Secret World Legends has had an interesting history as a MMORPG in a market full of would-be World of Warcraft killers and big budget blockbusters. The game originally launched in 2012 under the title The Secret World, with a price tag and monthly subscription.
Over the years, that model has changed dramatically. First, the game went buy-to-play, dropping the paid subscription. Then, they released content packs via “Issues” that provided linear gameplay experiences that revisited old areas of the game. Eventually, Funcom released the final zone of the game’s first season, Tokyo, and built it up into a satisfying conclusion to the game’s first major story arcs.
From there, The Secret World floundered, with player counts dropping to under 1,000 per month. At one point, the game dipped to less than 200 monthly concurrent players. In summer 2017, Funcom announced that it would relaunch the game as Secret World Legends, a free-to-play title with loot box microtransactions and a scaling gear equip system. The combat system was overhauled, and story quest and progression was slightly massaged to embed the original’s game DLC and make for a better leveling experience for new players.
After Secret World Legends’ launch, the developers re-added DLC and imported the final parts of Tokyo to the game. Then, there were months of silence. The development roadmap promised new story content in “late 2017/early 2018”, but things only recently kicked off with the addition of the “Agent” system, which allows players to send NPCs off on tasks for gear, and now the new story chapter, “Dawn of the Morninglight.”
“Dawn of the Morninglight” will take players to a new country, into the heart of the Morninglight cult. After taking down a fallen angel and the mother of monsters in Season One, the Morninglight are poised to be the game’s greatest nemesis. This story pack is set to arrive on April 4, set in a Jonestown-style compound. While details are sparse beyond the cinematic trailer, the chapter will be in our hands in just a few weeks.
Secret World Legends has had a tumultuous lifespan, and it will be interesting to see whether Funcom can maintain this momentum and finish a “season two” that takes place across multiple zones. For fans of this niche MMO, the story’s second season had started to seem like a Duke Nukem Forever or Half-Life 3 style situation. Now, the initial chapter is here. It remains to be seen whether Funcom can maintain this momentum, but this is certainly a promising start.