Thursday, October 21, 2021

Yes, But Does It have A View? Aeternum's Eleven Housing Settlements Ranked By What You Can See When You Look Out Of The Window.

The map of Aeternum, as much of it as we can see, at least, is divided into fourteen zones. Eleven of those qualify as "Territories" and each Territory comes with one habitable "Settlement"

Settlements are the only places where players can buy houses. In order to settle down in one there are "Standing" requirements to be met, Standing being how well-known a player is in that Settlement.

Players can have up to three houses. The first can be purchased at a 50% discount. Property tax is payable on all houses. Contrary to initial reports, tax is payable in full on all properties, including the first.

Players can choose to live in any of the eleven Settlements, regardless of the current ownership of the Settlement itself or of the Territory in which it sits. The three houses can be in three different Settlements. It makes no difference to a player's ownership of a house, which Faction controls the Territory or which Guild owns the Settlement. Ownership is permanent and irrevocable unless and until the player choses to cancel it. Failure to pay your taxes does not lead to eviction or repossession.


Although neither Faction nor Guild membership does anything to preclude a player from living wherever they choose, both have practical implications for everyone, whether or not they are members of either organization. Faction ownership affects both storage access and teleportation costs while Guild owners set all local taxes.

When deciding on a home, however, it may be as well to consider more permanent factors than convenience and cost. Faction ownership of Territory and Guild ownership of Settlements are both mutable. Factions lose Wars. Guilds give up Settlements. Guild leaders change Taxes. 

Any and all such benefits could disappear overnight but what will never change is the view from your balcony or window. Unlike towns  in the real world, Settlements in New World are extremely unlikely ever to expand or develop. You can sleep easy in your virtual bed without worrying you'll wake up to find a Notice nailed to the town board declaring the imminent construction of a new suburb right outside your window.

As I recounted the other day, I took the trouble to jog all around the map to visit every settlement, just so I could decide which seemed like the most pleasant place to live. With the caveat that all I care about is what the town, the houses and the countryside look like, along with how I imagine the climate would feel, here is my list, all eleven Settlements in reverse order, from living hell to ideal home.

11.  Reekwater - Seriously, it's called Reekwater for a reason. The entire town stands in the middle of a filthy, stinking swamp. It's dark, wet, cold and miserable.

Everything is made of wood and all the wood is rotten. The entire town looks like it's about to collapse into the sludge and slime and good riddance to it when it does. I just don't want to be there when it happens. I would sooner sleep under a tree  - or up a tree - than live here.

10.  Brightwood - It was probably a pleasant market town, once, but that must have been a long time ago. It's still an order of magnitude nicer than Reekwater and the statuary points to a vestige of civic pride but it would be provincial and depressing even without the eternal pall of sulphorous smog that blocks out the sun.

Most of the Territory is overrun with undead, the forest is filled with blight and there's a massive cliff right next to the town that makes access awkward. In Brightwood's favor, there's some decent architecture, a sensible, practical street plan and a good, central location. It's not nearly enough.

9. Weaver's Fen - This is probably what Reekwater looked like thirty years ago, so if you choose to set up home here, you know what you have to look forward to. It's not a wholly unattractive place right now, with its wide planking walkways, sturdy wooden steps and well laid-out facilities. 


It's still in a freaking swamp, though! A less repulsive swamp than Reekwater, given, but there's a pervasive miasma that never lifts. The sun gets through in the middle of the day, just about, but even then you can barely see the swamp from the town, which I suppose might count as a blessing. The view from the balcony in the house I visited was bleak enough to make you wish you could board up the door and never open it again.

8.  Monarch's Bluff - Nothing wrong with this one at all, provided you don't mind living in a jungle. The sense of heat is palpable and I could feel the humidity coming off the screen in waves. The town itself is large and sprawling but fairly sensibly laid-out, with an attractive central plaza. 

There's not much to see other than a few palm trees, the town being low down and ringed by a twenty-foot tall pallisade. The houses are very attractive from outside but weirdly claustrophobic within, although one of the nicest of the cheapest houses in any Settlement is here, at the highest point in town. It's just one room but it has a garden and a sea view!

 7. First Light - Scrappy but not unpleasantly so. Unpaved streets with swathes of grass growing down the middle and buildings that look like they were tossed up yesterday, which since it's the first place shipwrecked refugees come to as they stumble up from the coast, they may well have been. In fact, one of the buildings is a ship! 

