Massively Overthinking: Initial impressions of New World

    
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Amazon’s Queue World – uh, I mean, New World – is finally upon us. In fact, I imagine that it’s been hard to avoid news about it this week, as it’s dominating even the mainstream gaming news cycle since the game has dethroned some of the usual top games here in the west, at least for now. And as for MMO players? Well, we’ve been here before.

For this week’s Massively Overthinking, I’ve asked our writers to opine on the launch of the new game: whether we’re playing, what kind of characters we’re playing, whether it’s supplanting our other MMOs, what we think of the state of the game compared to beta, how the launch rollout is going compared to other MMO launches, and what we hope to see Amazon do in the future.

Andy McAdams: I’ve really, really enjoyed it so far. Because of the queues, I’ve only been able to get to level 14, but I really like it so far. The combat is engaging and requires you to do more than spam buttons, which I like. The skill trees for weapons felt a little anemic at first, but when I started to play down through I realized there’s actually quite a bit of customization there. I also like the pace of combat – solo training a huge group of mobs and then AOE’ing them down isn’t a thing. I’ve rarely seen people take on more than threeish mobs at a time and die. Timing is just as important as your build. For example, my favorite weapon is a rapier, and one of the abilities, riposte, only works if you get attacked in the next second, meaning you have to use in about the first half-second you see the mob start an attack or else you miss and waste the 15-second cooldown. It’s really satisfying when you get the timing down just right on a baddie and can execute the riposte and then your light strike combo.

I really like the faction system too. It reminds me of a Funcom faction system; I was thinking about Anarchy Online and the Omni-Clan-Neutral dynamic, but in the MOP chat someone mentioned The Secret World factions being the same. I like it – it feels more realistic to me where generally the factions mingle but there’s still some faction pride there. Couple the faction system with territory control and it adds a fun dynamic over just playing the game, where supporting your faction actually brings benefits. It’s not a new concept by any stretch, but it’s nice to see it back here.

Gathering and crafting is fun and engaging and actually feels like part of the game instead of just stapled on the side for once. You probably can’t go full-on crafter (well, I suppose you could, but I’m not sure it would be that rewarding).

I’ve seen lots of complaints about how the game is “meh” because it doesn’t do anything new, but I think that’s actually a good thing. It resurrects a lot of “old style” systems that we haven’t seen lately in the swath of “WoW wannabe #236324226776313″ or the “gankbox that we are super sure is going to go different than the 75 failed gankboxes before it.” The game is fun, engaging, and comfortable to play. The systems are new enough that I feel like I’m learning, but enough like old systems I don’t feel like I’m learning dramatically new things.

I’m curious about what the elder game look likes. I’m all good with the faction-style gameplay driving a lot of the elder-game, but what else is there? What’s the plan for expanding the world? The island looks a little small (though it can take 10 minutes to run between settlements that are close), and I’m curious about Amazon’s plans to expand the world. Are the devs going to add more weapons? Like, why no lightning weapon or earth weapon or combat knives or stealth/sneaky driven play-styles? I have a lot of questions, and I’m excited for the answers.

Overall, it’s not a game that breaks the mold and does something dramatic and new or never-seen-before. It brings back a lot of the older sensibilities in MMOs, and it does it really well. I’m constantly jonesing for my next play session, and that’s awesome. Will it hold my attention long-term? It has the potential to, but I’m not really worried about it. I’m too busy enjoying the game today to worry about whether Andy-in-sox-months will still be engaged.

Ben Griggs (@braxwolf): I was only able to play about an hour yesterday, which puts my queue-to-playtime ratio at about 3:1. So far, I really like the graphics and animation. The gameplay elements are familiar to anybody who’s played an MMO in the past five years. That’s either good or bad, and I don’t have enough hours logged to determine which it is. Two design decisions seem particularly troubling to me: sperate servers and lack of level scaling. I think both are archaic MMO elements that will lead to problems down the road.

Brianna Royce (@nbrianna, blog): Like everyone else, I’ve spent far more time in a queue this week than actually getting to play. If I start my queue around dinner time, I might get in by the time my kids go to bed, and then I have an hour or two to play with my partner in crime. I’m kind of meh about the queues – I mean, we’ve been doing this since UO. I didn’t really bank on this not happening because this is just how MMO launches with respectable popularity usually go, but it’d have been nice if the launch had been smooth instead.

