Thursday, October 14, 2021

Who Would Live In A Place Like This?

The delightful scene above is a pretty fair representation of what I've been looking at for most of the afternoon. That's Weaver's Fen in New World. Charming, isn't it?

I've had it in mind for a few days to say something about how New World follows the unfortunate pattern of most mmorpgs in making the zones increasingly unatractive, not to say hellish, the higher up the levels you go. That's certainly been my experience so far, with the bright, colorful, coasts of First Light and Monarch's Bluffs shading into rich farmlands and autumnal glow of Everfall, before the gloom descends with the haunted house aesthetic of the ironically-named Brightwood and the dismal swamps of Weaver's Fen.

My faction, Marauders, by far the weakest on Zuvendis, holds just a single zone now. We did have two but we lost First Light days ago and despite warring for it ever since show no signs of getting it back. 

Our stronghold, such as it is, is the truly awful Reekwater, a zone that is, I'm sad to say, very accurately named. I imagine the only reason we hold it is because no-one else wants it. No-one with anywhere else to go would dream of setting foot on the rotten, rickety planks of the shanty town it calls a capital, let alone raising a flag.

I went there to see what our faction town was like, just in case I might have wanted to settle there. I think you get some benefits for crafting and so forth in zones owned by your faction. In my case that gives me a choice of one.

Reekwater is apparently a level 58-60 zone but I had no trouble whatsoever getting there in my early thirties. Well, maybe I did have a little trouble. The first time I tried to come in via the road that travels eastwards out of Everfall but that turns out to run right through the middle of a ruined village populated by angry ghosts. I took one look and thought better of it.

Next time, I came down from the north, along the road from Weaver's Fen. It's one of the bigger roads, not just a track. By and large in Aeternum, the wider the road, the safer it is. It helps that just about everything seems to have the same run speed. Provided you get past something, it can't catch you, so long as you don't turn around to see how far behind you it is.

And this is the nice part of town...

One quick trip around the waterlogged decks of Reekwater town confirmed all my fears. It's a classic mmorpg end game zone - ugly, dark, miserable and depressing. They're always either that or frozen solid or on fire.Of the three, I think swampland is the worst.

Based on everything I've seen for myself so far, I'd have been justified in lambasting Amazon's designers for falling into the trap of making the path from character creation to cap a journey from comfort to despair, visually at least. Only I've heard otherwise.

Belghast dinged fifty today and he's been pondering where he might settle down when he caps out and buys a house. He's thinking about Ebonscale Reach, a level 50-60 zone, which he describes as "...really gorgeous... its layout somewhat reminds me of the temples in Pandaria with everything terraced out of the face of a mountainside.

Someone else (I apologize to whoever it was. I know it was someone whose blog I follow but I can't remember where I read it.) was talking the other day about one of the later zones looking like the Plains in Valheim, an aesthetic that strongly appeals to me. Unfortunately, I also can't remember which zone it was. This isn't helping much, is it?

The point is, there's anecdotal evidence building up that not every endgame zone in New World is dank, dark and deacayed. It looks as though there's actually some geographical logic to it, not just a desire to exploit the inevitable correlation between the aesthetic tastes of players most likely to make it to the level cap and the kind of imagery traditionally found on the covers of heavy metal albums.

It seems that, from the center to the south-eastern coast, the isle of Aeternum is covered by one massive swamp. Upward from that, along the coast, by all reports the climate improves. I'm going to have to go and check it out for myself.

So far I've visited eight of New World's fourteen zones. I find almost all of the game's progression systems compulsive but by far the most satisfying of them all are the Standings. In a way it's nothing more than the faction we're familiar with from many games but the mechanics and implementation and the fact it's linked directly to the towns themselves make it feel different. And desirable.

Where would you rather live? I mean, come on...