Very much feels as though it's a temporary resting place but it certainly has character. The houses themeselves vary from poky and hovel-like to surprisingly boho chic. I really like the one with the two big balconies and the massive, open unglazed window. Or I would until the first storm blew in from the ocean, fifty meters outside the town walls.

6. Cutlass Keys - With a name like that you'd expect something on the coast, most likely a pirate hideaway but no, it's an attractive village set well back in the forested foothills of a modest mountain range. Pennants flutter above the somewhat medieaval streets, giving the place a festive air, as though there's a holiday about to begin. Possibly a witch-burning.

Or more probably a saint's day, given the very large and beautifully-kept church. The whole place feels a world away from the threats of the Corrupted, the Lost and the Withered. Some of the houses have excellent views of the forest or the church from their balconies, too. I could definitely live here.

5. Restless Shores - In many ways I'd rather live in either Monarch's Bluffs or Cutlass Keys than Restless Shores but it pips them by dint of pure spectacle. If it's a pirate's roost you're looking for, this is where you'll find it. The town is built around a harbor, where a large sailing ship lies at anchor. The streets rise up chaotically in every direction, not so much streets as gangways and staircases made of weathered wood. 

Good luck finding your way to any of the services in less than double the time it'll take you anywhere else. I was reminded of the original Lion's Arch. When it comes to building towns, pirates go long on style and very short on practicality. The houses themselves are light and airy and there are some charming views. Just don't expect to get much done in a hurry.

4. Everfall - The more time I spend in Everfall, the less I like it. It has the virtues of being compact, tidy, organized and central but it's not nearly as quaint as I first thought. The downside of familiarity, I guess. I've also become a little jaundiced by the exceptional popularity of the place. It's the busiest town I've seen, by some margin. 

Everfall, the Territory, is bathed in eternal, glorious autumnal sunshine, though, which makes up for a lot of the town's shortcomings, and there's a wonderful high square with two excellent houses, set apart from the bustle and with fantastic views. My original plan was to buy the taller of the two but now I've seen the options elsewhere, I'm not so sure I want it any more.

3. Windsward - So picturesque there are even references in game to its tweeness. The cobbled streets and stone buildings with the sparkling stream running through the center and the little bridge... it was made to be a picture postcard or the cover of a box of handmade shortbread.

There are a dozen small towns and large villages within an hour's drive from where I live that look almost exactly like Windsward. It feels too close to home for my taste but its appeal can't be denied.

2. Ebonscale Reach - Excuse me? Is this still the same game? Honestly, they might as well have hung a banner across the city gates saying "Welcome to All our Chinese Players!" Ebonscale would be outrageously inappropriate for the setting, except that we do know Aeternum has been the subject of numerous expeditions from the "outside world" over the centuries. I suppose there's no reason one of them wouldn't have come from China. The evidence before our eyes suggests that must have been exactly what happened.  

However it came about, the result is a stunning, spectacular city, much larger, more colorful and seemingly technologically advanced than anything else on the island. If you want to live among swaying paper lanterns and susurrating watefalls, crossing over crystal streams on arching lacquered bridges before climbing high, high into the sky to your pagoda home in the clouds, this is the Settlement for you. One of my three houses will most definitely be here. You'd be crazy not to.

1. Mourningdale - This is the one I fell in love with at first sight. It has the feel of a border town on the edge of the wilds, all thick stone walls, high watchtowers, solid ramparts and heavy iron railings. You can feel the frost in the air as the clear, Northern light picks out ever last detail of the slate roofs. Every house in New World comes with a fireplace in which a fire blazes endlessly. This is the town where you'd actually need one. There's a river running through the center of town, crossed by bridges built from solid timber bound by thick rope. It's no picture postcard view nor the model for a fine china plate. It's true and real and if you fall in you'll probably freeze to death so don't do that. 

The houses themselves are wonderful. Thick stone walls, oak-timbered windows, gardens hip-deep in grass that's never seen scythe. The one I want has a stolid, steadfast balcony that hangs over the river and offers a superb view all the way to the mountains. On the other side of the house there's a huge, enclosed picture window that overhangs the street, where I could imagine sitting with a hot drink in the dying light of a winter's afternoon, watching the world go by beneath my feet.

So, I know where I want to live. I even know which house I want to buy. Now all I need to do is level up far enough to get the quests from the town board in Mourningdale and start working on my Standing there. I'll need to be Admired, aka Level Twenty, before I can put my money down and move in.

