For players eager to ready up and get ahead in Amazon’s New World, the prospect of entering tomorrow’s Closed Beta is a chance to get a first look at everything Aeternum has to offer. From the cliffs of the Shattered Mountain to the depths of the Amrine Expedition, there‘s a wealth of upcoming content for MMORPG fans to leap into. We got a chance to sidestep the queue, getting hands-on with the unforgiving Lazarus Instrumentality Expedition so you know what you’re getting into.
The Lazarus Instrumentality
The Lazarus Instrumentality is one of new World’s instanced PvE encounters and can be found riddled around Aeternum. They have been touted as some of New World’s most challenging content, requiring skill, co-ordination, a little knowledge, and as I found out in the Amrine Expedition, a complete team. The Lazarus Expedition is essentially a lore heavy, 5 player dungeon. It descends in the heart of Aeternum and opens the book on the ancients. These almost deified entities have long since abandoned the land, but their legacy remains in many forms. As we ventured into the Lazarus Instrumentality for the first time, a weary band of DPS wielding reporters, a tank, and healer confronted a massive underground temple.
While images of the Amrine Expedition might have felt somewhat like a dig gone wrong, my latest trip into the depths of New World weaved through a maze of altogether more epic proportions. Gargantuan stone walkways funnelled their way between ancient ruins, altars, and giant caverns. Starting out with or fairly functional party comp, we dove into the Lazarus Instrumentality and, much like earlier previews of this MMORPG, this dungeon looks utterly fantastic. The clinical, almost callous, glow of mystical energy stretches out across every inch of this underground coliseum. Eternal flames, mystical leylines, even the crashing waves of waterfalls are influenced by Azoth. It creates a complex kaleidoscope of lighting effects that elevate this experience and give this set of formidable ruins a magical, if entirely cold, feeling.
While Amazon has done a brilliant job of crafting a stunning world for us to explore, I wouldn’t advise spending too much time admiring the stunning architecture. Between the huge corridors, that hint at an awesome and terrifying resident, larger rooms slow down this particular dungeon as the more mobile contents of these arenas attempt to defend the secrets buried in this subterranean tomb.
Ambushed by Lazarus Reavers and Taskmasters on numerous occasions, the undead army that stood between my party defeat was far from easy pickings. These skeletal defenders do vary in size, number, and power but otherwise, conform to type. While rushing in through portals, backing your party into a corner, or attacking the tank you’ll find that these frenzied mobs are largely melee focused and can cut through cloth easily. Tanking the Lazarus Instrumentality isn’t so much about getting into plate armor, although you absolutely can do that at the expense of your ranged attack stats. It’s about controlling the chaos that your party will run into. After losing a party member to an unstable connection, midway through our adventure and finding that they could not respawn to the regularly spaced save points, stealing aggro from our experienced tank was an easy task. The consequence was an almost immediate failure if we didn’t pump the breaks in our progress a little, and a really bad time when we came up against our first major challenge.
Cilla is one of the first major NPCs that I’ve encountered while exploring Expeditions and a servant of this long-abandoned construct. Players get to learn a little more about the Guardians through interacting with this, and numerous other in-game characters. Unfortunately, it’s not always just narrative when these residents of Aeternum come to life. During our visit to the Lazarus Instrumentality, Cilla turned against our party and the first of The Lazarus Instrumentality’s major boss encounters unfolded.
Functionally, Cilla is a towering mix of melee and AOE magical damage that repeats itself quite consistently, requiring group level communication to survive until it reaches an HP threshold. Once only a thin red line remains, a familiar rage mode ensues and those mechanics become more pronounced, just as damaging, and less predictable if left unchecked. While that doesn’t make Cilla anywhere near as complex or interesting as something like Guild Wars 2’s Twisted Marionette, the experience did serve to underline how finely balanced New World’s Expeditions are. Expeditions are billed as 5 player adventures that rely on party balance to overcome the dangers that await. With that five-player party, Cilla is a bump in the road to a much larger final boss, but with 4 players a simple misstep or slow reaction became utterly devastating for our endeavours. Aggro, as above, was particularly problematic for us with so few players and no room for mistakes. Thankfully, New World’s classless weapon-wielding system provided a solution, switching out our party to wield two tanks.
The classless weapon and gear system in New World remained largely unchanged from other testing phases and allows players to pick up and train any weapon. From the HP pool of the Life Staff, through to Rapiers, Muskets, and Hammers, your choice ties skills to a weapon-based progression system and is still universally one of Amazon’s best design choices. The option to swap a DPS in as a tank changed the game for my crew when we came up against Cilla, keeping the ancient warden focused on our two tanks and dazed enough to chew through the more problematic last 20 percent or so. Unfortunately due to repeated technical difficulties with Amazon’s preview build and a now three player party, our glimpse at what the Guardians might have left behind ended here.
While the Lazarus Instrumentality felt like a fantastic display of dungeon gameplay, I still remain somewhat undecided on Expeditions. These instanced encounters are supposed to be some of the most challenging content available, yet the boss encounters were not the biggest sticking point outside of connectivity issues. Even these obstacles haven’t yet provided raid levels of complexity. Sure, they’re punishing and finely balanced, but if an undermanned group of first-timers can overcome ignorance, some serious technical glitches, and an under armed group to fumble their way through then I still have some hesitancy to make a final judgement on them right now.
That said, the presentation of these PvE instances is impeccable. Whether it be the dingy mineshafts of the Amrine Expedition or the beautiful backdrops of the Lazarus Instrumentality, exploring each is a joy. They come just as heavily dressed in lore as fancy lighting effects and after experiencing these two, I doubt there will be another Expedition that goes uncovered by my eyes. We just have to wait and see if the Guardians make an appearance and provide the speedrunners and dungeon masters something to carry the rest of us through.