Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Sticking To The Shallow End - Soloing The Main Story Quest In New World


I guess I'd have to mark New World's latest attempt to claw back lost players a success, for me at least. I seem to be playing the game regularly again, not to mention posting about it. 

The big draw is obviously the well-received, well-reviewed, massive new zone, Brimstone Sands, along with a completely revamped new player experience, a much-demanded new weapon in the Greatsword and a whole bunch of quality of life improvements to add to the many already implemented in previous months.

One of those QoL upgrades came last Spring, when the entire Main Story Quest was re-tooled to be solable. Or so the publicity handouts and patch notes claimed.

Unfortunately, as I mentioned in passing in yesterday's post, not every questgiver seemed to have read the memo. Back in 2021, I gave up on the MSQ when I reached the second, mandatory dungeon run with a quest called Into The Depths

This level 40 quest required an item from the final boss of an "Expedition" known as "The Depths". At the time, there was no automated dungeon finder and since I was well behind the levelling bubble and playing UK hours on a US East Coast server, ad hoc pick-up groups looking to do that particular dungeon were thin on the ground.

Not that I was looking very hard. I did the first, unavoidable Expedition at around level 20 and while it wasn't a horrible experience it wasn't something I'd have chosen to do for fun. New World's dungeons aren't entirely disimilar to Guild Wars 2's as far as gameplay goes. They're not quite as chaotic but they definitely don't have the comfortable, organized, predictable feel of dungeon-focused mmorpgs like FFXIV or WoW.

Main Story Quests are hard to miss these days.

The MSQ in New World doesn't really gate access to many, if any, other parts of the game so I had no problems simply abandoning the story and carrying on levelling up on side quests, gathering and general slaughter. I took my time getting to sixty but it felt a whole lot more enjoyable than being stuffed down a hole in the ground with a bunch of strangers to kill some crazed sea captain who could snap me in half without blinking.

When the big Heart of Madness update dropped at the end of March this year, buried deep in the extensive notes was this: "New soloable quest options are available for the MSQ to allow players to progress without running certain expeditions." I took that as an invitation to return to the game after a break and pick up the storyline where I'd left it, outside the gateway to The Depths.

Unfortunately, when I checked my journal, nothing had changed. I tried dropping and retaking the quest but when I spoke to Warden Scout Titus a second time, he had nothing new to say. 

It occured to me there might have been some kind of glitch in the patch, something comon enough in any live service game but pretty much a given for New World. I gave things a few days to settle then tried again but still nothing had changed, at which point I decided the whole "Soloable MSQ" idea had been nothing but hype. I muttered "Sod you, then" to myself and moved on.

I didn't really care. I was already max level and drifting away from the game anyway. It suited me fine to file New World under "Good housing. Holiday events worth checking out." and leaving it at that. 

That's what you call "thinking" , is it?

Had I been more motivated, I could have found, as I did today, that the particular quest I was stuck on had been reported and, eventually, acknowledged as a bug. As Tyler Edwards confirmed in a comment to yesterday's post, almost the entire MSQ can now be completed solo, although as he also points out, the very end, the climactic battle with Isabella, aka The Tempest, does still demand a group.

Armed with all this new information, this afternoon I went back to Titus to try again. And it still didn't work. Or at least I thought it didn't, at first.

The fix that's been applied is something of a kludge. When you speak to Titus, he still runs through the same speech about going into the Depths with a party. There's no other option but to accept his offer or leave. 

I tried leaving to see if that made him change his mind but he just started to rant about what a coward I was. It wasn't until I'd done yet more out-of-game research that I found out what I was supposed to do. It's far from intuitive and that's putting it politely.

To get the solo option, which does indeed now exist, you have to accept the group quest then speak to Titus a second time. If there's any in-game dialog or hint to make you aware this option exists, I didn't see it.

When you re-open a dialog with the questgiver he comes up with a new and really not very convincing plan: why not challenge Captain Thorpe to single combat? Well, perhaps because he's a fricken dungeon boss? Might that be a reason?

I don't know. Could you?

Don't worry your pretty little head about that, my dear! Just trot halfway across the map to some entirely different location where apparently the bad captain hangs out when he's not entertaining in The Depths. Then "challenge his lieutenants" until he gets so riled up he comes out to fight. Then kill him. Job done. Easy peasy.

And it was. It helped that I was twenty levels too high, of course. It helped even more that when I got there another level 60 was waiting for Thorpe to respawn so the unfortunate villain barely managed to shuffle out of his portal before two max level characters had hacked him into tiny pieces. 

The fight took about five seconds, some improvement over the full group version, which I imagine probably takes half an hour on a good day, not counting recrutiment time if you don't have a premade party.

With that done, I rattled through the next eight or ten steps in a matter of minutes before GeForce Now timed out and I came here to write up my findings. In the firm knowledge that the MSQ really is, finally, soloable, my next goal is to follow the plot all the way through to "A Selfless Nature", the stage that appears when you're around level 58 and triggers the next set of quests in Brimstone Sands.

It's been a stuttering recovery but I think we're finally there. I'm playing New World again. For how long, I wouldn't care to say but it feels like it could be a while. 

Then again, doesn't it always?

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