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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