Vitae Aeternum: A love letter to all that New World does well


When you spend a lot of time in an MMORPG, it can be easy to become bogged down in all of the game’s foibles. Even minor hiccups can be amplified into infuriating grievances after hundreds of hours. This holds doubly true for a game with a rocky history like New World, and even more so when you’re a writer whose job it is to critique the game.

But sometimes it’s worth remembering what makes us fans of these games in the first place, and lately I’ve found myself looking again with new eyes at all that New World does well.

The combat is excellent

I’ve always been a fan of New World‘s combat, but lately I’ve been leveling my Covenant alt, and it’s made me fall in love with the game’s combat all over again. She’s using a dexterity-based bow and spear build, and it’s the most dex build feeling dex build I’ve ever played in a game.

In many fights the mobs can’t land even a single hit on me, even if I’m in melee range the entire time. Dodge, block, leg sweep, stunning kick. They can’t fight back. It’s incredibly strong, but not in a “the numbers are over-tuned way.” The strength of the build comes from actively using my abilities and responding to the enemies in an intelligent way, and it feels so rewarding in a way simply one-shotting mobs never could.

While the spear brings speed and control, the bow has an elegant, precise style that is undoubtedly the best representation of archery I’ve ever seen in a video game.

While I wouldn’t call myself an expert by any means, I did dabble with real-life archery for a time in my younger years, and I’ve always found video games struggle to accurately represent the grace and beauty of it. New World, however, displays a faithfulness to realism so strong I genuinely think my real-world experience with the bow has made me a better bow player in-game. Everything about the arc of the arrow and the way gravity effects it just feels right.

Even the sound design is impeccable. Every other game I’ve played can never get the sound of a bow right. It’s either this pathetic rustling sound, or they go too far in the other direction, and the bow starts cracking and booming like a gun. In New World, the bow creaks and the arrows thud into targets in a way that’s satisfying, but not bombastic. The arrows even make that clacky sound arrows make when you nock them. I’ve never played a game with the clacky sound before.

It looks and sounds incredible

More than a year past launch, I still find myself almost constantly taken aback by just how beautiful New World can be. From the murky haze of Weaver’s Fen to the golden woods of Everfall and the bright stars above First Light, this game is an absolute feast for the eyes.

Yes, it’s a bit superficial, but graphics do still matter. They help you immerse yourself in the game world, and they add style and personality to a game. New World would not be as engrossing as it is without its lush forests, its gleaming rivers, and its imposing Corrupted wastes.

As impressive as the visuals are, the sounds of New World are even more impressive. I already touched on this above, but it bears repeating. New World may well have the best sound design of any video game I’ve ever played, with only The Secret World and Age of Empires IV even occupying the same stratosphere.

Everything just sounds right. Musket shots echo off the hills. Axes bite into trees with a thud you can almost feel. The shrieks of the Lost pierce the air with unnatural intensity.

And I haven’t even mentioned the excellent music. From top to bottom, New World is a feast for the eyes and ears.

A balance of challenging and relaxing content

One of my favourite things about New World is that it’s one of the few MMOs that’s not afraid to consistently challenge players. Once you get to the higher levels, even basic open world quests can provide intense, daunting challenges, with mobs you need to battle intelligently and carefully.

But while I relish the challenge, I’m also very appreciative of the fact New World also has lots of options for low stress, relaxing play. I don’t always have the energy to throw myself into the meatgrinder of slogging through the deadliest level 60 areas. On those days, I turn to simpler pleasures.

Spend an evening collecting lore pages. Take an hour to pick flowers in Windsward. Build an addition to your house, or busk for tips in Oxboro’s town square. These are all great ways to unwind, and having so many options for side activities does wonders to make Aeternum feel like a real place your character inhabits, not just an empty combat simulator.

It feels fresh

There’s not necessarily any one feature of New World‘s gameplay that’s totally unique or original, but the way everything comes together feels fresh.

I started my journey in the MMO genre around the time every new game could be described as “World of Warcraft except [minor twist].” It was a paradigm I found immediately and unceasingly tiresome, and it makes me grateful that I never find myself thinking the same thing about New World.

No, it’s not the first game with action combat (though I would argue its combat is an evolutionary step above other action combat MMOs). Nor is it the first game with a player-driven economy or housing or extensive trade skills or territorial control or any of its other features. But the skill with which many of those features are executed and the way they all fit together combine to create a game with its own unique personality.

In a somewhat similar way, its setting and its lore also feel like a breath of fresh air compared to the standard high fantasy most other MMOs offer. It does feel almost eerily similar to The Secret World at times, but the alternate history setting stops it from being a complete 1-1 TSW knock-off (not that I’d complain if it were).

Much like TSW, New World is able to combine elements of real world history and mythology with its own fiction to create a unique, cohesive whole. What other video game sees 17th century explorers team up with the knights of the Round Table, survivors of Cleopatra’s court, and Roman exiles to battle against eldritch horrors and the gods of the ancient world?

A truly good MMORPG is more than the sum of its parts. It comes alive in the minds of its players. It becomes a living, breathing virtual world. And for me, that’s what New World has achieved. No, it’s not perfect — but it is special.

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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