Monday, November 15, 2021

Wherever I Make My Bag, That's My Home.

Time for a quick progress report on New World. Just on my own progress, that is, not on how the game itself is coming along. For that you could do a lot worse than check out Belghast's detailed and insightful overview of the problems Amazon have ahead of them if they want to keep anyone once Endwalker arrives.

It's interesting to see how expectations have changed. It's long been the received wisdom that the imminent arrival of a World of Warcraft expansion was likely to spell slow times for every other mmorpg but I'm not sure I can remember many instances of expansions for any other game signalling a similar slump, or not in any mmorpg I was playing at the time, anyway. It usually took the launch of a much-anticipated new triple-A title to pull enough attention to notice, not a mere expansion to one that was out there already. 

It shows how far Final Fantasy XIV has come in this last year. We all know some of the reasons why it's happened but it also marks Square Enix's game out for the second time as something exceptional in the history of the genre. Not only is it one of the very few mmorpgs ever to come back from a truly disastrous launch, not just to survive but to prosper, but it may be the only one since WoW to have experienced consistent growth thereafter, to the point that interest is in the game is still rising at the launch of its fourth expansion.

In fact, when it comes to Western mmorpgs, the only two I can think of that have done anything similar are WoW itself and EverQuest, which was on its seventh expansion and still growing when Blizzard came along to steal its lunch money. 

Sunrise over the gasworks.

What FFXIV is doing is reframing a narrative that hasn't really changed in fifteen years. It's not a game that suits my tastes but I do find its developmental and commercial arc intriguing. It's going to be very interesting to see what the medium and long term effect of both FFXIV's extended commercial success and New World's demonstration that an audience still exists for the right new entrant into the market means for future development within the genre.

In the short term I think we can feel fairly safe in saying there will be a general downturn in interest in everything that isn't Endwalker. New World will slip back into the pack of also-rans as server merges take whatever headlines the game gets. Focus will shift to shoring up the kind of issues Bel was highlighting in his post, in the hope of winning back some ground when the new expansion shine eventually fades from Square's flagship moneymaker.

Which is all very well but what about me? Didn't I say I was only going to report on my own progress? Yes, I did, what there is of it. It isn't all that much. 

Not because I haven't been playing. I have, every day, usually for at least three or four hours. Steam tells me I've racked up nearly 165 hours since launch although these days all of them are via the truly excellent GeForce Now, which has completely altered, for the better, my New World experience.

Ten days ago, when I gave my last update, I was level 46 after 142 hours played. Twenty-three hours more has gained me a whole three levels. I'm now level 49. Over seven hours a level. That is slow.

I also still don't have a house, although I've had all the necessary requirements to buy one in most of the towns I could bear to live in for quite a while. So what have I been doing with all that time?

It keeps me fit, at least.

Mostly getting my Armorsmithing to 100 so I could make one bag to fill the extra bag slot I got at level 40. Yes, it's taken me almost ten levels and probably about thirty-six hours just to make a bag. 

The good news is, tonight I finished it! I spent all evening on the last part, getting the final mats I needed after I dinged 100 Armorsmith. It took me three hours, about half of which was running from one town to another. 

I'd estimate that "running from one town to another" accounts for at least a third of my played time, with "running from one quest marker to another" taking up perhaps another third. It would not be entirely unfair to characterise New World as an orienteering simulator. Most of my time is spent opening and closing a map and running from one marker to another, veering off course every few yards to go and check out something interesting.

I can readily see why this isn't to everyone's taste but it suits me. I spent most of this evening jogging up and down the roads between Brightwood, which has tier four and five crafting stations and Weaver's Fen and Restless Shore, which don't but which are where I have a lot of bulk crafting mats in storage. 

In something of a faux-Catch 22, I couldn't carry all the mats at once because the mats I needed were the ones to make the bag that would expand my carrying capacity sufficently to carry all the mats I needed. So I had to make a few trips. 

