New World launched two years ago today. While it may have stumbled out of the gate, I believe it has since evolved into one of the best games in our genre. To celebrate the anniversary, game director Scot Lane kindly agreed to an interview him about the game’s past, present, and future.
We covered a broad range of topics, and he offered some refreshingly direct and honest answers, including the very exciting news that New World is getting a dungeon finder in the near future.
I started out by asking him to reflect on New World‘s past. I wanted to know the post-launch addition to the game he was most proud of as a developer, as well as his favourite memory of the game as a player. He cited the Tempest’s Heart expedition added shortly after launch as a particularly proud moment as a developer. He felt the scale and scope of the expedition, as well as the quality of its art and boss design, showed off what the team is capable of, and he described it as a moment where the game started to come into its own, though he did acknowledge the expedition may have been a little too difficult for some people.
As for his favourite memory as a player, he told a story about introducing a friend of his to elite chest runs. They arrived early to Myrkgard, and as his friend wondered when the run would begin, dozens of players came running over the hill to charge into battle. The sheer spectacle of it stuck with him, and he said he’s looking forward to seeing those same kind of charges once mounts are added in.
This struck a chord with me, as many of my fondest memories of MMORPGs are also of these kind of large-scale zerg events. Some people like dismiss this kind of content mindless, and it often is, but nothing else quite brings home the scale of an MMO in the same way.
Also on the subject of New World‘s past, I brought up the many similarities between NW and my previous favourite MMO, The Secret World. I wanted to know if it had served as an inspiration to the New World team. As far as he knows, the similarities between the games are coincidental. He’d heard of TSW but never played it, and seemed to know next to nothing about it (which feels like another testament to its poor marketing). He also couldn’t remember it being discussed during the development of New World.
That said, he couldn’t totally rule out the possibility that seem people on the team may have had connections to it. We do know that TSW‘s former lead writer, Joshua Doetsch, did some work on NW, but to the best of my knowledge he contributed only some lore notes and was not a driving force behind the game.
We also talked about the future of New World. I wanted to know to about the planning process for future content in the game, and how far ahead they work. On the latter, Lane said the studio currently has “high level” plans for updates up to roughly the first quarter or first half of 2025, which I think is very reassuring to hear for fans of the game.
As for the upcoming Rise of the Angry Earth expansion, he explained that the story behind it has been planned since before New World even launched. He talked about how much he loves Adiana as a character and the concept of the Angry Earth (a stance I share), and the team knew it wanted to expand on all of that. He also mentioned that they wanted a good opportunity to bring in the Beast Lords featured in the expansion’s Savage Divide expedition, implying that they have been a planned part of the lore for a long time.
I also asked about whether their plans are guided more by the story or by the gameplay, and he described it as a mix of both. Some of the planned updates are driven by the story, and some are driven by feedback about what players want to see. He said he believes the story and player-requested features are both equally important.
Past that, we also got into some more specific gameplay questions, including some exciting news about upcoming features.
Most notably, he did confirm that New World will be getting a true dungeon finder with automatic, cross-server matchmaking. We knew from the roadmap that cross-server expeditions were coming, but I wasn’t sure whether that meant a true dungeon finder or simply cross-server support for the current LFG tool, which is little more than a bulletin board. Lane was able to confirm it is the former, so depending on your feelings about dungeon finders you can commence your celebrations and/or lamentations (I’ll be celebrating, personally).
He didn’t give a date for the dungeon finder, but the roadmap lists cross-server expeditions as a season four feature, so if all goes according to plan, we should be seeing the dungeon finder late this year or very early in 2024.
Also on the subject of dungeons, I asked about the rewards for the upcoming “story mode” revamp of non-mutated dungeons. He said Amazons is still finalizing its plans, but they should drop some high level gear, albeit not at the some rate or at as a high level as the mutations. His take was that a real min/max player probably isn’t going to bother with the vanilla dungeons, but more casual types could find them a valid gearing path. He did describe the story mode dungeons as providing better gear than open-world content.
Continuing the theme, I wanted to know if the announced slowdown in heartrune releases also meant a reduction in the number of new expeditions being added, but he made clear that won’t be the case. Likely this means some expeditions going forward simply won’t have heartrunes associated with them.
Moving onto a different kind of instanced content, we talked a bit about soul trials, the solo boss fights that have been cropping up as part of the main storyline. I wanted to know if we could get repeatable versions of them as a form of solo endgame. Lane didn’t have anything to announce on that front, though he did say he liked the idea. The team is apparently looking into the possibility, but it all depends on how technically challenging it proves to be and if they decide other features are a higher priority.
That’s already a lot of information, but there’s more to come. Stay tuned for part two of the interview, in which we discussed topics such as Edengrove housing, transmog token availability, and that eternal bugbear, swimming.