New World is the final roll of the dice for Amazon Games. After the catastrophic events surrounding Crucible, the cancellation of their Lord of the Rings MMO, and the average reception to The Grand Tour game, you have to feel like this ambitious title was the only chance for the studio to rise from the ashes and prove there is life in them yet.
Have they managed to accomplish this? We certainly feel so, as New World is on course to change the MMORPG landscape in a major way, provided Amazon play their cards right going forward. Let's go over some of the major flashpoints that have helped New World live up to expectations and much, much more.
A literal MMO - RPG
The idea of creating an MMOPRG can be incredibly daunting given how many plates must be spinning at one time during development and after release. The biggest compliment I can pay to New World is that it truly nails the definition of its genre. It feels like a massively multiplayer online role-playing game.
What do I mean by this? Well, comparisons can be made to the gameplay and storytelling of New World that is more comparable to games like Dragon's Age, The Elder Scrolls and even The Witcher. Rather than immediately feeling like an overwhelming experience where every second leading up to the endgame is a grind, you never feel like you're being pulled along or pushed in any particular direction by the game.
This is best seen in the early stages of the game as you arrive on Aeturnum. Of course, you can jump straight into the main questline to reach the first settlement nice and fast but you'll notice there will be many players just levelling up their trade skills by chopping wood, hunting/skinning animals and much more.
It's this relaxed approach to the game that is and will be its biggest strength going forward. This is the first time since Old School RuneScape (before it needed to be singled out as Old School) that a game has made me feel this way.
An Abundance of Lore
Amazon Games also do an incredible job of building a world and characters that are worth caring about, even though you only spend limited time with each area and NPC. The voice acting helps with this immersion and again adds to the overall RPG feel of the game.
New World will not blow you away with its main story. Essentially it boils down to the fact that Aeturnum, this mystical island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, is infected with corruption, a force slowly taking over the island. Our role as the hero is to prevent the spread and discover its origins to try and fight back. We'll also be diving deep to discover more about the inhabitants of the island and what has caused them to awaken and be so damn angry.
This isn't the kind of game to play for its story though and that's about the only time where the game falls short in its RPG elements. Then again, there have been plenty of other games with poor or mediocre stories that have been fun to play, not that I'll name any here for fear of mass outrage.
Lore and texts are spread generously around Aeternum and each one gives you a little bit more info to build up your impression of the island and the inhabitants. It's nice flavour text to add a bit more content to certain areas and quests that you're taking on. Overall, where New World falls short in its direct story, it makes up for this in character building.
Each character you meet feels like their personality has been well thought through and developed. The best example of this care and attention came in an early quest from the Everfall Settlement. You meet Odnell Lee, a survivalist who asks you to collect some ore for Tekla Petrowski to impress her. It doesn't work, but the interactions you have with both characters are first class and it's this kind of detail in a side quest that pulls me into the world that little bit more.
King of Combat
When it comes to combat, the New World team appears to have brought things to the point where it's simple but fun and decided that's all they need. The truth is, they were right to do that. Yes, combat is simple and won't bring the same grandeur and excitement of games like WoW or The Old Republic but it doesn't need to.
Again, it plays out more like a traditional RPG with two equipable weapon slots and up to three abilities for each weapon. The skill tree for each weapon is super simple and mostly made up of passive abilities. Levelling up your weapons separately to your main stats is also satisfying and gives that shot of serotonin that we all crave when playing an MMORPG because we always need to feel like we're moving forward in games like this.
While combat is simple in its current form, there is room to grow and evolve should the developers feel like it's needed. I'm personally of the opinion that combat might be the most perfect and refined part of the game as a whole but that doesn't mean the entire community will share that opinion.
My only gripe with combat is concerning ranged weapons, mainly the bow and the musket. Both are good to use when you out level an enemy and can defeat them easily, but when taking on more of a challenge, or worse, a mob of enemies, its weaknesses shine through.
Aiming is awkward and reloading/readying another arrow will often see you take a lot of damage. Yes, you can dodge, but with limited stamina it's not always possible. I've found myself using the bow/musket at range and switching to a melee weapon when the enemy gets close. Maybe this is the intention, but it typically just ends up splitting the XP earned between weapons, which slows progression on the ranged options.
A Community that Cares
I wasn't expecting to get too involved in PvP events or with the Faction/Company side of the game. Low and behold, it's a major factor and possibly the most satisfying gameplay loop I've ever experienced in an MMORPG.
I went with the Marauders Faction as they seemed to fit my playstyle and ideals, shortly after picking them I found myself in a bad spot fighting some ethereal pirates and was outnumbered 3 to 1.
A random passing group of three Marauders, all from the same Company, jumped in to save my character and in doing so, extended an offer for me to join their Company. I gladly accepted and it's been so much fun to feel like part of a little family ever since.
When deciding to join a Company, you will need to make sure their ideas and demands line up with how you want to play. If you're predominantly a PvE player, there is no point joining a hardcore PvP Company. If you find the right fit, it's a lot of fun and can trigger some exciting additional gameplay options as you look to take over and control certain territories within Aeternum.
Some of this requires PvP gameplay to get the full experience, which I was dreading, but my Company helped me out and the overall balancing of the PvP events lead to it being a ton of fun. That's not to say I'm now a convert and will be playing PvP full-time, however, I know that there's no need to shy away from it after having that positive experience.
Beyond the Sword and Shield
New World is also about way more than just combat and its storyline. There is a crafting and trading element to the game that has got people hooked. Whether it trying to turn a major profit off simple materials that some players are too lazy to seek out or creating high-level gear to become a millionaire mogul, there really is something for everyone.
There is also a relaxation factor to take into account. I've seen many players discuss in world chats about how sometimes they just get lost in the world and start gathering resources because it helps them de-stress.
Factors like this are something you don't even take into consideration when thinking about buying a new game, especially one like New World, yet are a nice addition when you discover them. I myself will probably wait until I'm further into endgame territory before going back and exploring my trade skills but I'm very much looking forward to seeing what is possible when I get there.
Overall, I feel like I've only scratched the surface with New World after around 35 hours played so far. No, the story isn't a selling point but almost everything else is. One thing I intentionally waited until now to bring up is the fact that New World is a subscription-free game.
Nothing in this game is locked behind a paywall or unfair grind and that is very rare for 2021. As the game develops, there is the promise that player/community feedback and data will drive decisions made in-game. A battle pass system is likely and mounts are the most requested item but only time will tell if the developers deliver on these.
If you're staying away from New World because it's an MMORPG, reconsider and give it a go, that's all I can say because you just might find it becomes your new favourite game.
RealSport Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Our review codes for New World were provided by Amazon Game Studio.