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New World Game preview

Game preview 19 February 2020, 15:28

author: Darius Matusiak

A wannabe fighter pilot, racing driver, and a spec-op; an adventurer and a space marine – hence, a gamer. I’ve been playing games since Wing Commander, and writing since Destiny.

New World Preview – Why is Amazon Making an MMO?

"So Amazon's doing the games now, huh?" – that's how most of my friends reacted to me telling them I've been to Amazon Games studio. It does, and it does it on a grand scale. New World has the ambition to bring together the PC fans of MMOs and action RPG.

Slated for release: August 2020.

This text was based on the PC version.

 
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NEW WORLD IN A NUTSHELL:
  1. an open-world MMO with a world equal to about 40 square kilometers;
  2. optional PvP flagging – no need to fight others;
  3. complex, Souls-inspired combat system straight from action-RPGs;
  4. fighting with melee weapons, firearms, and magic;
  5. PvP battles of hundreds of players in sieges;
  6. PvE: 50 players vs. 150 AI-controlled enemies;
  7. conquering and managing territories;
  8. customizable characters, houses and cities;
  9. rich mechanics and progression system.

Online shopping, e-book readers, tablets, a voice assistant that prevents crimes and runs your smart home... Amazon brings many connotations, but gamedev isn't among them. Until now, that is – in May, we should get the first major game from Amazon Games, New World (their first game was The Grand Tour Game). As it turns out, the studio employs quite a few veterans of the industry, including people who have worked on games such as World of Warcraft, Destiny, Killer Instinct, or Baldur's Gate.

Amazon is interested in finding new ways to delight customers. They think first about customers. By making games you have a really close relationship with players, especially live games like MMO. I think it’s an opportunity for us to get feedback about the game, work with players to create something special.

David Verfaillie, head of player’s experience

There is a lot of passion at the studio, a lot of people have worked before on MMO, a lot of people are passionate about this.

Amazon in general really loves using technology to bring people together. MMO is one of the best game expression of that. The technology that allows that is something Amazon has worked on even earlier so it felt really natural to create MMO. Games are particularly well suited for social engagements.

Richard Lawrence, studio director

Interestingly, New World is not a game aimed at the average Amazon user, but rather the typical PCMR freak. It doesn't launch with any kind of Amazon Launcher, and it will be available on Steam, exclusively for PC, without plans for console versions with large fonts, etc. New World has ambitions to unite fans of MMO and action RPG, mixing a lively game world, human interactions, and a fairly complex combat system. And if one crucial element of the game will be improved, this could really work.

SERVER PROBLEMS NOT EXPECTED

One can assume that if there's one thing that will certainly work well in New World, it will be the server infrastructure; Amazon hosts servers of most of games we play anyways. Amazon solutions are used in games such as Fortnite, Clash Royale, or For Honor.

New World: Siege – the battle of Helm's Deep

The large scale battles are very unique about the game. We spent a lot of time tuning combat to work at that large scale. Adding the siege weaponry, adding the gameplay around it with the offense and defense. These are the pinnacle moments of the game and I hope you will find this part very exciting.

David Verfaillie, head of player’s experience

The highlight of the game's presentation was the siege of a fortress by fifty attacking players, and it admittedly looked kinda epic, save for a few minor blemishes. As defendants, our job was to make sure that the enemy doesn't capture all the checkpoints. Some of them were located in the center of the fort, and the huge gates could be destroyed. Depending on the chosen weapons and specialization, some players fought in the field, engaged in melee combat, while others fired at enemies with bows and muskets.

It was really possible to feel the heat of battle when the powerful engines flung fire projectiles, while inside the fort, huge horns heralded the battle, providing the defenders with a temporary buff; it was also possible to pour hot tar on attackers. There was, of course, some chaos, and the movement of the most distant players looked pretty funky, but the fight was still lots of fun. We were able to defend the fort – by the skin of our teeth, because the attackers were slowly starting to overrun us when time ran out.

What looks even more interesting are the so-called invasions, i.e. battles against three times more numerous forces controlled by AI. One of the devs compared them to the battle of Helm's Deep – there are hundreds of soldiers, including distinctive, bigger beasts. Here, however, I had to take their word for it, because the invasions weren't ready yet. I didn't quite like what happened before the battles – from the very beginning of the game to reaching the tenth character level.

Amazon or FedEx?

The first moments of the game are not only the study of the basic rules and mechanics, but, more importantly, an introduction to the universe, characters, and events, and here, New World disappoints. We find ourselves on an unknown land and after a short hike, we encounter a mysterious guest, the Watcher, who gives us quests. The worst possible kind of them: quick, two-lines-of-description, that involve killing multiple opponents, looting three crates – and going back to claim the prize. All the quests were similar, the only difference being the distance we had to cover.

We tend to find some letters and scraps of documents along the way, but their short reading did not draw me into the game world at all, exacerbated by unvoiced NPCs. New World has undergone a significant transformation from a survival-oriented game to an MMORPG, and it's quite obvious that the quests were one of the last things implemented. Even though it's an MMO, and so nobody expects a Bloody-Baron type of story, the game could still use some more fleshed-out quests, especially at the beginning, where everyone takes their time anyway.

 
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