Shouldn't take more than a couple of weeks. I hope there's no chain.


  1. Thank you! This is exactly the kind of post I'd been hoping to find on the internet to get a first glimpse at my options. :D From the pictures, I'm very much interested in Monarch's Bluff, though, and I had no idea about the ship in First Light which is my starting area.

    1. Monarch's Bluff is nice. Really, apart from the swamps, they're all atractive towns. The houses themselves all use the same layouts, I think, but the various "skins" make them feel very different. Also one thing I didn't have time to go into detail about is the price, which varies significantly for houses of the same size. Another reason I'm going off Everfall is I now realize it's really expensive.

    2. Oh, I thought it's the same price depending on the size of the house. I'll definitely take a good look then - and save up money...

  2. I was trying to share this on Twitter, but had to do it manually. Loving the assessment of the aesthetics of home-ownership. <3

    1. Thanks! A lot of people talk about the mechanics and the practicalities but I hadn't seen anyone discussing the appearance so I thought I'd do it.

  3. Mourningdale is where I bought my second house, because it's so pretty. Everfall is the first house, for the convenience.

    There's a 15k house in the north of Everfall that's quite unique for house designs: split level, up a stair; left side is one floor, right side is two (or three? forget and not ingame atm), and the view from the 2nd floor balcony is the *best* in the game: looking out over the ramparts towards the forests and mountains. I *didnt* buy that house, but only because of price - i spent three days agonising over the choice though!

    1. Also, and I might have mentioned this already: doing the pve faction quests in a territory also raises standing in that territory - it's how I got my Mourningdale standing to 20 to get the tier 2 hourse I bought there.

    2. Thanks for that - I'll check all the houses in Mourningdale before I buy and I'll look for that one specifically. If it's 15k at the discount, though, it has to be the 30k Standing one and I can't see me waiting that long. I can't even start working on Mourningdale standing for a level or two yet and it'll take me long enough to get to 20k. I've been doing both the town board and the PvE faction quests in every town so far and it does go up fast but not so fast I can grind it all the way to 30k in a new town before I run out of patience and buy something!

  4. Thanks for this!

    Unfortunately I'm only lukewarm on the game as a whole as of now, so I don't know whether I'll actually get to the point of buying a house.
    There was a point where I was starting to have some fun, but now I'm back again to "yeah, it looks really pretty, but other than that...boooring".

    I do realize that's probably due to the fact that we're mainly questing instead of exploring and goofing around. Questing is Lakisa's preferred way to play an MMORPG, so we're doing that, but for me it has just been really tedious so far.

    1. I do seem to be in a very small minority in finding the quest part of New World good-to-excellent. Really, I can't think of an mmorpg where I've found the individual character stories as interesting since the Secret World. The one I just did about how old the ruins could be (Spoiler: millions of years old, perhaps.) is fascinating. The mechanics (kill ten rats and fetch quests) are what I very strongly prefer, too. I absolutely love short, focused "task" quests as opposed to fiddly-diddly long-ass quest chains so the design here is close to perfect for me.

      I think to really enjoy New World, though, you have to be an obsessive gatherer, which I am, and an avid reader, which ditto. As far as I can tell, the "real" story of New World is all about Isabella, and that's only being slowly revealed in fragments of letters and diary entries. It's almost like a detection game, where you have to search for clues to find the murderer. I still have no real idea who she is, let alone what she was up to.

    2. Interesting. The name Isabella doesn't ring any bell at all. Maybe it's because I'm only level 19 and also a good bit behind on the main story, or I've just missed it. I don't skip quest text, but I do skim instead of reading slowly and thoroughly, so it is possible.

      I usually don't mind Kill Ten Rats quests either, but here it's just too much jogging around for that I feel. When doing a quest consists of 2 minutes of doing stuff and 15 minutes of walking something's not right in my book.

      Sure, we gather stuff and kill animals etc. in between all that walking, and that's fine in and of itself. Unfortunately it skews the 'time per quest spent' ratio even further towards the ridiculous, and at the end of a one to two hours long play session I more often than not feel like I've done pretty much nothing consequential.

      I'm currently working on a post about a new (to me) game that made me feel a sense of pride and accomplishment (yeah, really) for something I did in a video game for the first time in quite a long time. Not that that's what I particularly crave when I play games, but it still felt really good.
      In that context New World is the exact opposite for me and consequently feels rather hollow and pointless.

      I do get why you like it though, and I hope it'll stay that way. ;-)


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