Amazon’s New World is a game that’s already seen some pretty significant ups and downs. Originally many people thought it was an oPvP game. Then it was considered a kind of 50/50 PvE/PvP split. Now it seems that it’s more 75/25 in favor of PvE, or PvP doesn’t come into the fore for most until the end-game, a la Black Desert or somesuch.

I haven’t done much investigation into the game to be able to tell where it sits on the spectrum of engagement at this late hour, but I did assure Amazon that I would pre-order the game at the point where “pre-orders” were made available, which means I had a key in hand for this week’s “Preview Event”.

I Hate This Game

I…don’t know about this hat.

I guess I can say now that I had jumped into the game during an earlier phase, and I could tell almost immediately that New World was not going to be for me. The deck was pretty much stacked against it, to be fair. My time and interest in the MMO genre is at an all time low. The game uses action combat, which I generally dislike. Your weapons have two main attacks, and up to three “special” attacks that unlock as you level and depend on where you assign your mastery points. You also have a block ability. It’s not unlike Guild Wars 2 in that each weapon’s modus operandi is tied to the weapon and not the character, although the arc of quick-power-special-block is represented across the entire spectrum.

The game’s intro has you newly shipwrecked upon the isle of Aeternum, a kind of Atlantean construct in the middle of the Atlantic ocean. You are introduced to your combat actions by a run through a gauntlet of previous shipwrecks now haunted by corrupted corpses of dead sailors. Technically these guys are pushovers, but because action combat demands precision, exposing anything but your shield or blocking weapon to the enemy is going to get you in trouble. Once you make it through the gauntlet of undead, you meet the game’s official NPC greeter who sends you on a bunch of ho-hum fetch quests until you’re told to get up the road to the nearest settlement.

Settlement A (name unknown because I don’t pay attention to things)

The settlement is claustrophobic, and in keeping with the region’s aesthetic, is built out of recovered ships and ship parts. Here you learn how to do things in town, like how to use the market-slash-auction house, how to store stuff in the shed behind the inn (the shed is what passes for a bank in this game), and how to construct items. As you reach the end of your extended tutorial, you’re sent further afield to do the same dumb shit over and over. Kill wolves. Kill boars. Kill undead. Pick up loot. Bring it back. Repeat.

“Nobody move! I lost a contact lens!”

Seeing has how New World is still heavily invested in PvP, there were a lot of guilds (né, companies) recruiting in a dedicated chat channel. This turned me off for some reason; the game had only been in operation for a few hours, and yet people were already at the point of serious organization (which kicks off once you complete the initial tutorial track). These folks were hardcore, and I felt that playing side by side with people like this was going to lead to some general distaste on my part.

“We store our extra gear in the outhouse in this settlement!”

Travel is also a bitch. The map doesn’t look all that large, but let me tell you, it’s a good distance between points A and B, and most of it is infested with undead. And turkeys. Always turkeys.

The Game is…OK

For me, the most amazing thing about New World is…well…the world. I cannot remember any MMO that is this gorgeous. The landscape is a veritable 12/10, with terrain that looks like actual, real-life terrain. Ground cover is abundant, and trees are copious in ways that look like real forests. When I finally moved on to the next settlement, I descended down the hill and into a more autumnal tableau which knocked my socks off as the new day’s sun shone from behind the trees.

This screenshot does not do this view justice, believe me.

Over time, the combat became more manageable to me. As an impatient combatant, I usually look for the quickest way to end the encounter, but once I got over that impulse and started taking the time to read enemy tells, to use my blocking abilities, and the active dodge system, I was hyper-focusing on the situation. This felt a little like a bunch of tense mini-games going on, and I realized that it wasn’t all that horrible.

After the tutorial I signed up with the Marauders faction, because on my server (Hydnora – Cruel Vista) the Marauders had control of the region I was in at the time.

I picked this mission, because why not…only to find that it’s on the other side of the map.

The factional control was something that concerned me. I don’t trust other players to do right by the community, especially in a PvP game which tends to attract a certain kind of player if you know what I mean. Companies can declare war on one another, which starts a readiness clock so that at an agreed-upon time, the two companies can field 50 players each, chosen from their ranks, to duke it out attacker/defender style. The winner gains control over the territory until another faction has completed enough faction quests to destabilize the territory, and the cycle begins again. I have concerns that because participating companies get to choose who among their ranks gets to play in the 50v50 battle that there’s going to be a first-string clique and a back-bench everyone else, which might negate the point of the system (again, not really trusting other players), but I guess we’ll see how things suss out.

Note: It was brought to my attention in general chat that “a company” is capped at 50 players, so a 50v50 “war” is essentially a complete company vs a complete company. And if a company doesn’t have enough players, they can recruit from another company within the same faction, per the website.

Damn, this game is beautiful.

At lower levels, though, picking your faction doesn’t seem to auto-flag you for oPvP, but instead allows you to manually flag in the open world if you so desire. I wandered into a territory controlled by another faction (which is set to go to war in the near future), and was able to wander around freely, so that’s nice.

I Just Don’t Know Anymore

When I first tried New World, I wasn’t feeling it. I made it to the first town, did a few of the “getting to know you” tutorial quests, but then bounced hard. Yesterday when the game’s preview went live, I gave it another shot, but again, only made it to the starting settlement before I uninstalled. Still, I wanted to show some friends what this game was about, so I reinstalled and played through a good portion of the first settlement tutorials amidst the rest of the rabble, and decided that the game wasn’t as bad as I initially thought. It wasn’t fantastic, but it wasn’t all that bad I guess.

After logging in briefly this morning, I found myself to be one of the only people online in my area on my server, and it was like a whole different game. I plowed through to the end of the tutorial content and headed to my factional seat to start taking these destabilizing missions, but had to quit out to start the work day.

I feel that maybe I’ve got a repeat of Warhammer Online on my hands here. I had jumped into WAR because I thought the PvE might be cool, and then one day bit the bullet and jumped into the PvP arena matches. After realizing that this kind of gameplay wasn’t horrible, I joined up with a guild and headed out to the oPvP zones and had an absolute blast.

Were I to stick with New World, I would absolutely have to find a company to join. As my history suggests, though, I would find this difficult because I don’t want to join a group where I’ll fall through the cracks, but finding a group made up of actual, decent, human beings in a PvP game is not my strong suit; WAR was a fluke, and I kick myself now and again for not having kept in touch with my guild from that game over the years. They were good people.

New World is a game of phallic representation, from the hats to the architecture.

Considering I also have Crowfall installed, and am a devout Star Citizen player, I am unsure of my own motives. When I say that the MMO landscape has moved on without me, that may be true in a sense; taken another way, I might just be adapting. Western MMOs are trending more towards a “nu-PvP” which is trying to entice PvE’rs by offering some levels of gameplay that cater strictly to their sensibilities while gently pushing them towards a less personal encounter with members of other factions. I feel that for a lot of traditional anti-PvP’rs, the hang-up is just the disgusting behavior of PvP’rs towards PvE’rs when it comes to being alone. When PvP is faceless and impersonal, like it was in WAR where the two warring sides couldn’t even communicate, combat was fun (aside from the Little Napoleons who were always trying to command the team regardless of their authority to do so). I like PvP in that style, and maybe New World can provide that. I guess that remains for me to determine.

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