At the moment I have two MMOs I spend my time in, Guild Wars 2 and Secret World Legends. These two games really couldn’t be more different. One is super casual and inviting to gamers of all ages, the other is rated M for Mature and is a very grown-up game. Guild Wars 2 is full of bright colors while SWL goes for a darker look. I love them both for what they are, but there is one difference between these two games that bothers me, something that Secret World Legends lacks. I miss getting loot in Secret World Legends.
In Guild Wars 2 you get bags and bags of loot. Inside those bags? More bags! There have been a number of times through Guild Wars 2’s five-year history that players have complained about there being too many loot bags to open. After playing Secret World Legends, I wish this were a complaint I could have. Instead, I find myself longing for loot. No, not every game has to have a ton of loot. In fact, loot would be pretty out of place in Secret World Legends. But there have been times when I wish I had something to show for all the enemies I’ve tackled.
But if Secret World Legends did have a lot of loot what would it look like? Would moving the mission completion bags to enemies be enough to make it feel more rewarding? What if instead of getting a bag of loot upon completion of a task we got the drop from the enemy itself? In that way, it would feel like we’re rewarded for each and every kill, rather than the overall completion of the task. If this were the case you could introduce a reward table to the game. One which includes all the different types of loot, along with caches new and old. Yes, this could be a way for a small, steady stream of retired caches to continue to enter the market, though you would also want to increase the rarity as the cache ages.
Perhaps we could take a page from Guild Wars 2 and allow for some really epic weapon crafting. You may not be building it yourself. Instead, you take it to a certain taco vendor in London who knows a guy. You bring him everything you need for the weapon and he gets it made for you. What sorts of things do you need? Wet sand, pumpkin seeds, the eye of a female Draug. Hey, magic is weird.
Or maybe they could send us on treasure hunts, National Treasure-style. You’ve got a map that you need special glasses to read, the last owner is now one of the many named creatures that wander the world. Find the glasses only to discover you need something else. Clues can drop from enemies, treasure hunters who met their demise carrying one part of the puzzle. The reward for these treasure hunts? They could be anything. Powerful weapons from history, magical items of clothing, a necklace that allows you to see dead people. Okay, maybe not that last one. I really don’t want to see all the ghosts there are in SWL all the time. We’d be overrun.
There are a few different ways Funcom could spice things up a little bit by adding some loot. But that really brings us to the next question, do they need to?
Yes, I started out this article by saying that I wish Secret World Legends had more loot, and that is still true but SWL isn’t like others in the genre and the expectation is that players aren’t the same either. Secret World Legends players are mature enough that they don’t need to be rewarded for every single kill they make. In fact, I would go so far as to say that combat isn’t the primary drive of the game. It is a story driven game which doesn’t require you to be wearing the best gear and often times killing a creature isn’t necessary to further the plot.
But are we as gamers ready for that? After I’ve spent a few hours in Secret World Legends and I go to clean out my bags as I would with any other MMO, there isn’t much to do. Sometimes I can just log straight out and not worry about inventory management at all. But doing that creates a bit of a disconnect for me. I don’t feel as attached to Secret World Legends because what I’m working for isn’t an item, it’s a journey to see the end.
The more I’ve thought about this the more I see comparisons to real life. A life where you live for The Things is somewhat shallow, filled with temporary happiness. Once you’ve finished grinding (working) for the object of your desire you move on to the next one to find happiness. But a life filled with adventures and experiences is one filled with long-lasting happiness. This is ultimately what minimalism is all about.
Perhaps Secret World Legends is the minimalist MMO in a sea of games which thrive on capitalism. Maybe I don’t need to have more loot after all and I need to focus more on the journey and the story. The fact that I wish there was more loot may not be about the loot at all and instead be about something else I am lacking from the game. Perhaps I should try engaging in more social situations, join a roleplaying cabal or just hang out at a club for a while.
While I work out what that thing I’m missing might be I’ll continue to miss loot. I don’t want Secret World Legends to change though, they’ve got a good thing going for them. Instead, I’m the one who needs to change. And until I find what it is I’m missing I can fill that materialistic need in the other MMOs on the market.Related: Column, Funcom, MMO, Secret World Legends