‘Secret World Legends’ Combat, Character Creation, And Gameplay Hands-On Impressions

The Secret World Legends reboot has presented Funcom with an opportunity to address many of the complaints that held back the PC game’s original release five years ago. Inquisitr was invited to go hands-on with the developers for the most immediate impact on combat, skills, and more. The theme of the day is “accessibility,” as Funcom attempts to engage players in their revamp of the story-heavy MMO.

The Problems with The Secret World

When Funcom assessed player complaints about The Secret World, they focused on some key flaws with combat and gameplay. The lengthy opening cut-scenes created a situation where it took much too long for players to get into the game. This was compounded by a tutorial section that gave players a shotgun regardless of the weapon specialization they chose.

Additionally, the idea of no character classes, no leveling, and no weapon leveling made the game difficult for players to jump into. Some players also found the skill wheel used to progress characters difficult to understand. Meanwhile, the combat itself was not as engaging as other MMOs.

These issues with engaging players and keeping their interest led to “accessibility” being a key word with the Secret World Legends reboot.

Character Creation

Creating a Warlock in Secret World Legends.
[Image by Secret World Legends/Funcom]

Funcom added a multitude of facial and character customization features to Secret World Legends‘ character creation. The most important part comes when players choose from one of nine classes.

Players will not be locked into these characters classes as the nine offered by Funcom are only meant to provide players with two starting weapon specializations. Additional weapon specializations can be unlocked with Marks of Favour, which are earned through gameplay.

The classes listed offer varying difficulties of use measured on a scale of 1-5 based on the combination of weapon specializations. Classes like Gunslinger are the easiest while the magic-based classes are more difficult.

Secret World Legends Tutorial

The length of the opening cut-scenes has been slashed from upwards of 30 minutes to only five. They can also be skipped. Meanwhile, the tutorial sections now give players access to the weapon specializations they selected when they chose their class. This effectively removes the jarring aspect of players being equipped with weapons they did not select.

The tutorial, which I’ve played through several times now, is thankfully light and breezy. It introduces players to the basic concepts of combat and puzzle-solving they will need later while introducing the story.


The Elementalism active skill tree in Secret World Legends.
[Image by Secret World Legends/Funcom]

The skill wheel for character progression has been completely removed and replaced with a combination of leveling and a skill tree featuring both active and passive abilities. Leveling is done just as in traditional MMORPGs, but with additional milestones within each level that grant skill points to be applied to active or passive skills.

Meanwhile, the skill tree is based on the weapon type selected and whether the active or passive skill is chosen. The active tree is divided into three paths with the top geared towards solo play while the bottom path is better for group play as it contains more healing abilities. Meanwhile, the middle path influences weapon specialization even more.

Completing all three lines in the active skill page for a weapon unlock the “Capstone” ability for that weapon. This gives players a permanent stat increase that stacks for each weapon where a “Capstone” ability is unlocked.

Active abilities can be mixed and matched on the hot bar to choose which ones to take into combat.

The passive skill tree features five paths with different themes for each. The paths are further divided between round nodes to increase character stats when the weapon is equipped and passive skills that boost weapon behavior.

Players can equip up to five passive skills from any weapon specialization to fit the preferred playstyle for their character.


The Elementalism ability explained in Secret World Legends.
[Image by Secret World Legends/Funcom]

The move to a reticle-based Action-RPG style combat system for Secret World Legends is a boon for the game. It immediately makes Secret World Legends feel more accessible from its predecessor while maintaining the excellent story content.

Each weapon draws from its own pool of energy that is reduced with each use and recharges slower in combat than when out of combat. This forces the player to think tactically about which skills to use to manage their energy pool.

Funcom has also added a sort of metagame to each weapon specialization. For example, Pistols have an RNG element where two wheels/revolvers spin on reload. If both wheels land on a blue spot then a damage boost is applied. If both wheels land on red, then a huge damage boost is given for the next shot.

On the other hand, Elementalism tasks players with managing their heat. Using heat or electrical-based abilities raises a character’s heat level and results in more damage dished out. However, overheating will cause detrimental effects to the player. This is where players need to use ice-based skills from the Elementalism skill tree to cool down.

Weapon and Item Upgrades

Weapon upgrading in Secret World Legends.
[Image by Secret World Legends/Funcom]

Further customization can be carried out through weapon and item upgrades in Secret World Legends. Loot is readily available in the game by completing missions, dungeons, and even mini-bosses scattered throughout playable zones (hint: they are marked on the map with skulls). This will reward loot bags, which can be opened to receive weapons, talismans, and other gadgets.

Naturally, these items have different quality ratings to them. An item with three marks, or pits, will have better stats than an item with only one mark. Meanwhile, the background color also indicates item quality with green indicating standard items and more powerful weapons featuring yellow or red backgrounds. Items with red backgrounds come with additional passive abilities that stack with those equipped from the skill tree and can affect play. For example, a talisman may help Elementalism to make cool-downs less necessary.

Upgrades can be carried out directly from the character inventory screen in Secret World Legends. It allows characters to become more powerful by buffing weapons and talismans from loot found through play versus simply discarding them. Using an item of similar quality to upgrade another will grant a bonus XP boost to the upgraded item.

This upgrade system in Secret World Legends allows hardcore players to continue to min/max their characters by finding the best loot that fits their playstyle while also upgrading it to make them more powerful.

Secret World Legends launches June 26 via Funcom’s launcher and will release on Steam on July 31.

[Featured Image by Funcom]