Improving my Standing in Everfall made up the main thrust of my gameplay from the moment I decided that was where I wanted to buy my first house. I only changed focus when I started to feel a little burned out from running town and faction missions back to back, session after session, by which time I was already Respected, the title you earn at Standing 15.

At that point I was also Standing 13 in Monarch's Bluff and Standing 10 in Windsward, meaning I could have bought a house in any of them. I'm also at least Standing 5 in First Light, Brightwood and Weaver's Fen by now. Everywhere I go I make an impression, it seems.

You can't really help it. The missions bring in the most credit, of course, but just as everything you do gives you xp, so it gives you Standing. Even running along a road from one side of a new zone to the other without stopping will usually get you enough Standing from discovery xp to raise your profile from Stranger to Newcomer.

I took a couple of sessions off from grinding Everfall faction to go level up a bit. That took me from the late twenties into the early thirties and also filled all my resource pools to the brim. At Level 32 this afternoon I couldn't receive any further Azoth rewards, faction tokens or faction reputation. If I could change one thing about New World it would be to take those caps and hurl them into the ocean.

I made some armor I didn't need and ported somewhere I might just as well have walked to get my Azoth down. I bought a rune of holding for 3000 tokens (and 500 gold, which I could ill afford) to let me earn yet more tokens.

The faction reputation, though, I could do nothing about. I'd run up against the hard cap of a new Rank. 

Ranks have a different name in every faction. In the Marauders, the third rank is Ravager. To become a Ravager you need to do a "Trial", just as you did for the previous rank, Gladiator

The trial, which is just a fancy name for a quest, is recommended for Level 35. The Gladiator one didn't just recommend Level 30, it required it or so I thought. I think now I may have misunderstood what was going on because I was able to get the Ravager quest at 32. 

Except when I got it it said it was recommended for Level 40. Gulp! Oh well, it's not like anyone stays dead in Aeternum, is it? (Actually it is but that's a whole other post...) So I followed the marker and went to see how far I could get. 

All the way. With ease. Literally the only difficult part about it was getting to the first of the three or four villages I needed to cleanse. That one was inconveniently crammed between a cliff and a town full of highly agressive Elite mobs, capable of sending me back to spawn in a couple of hits.

Once I'd navigated a route past those obstacles, though, despatching the requisite ten mobs was ridiculously easy. Yes, some of them were six or seven levels higher than me but mobs in New World vary incredibly in difficulty and threat compared to most other mmorpgs I've played. These were all Lost and for my build at least, Lost are just about the softest of kills.

So now I'm a Ravager, which means I can buy the third grade of faction armor. I don't want to, because I don't need it, which is just as well. I can buy it but I can't equip it. Clearly the developers did indeed expect players wouldn't be doing these quests until they hit 35 or even 40 because those are the level requirements to wear the bloody stuff!

Seriously? What do I have to do to get some respect around here? Arm-wrestle alligators? Because I will!


Never mind. At least I can gain reputation with the Marauders again and make my way towards the fourth trial so I can become a Destroyer. And there are some useful utilities I can buy for tokens.

Along the way I did do a few more missions in Everfall. My Standing there is now 19, just one level short of being able to buy the Tier Three house I wanted. Note past tense.

I might still want it. I'm not sure. It's a great house. And Everfall is a great town. There's just one problem. It's also an insanely busy town. I get more frame-rate lag there than anywhere else in the game. I can barely move after eight in the evening. I'm begining to think it would be a mistake to settle there.

Then again, I have all that Standing. It would be a shame not to take advantage of it. I can't see myself waiting until I hit the mid-50s to start all over again in Ebonscale Reach, no matter how delightful it is. 

And in the long run, it'll be the endgame zones that are busiest, won't it? It usually is. By then, Everfall might have slipped back into being a quiet, low-level backwater. 

I hope so although I suspect not. It's just too conveniently placed and as we all know... location, location, location.

One thing's for sure. Wherever I end up living it won't be Reekwater, no matter how damn quiet it is. I have some standards, at least!

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