New World is gearing up to unleash its largest patch since launch, and members of the press were recently invited to a virtual event to preview the massive autumn update. We viewed a short video outlining the major strokes of the update and then sat down with the devs for a Q&A session about all that is to come.
The update is planned to reach the test realm in September, with a full release in October (no specific dates were given). In the meantime, I’m here to provide you with all the juicy details around New World‘s most ambitious patch to date.
The headline feature of this patch is the game’s first new zone, Brimstone Sands. First discovered in datamining before launch, this massive new desert zone is finally going to release to the public.
Brimstone Sands has a primarily Egyptian theme, though with a funky science fantasy sort of vibe. If you’re a fan of the Stargate franchise, this is a zone that will have you shouting, “Kree!”
Brimstone Sands is a full-fledged territory, complete with a capital (New Corsica) and new player housing, and companies will be able to war for control of it. It also comes with a new endgame expedition, the Ennead.
The main threat in this zone is a force of corrupted legionnaires from ancient Rome. This has actually been foreshadowed in-game since launch; a major quest NPC in Everfall is a deserter from this legion. Players will also have to contend with aggression by the Angry Earth, but they are not without allies. The zone story will see us ally with the sorcerer Imhotep to defend the Sands from these dark forces.
Even if this does feel like a bit of a rehash of elements of The Secret World’s Egypt storyline, I do enjoy how New World continues to draw from all aspects of history and mythology, and I hope this will continue in future.
It is perhaps a bit on the nose that the Egyptians who came to Aeternum just happened to settle a desert region. In future, it might be interesting to use Aeternum to put some historical cultures in new biomes — an African culture in a snowy zone, or desert samurai, or tropical Vikings. I suppose there’s already a bit of this with Monarch’s Bluffs being a tropical zone themed around Arthurian mythology.
The developers confirmed that Brimstone Sands will not come with an increase to the level or gear cap, but they also said it is a “safe bet” that those things will be coming at some point.
Revamped new player experience
The biggest surprise of the preview was the announcement of a huge shake-up to New World‘s new player experience and leveling game. The zones for levels 1-25 are going to be totally rebooted with new quests and more diverse art assets in an update akin to World of Warcraft‘s Cataclysm.
Improving NW‘s much-criticized questing experience seems to be the focus here. The devs talked at length about new mechanics they’ve introduced to provide more variety to the leveling experience, including NPCs that can walk alongside players, traversal puzzles, dynamic events, and more.
This sounds like a promising change, though I find it a little strange to focus on the 1-25 experience. Yes, it’s what people see first, but the opening levels of New World are generally considered the best. While even the early quests can be repetitive, it’s the zones past level 25 that really feel like they need help. To be fair, though, the developers did say the rest of the leveling experience could get the same treatment if this update is well-received.
The team further indicated that the new experience is focused on getting people to the main story. I take this to mean the leveling path has become more linear, but I may have misinterpreted things.
Moreover, we’ve also been told that the speed of leveling has been increased “considerably.” It’s not clear whether this also only applies to levels 1-25 or the entire leveling experience. I would expect the latter, but we’ll have to wait and see.
If you’re a veteran player worried you’re going to miss out on this improved story, there’s good news: This update will also be adding a third character slot to all accounts (the restriction of one character per server remains, however).
The autumn update also brings with it another new weapon: the greatsword. As one would expect, it is a melee weapon that scales off of strength and dexterity. Its Onslaught skill tree is devoted DPS, while the Defiance tree is tankier, having a focus on “aggressive defense.”
What makes the greatsword unique is its stance system. Each skill tree has a stance associated with it that provides passive buffs for as long as that stance is active. Using an active skill from one of the skill trees will activate its corresponding stance. The Onslaught stance significantly increases your damage output, but it also increases the damage you take. The Defiance stance has the opposite effect, reducing damage dealt and taken.
If you want, you could use skills only from one tree and remain in its stance indefinitely, but you can also use the skills of both and shift stances based on the needs of your current circumstance.
Other odds and ends
Along with the leveling revamp, another surprise announcement was a new endgame progression system that unlocks a fourth ability slot. This slot is tied to the Soulwarden heartgem players acquire during the main story, and will feature five unique abilities to choose from.
I was very excited when I heard this as it initially sounded like an excellent opportunity for some casual-friendly horizontal progression, but the developers later clarified that the heartgem abilities can only be acquired from endgame expeditions. I question the wisdom of this choice; New World is already a little too focused on instanced group content for its endgame. It needs more variety so that a greater section of players can find themselves with meaningful goals to chase.
I do hold out some hope that perhaps one day we will have the option to acquire heartgem abilities from other means; New World is usually pretty good at reversing course on bad decisions… eventually.
On the plus side, the team is clearly not done making group content more accessible. During the Q&A, the developers confirmed that cross-server grouping for things like dungeons, arenas, and the like is in the works. However, from the way they described it, it sounds like it may be a significant technical challenge to implement, so there may be a while to wait yet.
The team is also looking into the possibility of adding endgame versions of low level dungeons, but it’s another case where there’s nothing to confirm right now.
Also on the subject of endgame, the team was asked about the possibility of implementing raids or similar large-scale group content. Nothing was confirmed, but they said they are “exploring” the possibility. Personally I’m not opposed to New World getting raids, but I hope some more casual-friendly endgame options are prioritized first. Raids will only ever appeal to a small section of the players, so it’s not the most efficient use of developer resources.
Overall, my impression of this patch as previewed to press is pretty positive. I have a few disappointments, but it’s more areas where more could have been done than anything that’s actively bad for a game. It’s a free update that is easily big enough to have had a price tag, and I’m excited for a lot of what’s to come.
I think I’ll miss the current version of Everfall’s town, though. It’s so cozy.