New World Expeditions Hands-On Preview

Back in February 2021, Scott Lane took to the internet to update us all on some changes to Amazon’s new MMORPG, New World. Bundled in with a sizeable delay, new World was due to get an expanded environment, an additional game mode, and Expeditions. Gamespace was lucky enough to ready up when Amazon called and we’ve had some time with Expeditions, but are they worth the wait?

Expedition Expectations

When New World has opened its doors in the past, results have varied. During previous beta events, open-world exploration was solid and the lush environment provided plenty of self-propelled adventure. Instanced fort sieges and the associated combat, on the other hand, left a lot to be desired. The introduction of Expeditions is something of an admission that while open-world exploration and the central narrative goes some way to keeping a player base happy, too many similar titles have fallen on a lack of repeatable long term content. Essentially instanced dungeons by another name, Expeditions are one of the major additions that caused New World to set an August 2021 release date and we got to jump in and find out if they are really worth the wait.

Expeditions are, as Amazon described in the previous blogs, a three to five player instanced experience where players can teamwork to overcome challenges, solve puzzles, and battle monstrous bosses. More than that, these new additions to New World have their own narrative roots in the wider lore of this upcoming MMORPG. You’ll be able to enter Lazarus Instrumentality and explore the origins of the Ancient Guardians, destroy the Empress of Ebonscale’s warships in Dynasty Shipyard, Investigate the Angry Earth in the Garden of Genesis, or Find out what exactly happened to Simon Grey and his team in the Amrine Excavation. While two more unnamed Expeditions are set to be unveiled in the future, Gamespace took up the challenge and entered the Amrine Excavation. With nothing but our wits, a distinct lack of knowledge, and a few extra levels we joined an intrepid group entering the Amrine Excavation for the first time.

The Amrine Excavation

As one of the 6 launch Expeditions, the Amrine Excavation is balanced around a 5 player group. Level 25 is the preferred entry point for this encounter, although we rolled in a little over levelled. Just like out in the wider world, anybody joining an Expedition will find plenty of flexibility and form in party comp. Combat hasn’t changed a huge amount in the time since I geared up to take an Outpost and the same classless system of weapon selection and spec points that featured in earlier forays is still in place. With plenty of potentially inventive ways to take on the horrors that lie beneath, we stepped into an oddly familiar experience.

Amrine_Expedition_2

Creeping out of the sunlight onto the interiors of this encounter, it’s hard to miss quite how pretty the environment looks in this dank foreboding tomb. Without the hangups of huge population numbers of a vibrant open world to worry about, the shadowy caverns and dimly lit reflections of this entrance present the Armine Expedition in its best gloom. This aesthetic successfully foreshadows what’s to come as the Armine Expedition spends the next 30 minutes dragging us through dim mine shafts and ancient ruins that are filled with unhospitable apparitions.

This backdrop weaves between narrow corridors and larger open rooms full of monstrosities for you and your party to take down. There are Famegheists and Plaguegheists, Scavengers and Ravagers, Abominations, and more. Set between mini-bosses and puzzles these obstacles play a kind of reprise. This repetition on a theme throws, zombies, ghosts and monsters constantly attack the unwary explorer. While thematically proficient, this cannon fodder only tends to serve as aggressive decoration. The greatest threat these minions of darkness pose is to an overzealous party that can’t coordinate pulls. Much like the mobs we encountered, the puzzles that popped up in Armine felt consistent, logical, and a little untaxing. Standing on a plinth or waving a wand had plenty of narrative context but mostly served to chaperone teams forward, into the depths of this particular trap.

Amrine_Expedition_6

A Tough Time

That is where things stop being straightforward, however. The Armine Expedition is a significant chunk of time for New World’s lowest level Expedition and it provides ample opportunity to stumble over deadlier opponents. As something of a sampler of what New World has to offer, Armine’s Foreman Nakashima and his undead workers are formidable step up in difficulty. Located near the later stages of this walkthrough, Foreman Nakashima appears from the depths of this tomb and tore through our party with almost no warning. The giant purple poltergeist proceeded to drop some impressive debuffs and crowd control, coupled with a spectral attack that drained nearly a quarter of my character’s health bar in a single swipe. Not the type of encounter to be taken lightly.

This is rollercoaster level of difficulty is repeated one more time during a final face-off against the famed explorer Simon Grey. Now a deformed hulking monster, this obstacle guards an immense stone courtyard with plenty of room to thunder across. While Simon isn’t a particularly thoughtful foe, his attacks are formidable. As you might expect from this beast, connecting with your feeble body will knock chunks out of your health bar, and this really does play to New World’s strengths. While it would be great to see a more mechanically varied boss encounter that doesn’t simply cycle through a few skills. The overwhelming threat that this creature poses ensures that teams of adventurers are kept staggering to stay out of the line of fire, playing to New World’s somewhat stance-based action combat, while staving off the extra threats that regularly spawn. This is all balanced alongside a need to manage the more traditional trinity roles, else Simon will decimate any foes that don’t bring a tank and healer.

Now and Then

If Expeditions in New World follow the form of the Armine Excavation, the remaining 5 launch dungeons for Amazon’s new MMORPG certainly won’t be forgiving and might even feel familiar. The large adjoined rooms filled with well-spaced mob groups and intensely difficult interruptions didn’t just look like a dimly lit dungeon. Armine feels like a fully-fledged dungeon encounter. Whether it was the surprise at finding my teammates pulling way too many stray mobs, the large open rooms that signaled imminent death, or the swinging difficulty of trying to hold onto aggro and not get stomped, the Armine Excavation gave me pause to get back in the dungeon after years out in open-world MMOs where I’ve learned to simply stack and spam. We’re not entirely convinced that New World has solved every problem with the introductions of Expeditions, but this early hands-on revealed a competent dungeon system that fills some gaps in the wider experience

You can check out my full run through the Armine Excavation above and find check out Amazon’s New World over on the official website before it launches later this year.

Written by
For those of you who I’ve not met yet, my name is Ed. After an early indoctrination into PC gaming, years adrift on the unwashed internet, running a successful guild, and testing video games, I turned my hand to writing about them. Now, you will find me squawking across a multitude of sites and even getting to play games now and then

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