At the beginning of August, Funcom re-released some content that had been in The Secret World for Secret World Legends but with a new mechanic. The missions, as they were in The Secret World, were given to the players as off-shoots of the original story, missions to show that the player was making progress within the rank of their faction. What made them unique is that they were a few of a handful of missions that differed depending on which faction you played. This made them an anomaly in the game as only the between-zone missions also did that, with the lion’s share of missions having faction-flavor text only to differentiate them.
Instead of releasing them as one time faction-flavor, they were released in Secret World Legends as repeatable variable-difficulty end-game missions as a way of bolstering the end-game options for players, especially solo players like myself. Awesome. They came with a caveat, though, in that in order to even begin the missions, you had to first hit gear-rating milestones, essentially gating the content. This decision has been met with mixed reactions by the Secret World community, to say the least.
The first mission, Into Darkness, has the player delve into a NYC car park and needs an Item Power (IP) of 250 to play. The second, Venetian Missile Crisis, has the player once more wielding the missile launcher and needs an IP of 325. The third, Rogue Agent, I assume involves chasing somebody down. I wouldn’t know as it needs an IP of 450, and my character is still in the early 400 IP range.
And this right here appears to be the main beef that players are having. That 450 IP gate. Most players I have talked to have no problem with the 250 IP gate, as one would generally hit that level during the Tokyo zone. Even the 325 IP gate isn’t so bad as one would hit that in late Tokyo or during the South Africa zone. But 450 IP? There just isn’t the content to support that yet without grinding missions, dungeons, or scenarios. Content that not every player enjoys grinding, let alone even playing.
Now I’m not saying that I feel that the content should be made easier to be more accessible. Quite to the contrary, I really enjoy a good challenge. The new Venetian Missile Crisis, since I was playing it at level took quite a bit of watching pulls, puzzle-like clearing, and a few deaths. It reminded me of playing the original Secret World, where in order to take on certain mobs you had to change up your build, specialize it, and use abilities and tricks that were outside your standard build. They were a puzzle in and of themselves.
That was one of the main themes of The Secret World, though, was the puzzles. Investigation missions were researching and detail puzzles, Sabotage missions were attentive and timing puzzles, and Action missions build and dodging puzzles. As long as you completed previous missions or accomplishments, you were able to proceed, no matter your gear. You beat all the dungeons, you opened up Elite dungeons. You beat all the Elite dungeons, you opened up fighting the Gatekeeper.
Remember the Gatekeeper? The Gatekeeper was the pure test to show that you were ready for Nightmare level dungeons. You beat the Gatekeeper, it showed you were good enough to join the end-game, whether your gear was up to snuff or not. For a lot of players, he was a wall. The Gatekeeper fight was *hard*. You could fight it as a tank, dps, or healer, and the fight changed to suit your role, but each part was still hard.
I guess that’s where my main disconnect with the new faction content in Secret World Legends lies. How would I even know if the final 450 IP gate mission is hard to beat or not? I’m not allowed to play it yet. I have to grind dungeons, which I don’t enjoy, or scenarios, which have improved since The Secret World but they’re still not my cup of tea, or just replay the same missions over and over and over again (and if the choice is replay the same content in one game or play new content in another, guess which I choose?).
It’s not like the gate is accomplishment based like The Secret World was, it’s purely gearscore number based. Heck, The Secret World let you play content well above your level all the time! I remember throwing myself time and again against the Last Train to Cairo mission, and I just couldn’t survive the fire section, but I was playing it at the same time I was making my way through the Egypt zone, and it was supposed to be post-Transylvania content.
I could still try it, though! It wasn’t gated just because my gear wasn’t up to par or hit some target yet. Same with the Gatekeeper. Your gear, in any game, is only a fraction of your character. Your own playing skill is the human element that goes along with the numerical gear/levels to round out your character. This is why we love our characters, they’re not just two dimensional, they include a large part of us as well. If we don’t have the gear yet, our own skill can compensate.
So, I haven’t played the 450 IP Rogue Agent mission yet, and I’m not going to grind to get there. It’s not like I’m going to give up on the game entirely, though, I’ll finally play it when there’s enough Secret World Legends content to support it, which hopefully will be when the next Congo zone is released. This may even be designed this way on purpose. I’m still disappointed, though, that I’m not even allowed to *attempt* the mission as it shows a shift in philosophy from The Secret World, a philosophy that is sadly taking the Player out of the Player Character equation.