Vitae Aeternum: New World interview on Summer Medleyfaire, solo play, housing, and more

    
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With the launch of New World’s Summer Medleyfaire patch and event this morning, we naturally had questions about the new systems and the future of the game. Multiple developers from Amazon – World Experience Lead Mike Willette, Creative Director David Verfaillie, Senior Game Design Manager Phil Bolus, and Social Experience Lead Daniel Henuber – kindly filled us in, tackling the music system, solo play, endgame, crafting, matchmaking, housing, mega-guilds, stagger effects, the potential for build loadouts, and even the next content on the horizon. Read on for the entire interview.

MassivelyOP: People seemed to really enjoy the winter holiday event. Did the team take any particular lessons from that when designing the Summer Medleyfaire content?

Mike Willette: Winter was our first seasonal event and we got a ton of great insights. We wanted to make sure that for the summer event there were updates allowing players to continue to participate in repeatable content. We also wanted to adjust the holiday villages to have more activities and maximize the footprint we were using. The weapon and armor rewards for the winter event also left a little to be desired for players at end-game, so based on feedback there we’ve scaled the rewards to be viable at all player levels for the cool new weapons and armor players can acquire in the Medleyfaire. We also wanted to double down on being involved with the world. We really enjoy the core loop of fishing and how it’s integrated along with music. We hope players feel the same way.

At a big picture level, how does the team see the new music system? Is it being treated as a side feature, or do you envision a world where music buffs are required for optimal play and skilled musicians are a hot commodity?

Phil Bolus: Instruments, outside of just being a fun new trade skill, are primarily a social feature for players to make merriment and support one another through buffs and tipping. The buffs the instruments provide you intentionally don’t give you an edge in combat. Currently we’re not viewing musical instruments as a requirement to be competitive with PvP or tackle difficult PvE gameplay. That being said, we always looking for interesting ways for our gathering and tradeskills to complement exploration within Aeternum, and we have some ideas about how music could potentially tie into that.

I remember hearing a few months ago that shoring up options for solo players was a priority for New World. Since then, we’ve seen the MSQ adjusted to be entirely soloable, and we’ve gotten a trickle of low-level content in the form of the Varangian Knights quests, but it does feel like the lion’s share of development is devoted to endgame group activities. Are there any further plans to introduce more content for solo players?

Mike Willette: We are still investing in the solo player experience. We are looking for more options for players to continue to grow their character and achieve their goals. For example, our new Group Finder will help solo players that want to do expedient runs find or create groups more easily.

A lot of players are unhappy with the current state of crafting in the game. I know the July update has adjustments to the leveling speed of certain professions, but are there any broader plans to make crafting more viable as a playstyle?

Phil Bolus: We agree with much of the player sentiment around crafting. Outside of helping crafting progression keep better pace with refining and gathering, we are developing ways to better reward players for crafting items and improving the quality and control of their crafts to help crafters keep better pace with drops as they progress through the game.

When an expedition group finder was announced, many people assumed this meant automated matchmaking as is seen in many other MMOs, as opposed to a window for people to post LFG ads. Is matchmaking something that could still happen at some point, or did the team decide they don’t want to go down that road?

Daniel Henuber: The “LFG ad” approach is our first iteration, which we want to build upon for finding groups for ad hoc open world activities as well as instanced content. As our tech stack grows, we will eventually be able to look into some matchmaking functionality. We do want to keep an eye out for making grouped content too impersonal, which we’ve discussed and have ideas on how to avoid.

As someone who doesn’t normally have much interest in player housing, I’ve nevertheless had a lot of fun setting up my house in New World, and I’d love to see the feature expanded with more houses and more activities within housing. What if any plans does the team have to improve upon housing in the future?

Daniel Henuber: We have a few short term improvements in mind in the near term, but nothing concrete to share at the present time. We do want housing to continue to be a meaningful part of the game, and we are always putting out new furniture sets for our players to collect and craft!

In the current state of the game, a lot of servers are dominated by “mega-companies” who dodge the membership cap by creating new companies led by the same people, allowing a single alliance of players to dominate large swathes of territory. Does the team consider this to be an issue, or is territory control working as intended? If it is an issue, what can be done about it?

David Verfaillie: Yes we consider this an issue. We don’t believe a small group of players should be able to exert undue influence over the territory control game by using shell companies or other loopholes. We are testing a few different strategies to resolve this, things like requiring a certain number of members from a company to participate in a war, or a war cooldown that limits how many wars a player can play per server each day. Once we have a solution we feel works, we’ll test in PTR.

Before launch, the removal of stagger effects from player attacks was a hot-button issue, with fierce arguments on both sides. Now that the game’s been out for a while, how does the team feel about a stagger-less world, and would you ever consider adding stagger back in any capacity?

Amazon: Stagger has continued to be a part of New World, although stagger has been removed on many of the higher frequency attacks, it is prevalent in many of the abilities for the weapons. Stagger is something we will continue to utilize for our abilities and for our AI enemies moving forward.

New World has a lot of cool build options, but with alt characters being so limited, most people can only play one or two builds at a time. Are there any plans to introduce a loadout system to allow players to save multiple builds on a single character?

David Verfaillie: We love the depth of gear in New World and how much gear affects the game from combat to crafting. Because of the importance of gear it’s usual for players to have a few sets that use for different activities (war, OPR, crafting, invasion, mutators, etc.) We agree managing these sets is not a great experience at the moment, and are looking into ways to make managing gear sets easier. No immediate timeline yet, but it’s definitely something we are looking into.

As the summer update arrives, our eyes of course turn to the next major update, and especially the long-anticipated Brimstone Sands territory. Can you offer us any teases about what new adventures it will bring to the game?

Mike Willette: As the name implies, it’s a large new zone with a whole lot of sand! There is a lot of mystery, new enemies and creatures, new resources, new mechanics, and a few hidden surprises. It continues the story after the events of the Tempest’s Heart release.

We’d like to thank Amazon’s Mike Willette, David Verfaillie, Phil Bolus, and Daniel Henuber for speaking with us. The Summer Medleyfaire patch is live now.
New World’s Aeternum is a land of many secrets. In MassivelyOP’s Vitae Aeternum, our writers delve those secrets to provide you with in-depth coverage of all things New World through launch and beyond.
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