Sunday, April 16, 2017

The Secret World and Legends

     We won't even talk about how long it's been since I posted anything to this blog. I could write a catch up post but I'd rather jump into what's been eating at my head for a few weeks.
     I was a latecomer to The Secret World. The game had been on my radar for some time before I finally picked it up, but it was a sub game and I could not justify paying more than one sub at a time and everybody I knew was in WoW. Then it was buy to play but I kept talking myself out of spending the money even though The Secret World very much sounded like my kind of game. It was a steam sale that did the trick. And I'll admit that what finally made it stick was a friend who had the game and volunteered to join me. I had a character ready-made, translated from some of my own urban fantasy tales. The screenshot above is my first from the game, my character Roland in the foreground and my friend's with the white hair there behind him. The coffee shop and the actual cups of coffee the character drank was one of the first things I got really excited about.
     Little details matter. And The Secret World is a game full of little details. Both in the environments and the story and in the system for weapons and combat.
      I started out with a blade and blood build. At the time I had picked it for character reasons and with no real idea what I was doing. It worked well enough in Kingsmouth and though neither of us particularly liked parts of the first zone we did like the game. A lot. Sometime in Savage Coast I swapped my blood for pistols, and started working on a starter deck. It fit the character even better than blood had and I never looked back, though I appreciated the ability to simply make that change.
     My one quibble at this point (and to the present) was that in a game I was enjoying as a duo there were the odd solo instances that force me to play alone and took us a little bit out of the story we were making alongside the one given to us. This isn't a complaint limited to The Secret World by any means, and while I understand it for reasons of balance I will always find it frustrating when a game that by its nature is a social one forces me to play alone. Still, we enjoyed Egypt even more than we'd enjoyed Savage Coast and Blue Mountain, and Transylvania even more.
     Tokyo's Aegis System is one that feels interesting, but annoying and it slowed our progress through the main storyline very considerably as we suddenly felt not just weak but underpowered and set about working back through achievements and issues to see if we could improve the feeling. But wasn't Aegis that brought our progress finally to a halt. That was the news of Secret World Legends.
     I have mixed feelings about the announcement. On the one hand I have a growing liking for action combat and if the new system is put together well I think it might make for a more fun playstyle when it comes to the battles. I don't mind the idea of starting over terribly since our progress had been slow and spotty with other games in the mix and neither of us was ever playing for end game or gear chasing or for any reason other than story and the world.
     I love this world and I wish there was far more of it. Any world where I can play my kilted Templar and let my RP work in bits of fae lore and legend that aren't explicitly in the game's canon without feeling like I am breaking a single 'rule' is a win for me. I love this game and the stories and the investigation missions that make me think and google demon names and latin phrases. I love the secret passages and the secret societies and that this is a game that not only gives excellent story but feels like it screams out to have my own stories added in.
     And I'm afraid. I'm afraid that the new game will be simpler in the ways I least want it to be. I'm afraid that the limited size of the zones might complicate our grouping together. I'm afraid it won't be as good as I want it to be. I want it to be wonderful and I want it to thrive.
     I'm excited a bit by the idea of starting again and making more stories as we level through it again (though I'm still not sure I feel the level part is necessary). I am excited to see the changes, and hopeful that it will mean more in time. More story, more zones to explore, more of everything I like.
     But I can't help feeling a bit worried too. The announcement had to be made, but the waiting is hard. We had been working our way through Tokyo again, making real progress and the announcement yanked the rug from under us both a little. Why keep progressing and working on achievements when we'd have to start it all over soon? And that's my worry. We've moved to another game to play and wait in the meantime. I know we'll both be there to try Secret World Legends as soon as the doors open. But how many people who had played much longer than my 330 hours (according to Steam) will feel that same let down and just stop playing as I did... and not come back?
     It's a nice cushion that they're leaving the old game where it is, that they're transferring over at least most of the things we bought. But that doesn't quite fix all the things that they're taking from long time players. I just really hope Legends is good enough to more than make up for it so that it can thrive.
     I'm very much looking forward to Roland's new adventures. I just really hope they won't leave me wishing for his old ones.