Tuesday, November 2, 2021

New World - It's Not For Everyone. Yet.

Belghast put up an excellent overview of New World's main systems and mechanics today, dividing the game into nine categories, each in turn split into "Good" and "Bad", finishing with a conclusion he entitles "A Deeply Fraught Game".

As I said in the comments, I agree with almost all of his observations and assessments. Where we differ is that I'd move most of the things he's labelled "Bad" into the "Good" column. There's not really all that much I don't like about how New World works.

I don't want to go into nit-picking detail over what may well just be a difference in taste. It's long been established that what one mmorpg player sees as excruciatingly slow and boring another will describe as well-paced and compelling. Some people can happily repeat the exact same actions ten thousand times and find it relaxing and meditative while others want to experience something entirely new every single session.

I do like lists, though, and the best kind of lists are ones where someone else has already made up all the headings. With no intention of getting into into anything in any kind of depth or speaking with any kind of authority, I thought I'd borrow Bel's headings and give them a few, hopefully brief, glosses of my own.

The World - Big, beautiful, mysterious and fascinating. If I judge the quality of the world-building purely by how far I manage to get before I have to take another screenshot, New World is an epic success. There's something to snap at every turn in the road. The star of the show is the scenery, especially the lighting effects, but the lore that's scattered all around just waiting to be discovered adds some grit. For a long time I did think there was a distinct lack of weather but that was before I got to Weaver's Fen, where you can barely see for the mist and Mourningdale, where it hardly stops raining. 

Crafting - Not as good as Vanguard's but then what is? Supposedly satisfying in that you can make very good gear for yourself as you level up and the best gear at endgame. I have to take this on trust because so far I'm doing just fine wearing whatever I steal from chests or the dead bodies I loot after my berserker rage subsides. Have hatchet, don't need a lot else. I do like being able to make my own bags, though.

Combat - See above re berserker rages and hatchets. I find the combat in New World immensely satisfying, even though pretty much all I do is hack at things with a hand-axe. It's even better right now while the "Hatchet Bug" is in full effect. As an established hatcheteer I feel no shame in enjoying the current unintended 300% bonus to damage. It reminds me of similar moments in other games, for example the time when Meteor Shower did humongous damage in Guild Wars 2 and everyone suddenly started playing their Elementalists. As a Staff-Ele-for-Life I just carried on as I was and relished the extremely unusual experience of being both FOTM and OP. Enjoy it while it lasts, I say. 

Town Systems - I find these amusing in so much as I notice them at all. It's kind of weird to come back to where you used a crafting station yesterday and run straight past it because now it has a roof. I spent about ten minutes looking for the forge the other day before I realized someone had built a shed around it. I do Town Board Quests all the time but I never know what amenity they're supposed to be constructing. I just want the Standing so I can get more Storage for my ever-growing stash of materials I never use or for the option to buy Housing that I never take.

Territory War - aka Marauder Radio. The only chat channel I have on is Faction and I have one eye on it all the time while I'm out hunting and gathering. The endless planning! The call-outs! The tactical discussions! The in-fighting! The bickering! Keeps me amused for hours. I think they do actually fight people sometimes but all Wars happen while I'm asleep so it's all notional to me. I do check the map every time I log in to see if anything's changed hands, but only out of idle curiosity. It has no material affect on my gameplay that I can see.

Invasions - Another mythical event. I see a lot of announcements about them but once again they happen when I'm fast asleep. I think there was one on Sunday that was scheduled for about 10pm my time so I could have made the effort but it was in Reekwater and no-one in their right mind would defend that dump. I'd hope the invaders set it on fire only the damn place is so waterlogged it would never burn.

Gearing - As I said, I'm more than happy wearing the odds and ends I find along the way. I have storage all over Aeternum stuffed with boots and gloves and pants I naively thought I would wear some day but obviously never will. By the time I'd remembered where I put something I'd have found three better pieces. As Bel says, you never do actually get the stats you want, though, so I still end up buying stuff on the Trading Post, or I did before they closed it down to stop people duping gold. I do have to say, though, that contrary to Bel's experience on Minda, on Zuvendis gear sells for good money. I paid several hundred gold for my last upgrades and I've sold a few, too. Mostly I can't be bothered with the fuss of putting it up, though, so I just salvage it for repair parts. Always need those.

