Amazon’s new MMO, New World, came out around a week ago and has already become one of the hottest releases of the year. Is it actually good though? Well, with over a hundred hours played so far, I’d like to think it is, though I do have a few issues with it.
Lots of Freedom
One of my favorite aspects of New World is that it gives players a lot of freedom to just kinda do whatever they want the second they arrive at Aeternum. While this isn’t exactly unique to the game, I just love how you can hop in and ignore the main questline if you just aren’t interested in doing it (though you’re gonna want to go through it anyway, even if just for the EXP).
It reminds me a bit of Runescape, which is an old game that I absolutely adore. In my case, I decided to focus on leveling up my mining and engineering skills because I wanted to be one of the first people on my server to have the ability to make steel tools. While people were focusing on questing and dungeons, I was out here slapping rocks and making a boatload of pickaxes and sickles. In just a couple of days of crafting and selling, I was already able to buy one of the highest tier houses in Everfall, which is a nice central point in the map.
Players are also completely free to experiment with various builds and weapon combos, especially in early levels, where you can respec for free. Personally, I mainly only use the great axe and war hammer, which both synergize with each other, but I also often swap to other weapons (such as the hatchet) for fun. While it isn’t ideal, the game won’t stop you from pairing two weapons that scale off of different attributes, and even in PVP, these unorthodox combos can work if you’re good enough.
New World features an action-oriented combat system that rewards skillful movement and ability usage. It’s not exactly complex, but it stands out from the typical tab targeting system that most of the other popular MMOs use. Having the ability to actively dodge and block almost everything enemies throw at you feels like a huge breath of fresh air, and I just feel like an absolute badass whenever I can predict and sidestep out of someone’s fatal projectiles in PVP.
While I do think that there’s a lack of diversity in the number of abilities you can actually slot in and use (which is only three per weapon), the game makes up for it by having fairly impactful upgrades and passives that will likely have you switching builds around depending on the type of content you want to engage in.
For example, if you’re running the great axe, you’d probably want to have Gravity Well for literally any PVP content, as it’s currently one of the most powerful crowd control abilities in the game. If you plan on doing some dungeons or even just killing monsters in the open world, you’re going to want to replace it with something like a fully-upgraded Maelstrom or Execute to maximize your damage output.
In New World, three factions fight over the ownership of Aeternum’s various regions, and this is completely controlled by the playerbase. Simply put, companies have to claim settlements in order to improve them, and this is completely necessary as they are the ones who are responsible for upgrading the crafting stations that everybody will be using. Players of the controlling faction also gain various benefits, such as discounted crafting taxes and cheaper fast travel.
While this sounds like an interesting concept, there’s nothing stopping companies from jacking up the taxes to unreasonable rates or just refusing to upgrade anything, rendering an entire town useless. This was the case in my server, where the leaders of a certain company took over one of the four starting zones and just maxed out the taxes before “quitting” the game. They essentially held the entire zone hostage and borderline unusable for the new players unfortunate enough to spawn there.
Luckily, they turned the taxes back down after a week and left the game for good. Aside from that, companies from other factions can also gain influence in the area in order to declare war on a settlement’s current owners. If the attackers succeed, they can take over and hopefully fix the problems left by the previous company (or make it worse). Unfortunately, this is where I think the invasion feature will ruin everything in the first few weeks of the game.
New World invasions are essentially one of the game’s late game PVE activities, where the so-called corrupted will occasionally attack one of the player-owned settlements. If the defenders lose, some of the town’s stations will be downgraded, and when there’s an incoming invasion, nobody can declare war or even gain influence in the area until it’s over.
This was a really poorly-thought out feature, as not only is it incredibly difficult, but you can’t even participate in it until you’re level 50. In my server, invasions happen pretty much every day now, and there’s only a handful of people who can sign up for it. As I’m writing this, there’s three more incoming invasions, and we only sign up for them because the game gives a decent reward to participants even if they lose.
Because of how factions work in New World, one group is inevitably going to dominate the server to some degree. This is an inherent flaw with a system like this, and I doubt that’ll change any time soon. In my server, Marauders have pretty much won every single attack and defense after the first week, and we’ve already painted the map green, though we left the other factions a few regions as to not completely ruin the experience.
Now, for some servers, it’s a case of extremely organized or stacked groups in one faction, whether by sheer coincidence or due to a streamer’s influence (which is definitely a problem for some). In servers like these, they show absolutely no mercy and just take everything over without even giving the other factions a chance to thrive. Seriously, if you go to Reddit right now, you’re probably going to find a map showing how hilariously dominant (or nonexistent) one faction is.
In my server, we just happen to have better strategies and companies that actively work together on everything, and the other factions can still put up a fight if they do the same. They’ll probably start being competitive once they level up more, as up-and-coming companies in both factions are slowly getting stronger.
The only plus side is that your mileage may vary depending on what server you’re on, and it definitely could be worse. Conqueror’s Blade had this problem where a single entity will just win the important regions every time no matter how hard the other groups try, or at least that was the case when I still played that game.
Enjoyable Grind, Lackluster Endgame (For Now)
Some will disagree with me here, but I absolutely enjoy the town board quests and repeatable faction quests. Coming into an MMO, I already expected incredibly repetitive and dull quest design, but seeing numbers go up is just too satisfying, and even the most mundane tasks in this game grant huge chunks of EXP. If you ask me, it’s not any different from the first tens of hours of FFXIV, where you have to keep returning to the Waking Sands.
My main issue with the amount of PVE content in the game is that there really isn’t much to do later on. Once you’re done with the main questline, the only thing you’re left with are the repeatable quests, a handful of expeditions, and PVP. It does take a relatively long time to actually get to that point, but it’s definitely a problem that should be addressed soon for the sake of player retention.
They’ll probably add more endgame content in the form of major updates or paid expansions if the game does well. For now though, we can only speculate on how they’ll handle content updates, since, as far as I know, the devs haven’t shared a roadmap of their plans for New World.