Secret World Legends: Massively single player

Having read a lot about The Secret World, I managed to miss out playing it completely by adding it to my Steam queue about 1 day before it was withdrawn for the rebirth as Legends.

So I’ve come to the ‘new’ game completely blind, and untainted by expectation (other than the much lauded storyline) or experience. Which helps a lot when it comes to enjoying it without having to rue/farewell the good/bad old days.

I’ve levelled up to 10, and the most striking thing about it so far is how it plays like a single player game. While there have been other players, occasionally, for the most part it feels like a solo RPG. Mysteries, quests, power-ups, and a lot of (excellent) NPC dialogue. But not a lot of interaction with other players, nor seemingly any compelling reason to group up.

Admittedly that feeling of solo play started to change in Kingsmouth, but mainly due to world chat suddenly exploding into action. There’s too much chat to really pay attention, especially because the bulk of it is comparison talk – what’s better, what’s worse – but at least it proved there are other players out there. It does sound like group content is approaching – teams for ‘Polaris’ keep being advertised, so that’s promising.

And I think at level 10 something flashed past on the screen about PVP? The UI leaves something to be desired – often I was being awarded something or other but couldn’t see it behind the quest completion or inventory UI. I also have no clue what I’m doing with skill upgrades or talent builds – so far I’ve ignored them and it hasn’t mattered at all.

The combat is also pretty average, as advertised. I chose to roll Demolisher, liking the idea of a hammer-smashing sword-slashing tank, but there is zero ‘feel’ to the melee combat. It has no weight whatsoever, the hits don’t connect with any heft, and it seems that just mashing right and left mouse will do the job. Even with the world bosses, the only minor challenge has been to dodge the action telegraphs. The airiness, more than the clumsiness, of the combat is disappointing, even with low expectations.

As for the story, it’s certainly far more involved than Warcraft or GW2, approaching SWtoR in terms of craft and depth. SWtoR still wins hands down for the feeling of heroism, that you matter and your character is shaping epic events, but TSWL is proving to be a refreshing change to the fantasy and sci-fi tropes. Wry humour and well written NPCs, and an omnipresent tone of everything in the world being slightly – but not totally – off kilter.

A friend is also playing, and it’s his first ever MMO. Which is kind of unfortunate as it’s hardly that thus far, but we’re going to team up and see what eventuates. More zombies, I’m guessing.

3 thoughts on “Secret World Legends: Massively single player”

  1. Agree completely said the Friend. I am loving the story…I can’t wait to get back in…just to see what is next

  2. The unusual thing about TSW/SWL is that your character isn’t really a hero and arguably nothing you do is particularly epic or even matters very much. It’s a bit more like the Lovecraft trope, where all you can hope to do is stave off the darkness for a while before it drives you insane.

    Also, none of the three organizations you can choose to work for is particularly noble and the more you learn about them the less savory they appear. It’s the MMO version of an indie movie with no good guys, just a few characters who may not be entirely irredeemable, whereas I am guessing SW:ToR (which I haven’t played) is the MMO version of a Hollywood blockbuster, where everyone knows who the good guys are before the opening credits even roll.

    1. My fellow first-timer is a huge Lovecraft fan and is loving the story and world because of that.

      That’s a great comparison, and you’re exactly right about SWtoR – although it’s not just the good guys that get the blockbuster treatment. Some of the Empire storytelling is just as compelling, if not more so. The Jedi can feel a bit cliche and safe, where the Sith are a seething mass of power and terror.

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