SGF 2024: Amazon discusses New World Aeternum on console, swimming, solo content, and archetypes


In case there’s anyone out there still confused: New World Aeternum is not a single player or co-op game. I know the Summer Game Fest announcement of the “new game” was confusing, frustrating, and surprising in unpleasant ways, but it also masked what exactly is happening in the update, and I say that as someone who participated in the media and creatives only reveal both before and at the show itself.

I also got a couple of hours with the new build of the game split between two classes, which I’ll discuss in a separate article. However, even with hands-on time with the MMORPG (because it’s still an MMORPG), there were some questions I had that gameplay alone couldn’t answer. Thanks to the kind PR folks who arranged it, I was able to sit down with Game Director Scot Lane, Senior Producer Katy Kaszynski, and Creative Director David Verfaillie to talk about the announcement – everything from who gets to swim to that confusing reveal. And hey, only some of it was scooped in last night’s Q&A!

Solo capability does not mean single-player

Let’s start off by ripping off the bandaid. This interview took place on June 9th, less than 48 hours after the reveal; we weren’t allowed to release it until now, as the embargo is dropping. When I asked how the team had been affected by the reception of the announcement around social media, Lane told me it was hard for the team to know since they had been at SGF. However, he quickly added that their “intention with the first communication was for the new players that [the devs] were advertising the new game for.” He also said it “was always [their] intention” to follow-up with a community Q&A (which came out last night).

Kaszynski was also quick to defend against the mainstream press who initially (and misleadingly) labeled New World Aeternum a single-player game, acknowledging the spectrum of MMOers ranging from what Amazon calls the “alone in a crowd” players to the group-oriented folks. The reboot came about thanks to player feedback, I’m told, and as MOP’s Tyler has already noted, there certainly is new content. Some content aimed at groups before now has a solo option; the group content’s still there, but it’s solo-friendly in ways “like you’d expect an action-RPG to be on a console.”

Verfaillie added that everyone also benefits from “a ton of performance enhancements and bug fixing.” I should note here that there will be more of that leading up to the October release, but I’ll get to that a bit more later.

Swimming for all and all for archetypes

With the content laid out for those adopting Aeternum, I asked what a current player who doesn’t purchase Rise of the Angry Earth will miss out on, and the main features are the 10-player raid (being added in Aeternum), the old level cap of 60 (upped to 65 in ROTAE), the Flail (added in ROTAE), and the new mounts from the new Aeternum early adoption (mounts were also added as a feature in ROTAE).

Folks who don’t upgrade can go into the new endgame areas added in ROTAE, but it’s going to be a challenge for them with their lower level cap. They do get the new starter experience, which is nice if they want to make a new character. They do get swimming, so no need to worry about drowning while everyone else can float. And they get the new dialogue perspective the story team is so proud of.

I will note, however, that the team did confirm that the endgame solo trials are repeatable versions of soul trials players have been asking for. You get three potential options per day that’ll give rewards, and Lane told me he is “92% sure” you can do more after that, just without extra rewards granted to the first three you complete.

Again, as someone who didn’t play launch, I’m relying on my colleagues and readers to fill in the gaps about what’s new here. But I do know that the period from June to October is sounding a little sparse (on top of the content drought of the past half year). When I asked if there will be any content updates before Aeternum’s launch, Kaszynski said there will be smaller updates, like for seasonal events, quality-of-life updates, bug fixes, things like that. Nothing super specific, but apparently it’s all things players have asked for, at least in terms of quashing bugs. Hopefully that means at least some fun summer-themed events, but they reiterated that October is the big update, so don’t expect anything of real magnitude beforehand.

Current players who may be a bit worried about the new archetypes, don’t be. Your current character is fine, and rolling a new character just means you get a fancy outfit and more starting gear. If you roll a Soldier but want ice magic, you can still pick up an ice gauntlet and grind out the tree. The players who’ve had access to the system reportedly love it, and the SGF crowd’s apparently also taken to it quite well, including me (though it would have been cool if I had found a different weapon to branch out myself).

In terms of balance, Verfaillie thinks while there may be some minor power differences, the archetypes are well balanced. In fact, players so far have gravitated towards the Musketeer, but it’s less about power balance than the Musketeer fantasy, according to Verfaillie.

Circling back to swimming, I had to be sure the lack of a stamina bar or drown meter of some sort wasn’t just a quirk of the build I played. It wasn’t; it’s intentionally not there. If you want to swim from, say, Barnacles to the Lawless zone – as Kaszynski has in the past – you can. Sadly though, there’s no diving in the game, so you’ll have to enjoy life above the sea. There are no sharks or swimming mobs, but do be aware that just because there’s no water combat, it doesn’t mean you’re invincible. If someone is on a nearby rock with a gun or other ranged weapon, you’re gonna have a bad time if you don’t stay out of their range. Oh, and watch for gators. They can’t swim, but in the shallow water, you may miss them because of wave effects.

I know not everything here will calm down the angry community that’s still busy reviewbombing the game on Steam. Hopefully, last night’s community Q&A and more interviews like this one will help. With any luck, some of the comments here will help illuminate the developers’ intentions, design focus, priorities for the summer, and limitations for those choosing to stick with pre-Aeternum New World.

MOP’s Andrew Ross was on the ground at Summer Game Fest 2024 – catch up on all our coverage!
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