all, which was the right thing to do as game's virtual world was the most significant feature for The Secret World and is still so in Secret World Legends.

Overall, our verdict in this Secret World Legends review is a big thumbs-up. The best parts of the game (setting and intricate missions) have been kept intact, but some of TSW's more problematic areas (combat and skills) have been addressed to make them much more accessible but still highly functional. Secret World Legends is a lot easier for new players to get into but still retains the insanely deep immersion that its predecessor did. Funcom did a good job on improving upon the original product, and the game should attract a lot of fresh players due to its free-to-play nature.


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