If I set aside the queue trainwreck, the game itself has been relatively solid. I’m running a spear/bow lady and my husband is currently ice-gauntletting up the world. We’re amusing ourselves doing basic lowbie quest stuff and gathering and crafting, and I have few ambitions beyond continuing to do exactly that. Honestly, I kind of like how low-stress it feels. It really does seem like an Elder Scrolls Online offshoot, and that’s a good thing.

Oh, one more thing: If you’re one of those people using scripts to make yourself run into a corner so you don’t get logged out during the day thereby making these queues worse than they should be? You absolutely suck and I hope you step on some LEGO.

Chris Neal (@wolfyseyes, blog): After some time in the game both on stream and off, I can definitely say I have been having fun and am eager to fire it up more frequently… after AGS shores up its infrastructure with a more directed solution beyond throwing servers at the problem. The game is fun, but not “wait in a queue for hours” fun.

When I have played, I’ve been enjoying how my whims take hold in what to do, whether it’s grind up gathering and crafting, going to quest objectives, or being completely steered off of the path to those objectives due to gathering or delving landmark locations. As for build, I’m using a sword and shield along with a hatchet, letting me swap from murder hobo DPS to classic tank as the situation demands.

Is this game innovative? Not particularly. But it does pull from a lot of systems from a lot of different existing games and makes them feel refined enough that as a whole it feels distinct enough for me to enjoy, and even if it is cribbing off of its contemporaries, it’s being done with a lot more focus and finesse than some might assume in my opinion. I’m looking very forward to pushing ahead, I’ll just be in a holding pattern for a couple of weeks or so methinks.

Colin Henry (@ChaosConstant): I initially wasn’t going to play New World at launch at all, but FOMO got to me at the last minute, and I preordered two days before launch. This is likely going to be the biggest MMO launch we’ll get for a while, and even if it’s not exactly my cup of tea and I think there are some red flags surrounding New World and Amazon Games in general, it’s still exciting that we’re getting something big, and I wanted to be a part of it.

Like everyone else, I haven’t gotten to play a whole lot because of queues and life getting in the way of jumping into queues early enough to play at a reasonable time. I remember thinking before launch, “If anyone can make a AAA MMO launch go over without server issues, it’s Amazon, but I don’t think even Amazon can.” I guess I was right.

Eliot Lefebvre (@Eliot_Lefebvre, blog): I’m not playing New World. Fortunately for any fear of missing out, it appears those of you trying to play also aren’t able to do so.

In all seriousness, it seems like reception and enthusiasm are both high, which is a good thing. I’m happy to have a new game in the space and it’s especially gratifying because AGS had basically flubbed all its prior attempts, so it kind of needed to justify its ongoing existence – and the popularity of the launch seems to have done exactly that. But my dance card is pretty full anyway, and a glance at the roleplaying scene made it pretty clear that this wasn’t a game I was going to be super into, at least not at launch, and so I’m watching with a more disconnected “industry analyst” perspective rather than “personal stake” perspective.

Also, you know, I got my need for colonialist fantasy out of my system a couple years back with Greedfall. That was a fun game.

Justin Olivetti (@Sypster, blog): I have to say that, by and large, I am very pleased with what Amazon has produced here. It’s a fine-looking game with all of the MMORPG trappings I could ask for (including housing!), has an engaging gameplay loop, actually makes gathering and crafting fun, and presents a different kind of setting that melds the Age of Discovery in with fantasy and horror. There are nits to pick here, to be sure — where are my horses, darn it! — but I’m very much inclined to be kind to this MMO due to its overall package. I don’t think it’ll be my single main game, but it’s definitely being added into my roster and rotation. I’m excited to see what Amazon has in store for its future.

MJ Guthrie (@MJ_Guthrie, blog): I’ll be honest: I’m not even watching the launch. That’s because I’m not playing and I can’t play for the time being. Things would have been different had the lightning not happened! I’d expected to be in this launch and it feels really weird not to be in it.

