A lot of videogame titles have been given the moniker of WoW Killer, and New World has been one of them. It is up for debate whether it deserves this accolade as of now, but the potential is definitely there.
What you need to know
- What is it? An MMORPG with a real-time combat system.
- Reviewed on: PC - i5 6400, GTX 970 4GB, 16 GB RAM
- Developer: Amazon Games
- Publisher: Amazon Games
- Release Date: September 28, 2021
- Available on: PC
From the fans of World of Warcraft all the way to the player base of Guild Wars 2, the MMORPG community has been expecting Amazon's New World with bated breath. Due to multiple delays, the anticipation for the game has grown ever higher, especially after their highly successful beta. So, is Amazon's new title worth your time or is it just another MMORPG that will be forgotten in a couple of months?
As far as worldbuilding is concerned, New World has taken obvious inspiration from the discovery of the Americas, during the 1500s, at the time named the New World. You land ashore with nothing but the clothes on your back, after your ship has sunk, and start your zero to hero journey.
The game features three factions vying for control of the New World. These are the Marauders, which are imagined as a group of battle-hungry maniacs, aiming to establish a free country, where there are equals and those that are "more equal".
Besides them, there are the power-hungry Syndicate, beholden to no one but themselves individually, and they only come together if there is profit to be had, or a greater enemy to eradicate.
And last, but not least, are the Covenant. Religious zealots that fight for the salvation of your soul, which they are not averse to separating it from your body.
Unfortunately, even with all of these colourful descriptions and potential for roleplay, the actual, in-game, distinction is brought down to the green, purple and yellow factions.
Though the players have mostly started building feelings of loyalty to one faction or another, these don't seem to be for anything else but based on belonging to your own group, whichever it is. In the end, each of these three factions can be switched with one another in-game, and no one would notice, as far as their distinct features are concerned, of which there are none.
Regarding the greater story arc itself, there isn’t much to be said. New World starts with a cutscene that elegantly shifts into character creation and eventually the place where you land but storytelling is quickly relegated to reading codex entries you find all over the place.
The main quest offers a vague narrative as well but the exposition and storytelling were hardly masterfully crafted as the players are likely to lose interest and just skip the dialogue so they can keep grinding.
As always, MMORPG gameplay can be divided into two broad categories, being the PvE and PvP.
Amazon has truly built a New World with this game, as it feels very alive and in constant motion, with both flora and fauna adding to the game's overall feeling of boundlessness. However, no matter how boundless something is, or feels, it tends to grow bleak if there is nothing substantial to fill that space.
New World, unfortunately, has nothing new to offer players after the first 15 hours of gameplay, at least in the PvE department. The good news is, the game's foundation is sturdy, and it shouldn't be difficult to add new content. As it stands now, be ready to visit a lot of farms, quarries, graveyards, and caves while questing.
Gathering resources, crafting, doing quests, or just an all-out grind is what fills most of your gameplay experience, at least right now. Loot drops are fine to tide over casual players for a while, but crafting is where the real equipment comes in.
The equipment itself can be, unofficially, divided into basic equipment, enchanted basic equipment, and enchanted crafted equipment. While it is possible to buy better equipment rather than craft it yourself, it just isn't worth it.
There are always other things you can and should seek to spend your money on, such as housing. Besides, after level 20, relevant equipment becomes scarce anyway, due to supply and demand, so putting in the effort to grind out your crafting early definitely pays off. All in all, the gameplay loop boils down to an ever-present grind for higher levels, in every aspect of the game.
This is not to say that endgame is the sole fun part of the game, but rather to point out that the grinding is always fueled by motivation of a goal close by and not some distant future content. Besides, there are quests to help you along the way, while you progress along your journey.
Fundamentally, these quests do not differ from faction to faction, unfortunately. All they do is bring your chosen faction points that go towards Territorial Control, while the quests themselves are some form of a fetch quest. Minor spoiler alert, be ready to face a lot of undead.
Credit where credit is due, they are not all basic zombie-like creatures but take the form of undead from various pop-culture sources, and them appearing so often is one of the reasons of New World's lacking PvE.
The gathering of resources may seem a tedious way of spending your time, compared to battling the denizens of Aeternum, but I assure you it is not. There is just something so satisfying about gathering what you need to craft that piece of equipment that will make you stronger in PvP.
Speaking of PvP, it is this game's selling point. Though a controversial subject, in my opinion, Amazon have hit the mark just right on this one. The action combat takes some getting used to, especially while you are in the process of finding a build that suits your playstyle, but it keeps you on your toes during every PvP encounter you choose to have. And choose you may, which will keep the servers away from devolving into murder-hobo territory.
The best aspect of New World's PvP is the mass battles that take place between factions. The trend, at this time, is that only members of large guilds, in New World called companies, are chosen to take part in these wars. The option of choice is given to those who hold the territories where the battles take place, who are the companies mentioned above.
It must be mentioned that this is not a fault of Amazon's game design, but the gate-keeping mentality of companies that migrated to New World from other games. Once companies start being born from New World, the average player will have a chance to join one and participate in wars more easily.
GRAPHICS AND SOUNDS
As mentioned above, Amazon have truly created a different world in this game. It does not matter if you are exploring an ancient forest filled with deadly predators, or a bustling city centre, the sound effects give you the impression of being watched by a pair of hungry eyes, or fighting your way through a crowd of people and keeping your coin purse safe.
What Amazon have managed to do, however, is something I don't feel is getting enough recognition, and that is the graphics. Realism-based graphics in videogames is something that requires a fine touch, as too much of it feels eerie, and too little feels shoddy.
New World, however, sits right in the sweet spot of videogame realism, with both characters and the world itself being a step-up from any other MMORPG on the market. When coupled with a renaissance aesthetic and weapons and magic that you could see being used in the real world, this part of the player experience has reached the level of an art form.
In recent years, whenever a new MMO game would hit the shelves, as it were, the first thing potential players would be asking: Is this one pay-to-win. We can safely say that, though New World has microtransactions, the game is most definitely not pay-to-win.
However, one of the game's best points, that being its basic worldbuilding and graphics, may be ruined because of the options these microtransactions offer. New World shop is focused on providing players with options of making their character distinct from everyone else with the cosmetic pack Amazon offers.
Unfortunately, these packs are a colourful, gaudy affair, that clashes with the rugged and dark aesthetic of the rest of the game. These poor, shipwrecked people don't even have mounts, for God's sake, how are you supposed to explain them being as colourful as a Christmas tree.
In the end, New World can be described as a work in progress, one that is of very high quality, with the core game's mechanics being in place and ready to take the brunt of a top-tier title, but there is still not enough meat on the figurative bones.
If you've been waiting for an MMO that will survive the test of time, and will not shut down as soon as the publishers make a profit, New World is for you. You will experience adventure, battles, and the feeling of success and progress. Just keep in mind that the game is meant for more than it currently is, and give it time to settle into its groove.
A massive thank you to Amazon Games and Bastion for providing us with review copies of New World.