Every year, the Massively Overpowered staff gathers to make predictions for the year to come in MMORPGs. But I have so many thoughts on what story beats and gameplay features New World‘s 2024 roadmap may hold that I’m devoting an entire column to them.
Please note that this column will contain spoilers for the entire game’s story to date, including the recent Rise of the Angry Earth expansion.
Visions of the future
As was the case with Brimstone Sands, the Elysian wilds ended with a cutscene that teases the story to come, but while Brimstone’s had a clear singular message — “Artemis is the new big bad” — this new teaser touches on several different potential future plot threads as Artemis warns us of the dire future that awaits Aeternum.
We see Morgaine heading into the wilderness with the Tear of Gaea, watched by inhuman eyes. These eyes could just be generic spooky imagery, but they do look a bit like the faces of some of the more monstrous Corrupted spawn, so this could be a hint at the Corrupted returning to prominence in the story.
I am quite sure that giving Morgaine the Tear isn’t going to end well. Her intentions seem to be pure, but she has a long history of causing terrible side effects in her quest to save Aeternum – unleashing a Lost plague, poisoning the Motherwell, giving Everfall its name, and so forth. I definitely think she’s going to break reality in some way; it’s just a question of how and when.
The next slide warns that the Beast Lords’ return has only begun to cause problems, with an image of what looks like werewolves. Another slide in Lost blue warns of a darkness with an insatiable thirst — perhaps a vampire to complete the traditional gothic horror dyad.
Finally — and to my mind most intriguingly — Artemis tells us that “the spectre of time” looms over us, accompanied by a starry face hovering in the sky. He’s not mentioned in any current lore, but given New World‘s recent reliance on Greek mythology, I’m going to guess this is Kronos, a Titan of Greek myth who is associated with the concept of time. Presumably he would be another surviving Ancient, like Artemis. Perhaps he is the source of Aeternum’s timeless nature and the immortality of its residents.
So what do we take from this? It’s hard to say. An expansion encompassing Morgaine’s experiments, werewolves, vampires, and Kronos all at once is possible, but it does seem as if it would be spreading itself awfully thin. It’s also possible this is a preview of the next few expansions, but given Scot Lane’s comments to me that plans currently exist until early 2025, I don’t think that’s likely. The current internal roadmap should only have firm plans for one expansion.
What I’m leaning towards is that this is a preview of the next year of updates. The spring season pits us against werewolves, the summer one against vampires, and then the fall expansion would deal with Kronos and the fallout around the Tear of Gaea.
The next zone
Datamining is our best source of hints for the next territory to be added to Aeternum. Currently datamining points to two unfinished zones. One is north of Mourningdale, and the other is southwest of Brimstone Sands and apparently named “Dunwood.”
We’ve known about the one in the north for a long time. I can no longer find the source, but I remember hearing it was supposed to be a forest zone focused on Ancient lore. Before we learned about the First Light revamp, I assumed this would be the 2023 expansion zone, as it sounds exactly like the sort of place Artemis would hang out, and honestly I still kind of suspect that was the original plan. That doesn’t mean we won’t still see it in some form, though.
Dunwood was uncovered more recently, and as it actually has a name, it’s my bet for the most likely next expansion zone. The name sounds spooky, which would fit with a possible vampires vs. werewolves gothic horror theme. It will be interesting to see how it distinguishes itself from Brightwood, also a spooky forest zone.
With the MSQ revamp conclusion in 2024 theoretically freeing up a lot of open world design resources, I do also think it’s possible that we see more than one new zone this year, in which case we might see both Dunwood and the unnamed northern zone. I don’t think that’s terribly likely, so I wouldn’t get your hopes up, but there’s a small chance. If that happens, I expect one zone to be smaller and free, with the other large and locked behind the fall expansion, but they could just as easily both be expansion zones.
The nice thing about New World is that the devs rely heavily on player feedback to guide their designs, so you can predict a lot just by looking at what people are asking for. Last year I successfully called most of the major features for 2023, but all I did was list off features that everyone had been clamouring for anyway.
These days the features that seem to top of everyone’s wishlist are attribute loadouts being added to gear sets, a barbershop or similar system for re-customizing characters, swimming, more PvP content, and a farming minigame. I’m going to guess that we get at least two or three of these this year.
Attributes in gear sets, the barbershop, and swimming are all extremely heavily requested, and I think it’s likely we’ll see all of them in the coming year. Additional forms of PvP content also have a decent chance to show up, but there’s no strong consensus that I’ve seen on what that should actually look like. A new outpost rush map has been talked about for a long time, and that’s something I think we could see in 2024.
Farming is a bit more of a toss-up. It’s a pretty popular idea, but not quite as popular as the others, and would likely be a pretty huge feature to implement. If we do see it, I expect it would be a headline feature for the fall expansion, like mounts were for Rise of the Angry Earth.
One other feature we might see this year is repeatable versions of the solo soul trials that have became a mainstay of the game’s story-telling. In my interview with Scot Lane a few months ago, he described it as a feature the team wants to do, but it’s going to come down to how technically feasible it proves to be. Hard to say if it will pan out or not, but I’m cautiously optimistic.
The next weapon
I expect New World to continue releasing one weapon per year as an expansion feature. As we can with other gameplay features, I think we can look to what fans are requesting to guide us to what the new weapon might be, and I see three main candidates there: daggers, pistols, and lightning staff (or gauntlet, or another magical weapon that deals lightning damage).
Daggers are long-requested, and data related to them has existed in the game files for a long time, so they would seem the prime candidate. However, they’ve seemed like the most likely next weapon since the blunderbuss came out, and we keep getting other weapons instead, so I wouldn’t yet call it a certainty. We do already have a glut of melee weapon choices.
Pistols aren’t quite as popular as the other ideas from what I’ve seen, so I’d rate them the least likely candidate, but they’re still pretty popular, and there are a number of friendly and hostile NPCs already using them, so it’s at least theoretically possible some of the animation work for players is already done, depending on how Amazon handles such things behind the scenes. I’m sure we’ll get pistols at some point, and they’re my personal pick for most-wanted weapon, but I think we’ll be waiting a bit longer.
Lightning is the last damage type that isn’t natively dealt by any weapon in the game (artifacts notwithstanding), lightning magic is highly requested by fans, and we still don’t have that many magical weapons compared to physical, so I think chances are good for the lightning staff (or similar) to be our next weapon. I’m not quite ready to call it a sure thing, but chances are high.
However, I am going to postulate that whatever weapon we get next is going to do lightning damage with at least one ability. As we saw from the flail doing arcane damage, Amazon seems to be keen to get every damage type a weapon, and they’re not above some odd thematic pairings to do it. If it’s not lightning staff, maybe pistols will charge their bullets with electricity, or daggers will take the term “lightning fast attacks” very literally. Whatever the case, I foresee zappiness on the horizon.