I will say, I’m not missing the queues I hear the others talk about in work chat! Maybe once my real life gets back to a place of game playing I will get it and can experience diving in as a non-launch day player when the crowds are thinner. That would be a new experience for me!

Sam Kash (@thesamkash): I really thought I’d have a lot more to say about the launch, but I haven’t even been able to play. At first I thought Amazon would be able to handle server queues better than games of the past, but apparently not. So launch day, I missed out. The queue was too long, and I had to go to bed.

Yesterday, I thought I had a feel for how long the queue would take. So I got it set up a couple hours before game time. When I went back to play, I still had a 200 person line. I waited another hour, and when I looked again, there was a login error. So as much at I’ve wanted to play, I’ve got nothing.

From an outsider’s perspective, though, and extreme queues aside, I think the launch has been crazy successful. I honestly never would’ve expected it to be popping off this much. Clearly players want something new to play.

Tyler Edwards (blog): Well, to add to the chorus, I haven’t played as much as I’d like to thanks to the queues. So far, my impressions aren’t terribly different than they were when I played the alpha last year. Compared to then, the removal of stagger on hits has made combat a bit less satisfying (but it’s still pretty good), and questing is vastly improved (but that says more about how bad it was then than how good it is now).

For now, I’m having a good time, but I do have some doubts about the game’s longevity. It has a lot of outdated designs — no matchmaking for dungeons, not even open-tapping — and I could see those really getting on my nerves after a while. Also not sure there’s enough story to satisfy me.

Every week, join the Massively OP staff for Massively Overthinking column, a multi-writer roundtable in which we discuss the MMO industry topics du jour – and then invite you to join the fray in the comments. Overthinking it is literally the whole point. Your turn!
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Bryan Correll

in the MOP chat someone mentioned The Secret World factions being the same.

I was looking at the NW wiki factions and thought, “Hmmmm. This faction wants power and wealth. This faction wants to cleanse the land of evil. This faction is a shadowy organization all about gathering unusual knowledge. So it’s the Templar, Illuminati, and Dragon.”

So if and when I start playing it’s Syndicate all the way. Once Dragon, always Dragon.

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Bruno Brito

Heretic.

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Ashfyn Ninegold

Compared to others, I had relatively short queue lines on launch day that went relatively fast. It was after launch day that I had problems. For no good reason, some idiot named Shroud, who thinks he knows who should and should not be playing NW, and has 9.6 million followers, decided to make my server his home. So instead of shorter queue times, I’m actually getting longer queue lines. Wednesday I sat at 5 for over an hour and a half. I went over to Twitch TV and sure enough, there was the “casual shouldn’t play New World” Shroud eating up my casual play time on his stream.

I logged and played something else.
I have now baked over 4.6 quadrillion Cookies in Cookie Clicker.

Yesterday morning, I got on to MY server (take that all you PvP supermen) with no trouble. Apparently even super-wealthy super-streamers have to sleep.

But come the afternoon, there was another too-long queue. And that’s when I had my epiphany. I opened up the world server list, found a server that had no queue and started a new character. And it felt good.

But how does it play.

Well for us Hardcore Casuals, quality of life is very important.

One of my pet peeves that we can thank monetization for is overly small inventories that you then have to spend real money to expand into something decent. New World has no inventory slots, just weight limits. And you can go over the weight limit so long as you don’t mind walking. This is straight out of just about every RPG since time immemorial.

The initial weight limit is generous. You can do a lot of gathering, chopping, mining and skinning before turning for home with a full inventory. You can expand your initial inventory with bags that add 50 to your original 200 encumbrance. There are 3 expansion slots, one unlocks when you do one of the mainline quests very early on and the other two open at level 30 and 45. You can buy a Rune of Holding from your faction for 1,000 faction credits and 250 gold and craft your own, one of the earliest recipes to become available. So, the intention of the devs isn’t to make you pay and pay for being a crafter.

Yeah, but what about Storage. Doesn’t help me to have a big encumbrance limit if my storage is small. Storage in any town starts at 2,000 weight limit. And you have a separate storage in every town. And you can see what you have in every storage in every town from a drop down list. You can (for a gold fee) transfer goods between your present storage and any of your other town storages if the two towns are owned by the same faction.

