Tuesday, September 28, 2021

The Obligatory New World Launch Day Post


I'll keep this short. I'm sure everyone who cares wants to play New World not read about it and those who don't care... well, they don't care, do they? Although, of course, there may be some of you reading this who'd just love to be playing but can't. Have you seen those queues? Maybe you'll enjoy hearing about what you could have been doing today, if you could have gotten in. Or maybe not...

I got in. I had no problems. I've been there for the starting gun at quite a few mmorpg launches and not many went as smoothly as this one. I guess being the world's leading supplier of online server capacity comes in handy at a time like this. (I didn't fact-check that, by the way but it's true. Isn't it?)

My pre-order code arrived from Amazon by email yesterday and I pre-installed the game immediately. It was very fast, took maybe twenty minutes. The footprint isn't as huge as some recent games I've downloaded. About 45gb, I think it was.

I could have jumped on the bandwagon at eight this morning if I'd been wiling to play on an EU server. That's when they opened over here. I haven't checked but I imagine you can play on whichever continent you want since there's no region-locking. 

By preference I always play on US servers, though. I think it has something to do with the spurious concept of authenticity. For games made in America, or by Americans, or for Americans, American servers seem like they must be the real ones. All the others are slightly less real, somehow.

I get good ping from the North American East Coast, anyway. It was only a five-hour wait until the doors opened there, around one in the afternoon. Keen though I was to get in, I wasn't so crazed to play I felt like spending those five hours on a character I'd drop like a hot brick when a better option appeared.

In the end I was eating lunch when the deadline arrived so I didn't log in until around 1.30pm. I was a little surprised to see we only appear to get two character slots. I haven't looked into that yet but it seems low. Maybe they're one of the things you can buy in the cash shop, something else I also haven't looked at yet, even though I notice I have a bunch of cash for it already.

I was also surprised to see that my choice, US East, was the default on the login screen. Usually if there are EU servers a game will assume I want to play on them. I wondered for a moment if some flag had been set back when I was doing the alphas or betas but then I decided it would have to remain a mystery. A very small, insignificant mystery about which no-one gives a damn, least of all me.

After region, next choice was server. As I mentioned a while back, when the names were announced, I have no plans to link up with anyone so all I really need to do is avoid the crowds and pick a name I can remember. 

I had a couple of servers in mind, Morrow and Frislandia. The former, as I said last time, reminds me of the great comic artist Gray Morrow and Frislandia makes me think of Portlandia, Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen's TV show that I've wanted to see for years but so far haven't. (Not on any UK streaming services and I can't even find a box set of the whole thing at an affordable price, only scattered seasons.)  

According to that "Where the Streamers Are" app, no-one of any significance was on either so I was hopeful but by the time I got there both of them were flagged "High". And when they say "High" they mean "High". There were more than ten thousand in the queue for Morrow and it wasn't even top of the list!

I didn't take a screenshot of Frislandia. I think it might only have been in the hundreds but I still didn't choose it. I sorted the list by queue and found some that had no-one waiting at all. A couple of those had decent names so I picked one: Zuvendis. That'll do.

Character creation seemed much the same. Still not a huge number of options. Still more than enough. I made the same character I've been making since alpha, gave her the same name and then added a surname because the first name was taken. Odd. Never known it to be taken before but I guess people were getting creative given the competition.


By the time I finished making my character the queue had begun to form but there were only fifteen people ahead of me. I was in in seconds. Smooth, too. No launch day judders or jumps.

The intro cinematic seemed unchanged from several years back. The first part of the tutorial on the beach didn't look any different, either. After that, though, I got the distinct impression things weren't entirely as they had been last time I played, back in the summer (Although, of course, I did skip the recent open beta.)

It seemed to me there was less busywork and repetition in the introductory questline. Things seemed tighter, more zippy. Better. It didn't really become apparent until I got to the first town but right from the start one thing struck me hard: they'd got some decent voice actors at last!

Here's what I said about the voice acting in July:

"When I could hear them, most of the voice acting seemed... okay. The guy on the beach, the first questgiver you meet, speaks in a peculiar, arch tone that makes him sound like he's being sarcastic even when he's not but the folks in town mostly seemed matter-of-fact even when the lines they were delivering appeared to be intentionally humorous.  I can almost hear the director murmuring "Undersell it.""

