I was invited to an event hosted by Amazon where, along with many other journalists, I ran an expedition added to New World through the paces. Expedition is the equivalent of dungeons in this particular MMORPG, i.e. the classic, prime form of team-based activity within the genre. With a crew of five members, we headed to the Amrine Excavations, which will be the first dungeon explored by players. Did it sell me on the game?
NEW WORLD's BRIEF:
- What is it? MMORPG set during the invasion of Americas by the conquistadors, with obligatory fantasy themes.
- Who's behind it? New World is a project by Amazon, which is once again trying to conquer the gaming world.
- How long have we been waiting? The first news about New World appeared around September 2016.
The first dungeon in New World warrants hopes for something good
It's hard to conclusively sum up my impressions from the hands-on event. New World is officially still at alpha stage and it really shows. The beta for the game was announced on July 20, with a release date of August 31. On the one hand, there is still some time for introducing improvements, on the other, I am not convinced that Amazon is up to the task. Don't get me wrong, the Amrine Excavations looked really good. The creators certainly deserve credit for the atmosphere of the location. You can really get the feeling that you're descending into an underworld where danger lurks at every turn.
The opponents were also impressive. They roamed the dungeon, looking for some adventurers they could deprive of life and possibly devour. Fortunately, our brave team was dealing efficiently with these nasties. New World also makes full use of roleplaying the tank was in charge of stopping tougher enemies with sheer power, the healer kept everyone alive, and the DPS squad destroyed nests to prevent more enemies from crawling out.
The introduction of monster nests meant that the journey through the dungeon was more than just about chopping down everything that was moving. There was also room for a basic environmental challenge that required the whole team to work together. It's a nice detail, because it effortlessly adds variety. The fact that the first expedition in the New World brings such novelty is a reaffirming sign. If more surprises await later in the game, the entire experience may be a thrill. The mode featured a system of checkpoints, allowing us to keep the momentum if we failed, rather than start all over.
Boss: Just a bigger opponend?
So what is the problem? The bosses, who were merely larger versions of regular enemies found elsewhere in Amrine Excavations. The first opponent of the kind, an oversized ghost, made a fine impression, but its damage output was all over the place. As a result, what started as a research excursion turned into a battle with clunky mechanics. After a few attempts, however, we managed to overcome it the whole team was pretty impressed by this skirmish. It was necessary to dodge the boss' projectiles and the phantoms it summoned, rather than just focus on dealing damage. It was definitely a fresh experience, especially for the first challenge of this kind in New World.
However, the climax of the level proved to be a certain disappointment. The mighty creature wasn't much different than its smaller companions we had seen along the way. His attacks were also similar with one variation: he summoned minions all the time. Maybe it's a matter of insufficient equipment, maybe the balance was lacking, but we just couldn't handle this boss. It simply dealt too much damage relative to what our healer (one of the developers, by the way) could accomplish.
At one point, I came up with the idea that I would focus the boss' attention on myself by running around the room in front of him, while the rest of the team would eliminate smaller enemies and attack the boss together. Unfortunately, its range of fire was greater than its model would indicate the idea quickly proved ineffective. It is worth mentioning that any of the allies can be resurrected only once during a skirmish. When a companion falls again during a boss fight, they must be reborn in a shrine of the dungeon and wait for the rest of the team to finish the fight or perish.
After a few failures, it became clear that the time allotted for this underground expedition had passed and we had to say goodbye to the Amrine Excavations. We also missed the Q&A session as it turned out, other teams were quicker to give up on the final boss than we were.
Improvements big and small
I was hoping to find a moment to explore the New World more thoroughly and see how the game has changed since I last played it. When my intentions became clear, however, it also became apparent that this was not on the agenda. As a result, I won't tell you about the changes in PvP or crafting, new quests, supposedly better polish, or other, various aspects of the game these I wasn't able to test.
So, I can only commend Amazon for listening to feedback regarding the combat system. During our exploits at the excavations, I had a chance to see firsthand how the new weapons work in New World and whether skirmishes have actually become more dynamic and less crude. And indeed that was exactly the case. A few tweaks of stamina generation, the addition of combos and modification of the blocking system turn clashes in New World into a much more gripping experience.
I should also add that ranged combat also became more enjoyable. Using a bow and musket may not have been the slickest, but the damage was definitely right. Especially if you managed to land a headshot on a moving target. Fans of classic MMORPG combat systems will probably frown at the specific combat system of New World, but I have to praise it for being a nice change from the standard tab targeting.
Shooting a bow, I actually had to aim, and pull the string to do more damage. When using melee weapons, you couldn't just swing it like a whip and spam abilities. All of this, combined with the cooperative gameplay that emphasized team composition, made our expedition into Amrin a really nice experience.
Amazon Games or Amazon Game...?
The entire thing, however, left me a little wanting. A single dungeon is definitely not enough to reliably assess the current state of New World. I do have high expectations of this production, but at the same time I'm concerned if Amazon can deliver this MMORPG in a condition it really deserves and requires to be truly compelling. And considering that virtually all of the company's online games ultimately didn't pan out...
I, however, allow myself to naively hope that this allowed Amazon to fully focus on New World and cook up a new MMORPG worthy of interest. However, it's hard to ignore the fact that the release is neigh, and there's no shortage of elements asking to be improved. Nevertheless, I'd be lying if I wrote that I didn't have a good time this time. There's just something about New World that makes me want to go back and beat the last boss along with Kinya and Matsu, who accompanied me on the Amrine Excavation tour.
Patrick Manelski | Gamepressure.com