My name is Steve, and I am an MMO addict. I have played my fair share of these games and pumped so much time into them where I should be ashamed of myself. I’ll double down on my honesty here; this was originally going to be a piece about my time with the first few hours of New World and my overall experience so far. Unfortunately, it seems there are far greater things to look at when it comes to New World besides tackling concepts in-depth. Instead of focusing on the combat, the dull exploration, and the eventual wall that players have been hitting at around level 30 or so, I don’t think it would do any favors if I wrote this like a typical preview or review. Instead, I want to do something else since a significant amount of time has passed and the game slowly spirals into irrelevancy.
As I said, I am an MMO guy where if something makes my ears perk up even a little bit, I am willing to give it a try. Between being burnt out on Final Fantasy 14, taking a hiatus from World of Warcraft, and managing to charge through the latest Destiny 2 season, it is very hard for me to invest time into New World; but I managed to do so. With several hours under my belt, I feel like some things about New World need to be addressed rather than explained.
New World comes after a string of failures, leading me to not have much faith in the title at first, and I should have held onto that gut feeling. This also comes after hearing a lot of mixed news about the production. New World was originally going to be an open world survival style game akin to Rust or Ark, which was an instant turn-off for me. Then the production team revealed that it will be a traditional style MMO with a big emphasis on Player-VS-Player concepts with little hints of Player-VS-Environment (PvE) thrown into the mix. Amazon Lumberyard has been able to combine a bunch of ideas together, like a chicken pot pie. Yet, they somehow missed the step where they weren’t supposed to add in a bunch of mayonnaise that sinks to the bottom. Before you know it, you realize the time you spent gathering and collecting ingredients, it all amounts to nothing, which is the saddest part of any game experience.
At first, New World gives you a solid starting experience that pulls you in and attempts to get you invested in the concept of the game and mechanics, but after several hours it becomes apparent that I am wasting time. The combat is rather solid and fun, building items and gear is great, but everything else is sent by the wayside, leaving me with nothing to hold onto while I careen into the nearest undead-infested ditch. It is a slow build too. As I said, at first you think this is fun and by the time you collect the thousandth rock, you come to the realization that you gave Amazon money to do this task and it stops being fun.
Narratively, there is nothing that keeps me tied to characters or story elements. It is all rather bare and missing story concepts that would otherwise ground players to the world around them. I understand that there are some players that happen to skip over story elements as many missions can be seen as boring or dragged out. Even so, there are folks familiar with some of World of Warcraft’s greatest heroes and villains while not paying attention to the walls of text. Final Fantasy 14 is an entire RPG with MMO mechanics that fuel the social aspects as well as creates a story that is immersive, grounding you to the world and motivating you to push onward. While New World excels in brevity, it only does so because there is so much lacking. I can’t name characters or places because they are so disconnected. I will always remember Stormwind because it is central to the Alliance and when events occur there happens to be some tie to the city. There is nothing like that in New World.
There are three factions within the game that will always be fighting over land. You get to pick from one of the three and on occasion you can swap factions. Each faction presents a series of ideals, but they don’t have a strong story behind them. Their identity just becomes a color, and when you must pick, why would you pick a faction that you like ideal-wise as opposed to the faction that has the most control? These factions are tied to economic standings within the game as well. Prices of materials sink and rise in accordance with where you are and who controls that territory. If you are in an opposing faction, then you are getting the absolute worst in terms of access to materials. Getting mad that yellow has control over the land is supposed to make you want to fight back and take control back so you can optimize your efficiency. Alas, why bother going against the grain?
The concept is nice at heart, and I understand what Lumberyard were trying to attempt here. I understand where it faltered, and I know that they know it wasn’t going to work but needed to be there for the sake of content. That is all just an experiment on the ideal of human behavior, the quick and easy way is always going to come out on top. Please see the Destiny 1 Loot Cave situation where players would shoot an endless wave of enemies to obtain better loot rather than playing the game.
The combat is perhaps the most redeeming factor of New World. It has an action-focused system that takes a streamlined approach with simplified abilities (seems almost perfect for a controller or the upcoming Steam Deck). Weapon-focused upgrade paths that make you feel as if you are excelling at something by allowing you to invest in talents. For a mouse and keyboard game, attacking, blocking, and performing special attacks feel great. New World is responsive to my motions, and the armor system feels as if it was pulled right out of Dark Souls, allowing you to create a truly unique character. Do you want to make a character akin to a war-mage? Go for it, don heavy armor and wear an ice gauntlet. Even then, you’re not maximizing your character’s combat potential and you become Pidgeon held to traditional character “classes.” It gets even worse when you realize that optimizing your character build means nothing in the end.
To paint the picture for you: you have the best gear you can craft, the best weapon, the flashiest shield and armor that time and effort can buy. You get to the battlefield to take on your enemies because endgame here is all about territory control. Just as you are ready to charge into battle, you are disconnected. This is because the main tactic for winning is spamming the report function within the game, causing the more powerful players to be booted from battle. Once again, instead of playing the game, people are taking the easy way out.
Do I see New World lasting in the pantheon of MMORPGs? Not entirely. I think some severe changes need to be made for the game and players to truly thrive. Some folks like it now, but many have left or are still banned from playing. For PvP players, I think there are more complex back-end issues that need to be solved. I think New World works as it is if they are only willing to cater to PvP focused gamers, but how do you keep them around? There isn’t much there. As for PvE players, I would advise to move on. At times it is fun but when you know that the end relies entirely on how much you can commit to your faction’s color, it stops being fun. You feel more like a worker than a living, breathing character. You slowly transform from a crash-landed refugee with a glimmer of hope into an Amazon worker.
I don’t want to completely shred on New World, because even though it lacks any significant content that is willing to tie me down and force my loved ones to say goodbye to me for hours at a time, it does have solid bones. I would like to see it become more well defined instead of mess of unimaginative ideas. There is no roadmap that I can find, so I can’t tell if this game has any longevity planned. I would hope to see more weapons in the future, with more armors, and perhaps a story that is accessible for both PvP and PvE players. I would hate to see wasted potential die.