The real important thing here is to up your town storage whenever you get the chance. Each time your standing in a region increases, you get 1 level up point to spend on one of the three randomly presented perks. ALWAYS CHOOSE STORAGE if it comes up.

Your second most important region perk is gathering speed. When you run up to an iron node, it’s really 3 nodes. Always take the big one first, because it will give you the most iron. Yes, bigger looking items provide more mats. Same with hemp or silk or boulders. How fast you gather will increase your likelihood of getting a crack at the second and third lumps before someone else comes along and grabs them.

Okay, fluff.

Not happy with the fluff. It’s entirely store bought. And is expensive. $10 a bundle (all slots). Which become “skins” any of your characters can wear. This across your account unlocking of skins is the only good thing about the costume system in NW. At the moment costumes are limited and pretty showy. Some of the helmets look like they are straight out of a Guillermo del Toro movie. That may suit some.

In general, completely un-thrilled by Fluff options. So what am I doing? I’m a Prime member and after linking my Steam account to Prime had the option at Prime Gaming to get a decent bit of Swashbuckler fluff. Good enough for now.

Having said that, the armor looks are just terrific. The artwork on all items is gorgeous.

Last point, exploration.

You can go anywhere. Anywhere. Walk into the ocean, climb the highest mountain. There are some sheer cliffs you can’t go up, but nothing prevents you from once you do get up to the top, from jumping down the sheerest cliff. There are no invisible walls, or landscape walls creating shoots pushing you into a direction or on-rails areas. You can always run off the beaten path.

On the Hardcore Casual front, I give New World 8/10.

I give streamers who think casual means “doesn’t really play the game” 0/10.

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Bryan Correll

Some of the helmets look like they are straight out of a Guillermo del Toro movie.

OK, I’m in.

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Bruno Brito

Walk into the ocean

This game not having swimming bothers me a lot.

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Sleepy

Yeah, it’s really lazy design. I didn’t realise you literally walked along the bottom!

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Bruno Brito

With a breather time of 20s, which means you can’t swim to skip large traveling times. It’s really lazy.

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Ben Rubinstein

Whaaat!? I assumed it was some skill I would learn later.

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Castagere Shaikura

I just read a couple of articles saying that NW is not for the casual MMO player. So it will be that MMO hardcore players have been wanting ESO to be. So all those ESO players complaining ESO is easy mode will switch to NW.

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Bruno Brito

It feels pretty casual to me, besides some bad design choices.

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Sleepy

I’m actually mildly more interested now that I know there’s no level scaling. I don’t want to world constantly pandering to me, it’s just one more crack in the immersion.

Is there a day/night cycle or noticable weather folks?

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Dug From The Earth

ive always personally felt lack of scaling breaks my immersion.

How a wolf in zone 1 is so much weaker than a wolf in zone 60.

Maybe its just an issue of designers needing to not reuse assets, so you dont have wolves in the 60 zone if they were in the 1 zone.

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Bruno Brito

There is a day/night cycle, and it’s quick, not based on Real Time ( to my detriment ). I didn’t see rain or anything of the sort in the game yet.

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blah blazh

An interesting game. It is lacking in quite a bit but I’m still enjoying playing it. Mostly because it is a nice looking game, quite atmospheric, good sound design, and enjoyable to explore. Will it last for me when I reach max level (if I reach it)? I have my doubts. But if I get a month or two playtime out of it, I’ll be satisfied.

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Dug From The Earth

I think end game is going to make or break this game.

So many people really enjoying the game right now, people that werent expecting to enjoy it, and those that are still in the early/mid game.

I myself dont know much about the end game, aside from it focusing a lot of factions, wars/pvp, and town/zone control. Nothing wrong with any of that… however… A large part of the earlier game is much more PvE focused it seems. Exploration, crafting, questing, and even the new dungeons they added this year. Its hard not to get lost in that sense of a “new world” to explore and experience like a traditional mmorpg.

My wife was very excited by what she tried in the open beta, but the more she reads and sees about the end game, the more disappointed and disgusted she gets with it (she is NOT a pvp person. In fact, even simple things, such as someone else being able to run up and skin YOUR kills, is enough to make her “NOPE” away from the game before she even starts.)

