Several years ago, Funcom’s The Secret World released with amazing depth of storyline and great graphics.  You had to save the world over the course of several chapters in a story that was told throughout various environments. Though it was set in modern day, you could choose to join the ancient organizations of The Illuminati, The Templars, or The Dragon.  You would then find yourself fighting in some expected places like Transylvania but then you also found yourself trying to take double taps to the heads of zombies in Maine.  To find locations for quests you often look in phone books where you will find markings for where your next quest takes you but it also has all kinds of Easter eggs for literary and cult movie fans.  Want to stay at Jack and Wendy’s Bed And Breakfast? Maybe you need meds from Flagg’s Pharmacy.  You might want to chat a bit with fellow Templars about doing some ultra violence.  Besides all the Easter eggs the game draws heavily from cult horror with a particular fondness for Lovecraft.  Since I love all of the above and they even manage some Poe references I was hooked since beta and played the game pretty long and pretty deep.

Being a game reviewer though does make it so that I always have another game I need to play so The Secret World fell a bit to the wayside, I would often stop by when a new chapter was introduced but because I couldn’t keep up with end game weapons (The Secret World relies heavily on your gear which you get through drops then improve through an weapon sacrificing system).  In that sense it made it very straight forward to play and upgrade your weapon enough it just took time that when I am also gaming with my wife and we have a 10 1/2 year old guild on WoW resulted in taking up much of the free time I had when not reviewing.

But time and the Mrs. called me back to other things and The Secret World slid back to the back until news about The Secret World came along in a very startling way.  The Secret World was ending and becoming Secret World Legends, a Free-To-Play with in-game purchases and something called the Patron system. So I decided to give it another try!

Not My First Free-To-Play Rodeo

It was definitely not my first time playing a free-to-play game with micro-transactions. Actually I have been playing them since the first ones came out.  Some made it so you had special looking pets, mounts, even furniture in your in-game house.  Others made a difference in play these were known as Free-To-Play, Pay-To-Win and gave you a distinct advantage in battle by selling you special weapons with higher kill damage that Free-To-Play could manage.  Others might give you a mystery chest, if you can earn the chest in game but you can buy one if you are impatient that is fine, in a sense that is rewarding someone for their patience.  If the only way to get the weapon, or ship or whatever the advantage is is buy spending real life money and no equivalent can be earned that falls into a sketchy ground that eventually winds up just being a bunch of the same players playing each other because they were all the ones who spent real life money when others stuck to the “Free-To-Play” motto.

This was my biggest worry going into Secret World Legends because they had instituted something called the “Patron” system and I didn’t know what other pay system they might have in place.  I was excited jumping in and with the Dark Tower movie causing gunslinger excitement in the air coming out, I started playing a Templar gunslinger.  I was basically like Roland’s old ka-tet, I had a couple of guns that can do neat tricks and I was a defender of the White.  It took a few minutes to get used to things again but once I did I was saying the gunslinger’s mantra outloud while blowing the heads off of zombies.  So before I get too into the paying and the Patron system, I first want to talk a bit about how the game looks and feels, especially after my time away.

As a Templar gunslinger, I was walking in and out of buildings in London and talking to people who sound like they are right out of a Bond movie. Many MMORPGs have you choose between magic or physical damage where this is physical damage that can be supplemented with some magic damage but it really comes down to improving your use of weapons and the weapons you can use.  In a lot of ways it also feels like the movie Wanted as you do outrageous moves and lightning fast reloading. I started my story following the assignment I was given.  When you first play it is very much a game on rails to make sure you learn what you are doing before things open up a bit more and you can take side missions and different story lines. The atmosphere is very everyday normal in your home area but it gets dark as soon as you head out on missions.  You take portals to get to these areas and nicely for the safety sale of the player it won’t let you go into areas higher than your level. Sometimes when you have been weapons crafting and feel you have a bad ass combo and want to go higher this might be frustrating but it really is for your own good.  When you get higher though all kinds of things open up for you such as multiple areas and group battles against bosses.

Something really key to play right now whether you have played or not is that it launched with only part of the previous game intact and with very regular updates, maintenance and hot patches.  They wanted to get this play-for-free model out as quickly as possible (this has been video game convention season) so that new players could start learning the ropes and old players would stop playing characters that were about to become obsolete. I’ve seen it and sadly experienced it more than once when a game is changing format like this and they wait too long, those who planned to give it a try might forget or move onto another title and those who were playing get frustrated and do the same. You just need to be patient and don’t be too surprised if you have a few minutes of patch time most times you log in or have it down for maintenance. Don’t be too surprised if you get some crashed right now too. If you have twitter or Facebook it is a good idea to follow them on there to get the latest information.

So there are two forms of game on Secret World Legends, the first being free-to-play the second being Patron. Basically the reason for the game to have a Patron is pretty much in it’s name, the developers need money to keep the game going, they need servers, coding, equipment, all the things that you are generally paying for when you buy a game outright. Sometimes they put ads in the game, loading screens or matchmaking screens that help with these costs but if they don’t they have to come from somewhere. So much like people who are Patron Of The Arts by donating to museums you are Patrons of Secret World Legends.

Museum Patrons get benefits for the money they provide and it is no different in the game.  As a Patron you get:

Now these are all handy things that help you level faster, stay alive longer and experience more of the game faster but none of them are a Pay-To-Win item, they just speed up gameplay by allowing more access in a shorter time.  You eventually will get all the access you need it just might take a day or two longer than a Patron. This is really key because I am a strong detractor of the Pay-To-Win system and I would be the first to cry foul if I thought it was happening at all here but that really does not appear to be the case or anytime in the future. The Patron is a timed thing, bought in one month increments and when the time runs out you just no longer get the benefits. I’m sure you’ll feel how things are moving slower but you won’t feel like the Patrons had you at a huge disadvantage.

Learn a Few Secrets:

Secret World Legends is now free-to-play and it is actually free-to-play which not all games that claim to be so are.  I highly recommend you give it a try if you like MMORPGs at all, it has a beautiful, modern supernatural flare that makes me think of the gunslinger a lot now that we are in the shadow of the Dark Tower. Give the game a try and if you like it consider becoming a Patron but whatever you do don’t keep your new found love for this game a secret.


Secret World Legends Review Score

(3 out of 5 stars)


 

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Ripper71

Dustin "Ripper71" Thomas has been a staff writer with GamingShogun.com for over five years and has taken on the role of editor with a brief stint as Editor-In-Chief. He is also a co-founder of @IsItOctoberYet where he covers haunt nightmares and amusement park fun.