The wonderful thing about video games is that they let you experience impossible things that could never happen in the real world. Like buying a house as a Millennial.
Yes, it may have taken me a while, but I have finally earned my first home in New World. I waited so as to save my 50% first time discount for one of the tier 4 homes, skipping me straight to the most prestigious level of housing in the game. Thus far I have found New World‘s housing to be a microcosm of the game itself: in many ways very good but hobbled with some significant flaws.
While there are still a couple settlements I haven’t visited, I feel fairly confident in saying I got what is currently the best house in the game. The location — Everfall — is ideal, Everfall being one of the game’s player-appointed de facto capitals, alongside Windsward. And that’s without even noting how gorgeous the zone is, with its endless forests of eternally golden leaves.
Unlike most houses in New World, this one actually has a view, too. Most houses in this game grant you a view of naught but the town and the ubiquitous palisades surrounding them, but not so here. Located on a hill, the house’s backyard provides an unobstructed view of the surrounding forest and the Shattered Obelisk.
That said, it’s still a surprisingly small dwelling considering this is supposed to be as good as it gets in the game. The two floors each have a single room which could generously be described as “medium” in size, and there are modest front and back yards. I fully expect grander homes will be added to the game at some point — likely through the cash shop.
But while it may be a bit cozy, I don’t really need that much space, so I can’t complain too much.
The decoration controls are fairly intuitive. For those who care about such things, there is no hook system in place (personally I never saw what was so bad about hooks), but items do naturally adhere to surfaces, so there’s still a certain degree of limitations on how to place things. I briefly entertained the idea of submerging my flower pots in the ground to make the flowers appear to be growing naturally, but such was not an option.
Something I quite enjoyed about my in-game house was how many furnishings turned out to be interactable. My character can sit in chairs, lounge on carpets, sleep in her bed, or snuggle her dog. It really makes the place feel homey.
Housing in New World feels like the perfect combination of open world and instanced systems. The house exists physically in the game world, and I can just walk in the door without a loading screen (just a brief fade to black), but once I’m inside, it’s fully mine to decorate as I please. Houses you own will display your decorations to you even when you’re not inside, while houses you don’t own show the decorations of an owner with a high “furnishing score.”
Housing can provide some nice gameplay perks, as well. It’s another free fast travel point, which can save you a lot of azoth, and later on there are furnishings that expand your storage or provide minor buffs to your character, from increased damage against specific mob types to increased yield from certain crafting skills.
But unfortunately, the news is not all good. As you might have guessed from my headline, the rent… it is too damn high.
When I first bought my house, my weekly property tax was 300 gold, which was painful but probably just doable. But that was at the tail end of the massive property decrease Amazon Games rolled out as compensation for earlier issues with that game. That reprieve has ended, and now my property tax is at over 800 gold a week.
I imagine that if you’re the sort of person who plays every day and is heavily involved in highly rewarding endgame activities, this is manageable, but I am not one of those people. To be blunt, I cannot imagine a scenario where I am ever able to consistently pay the taxes on this house.
I do get to keep the house without paying taxes, but I lose the ability to alter the decorations and all of the associated gameplay perks, including fast travel to the house.
And yes, perhaps I brought this on myself by purchasing one of the most expensive houses, but the cheap ones are so small I can’t see using them as anything but an extra fast travel point, and honestly I suspect even the taxes on tier one houses would sting at these rates.
It’s not just the taxes, either. Acquiring furniture is its own ordeal. I’ve written before about how excessively grindy crafting in New World is at the moment, and for some reason, Amazon has decided to make furnishing the grindiest skill of all. Even low-level recipes require comically excessive amounts of resources. Why does a wooden chair require as much iron as a breastplate?
You can of course go to the trading post and buy furniture from those who sacrificed their time and sanity upon the altar of leveling furnishing, but as you would expect, prices can be pretty high, at least if you want anything more than the most basic items.
To be fair, I did manage to acquire a basic set of furniture and decorations without too much trouble, but it makes for a pretty Spartan home, and it’s certainly a long way from what I’d hoped for.
Now, I can live without an in-game house. I was never the biggest housing fan, and while the gameplay perks are nice, they’re hardly essential.
But I just don’t understand why it needs to be this way. I’ve always seen housing as a “fluff” feature — something to tinker with when you want to relax. Why does paying for and maintaining your house have to be such a struggle?
Much has been said about New World’s myriad issues, and I have generally been in the camp of defending the game, or at least being willing to overlook its flaws. I have yet to be impacted in any way by the supposedly ubiquitous bugs. There are hiccups with the combat that annoy me, but they aren’t necessarily deal-breakers. The story may not be perfect, but I view it more kindly than most.
But the grind is wearing me down. Everything in this game feels unattainable. Everything feels like work. Even building some nice decorations for my pixel house seem like a heroic struggle.
I just don’t feel as if this game values the time I’ve put into it, and I’m beginning to think it might be better to step away for a while and hope that things improve.