With New World up and running for a few weeks now, the team at Gamespace has been busy preparing for war and generally exploring Aeternum. With a mixed reaction to the early entry in our review, we continued to race on through early PvE instances to find what exactly awaits us in the rest of Amazon’s huge new MMORPG.
I Hate Sand
With a somewhat mixed initial impression, it’s fair to say that we hadn’t made any definite judgments on New World quite yet. The wonderfully lush woodlands and cursed caverns of First Light and Everfall provide a ton of areas to explore all gloriously rendered. The combat system as a whole worked well and the flexibility of the class and progression systems means that New World allows players to find their own way. Unfortunately, these systems are not enough to build a fully-fledged MMO on their own, and the introduction of early dungeons raised the prospect of more adventure.
Dungeons were revealed quite late on in the development of New World’s content. Announced via the early entry Amrine Excavation these mainly subterranean getaways provide a solid ride through the lore of Aeternum, introducing players to the tragedies and tales of those that came before. They are, as we’ve described on several occasions, a well put together set of encounters that provide a solid challenge for anybody looking to test themselves and the variety of different playstyles that you can bring to the table. Whether it’s the last echoes of a dead race or a lost soul, there’s plenty of lore tucked away in these dungeons, and a dependable mix of environmental puzzles and new creatures will keep you on your toes. This makes dungeons a welcome break from the sun kissed forests and corrupt quagmires that make up much of your path to victory.
While dungeons are a great escape, the brief respite they provide reflects poorly on the other surrounding PvE content. While I hoped the introduction of dungeons would signal a swing towards a more narrative focused course, it seems these instances are mostly an interval between a somewhat repetitive trudge. Despite some variation across the utterly massive, and beautifully designed land that makes up the 14 regions of this lost island, the core of the New World’s PvE campaign revolves around checking into a local enclave and heading out into the wild for a mix of mostly unmemorable fetch, carry, kill, and investigate quests. If you don’t do this, then you’ll find other challenges to overcome, like a lack of in game gold or weak crafted gear. While New World manages to build an absolutely wonderful stage and forges some great tools, the curtains come down on a title that is as much player improvisation as anything else.
Amazon’s light touch and codex based lore system generally doesn’t work for PvE focused players, but stumble upon a territory going to war and you’ll want to sign up at the local board immediately. War is entirely different. PvP is quite obviously the focus of New World, shuffling gamers into one of three factions and pitting them against each other to win local territory. Forts and outposts can be conquered, upgraded, outfitted with deadly weapons, and seem to tick over with relentless consistency. From a wider perspective, conquering these nodes gives companies, and their associated faction, influence over a sizeable area, the ability to influence taxes, and more. From a personal point of view, PvP is a chaotic unpredictable mess that leverages almost every part of New World to its fullest. Assuming you have completed a sufficient number of PvP faction missions around a local hub or just flagged and cracked enough skulls, yes more grind, then the battle for a designated area can begin.
As you might expect, these sieges require attacking forces, pulled from a mix of organized groups and random sign ups, to break into a defended area and capture a node. Similar to many point capture systems. Along the way you’re likely to see cannons, siege engines, and a serious amount of bodies. Preparation becomes incredibly important and suddenly the extremely broad, if not incredibly deep, crafting system provides a multitude of benefits. The upgrades that might have seemed like a pointless PvE collect and craft mission have a definitive point, and even storage and inventory become meaningful when you can’t simply port away to grab some more gunpowder.
Amazon’s own implementation of these siege based systems picks from a number of different concepts and it works to give both random attendees and organized teams a place. The sandbox nature of each event means that declaring war on a location provides plenty of room for strategy and piracy on the hilltops. Different environments and skillsets provide opportunities to rush headlong into forts or snipe in the undergrowth. Stories of betrayal, rivalries, and the general tit for tat that comes with PvP focused experiences are already commonplace and it seems to be retaining the attention of several recognizable guilds. I do, however, worry that this shine will wane as metas start to solidify and faction control starts to cement around each fort.
Flawed But Purposeful
There are lots of positives to take away from New World’s sandbox PvP experience, both out in the open world and during the instanced Outpost Rush. These truly dip into every aspect of New World, proving that there is a reason to go kill a few more corrupted or fetch more iron ore for the umpteenth time. PvP ultimately is the reason to play New World but this doesn’t make it infallible. There are plenty of polish issues still hanging around the UI, map notifications that simply won’t vanish, botting has been an issue, invulnerability bugs get abused in PvP, and there are serious concerns that New World client is a prime target for client-side compromise, and I haven’t even touched on the colonial themes that seemed to permeate the game when it first appeared in the press.
New World is flawed. It has a whole supply cart full of issues that should have been cleaned up before launch and I’m not entirely sure that the attempts to add more PvE content were worth the delays. In many respects Crowfall handled the balance between PvE and PvP better than New World, ditching much of the lead-up and lore to focus in on the areas that mattered, yet Amazon probably has enough time in hand to work on shaping Aeternum to the tastes of its players before the excitement of another 30-minute siege wears thin. If you’re looking for a PvE epic then take a walk over to FFXIV Online or sidestep New World try out Elyon. If you’ve got a company of cannon fodder behind you and you’re ready for blood then get into New World and explore an utterly gorgeous world where the adventure you’ll make is your own.
new World is out now on PC. Check it out via the official Steam Store page now.