In part one of my interview with New World‘s game director Scot Lane, we covered topics such as the game’s past, future plans, and the upcoming dungeon finder feature. But that’s just the beginning of what we covered, so without further ado, I present the second half of our conversation. In this part, we cover topics such as housing, swimming, transmog token availability, and mounts for people who don’t buy the expansion.
Something that we talked a fair bit about over the conversation was the new Edengrove settlement coming with Rise of the Angry Earth. A lot of people on the PTR have been disappointed by its small scale, as it offers only four nearly identical one-room homes with small, barren yards (all priced as tier 4 at that). I wanted to know if there was a chance to see it expanded before the expansion’s launch, or perhaps shortly after.
Before launch is a definite no. Expanding it after launch was something Lane left the door open to, depending on player feedback and activity, but he didn’t seem to view it as very likely. He also defended the settlement’s design, saying he liked the small, quaint feel and enjoyed the tribal aesthetic of it.
It was here I let my journalist hat slip a bit and began to speak a bit more as a player, as I had high hopes for the Edengrove settlement and was disappointed with its reality. I agreed with him that the aesthetic and art design of the settlement are very good, but I explained that it wasn’t delivering what I hoped for in an Edengrove settlement. Edengrove is all about plants and trees, and that’s not reflected in the housing. I’d hoped for treehouses, druidic groves, or at least more plants in the homes’ yards. I’d be perfectly happy with the small houses if they came with large, verdant yards!
I don’t want to set any expectations on Lane’s behalf, so I think we should still take the issue of improved Edengrove housing as very much uncertain, but I do want to mention that he began taking notes while I was saying this, admitting that he hadn’t thought of it from that perspective. Perhaps he was just being polite, but even if nothing ultimately comes of it in terms of changing the settlement, it did make me feel like my feedback was being taken to heart, and it’s an example of the willingness to listen that I think has been New World‘s greatest saving grace as it’s continued recovering from its rocky launch two years ago.
Continuing the subject of housing, I inquired about the large, unused buildings in many settlements that have long been speculated to be unreleased tier 5 houses. Lane was a bit cagey in his answer on this one, but he said Amazon wanted to give itself some leeway for adding new things to settlements in future. It sounded as if the devs didn’t have a specific plan for these buildings when they were added, and maybe they still haven’t decided what to use them for. Tier 5 housing seems to be on the table, but it’s definitely not a certainty.
Moving on from housing, I felt the need to throw in the eternal question that has forever dogged New World: When are we getting swimming? Unsurprisingly, Lane didn’t have an announcement to make. He echoed my own thoughts by saying that it’s not a feature that’s really going to add much to the game but that it still feels weird not to have it. He did say he wants to get to it “before too long.”
There were also some questions that yielded more disappointing answers.
I wanted to know if there were any plans to further support playing alts, such as a way to send gold and resources between alts on the same server. He didn’t rule it out for future, but he said it’s not a priority.
I also inquired if there were any plans to address the limited availability of transmog tokens, which has earned significant criticism. That earned a pretty quick, hard “no.” Nothing’s ever set in stone in game development, but it definitely seems that this is something the developers are putting their foot down on for the foreseeable future.
A similarly decisive no was given to my question of whether there was any chance that a limited version of mounts could be made available to players who do not buy the expansion. I personally feel this is a bit of misstep. Mounts are a huge feature, and I don’t begrudge gating most of it behind an expansion, but it’s also a huge quality-of-life buff, and I think it could have won a lot of goodwill from new and returning players if a very limited version of the feature — say, a single mount without the option to customize it or level your riding skill — were available without the purchase of Rise of the Angry Earth.
Before we ended the conversation, Lane opined that now is a great time for lapsed players to come back to the game. Maybe it’s a little bit of marketing, but it is also a pretty fair statement to make: The game has improved immensely since launch, and those who left early on will find a game that is very different, and in most ways much better.
I also want to add that at various points in our conversation Lane mentioned wanting to make sure New World is accessible to casual players and those who might struggle a bit with the game’s difficulty. It wasn’t in response to any one specific question and doesn’t fit into a single soundbite, but it was totally unprompted by me, and it felt like a very genuine sentiment that the team is actively embracing.
I’ve long had concerns that New World is slowly drifting away from supporting casual and solo players with the increased emphasis on things like raiding and the expedition-exclusive heartrunes. This doesn’t erase that concern, but it does soothe it somewhat.
Thanks so much to Amazon’s Scot Lane for taking the time to sit down with me and answer these questions for this two-part interview!