Tuesday, December 10, 2019

New World, Old World

It's been a good, long while since a news item on Massively:OP piqued my interest but the last twenty-four hours pinged a couple of blips on the radar. Blipped a couple of pings? Does radar even make a noise or do they just dub it in to make it more exciting in the movies?

First came a heads-up that Amazon had broken radio silence on New World. I haven't really thought about the game much since the alpha went offline back in May. I certainly haven't been following the Twitter feed so I was unaware that it had a) been inactive for months and b) had just come back to life.

This, of course, is why I still check M:OP every day, even though almost everything there, apart from the news itself, raises my blood pressure. There isn't any more comprehensive or timely coverage of the genre and I'm guessing there's not likely to be so I make the best of it.

When Amazon said they were taking New World back behind closed doors to "“design major new features” that were “large in scope and create changes to the world that could be disruptive.”", to quote Massively quoting Amazon, I saw no reason not to take them at their word. I was surprised (although I really shouldn't have been) to see M:OP taking a doom and gloom tack on the story back in May and even more suprised (again, why?) to see them still rowing that boat even now.

Amazon isn't some nebulous, sketchy indie, prone to making grand claims with no means of backing them up. It's one of the biggest companies in the world with a reach and scope that dwarfs even major game development houses. Why would they want to claim they were still working on a game when they actually weren't? True, they also have the resources to can a product in development if it doesn't seem to be going anywhere but, as we have already seen with Breakaway, if they're going to do that they won't be slow in telling us.

I have so many better screenshots of New World than the ones I can use here...

I always expected that New World would return, bigger and better than before (at least from its developers' perspective). It looks as though that day is coming. Possibly as soon as this Friday.

As far as I know, the NDA for New World's alpha is still in force. It was a pretty strict one, too. Still, I've always held the belief that very few developers worry about positive leaks. I really liked New World and I wasn't expecting to. The world was gorgeous, exploration was compulsive, the survival gameplay was accessible and satisfying and the lore was intriguing.

Combat was fine - reminded me a little of Black Desert - and in the time I spent there I saw no indication that the game was or would become a "survival gankbox", which seems to be the current buzzword among M:OP commenters. I realize alpha populations often don't represent post-launch behaviors but in the time I spent in alpha I think I got into a fight with another player precisely once. Most of the time, when players would pass each other, there'd be a wave and that was all.

Anyway, I'm excited to see what Amazon have to tell us about where New World goes next. It would be nice to see it return with more directed, narrative content, something its fascinating setting looks admirably well set to support.

Looks a bit like my Mara Estate in EQII.

The second news item at M:OP that caught my attention really couldn't be further apart and still be on the same spectrum. It relates to an upcoming MMORPG that had previously escaped my notice, although Massively had already mentioned it in despatches a while back.

The game in question is called Inferna and it was due to go into Early Access via Steam four days ago. That never happened. But it's still on, apparently.

The new "launch" date is December 20. The game has been held back "to firm things up" as M:OP put it, a process that involves "updates and new features", details unknown.

I watched the embedded gameplay video and found myself... intrigued? Puzzled, too. It looks for all the world like a trailer for an MMORPG from before the days of World of Warcraft. It actually reminded me of one of my favorite "lost" MMORPGs, Ferentus, a game I thought never made it out of beta (although maybe it did) but which apparently has - almost unbelievably - an active emulator project.

Horse Power!
Always up for another old-school, tab-target, hotbar MMORPG, I clicked through to the official website. It has to be the least-informative I have ever seen, particularly for a game that was meant to have entered Early Access last week.

The very, very few claims the website make are... vague. "Incredible Atmosphere", "Catchy Battles", "Get Awards". And... that's it. Doesn't even tell you the Classes or Races.

There are links to a slew of social media feeds - Facebook, Twitter, Instagram - and a Discord server. I thought the missing detail might be over there, somewhere, so I took the trouble to look. And... I'm really none the wiser. I even joined the Discord, but all I found under "Game News" was the new EA date and this:

"In the game you can slip into the role of a hero, who you can choose from 4 character classes. At the beginning you have to decide whether you want to start as a magician, warrior, assassin or semi-demon and within the class you can still choose your fighting style."

Well, it's more than I got from the website. It's also the first paragraph of the entry on the Steam page. Steam seems to have received the bulk of what little detail there is, i.e. not very much at all. We do at least find out the name of the world - Pangaeu. Also that "...the glory days of security and unity are over". Aren't they always? Why is it we never get to explore these empires at the height of their powers, only in decline or crisis?

There are two starting cities, Caratas or Jerro, from where you can set out to explore "numerous maps", something you'll want to do because "Various runs and dungeons await you". There are also quests "throughout the game" that will "give you an insight into the past, present and future of Pangaeu".

I surmise Inferna is going to be a pretty traditional, quest-driven MMORPG. More than that, who knows? About the only unusual aspect I can see is the checkbox on Steam for supported languages. There are a dozen and they all include "full audio". That would be impressive indeed, only nothing actually states outright that the game even has voice acting. There's none in the videos.

Two hobbits, three lizardmen and a snake. Think I bought a 12" by them back in the '90s.
I can't even tell if Inferna is primarily oriented towards PvE or PvP. It has an "online PvP" tag on Steam and there's mention of protecting the kingdom of your choice "against the darkness and the enemy realm" but other than that I see no reference to fighting other players.

Indeed, what little detail there is suggests a PvE orientated experience: "You will fight your way through hordes of monsters alone or in a team... We currently have a functional base game with the most important features ready (combat, party system for playing with your friends, various item upgrade mechanics, trading, multiple maps, quests and more)."

Another thing I can't seem to find is any indication of pricing. The game itself, when it finally launches, is going to be Free to Play. It says so in big letters at the top of the main page on the website. But, as we all know, F2P at launch doesn't preclude paid-for Early Access packs and/or a functioning pre-launch cash shop.

For now, though, Inferna has nothing like that. Maybe it really is free. I guess we'll find out for sure when it goes live on Steam in just over a week.

I do like the general, old-fashioned look of the game. If it turns out you can play at no cost I'll definitely take a look. I'm minded to give it a try even if there's a small entry fee. I might use my $15 Grand Prize from IntPiPoMo. If that doesn't cover the door charge, though, I'll probably pass.


  1. As somebody who makes radars for a living, I can confirm that they don't ping. :-)

    1. "I make radars" must be a great conversation starter at parties!

      It's Sonar that pings, isn't it? Pretty sure they both do in some movies I've seen, though.

    2. They always do in movies, I guess it's some kind of unwritten rule that everything that moves in some way must also emit a corresponding sound to make it more interesting.

      Sonar indeed does make a sound though, as the time it (the sound) takes to come back to you tells you where and how far away something is.

  2. Inferna looks interesting but I hate when developers launch stuff the week before Christmas. Everyone is on vacation. Maybe I can skip some of the launch bugs at least.

    1. Yes, it is an odd time to launch, although to be fair they intended to go on the 6th. All of December is bad for me, though.


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