Could a single poorly designed dungeon encounter kill a whole-ass MMO for me? I didn’t think it was possible, but then I entered the Amrine Excavation in New World and had my eyes opened up to a whole new universe of disappointment.
Up to this point, I was genuinely enjoying myself and was excited to see what this game does in instanced content. It had such enjoyable open world content that surely the dungeons would be just as much fun, if not moreso, right? Well, no. As a matter of fact, I dare say that the devs were not thinking too clearly when it started to make dungeon content.
If that video embed above doesn’t give you an idea of what I went through (or you just don’t feel like sitting through an hour and a half’s worth of footage), let me try to summarize the whole experience. Going in to Amrine, I felt as if I had built myself up to a fairly decent tanking spec: I had the right equipment, I had what felt like the right sword and shield skills, including at least one that generated threat, and I even had a couple of levels over the dungeon’s base level requirement. It seemed like all of the pieces were in place for me.
The problems started to show themselves almost from the very onset, when I had a difficult time forming a party. See, New World doesn’t have any party finder functions or ways for PUGs to form up through a UI, meaning I had to revert to that old timey tradition of begging for help in a shout channel. Incidentally, I had asked for help from those in my guild, but nobody seemed able to answer my plea, which is disappointing but understandable. I keep weird gaming hours. After a bit of time, myself, my best friend Britarnya, and a third person who happened to be nearby formed up our group.
This brings us to the second problem and what probably should have been a warning flag. Our third person said that we should have a party of four or five, but the dungeon had a minimum requirement of three. Would having just that minimum truly be that bad? Could it be that the suggested number of people was just a suggestion and not a specifically designed rule? After another wait, we all three agreed to try and find out.
From the moment we started to engage mobs, the problems just worsened. My rotation and skills seemed to stop mattering as enemies ran from party member to party member, spreading out and dashing around like mad while I tried to give chase and herd everything together. The aggro table was absolutely all over the place, making fights less controlled and interesting and devolving them into a series of Benny Hill comedy chase sequences. The few times I was able to corral enemies, it felt good, but that was few and far between, and even when I felt like I had established aggro, after a certain point the DPS members of my party started getting run down, and the chase sequences started anew.
I also don’t really know what was a boss and what wasn’t, except for when I started to swing and saw an absolutely massive health pool to whittle down. The boss enemies didn’t really stand out in terms of design, and I’m not so sure there were a lot of mechanics that we ran into during their fights that made me nod knowingly and understand we were in a boss fight. There was one ghost thing that had some lines of ghosts to dodge, so maybe that was the extent of the mechanics we were being shown, but ultimately the bosses of Amrine just were like regular mobs but thicker.
On top of that, the whole damn thing was laggy as hell. I was seeing messages typed by everyone in chat bubbles for at least two or three seconds before I saw them in the chat box. Maybe even longer. Combat didn’t seem to suffer from lag too much, but communication was challenging and there was one weighted platform “puzzle” that seemed to not be working correctly because of the lag, I suspect. For a while, we thought that two people needed to stand on three different platforms, which literally didn’t add up until the instance we were in started to appreciate that one person was standing where they needed to be.
It all culminated in a final, grand finale of failure involving some big hulking troll dude who did nothing other than big smashy attacks and constantly summon adds. Once more, nothing I did to draw and keep aggro mattered, and the amount of damage and adds coming out in the fight meant we were slowly being slaughtered, which pretty much affirmed our third person’s note that having only three players was death. Someone during the broadcast even mentioned in chat that the final boss would be impossible.
Everything about this run was infuriating and frustrating and not fun. And it was only well after we elected to quit and I spoke with some others that I realized another mistake: I didn’t slot a gem that helps with generating threat. I’m not a stranger to gem slotting equipment in MMOs, but there was no tutorial that brought up this whole thing that I ever recall playing, and gems have been up to this point such an absolute rare occurrence that I figured it’d be pointless to use them until I neared endgame levels anyway.
To Amrine’s credit, the actual dungeon itself was visually stunning and wasn’t laid out like a tunnel that moved from boss room to boss room. I also was able to feed Barkimedes the dog his bones that he deserved. And I still contend that New World is a fun game overall in the open world, with crafting and gathering and leveling hooks aplenty. But as much as I hate to focus on the negative, especially since lots of people are already doing that, I can’t really muster the effort to fire this game back up again.
Amrine Excavation may not have killed my interest in New World, but hot damn did it gouge out a huge wound in it.