I also had to cut a lot of hemp and skin a lot of animals along the way for some different mats I also needed and that inevitably led me into areas where I found other mats I didn't need right now but knew I'd need another day so I had to grab those too, which meant I didn't have room for the ones I was planning on moving from one town to another...

Fingers crossed...

And so on and so on. Every session for the last week or so has been a bit like that. And I have to say I've enjoyed it. I had the Cricket World T20 on the radio a lot of the time and when there wasn't a game on I sometimes had a drama or comedy from Radio 4 Extra in the background. I can think of plenty of worse ways to spend an afternoon. 

It was getting to the point where I really wanted that bag, though, so I was very happy when, about an hour ago, I stood in front of the Outfitting Station in Brightwood and clicked Craft. I was even happier when I saw the result. 

I got probably the best version of the bag I could have made. I'd used the best resources I had available so I 'd done all I could but there's a hefty helping of luck in New World's crafting so you never quite know. Rng rolled me a nice Rare quality result but better yet it rolled me the two best random perks - Extra Pockets and Luck.

A while ago a bag like that would have sold for quite a bit. I wasn't going to sell mine but I was curious what it might go for so I checked the Trading Post. In Brightwood, a bag like that sells for around 2,000 coin. It sounds like a lot, when you consider that I only have 20k after all these weeks, but the rune you need to make this bag costs 1500 coin on its own so there's only about 500 coin profit in it for the crafter.

The days of getting rich making bags are long gone but at least I can make upgrades for the ones I'm using. If I can make a couple more like the one I just made I should be able to get my carrying capacity to more than 1,000, which seems like a lot although I'm sure I'll soon fill it up.


According to this helpful video, the maximum carrying capacity currently possible is 1,665 but I'll worry about that when I'm sixty. Or more likely I won't. The whole "max your gear score" endgame does not appeal.

With the bag in the bag I can get back to working on my Mourningdale standing, something that's slipped down the agenda of late. I'm still determined to buy my first, half-price house there, although as time goes on I'm starting to wonder if I should. 

I'm about to ding fifty and I can already see quest markers popping up in Ebonscale. Maybe that would make a better use of my one discounted ticket. And then there was the huge surprise I got today when I logged in and opened the map.

Every day, when I get into the game the first thing I do is check which faction owns which territory. It makes no practical difference to me but I like to keep up to date. At least, it hasn't made any practical difference for weeks. 

The last time anything material to my gameplay occured was when territory trading gave my faction, Marauders, their second territory, Restless Shore. Since the only other place we owned was the extremely high level and positively repulsive Reekwater, any synergies were entirely notional. I do spend some time in Restless Shore but it makes no difference to me whther we own it or not and I haven't been to Reekwater since the one visit I made weeks ago just to see if it was as bad I imagined. (It was worse.)

Yes, but who'll own it tomorrow?
Today, when I opened my map, I was stunned to see three green splodges instead of the regular two. Overnight we'd taken a third territory and this time it wasn't some outlier no-one else wanted. It was Brightwood.  

Brightwood is a decent territory. It's central and close to the three non-player-owned higher-level areas in the North. It also has a plethora of high-tier crafting stations because it's been well-cared for by the previous owners. Lots of people go there to trade and craft. It's not as popular as Everfall or Windsward but it's no hick town.

I have no idea whether we took it by force or whether there was some kind of deal but the fact that my faction owns Brightwood means I need to rethink my housing plans. I definitely don't plan to make it my personal home but if we're likely to keep it for a while then it wiuld be very useful to have one of my three permitted houses there.

All of which means I have to keep my money in my pocket for now. I have the funds to buy two houses and the standing to live in any of the towns that interest me right now. Except Ebonscale. I'd have to start from scratch there.

If it wasn't for the "50% off first purchase" deal I'd just buy a cheap place in Brightwood but because of that one-time offer I can't in good conscience do that. I almost wish the half-price starter home leg-up had never been put in the game in the first place.

How ungrateful is that? Honestly, there's no pleasing some people. I don't know how the developers put up with us, sometimes. No wonder they make us run everywhere. It's no more than we deserve.

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