No new mmorpg is going to have the content (especially end game) of an established mmorpg like WoW, Swtor, ESO, FF14, etc. Does New World at least have initial Raid content? Does it have end game dungeons? Is there a continued end game storyline? Or is the focus after everything really just pvp and faction control?

If the PvE part drops off, I feel like they massive player base will as well.

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angrakhan

I’m enjoying it when I get past the queue, but I do think there are a lot of valid criticisms. 3 active skills feels very consoley for a PC game. They could at least bump it to 5 and things would immediately be more interesting because you would almost always have an ability at your disposal. Also, they should cut the cool downs in half for some of these abilities as they really do very little but are on a 15 second or higher cool down.

I do think some people miss the point on combat. Someone below said something to the effect of “it’s possible to play the whole game with left click”. Well yes because that’s your main attack. Heavy attack is used to break through your opponent blocking, not doing more damage than your main attack. When you find a mob that blocks notice how much stamina damage you do with heavy attack vs main attack. Maybe that will be an ah-ha moment for someone. Your active abilities are often about utility or applying some effect (stun, slow, taunt) not doing damage in of itself. Anyway, yes I would hope you could play the game with your main attack. It would be quite frustrating if you couldn’t.

Quests are very similar between areas.

Those are all valid criticisms. There is a lot of good in the game though.

The combat is engaging if you take the time to learn each mobs attack sequence as opposed to just spamming left click and eating 100% of the damage they output. I find I can take on mobs much higher than my level if I’ll figure them out. It may help that I run a tank build, but I can beat something 6-7 levels higher than me and still have close to 100% health at the end, enough healthy I heal to full passively before the next fight. My guess is at end game playing smart will be a requirement in dungeon content as opposed to just spamming left click and mashing abilities as they come off cool down.

The game has a true player driven economy. Quest rewards are generally garbage compared to what can be crafted at your level. Maybe some people don’t realize this?

The game is beautiful. I’m running a 2080RTX and the frame rate is glass smooth even with a lot of players on screen. Bonus points for properly supporting ultrawide resolutions.

Sounds and music track are top notch. This may not seem like a big deal but when you play a game that gets this wrong it’s very obvious and distracting.

It has a nice blend of theme park and sandbox elements that makes it feel like something other than WoW 2.0. It has an identity all its own and while some won’t like different I personally find it refreshing.

There’s lots of opportunities for improvement. If Amazon will take advantage of those in the future with content patches and expansions this could be a really amazing game down the road. I look forward to seeing the direction they go.

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Schmidt.Capela

I’m not going to bother. PvP has enough influence over the PvE parts of the game that I would never be able to enjoy it; for the most part I need PvP and PvE to be completely separate, with no influence of either one over the other, in order to be able to enjoy a game.

Besides, if loot really falls to the ground and anyone can get it, that is another deal breaker for me. There’s a reason I’ve stopped playing MMOs where I would have to compete with other players for loot that has already dropped (which includes flat out refusing to do group content with a need-or-greed or similar loot system). This just wasn’t on my radar because I never expected any new MMO that doesn’t aim to be a “hardcore oldschool” experience would use this antiquated looting system.

Dantos
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Dantos

I don’t think loot is global, at least no one has looted any item that has dropped for me and I haven’t seen loot drop for anyone else (it drops in a little bag). Static loot/resource chests are also on a per-character system, everyone can loot it once on a cooldown. People can skin animals that you kill, but they really have to be hovering over you to get in before you can, it’s never happened to me, YMMV.

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Dug From The Earth

crafting resources are, however, global.

So that boar you kill, someone else can run up and skin it before you do.

Want to mine that iron? Someone can kite a bear into you, causing you to, interrupting your mining, while they take the iron as you fight (or run).

Dantos
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Dantos

I’m really enjoying it. I really do need to stop getting distracted farming mats and push through the MSQ line to get the azoth staff thing.

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Vincent Clark

Got to level 25. Beautiful game, folks–just not for me. I’d list my issues but at the end of the day it’s irrelevant. But I will say this, telling people to “shut the fuck up” when they have valid criticisms isn’t going to entice people to play the game. Stop taking things so personally. Have fun, peeps!