That "guy" is now a woman named Charity Douglas. She speaks with an upper-middle class English accent and articulates every line with a combination of confidence and diffidence that make her sound like the head girl at a minor public school. 


All the line readings are good. There's an evident understanding of both the text and the subtext. There's nuance and humor and personality. It's still an understated performance but this time it's understated with purpose. 

When I got to town I felt, although I can't be absolutely certain, that all the voice acting had been re-recorded. One character had a fairly outrageous French accent, which I would have thought I would have remembered. Another was notably camp and things he said about himself and which another character said about him led me to suspect, although not to be sure, there might be some backstory about gender and orientation.

I am pretty sure I'd have noticed and commented on this last time if it had been there. It makes me wonder if the voice acting we got before was placeholder stuff. That would explain the comments I made about the readings not bringing out the humor of the lines. The current version very much hits the beats dead-on.

It's hard to say whether that's why I found the whole storyline more engaging this time, but I definitely did. I also think, as I said, that the narrative flow has been improved. I seem to remember last time we had to do missions for all three factions before we got to chose one. Now you just have to chat briefly with each of the recruiters and then make a choice.


Whatever's been changed it helps a lot. Many of the small niggles I remember seem to have vanished. Also, most importantly of all, performance was vastly improved over the miserable experience I complained about back in July. I had no lag or latency at all in the three hours I played, even in town with scores of players all around me.

I did leave my graphics on the default of "Low" this time although I established last time it didn't make a lot of difference to the problems I was having then. The game looks reasonable at the lowest settings and I didn't want to jinx my PC's excellent handling of the game while I was enjoying getting my quests done without any fuss.

When the areas I'm in thin out a little and it quiets down, I'll edge the quality up a notch or two and see how things go. New World is beautiful to look at at higher settings so I'd like to see it at the best it can be on my machine. If it comes to a choice between looks and performance, though, after last time I'll sacrifice the pretty if I have to.

Even though it was very busy, there were also no problems finding the right mobs to kill or the right objects to click on. Just about every issue I can remember from the last time I played and wrote about the game seem to have been addressed and corrected. It seems the long beta process actually worked.

One thing that Amazon can't really control is the nonsense people spout in the chat channels or the things they choose to call themselves. I'm generally a supporter and user of global chat but one time I make an exception is in the heat of a big launch. It brings all the crazies to the surface.

I tried just having the sensible channels like Help or Area switched on but it was still a never-ending stream of distracting codswallop. In the end I turned them all off and carried on in conversational silence.

If only I could have switched off all the player names, too. There may be an option but I didn't find it. I didn't look all that hard, though.

I saw some shockers. Nothing super-offensive although some of them came close. It always makes me wonder what people are thinking when they enter these names at at character creation. Are they planning on playing for a few hours then deleting that character and making a real one or do they really plan on making their rep as "WiggaStoleMyBike"? (Real name. I for sure couldn't have made that up.) 


It took me about two and a half hours to get to Level 10 and I enjoyed every minute. The game feels slick and polished. I find myself keener than I thought I would be to get further than before, now my character is going to stick around. 

The plot is more interesting than I thought it would be and the whole thing has the feel of a good, single-player RPG in an mmo wrapper. The meat is probably in the territorial PvP but it looks like there are plenty of other ways to go for those who don't want to get involved with all of that.

I do still have a lingering longing for the very different game New World was in the first alpha but that's not coming back so no point dwelling on what might have been. Anyway, the game we have instead looks like it will be hugely more popular and successful than the original conception of it would ever have been. It's clear Amazon made the right decision.

It very much looks as though they've also made the first, big, Western mmorpg hit for a long, long time. Six hundred thousand concurrent players on day one tells you that much, at least.

We'll see how things go from here.


  1. There are four different starting beaches, each with a different greeter NPC and leading to a different town. That probably accounts for the differences you noticed. I assume the intent was to spread out the starting population a bit (which most MMOs do by having different racial starting areas)

    1. I do actually remember that in one of the betas you could choose your starting area, come to think of it. I wish I'd taken a screenshot of the map last time. The beach looks identical and so does the town, which I could have sworn has the same name, although I already can't recall what it is. Are the towns all clones of each other?

      If that is the reason, and it does make more sense than new voice actors, the people who did this beach and town are waaaaay better than the ones who did the other one.

