Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Method To Their Madness

No-one's playing New World any more, are they? I don't mean literally no-one. According to Steam's concurrency charts, just under twenty-four thousand people are playing right now. If we use the old estimate of two people logged out for every one logged in, that means New World has about as many players as EverQuest! I wonder how many will still be around in twenty-three years?

It's all too easy to rag on New World for the number of players the million-seller's lost in a just a few months but that's not what I'm here to do. When I said no-one plays it any more I was referring to us here in this corner of the blogosphere. When was the last time you read a post about New World from anyone?

It's not a reflection on the quality or success of New World as such - I could say exactly the same about Valheim, which I imagine we'd all agree is widely regarded as a more successful game. Iron Crown, though, is an indie. Different standards apply.

Valheim, as Wilhelm was saying only yesterday, has a very small team working on it. They work very slowly and carefully. As a result, all their updates work. There are very few issues or bugs with anything the team adds to the game. 

The whole thing looks quite exemplary, provided you're not in a hurry. It takes the the Valheim team many months to do anything at all and when they do add something new to the game it's usually so small or so specific it hardly seems worth patching up to check it out. 

Consequently, Valheim rests in a sort of virtuous limbo. Exactly a year ago a whole lot of us were playing almost nothing else. A year on, most of us seem either to have forgotten about it altogether or decided to wait until it's done before deciding if we're still interested enough to start over.

New World has a very much larger team behind it and they seem to work frenziedly fast. There have been plenty of updates, adding new content and changing systems and mechanics. Unlike Valheim, New World's updates have not always gone well nor been favorably received. At times it's seemed as though every new patch has created more bugs than it's fixed, mostly because it did.

I could go into detail about the changes that have already been made but why would I do that when Tyler F. M. Edwards has done it for me? What I did want to talk about, very briefly, were a few of the things in today's huge Heart of Madness update that Tyler didn't mention but which were enough, when I saw them in the extensive patch notes, to make me fire up GeForce Now and log in. Before I realised the patch was postponed until tomorrow, that is. Like that's going to make it bug free!

There's a whole lot of endgame stuff that I'm sure the game desperately needs. There's a new weapon that everyone's probably excited to try. There's a boatload of bug fixes and systems tweaks that will no doubt require their own fixes and tweaks in due course. I don't want to draw attention to any of that or at least not in this post.

No, what caught my attention were the sections headed "World Additions - Rewarding Exploration", along with a number of lines I spotted here and there in the rest of the notes. Notes which are, as I suggested, seriously long and extremely detailed.

Here are some highlights:

World Paintings - Vista Views 

Two easels can be found in each territory. Upon interacting with these easels, players will be given a painting of the view for their house. If a player loses their painting they can reacquire it by visiting the same easel again 24 hours later.

 Rafflebones the loot collector!

Rafflebones rummages around Aeternum for lost treasures and goods. He will spawn all around the map at various levels in every territory. When players encounter Rafflebones they will have 45 seconds to kill him in order to get rewards or else he’ll flee! Players will always be awarded a named weapon.

 Stinky the Hunter

Stinky the Legendary Hunter can be found wandering around the swamps of Weaver's Fen throughout the day, while at night he retreats to his humble abode. Stinky can drop three named items for level 30 players

Roadside Encounters

New random roadside encounters can be found along routes in Weaver's Fen and Restless Shores.

There's a fair bit more along those lines. The exciting thing for me is that it's new content for a range of levels, not just at the cap and it involves house items and random, roaming monsters. Two of my favorite things! Whether I think it's good content or not will have to wait until I have the chance to do it for myself but on paper I'd have to say the World Paintings sound like absolute genius.

I was also very happy to read the following:

New soloable quest options are available for the MSQ to allow players to progress without running certain expeditions. 

 Removed the level threshold requirements from Main Story Quests. 

Again,  I'm going to have to see just which expeditions have been excised from the MSQ. It doesn't sound like it's all of them, which would be my preference. It's very much a move in the right direction, though.

I also liked 

 Players will get back half of the original purchase cost when abandoning a house.

Coupled with the heavy reductions to rental costs, this makes housing even more attractive than it already was. 

Back at the start of the year, Amazon indicated that they intended to make New World more rewarding for solo play. This looks like a good start. It's enough, at least, to make me interested in logging in again, something I haven't been able to say since the early days of the Winter Convergence festival. If nothing else I want those paintings for my house!

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