Revisiting Old Zones

This past week saw the release of Beyond the Wall, the second of Tokyo’s updates. We got the chance to follow the White Rabbit, take in the sights of the Orochi Housing Projects and explore the Docks. It also introduced a new mechanic which has revitalised Tokyo and its playfield. I’ll be taking a look at how the new keys have changed the way people play and speculating about what could be done in older zones to help older players return to them.

Back in The Secret World, we used to get keys to the crates on the Docks by completing missions inside Orochi Tower. Each key opened a specific container. Sometimes it could be a real pain finding the right one (unless you had them marked on your map). SWL has taken a radically different approach to the crates. All side missions in Kaidan reward you with the usual selection of bags as well as a filth-encrusted key. Once you “use” this key you’ll find that it’s simply labelled A, B or C. You can now go to any container that matches the letter and use the key to unlock it (it saves so much time). Inside you’ll still find the same variety of monsters that you did in TSW but the rewards are much more… rewarding. They range from Anima Shards (a quite substantial amount in some cases), distillates, gadgets as well as pets. There’s also a selection of tradable clothing to be picked up.

This has led to the Docks becoming a very busy place. Containers never seem to be closed for too long and it’s become a very rewarding way of levelling up gear and getting Anima Shards for upgrading equipment. Since the release, there have been countless threads on Reddit and numerous posts in the Official Discord asking for similar systems to be put in place earlier zones to encourage higher level players to return.

At first this seems like a great idea. Place Orochi crates scattered around the old zones and reward players for doing old missions. The biggest problem that needs to be addressed though is the level disparity. If you’re level 50 and you’re going into Kingsmouth you’ll hardly have to look at the enemies and they’ll die. There will be no real challenge in gathering the keys. Not to mention that the crates will have to be level appropriate so as not to exclude players who are in that zone naturally gaining keys. How best to approach this?

It’s worth looking to other games for inspiration here. Rift has a system called mentoring. It allows you to alter your level from anywhere between level 10 and 5 levels below your current level. It was introduced so veteran players could party up with their friends or take part in events in lower zones and still gain a suitable amount of experience (the game would automatically mentor you down in some solo story instances too if you were too high). SWL already has something similar in place. When you go into Shambala you are given the Equal Footing buff which brings your gear up to a certain level so that the matches are supposed to be about skill, not gear. Applying a similar mentoring buff (or debuff as the case may be) when a player goes into a lower zone and chooses to play within the level ranges would mean no more ignoring creatures and no more 1XP kills from monsters you did engage with during missions.


Of course how easy it would be to implement something like this is difficult to tell. Balancing is always tricky at the best of times but I can’t help feeling that a system like this may be useful and not just for players who have reached Tokyo. Many people find they are out levelling the content way before they reach it. Giving them the ability to adjust their level and play the zone the way it was intended to be played will help those who prefer to spend time exploring the zones and the stories therein.

How would you revitalise older zones and make them more appealing to later stage players? Funcom has already ruled out the idea of Nightmare Zones as too costly and time-consuming with little reward and a risk of splitting the player base. So what kind of new mechanics would introduce? Let me know in the comments below.

Kle used to write for The Secret Podcast. Then he broke it. Now he’s been given a space to vent. People may regret it. You can find him in SWL as Kle or on Twitter as @Kle_Sanctaury.

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