Dungeons - I've only done one but I quite enjoyed it. Very reminiscent of GW2 dungeons, I thought, only with a tad more tankage and nobody yelling "Stack!" every thirty seconds. I was supposed to do another dungeon for the main story quest when I dinged 40 but so far I haven't gotten around to it and it doesn't seem to have mattered so I'm probably not going to bother.

The Story - If we're going to separate the Story from the Lore then it's all but non-existent. There's some nonsense about Soulwardens and you have to do the MSQ to get your upgrades to the Azoth Staff if you plan on doing the Corruption nodes but absolutely no-one ever does those on my server at my level in my playtime so I've given up thinking about them. If I need to go back and catch up when I hit 60 I'll worry about it then. The Lore, on the other hand, is top-notch. Up there with the Secret World. I'm really interested to find out what Isabella and the Heretic were up to all those decades or centuries ago.

Overall - I'm having a great time. The best part is the running about, gathering everything I see. The second-best part is beating up anything that tries to stop me. The third-best is working on my Standing so I can buy a house. Every day I want to play New World more than I want to play any other game. GeForce Now works flawlessly, which means my in-game experience is now smooth and comfortable, which means I want to play even more. I really like the one-hour limit that makes me take regular breaks, too. I could do with that in every game. As for the infamous bugs, listen, pal, I played Vanguard! And loved it! This is nothing! Okay, some of it is definitely something but so far, fingers crossed, touch wood, it's nothing that's affected me any worse than the bugs I've seen in any other mmorpg so I'm not paying much attention to any of it.

The motivation behind Bel's review was to clarify things for his readers who might be on the fence about whether or not to play. His conclusion was that Amazon would need to fix some fundamental design flaws and add a bunch of new content to overcome the negative impressions created by the launch. I feel pretty much the opposite. I like the game as it is. It has plenty for me to do to the point that I can't imagine ever catching up to whatever they do add next. I like the rough around the edges feel of the whole affair, the way not everything fits together perfectly and some bits keep dropping off. I've always liked my mmorpgs best when they're a bit shaky and insecure. It's the polished, sleek, confident ones that get on my nerves.

I'm not giving out any recommendations but I'll make a prediction: I expect these first few weeks and months to be the highlight of my time with the game. Amazon have a survey up at the moment, which I've completed. I told them I thought most things in the game were good to very good but that most systems were too fast or too generous and they should make the game slower in all respects. I fully expect them to do the exact opposite as they course-correct to match the expectations of other players who don't share my tastes.

I hope I'm wrong but I bet I'm not.


  1. Nice set of comments. One thing I'd highlight under combat is that each weapon feels unique and appropriate in its style. Hatchet is indeed a frenzied berserker. Rapier feels like being a swashbuckling swordmaster, with well-timed dashes forward and evades opening up opportunities - as someone who used to fence as a sport, it feels right. Spear fighters are fast and acrobatic, great axes and warhammers lumbering and brutal. Muskets and bows are very different from each other in use, not just reskins of the same set of ranged attacks as they are in WoW.

    The other thing I Like is that the large scale content can be much more inclusive than I feared. Unlike yourself, I p-lay in my server's peak time so I can sign up for wars and invasions. I've been turned away from some in favour of higher level players, but got into plenty of others. Our faction (Syndicate on Carcosa server) actually start some wars as 'training wars' specifically to let lower level players, and those who don't regularly get in, have a taste of what's involved. The invasions have roles manning siege weapons and running repairs where your level and gear aren't important, so anyone who gets in can contribute meaningfully.

    1. I think they did a bang-up job on the combat. I'm not a fan of action combat in general but here, as in Valheim, it just feels very natural and intuitive and as you say every weapon is very different.

      On the territorial pvp I'd love to get involved at some point, particularly on a siege weapon. I might eventually roll a character on an EU server just so I can at least see how the wars and invasions work. I suspect there will be a good deal of tweaking to the systems over the coming months, though, so I'm happy to hold off for now.


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