New World has come a long way. The project was announced as an online survival aspiring to be an MMORPG. The initial plans assumed 500 people would play on a single server, with the goal of reaching the capacity of 10,000 concurrent players per server, with community-created villages. The setting was supposed to be an alternative reality, where Christopher Columbus discovers a mystical island instead of the Americas, hence unwittingly preventing the demise of Native Americans. That was the plan.
Amazon, however, turned the project upside down a few times, significantly deviating from the original assumptions. Survival elements were abandoned, building capabilities were severely limited, the story arc was slightly modified, and open PvP was removed. The setting doesn't change, though, and we're still going to Aeternum, where we'll fight mysterious forces, using magic and muskets.
SIMPLE HATE AND CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM
People usually don't read the whole thing. They stop somewhere in the middle, divided into one of two camps: "the author rightly dragged the game through the mud," and "the author doesn't have a clue." I ask one thing read the whole piece.
I'm not hating the New World because I think Jeff Bezos should pay more taxes I simply can't pretend the game doesn't beg for improvements. As it stands, there's but a faint afterglow of the promising foundations to be found in there and even that requires more work. Otherwise, the whole thing will crumble like soggy bread. And yet, I still appreciate its advantages and potential!
New Worlds combat system could be great some day
The gameplay in New World is a very standard MMORPG model, with one interesting exception the combat. This one became the subject of heated discussions and hence my comparison to Gothic. In New World, you will either love the combat system or hate each it, just as in the classic from Piranha Bytes.
Given the genre it represents, New World's combat system is quite revolutionary. Many people say it's "soulslike," but it's definitely an overstatement. Sure, we have stamina, dodges, and shields. But throwing attacks doesn't consume stamina. Hence, fights are reduced to spamming the left mouse button, causing the enemy to "stagger", rendering them unable to react. Such a swirl of attacks is capable of killing even a larger group of opponents.
ALPHA? BETA? NO, PREVIEW!
The problem with New World is that it should have come out this summer. However, Amazon decided that the game was not ready and rescheduled the release for next year. At the same time, it gave players access to the preview version, which is somewhere between alpha and beta versions. New World beta will be released in spring of 2021 and will be available to those who have pre-ordered the game. When will the game release?
We don't know. It was assumed New World would launch next spring, but if you read the FAQ, it turns out that the studio is planning to run a closed beta at that time. There's not a word of mention about the release, but that's how we can treat the event. After all, New World will be a Buy-to-Play game.
This strange situation could doom New World to the same fate as Crucible, another game from Amazon. But let's hope this case will be completely different. We don't need something like an eternal early access as an excuse for releasing an unfinished game, right?
The thing is, however, that while at first, such form of combat actually works, it becomes tedious over time. What's missing is depth all we do is mash the LMB. Simply adding stamina costs to attacks could make a world of difference. Amazon could also add a more nuanced movements of opponents, who currently behave in the same way at all times.
Each enemy performs standard sequence of moves regardless of the circumstances. So, while we're pleasantly surprised at first that a zombie runs away just to make a charge, after killing twenty-five such creatures, the thrill will be completely gone.
Don't jump headfirst it's shallow!
The problem with New World is that while the first two hours are genuinely exciting, everything that comes later is pretty disappointing. The production is extremely repetitive and lacks unique elements and things that would push the player forward. The shallowness hurts and the systems are begging to take full advantage of them.
For example, when you move up to a higher level you get one statistics point. Spend it on any trait that will increase strength, ranged combat efficiency, or magical power. Character development is just as simplistic, though, and we simply invest in anything that increases the damage of our weapon of choice.
Weapons alone are a little better, since they're developed just by using them. Each piece of equipment has its own tree, where we can access different talents. The problem, however, is that weapons have only three skills per specialization (each weapon has two specialization trees), and the remaining points are spent on passive abilities that reinforce our skills or the weapon itself.
I don't know who came up with the idea of a uniform cooldown.
There's a lack of variety that would encourage more experimentation with the builds. At this point, more diverse weapons are also missing. However, all of this may easily evolve with updates, and there's still hope for New World. I also hope the cooldown time shared across all weapons will disappear, since it's very limiting.
We can carry a maximum of three weapons with us and switch between them in combat. We can begin a fight by firing a musket at the opponent. If we can get a headshot, we will inflict critical damage, which is fantastic, certainly unheard of in an MMORPG. If we invest in the right talent, it will also slow the enemy down. If the enemy can still survive that, we can switch to melee weapons.
It all sounds great, but for the fact that all the weapons we have share the cooldown time using an ability of one weapon prevents us from using abilities on any other. This is supposedly done to reduce skill spamming.
