New World still has some growing to do, but what we’ve seen certainly shows plenty of promise.
It kind of seems like everyone’s trying to take a stab at working into their way into the video games industry at this point, so I really shouldn’t have been at all surprised to hear that Amazon was doing just that. Still, when I initially heard that the same company whose website I helped my mom buy decorative pillows from a few months ago was about to launch New World, a Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game, I couldn’t help but laugh at the situation just a little bit. But, hey, stranger things have happened, so I figured there wasn’t any reason to turn down a chance to hop into the New World Closed Beta when it was offered to me. Their decorative pillows are nice (at least the ones my mom bought were), so their MMOs have to be nice, too, right?
As it turns out, I actually was right! At least, for the most part. I’m not going to pretend that it was perfect—the fact that it’s a Closed Beta should make that obvious enough—or even properly balanced (although literally, everyone has a different idea of what that means) in every aspect, but I don’t think that I ever found myself growing tired of or overly frustrated with anything. Granted, this could be because I’m not exactly the most orthodox MMO player out there, but maybe that worked out in my favor this time—because the way I ended up tackling New World made it both memorable and fun, and showed me that, given enough time and care, this game could really go places.
No Man is an Island
While I can’t get into it too much in this preview, New World‘s story is all about the player forging their own path after getting shipwrecked, and subsequently magically bound to, the mysterious island of Aeternum. Naturally, there is a main plotline follow—and you kind of need to follow it for a little bit if you want to learn about/unlock some of the basics—but, with New World being an MMO and all, you’re really free to do as you’d like. Of course, if you aren‘t going to follow the plot, “doing as you’d like” essentially boils down to either killing things or collecting things—especially toward the beginning of the game. And, while killing things is great, you won’t be doing much of that if you aren’t properly kitted out.
Based on the New World that we’ve been given access to so far, the game looks like it’s going to put a lot of emphasis on resource collection and crafting. Not only are you able to gather resources from almost every natural object in the game (ore, animals, etc.), but you’ve also got individual skill levels for each type of foraging (Mining, Skinning, etc.), for processing (Smithing, Tanning, etc.), and crafting (Weaponsmithing, Cooking, etc.) Basically, if you want to make anything of value, you’re going to have to put a lot of effort into getting there. Personally, I don’t have a problem with this as a concept—I’ve always enjoyed MMOs that give players non-combat-focused outlets—but I never felt like I was getting much bang for my buck.
In other MMOs I’ve played, such as Black Desert Online, the effort I put into gathering and crafting typically felt like it paid off at a steady and satisfying pace. Aside from Cooking (which I was actually quite happy with), however, everything felt just a little too slow. It was much easier to either get what I needed—be it more items or better equipment—from quests, or from the marketplace than to spend time making anything myself (and the occasional rare drop was nice, too), and, given how little time I had to experience the Closed Beta, I didn’t want to waste too much time. Still, nothing felt off to the point of being egregious. You’re able to do a lot of neat stuff at higher crafting levels, and it just feels like it would be a bit of a shame to see that go to waste—however, with a bit of rebalancing in the ‘ol Arts & Crafts Department I think things will eventually be just fine.
A Dance of Blades
Combat is, of course, also a core component of New World—and, if I’m being honest, I found myself taking a shine to it pretty quickly. While the quickest way of describing New World‘s combat would be to call it “similar to Black Desert Online‘s, minus the heavy focus on combos,” leaving things there wouldn’t be doing this game a service. For starters, New World, despite being a bit more demanding in terms of player involvement overall, was probably one of the smoothest experiences I’ve had with MMO combat, mechanically speaking. Once you’re comfortable enough with your weapon for things to start feeling natural (which can take a bit of time if you’re switching them around a lot), taking down the many horrors that roam Aeternum really is a delight—one which is made all the better by the fact that you aren’t class-bound in this game and can essentially re-spec whenever you feel like it.
I’ve only really been talking about the PvE aspects, though—I’m sure you’re wondering how PvP works as well. It’s a fair question, considering that New World very, very heavily encourages PvP in a number of different ways. Unfortunately, I’m not really all that qualified to speak on it—I’ll straight-up tell you that PvP isn’t really my thing. I’m not strictly against it, but it’s more something I’ll turn to once I run out of other things to do as opposed to something that I actually seek. Sure, people talked about it so much on World Chat that I was able to form a few opinions here and there (namely the fact that it seemed like the factions were a little unbalanced), but I was a happy solo player for the most part.
New World‘s heavy PvP emphasis does leave me with several questions, though—and, because I won’t be getting answers to most of them any time soon, posing them here isn’t very fair. Really, though, above anything else, I’m curious to see how the power balance plays out in New World. Having guilds within the three major factions essentially creates hierarchies within hierarchies—and, given that Amazon is (or at least appears to be) pushing for Twitch streamers to play New World along with their fans, it almost sounds like we’ll be having roving groups of streamer-attached players wandering around. Any of that on its own is already interesting, but the way in which New World seems to be putting it together makes it especially so—, and I’m honestly very interested in seeing how things look when the dust settles.
A New World, Indeed
I’m fairly certain that New World was given its name due to where it takes place. However, it’s much more fitting than that. Amazon’s debut MMO really does feel like it’s stepping into some kind of new uncharted territory, and while I’m not certain about the outcome of every single decision that’s being made, I honestly do feel like this game has a lot of potential to thrive in the long run. I really did enjoy my time in Aeternum, and I’d go back given another chance. Here’s to hoping that this new world will have a bright future!