The Secret World, Funcom’s supernatural-themed MMORPG, takes players to a realm where anything is possible. They must combat menacing Lovecraft-inspired creatures in an effort to defeat, repel or exploit them. Released in 2012, the game currently uses a “buy-to-play” model, where players make a one-time purchase and can then play without additional costs, but paying subscribers enjoy extra benefits. But that and more will change on June 26, when the game relaunches as The Secret World Legends.

AListDaily spoke with Scott Junior, executive producer at Funcom, to delve deeper into what The Secret World Legends has to offer, why Funcom decided to rebrand and relaunch the game, and what the company hopes to achieve with these changes.

Scott Junior, executive producer at Funcom
Scott Junior, executive producer at Funcom

The beta is currently underway, and Junior discussed the goals for the relaunch. “The main goal is to allow new players to experience the acclaimed storytelling and unique quest design of The Secret World in full,” he said. “It’s also an opportunity for us to make some major changes to the gameplay and progression in line with how modern action RPGs have evolved to make the game feel more accessible and intuitive for both newcomers and long-time fans.”

So, apart from the name, how does Legends differ from the original Secret World? “The most immediate difference is that the game is free-to-play for everyone,” said Junior. “There are no pay-gates on well over 100 hours of story-driven content, and all future story content will also be free. In addition, we have updated the control scheme to facilitate more action-oriented combat, revamped the game’s character progression design, and improved the pacing and flow of missions to make the overall adventure more enjoyable to dive into.”

Junior then went into detail about how the relaunch hopes to attract new players to the five-year-old game. “Secret World Legends offers a fresh start for every player, new and old alike,” he said. “We’ve built a fantastic story-driven universe that is a blast to explore, and everything we’re doing now with this dedicated relaunch is about getting out of the player’s way and letting them experience that journey in full. Making the game free-to-play is a critical part of that vision, but so too have been the updates to gameplay, character development and quest progression, making systems that are more natural and satisfying to interact with.”

We asked Junior how existing fans are reacting to the gameplay changes and having the game is going free-to-play. “We’ve been pleasantly surprised at the interest in the relaunch,” Junior explained. “We had over 40,000 people register for the beta in the first 24 hours, and we’re well over 80,000 already. I think it’s, first and foremost, a testament to the strength of the IP—it’s clear The Secret World and Secret World Legends is still offering something to players that’s hard to find anywhere else, and we’re committed to making that experience more accessible for everyone.

I also think it’s helped that the community has been so vocal over the years about their enthusiasm for this universe, making sure The Secret World stays alive in public memory. We know not every fan is immediately on board with the coming changes, and we want to make it clear that their characters and investments will continue to live on their existing servers. Secret World Legends represents a new path forward for the franchise, and we know that announcing the relaunch was just the first step. We still have a lot of work ahead of us to communicate to new and veteran players what to expect in the future.”

It is the perhaps the longstanding strength of the IP that most stands out about The Secret World, no matter what the title is. Junior revealed the secret behind engaging with players for half a decade and more.

The Secret World offered a very unique setting and story that attracted a fantastic community,” said Junior. “We’ve taken this moment to give the series an honest look at where it stands in today’s gaming landscape and what it still has to offer to fans of shared worlds and action RPGs. We hope that with the improvements we are making in Secret World Legends and the free-to-play engagement model, this world will continue to grow for years to come.”