  2. I poked my nose in at about lunch time at my end (19:00 UTC) after having checked on the servers earlier. The US East servers seemed to be the most popular and all had queues listed. When it came time to make a character at noon I found several servers in the US West group that had no queues, so got right in, made a character, and ran through the intro to the first quest guy. The world seemed full but functional.

    Amazon is promising more servers and free transfers already if you opted in on a bad server. Valhalla on US East was about 25K deep in a queue all morning. But it seemed like you could get on if you were not locked into a specific server choice.

    1. I'm going to try and get another half hour or so in before bedtime, now I've done my GW2 dailies. We'll see if there's a queue. I would expect one but it's not prime time on the East Coast yet so fingers crossed!

  3. EU servers all have quite big queues, although they have been adding new ones through the day. Part of that is down to the fact character and company names are global, so we've had an invasion of unimaginative Yanks who logged on the first servers up to reserve "their" names (which are usually either something borderline offensive and puerile, or characters from some weeb crap), then stayed to level to 10 so they could reserve their company names of choice as well. Get off my lawn, you damn kids!

    1. I had no idea character and company names were global. That's an odd choice.

    2. It's an... interesting design decision. Like any design decision, it has pros and cons. I can see what the pros are - it simplifies server merges and character transfers, and also makes player reputation become a global thing.

      The cons are pretty obvious though, and not just in hindsight, and it's telling that no other MMO I can think of has made the same design decision. You would have thought that somebody, in one of the design meetings, would have put on his best Yes Minister voice and said "That's very brave"

  4. I waited in queue for three hours and then had the servers kick me out when there were only 40 people ahead of me. When I requeued, I had 2000 ahead of me.

    Luckily this is pretty much what I expected to happen, and I did other things while waiting, so I'm not overly bothered by it all, though I do hope things begin to settle soon.

    On the plus side, I finally finished my personal story in GW2! Only took nine years...

    1. I didn't get on again last night although there were *only* 500 in the queue ahead of me. It would have taken longer to tick down than I had to play so I left. Today I'm working but after that I'm off work for ten days. Playing on East Coast US servers means there should be next to no queues after breakfast my time until early afternoon, especially weekdays, so I'm optimistic of getting as much playtime as I want.

      I guess huge queues for your nearly-200 servers is about the best problem an mmorpg launch could have.

  5. I was on the fence about picking it up now or later after the queue die down, working all this week but if things are slow.... I could play it through the day a little, lol. Working from home. Last night I decided to download it, hope to be able to hop on this morning and play before work at least. I picked some random server with a low queue.

    Glad to see you're enjoying it, we have similar tastes in games so that makes me look forward to exploring it!

    1. It's really solid, definitely the most polished Western mmorpg for years. I think most people are going to find it at least an entertaining diversion and quite a few are going to end up there for a good, long while.

  6. For me, east coast server and I tried to login at a bit before 6. Had a 3 hour queue so glad I started when I did. We ate dinner, watched some Midnight Mass on Netflix (great show so far) and about the time that was done I got in.

    I really enjoyed myself. The beach and the town seemed the same as I've seen in earlier betas but for me too, the characters had changed some and the voice acting was MUCH better. I felt bad about leaving Charity Douglas there on the beach as it was clear she'd rather be anywhere else but there.

    Looking forward to playing more!

    1. I've got the next ten days off work (not that I do much work to begin with, these days) so I'm hoping to get stuck in. I'm curious to see the various starting areas now, to see how different they are and partiularly if that's the explanation for the voice acting. I find it strange the quality would vary so much if it was all done at the same time or by the same team. Of course, if we can only make two characters, checking all the locations might be problematic.

  7. As a Portlander, Portlandia is definitely worth watching. You should be aware that we tend to view it as more documentary than satire; also that Trump+COVID times have not been good to the city.

    Luckily don't have to worry about New World yet, since EPIC Anti-Cheat for Linux/Proton is not part of the current release. Hopefully they'll fix this in the next few weeks and I can give it a whirl.

    1. I'm going to get the first season on DVD but after that who knows? Most, but not all, of the seasons seem to be available but only individually, which would cost me about £150 and I don't want to watch it *that* much. Maybe one of the streaming services will pick it up eventually.


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