There would be nothing wrong with that if it wasn't for the fact that players will be spamming attacks anyway, and a missed shot from a musket or arch is usually very painful. In an emergency situation, we can always try to flee, and if we just run past another player, the pursuit will focus on them. The "aggro" system in the New World works in such a way that the nearest target is always being attacked. This element also needs changes.
Repetitive tasks? Just wait for this game
New World is a highly competitive game. The sandbox and some emphasis on crafting are merely seasoning for PvP. As part of the fun, we'll have to join one of three rival factions. We will come to fight for our lands, participate in raids on enemy settlements, and defend our estates from enemies and bizarre cultists.
If we ignore them, they will raid our village, and plunder nearby areas. In theory, then, players shouldn't complain about boredom. In reality, however, PvP tasks are completely not engaging, and New World doesn't really incentivize completing these activities. The rewards aren't thrilling and I think the only reason for participating in them was that there was nothing better to do.
However, if you are not interested in PvP, you can turn them off completely and not really miss anything. There aren't that many PvE activities at the moment, but that's bound to change in time. Same as the extremely repetitive tasks that have us running from place to place for 10 minutes, or kill 25 enemies and search 10 crates in the given area
Thus, New World wastes the potential of its own setting. Let's hope Amazon is still planning on more diversity in terms of these activities. It wouldn't hurt to add mounts, since we have to travel great distances, usually back and forth. Teleportation is not a solution to the problem of boring walking tours to complete a mission.
New World could become a social game
I whine a lot, don't I? Ultimately, and that may come as a surprise, I had pretty good fun with New World. The title genuinely surprised me a few times, and the first two hours were very satisfying. The game definitely looks weaker after that, especially around level 30, but I believe it's still not too late to pull it off.
I particularly liked the village development system and the organic constraints it imposes. We couldn't craft without adequate workbenches and stations in the vicinity. So, players either have to crowd-fund it, or hope someone will turn out more generous. A lot of people complained that such a solution severely restricts players, but for me, it was a wonderful social aspect, which I've been missing in MMORPG lately.
In New World, the emphasis on team play becomes more pronounced when we engage more strongly with our own faction and guild. When we take control of the city and start fortifying it, expanding craft stations and imposing taxes on visitors, then the game really becomes impressive. These elements need some refinement, as does the entire game.
It could be so good!
New World is really pretty. Indeed, it's been a long time since I've seen such a lovely MMORPG, and even Black Desert, with its filters, bells and whistles, pales in comparison to New World's graphics. This is also true of the sound design the sounds of trees being cut down, and rocks falling and echoing, are impressive. Same as the view of a cut-down forest in front of the base where you are currently stationed. At the same time, however, we're dealing with a horribly under-optimized game that can jitter even on the best hardware.
NEW WORLD UNDER CRITICISM
New World was also criticized by testers who participated in closed pre-alpha tests, subject to strict NDA. There were threads on forums, drawing attention to poor technical condition, strange changes in rules and the lack of improvements. Many of these threads were deleted and the users banned, with Amazon claiming these were mere "haters" of New World.
After the New World Preview, it turned out most of these reports were true. It also turned out that almost none of the mistakes were addressed.
At the end of the New World Preview, Amazon unexpectedly announced that it would hold additional tests in November, giving us access to a new version. It should be a perfect opportunity to see if they have actually taken the community's feedback to heart. It may turn out that my first impressions will be outdated. And I hope it will be true. So far, however, Amazon didn't do a very good job of improving the game according to feedback.
And that's basically the best summary of the New World. This game has huge potential. It may not be revolution or a World of Warcraft slayer, but it will certainly find a niche. Provided that Amazon actually addresses the players concerns and starts making some real changes. These are needed because the game currently resembles a lump of shapeless clay that has to be sculpted into something concrete.
So, I'm not necessarily saying there's nothing to hope for. My criticism is not malevolent to the contrary, it's motivated by my genuine desire for this game to be as good as possible. Because I found I'm actually rooting for New World's success, and I'd love the game to realize its potential. That's because we need a new MMORPG that won't be just another clone, and this game has the right foundations to do that. However, cool ideas alone are not enough when implemented in a mediocre way, so Amazon please don't screw it up!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
I spent about 10 hours playing New World. Unfortunately, I got access to the game relatively late (there were big problems with it), and the server on which I was playing was clogged most of the time. For that reason, I had to start the game from scratch but I have no regrets. The MMORPG from Amazon promises to be quite enjoyable, although there's still a lot of work to be done to get it right.
Patrick Manelski | Gamepressure.com