New World is one of those games that I have been following for a while now, from its early incarnation as a survivalist style game to the more traditional MMORPG form it now finds itself in. This is the major title in Amazon’s gaming roster that has fans excited for what the company can do. It changes the traditional MMO formula and moves things forward with a different time period, a wide array of new concepts, and some of the most remarkable visuals I have seen in an online game for some time. New World has everything needed to succeed, and it is just a question if it can pull in that audience.
With so many MMO’s currently on the market, it has never been harder to make a dent in the industry. With countless free-to-play games flooding in from all over the world, it is a cut-throat world even for the biggest and best studios currently making games. But New World is not coming from just any studio, but one owned by Amazon, one of the biggest companies in the world. They own Twitch, have an endless supply of money, but also a rocky track record bringing games to market, even when they have massive talent behind them. While there has been a lot hype around the gaming initiative Amazon put forward, there have been few real results, at least up until now.
But here we are, days away from the Beta launch, and New World is starting to feel like a tangible experience, one made to draw players in, while offering a new rich MMO experience that takes advantage of the server tech Amazon offers, all while delivering a rewarding experience for those who dive in. I sadly don't yet have the ability to see into the future or know how well a game will do before it launches—hard to believe I know— but I can speak to the time I got with the game, and how it felt making a character and enjoying the early game experience.
Jumping into a preview session with a range of journalists, I got the chance to see what all the fuss was about with the early game and how players will be greeted when they first launch New World. Despite the setting, and striking visual fidelity, the game felt very in line with what MMO’s have been doing for a long while now. You make your character, find yourself losing everything due to some disaster, and somehow needing to survive on a somewhat magical island. The major difference here is the setting.
While most MMO’s (not all) will task the player of exploring some fantastical world far away from the reaches of our reality, New World feels oddly grounded in a fictional past. Much like the Pirates of the Caribbean movies manage to bring the fantastical to life in a universe that is similar to reality, this game is very similar with bringing the characters to a fantastical island where death and fantasy are possible.
This lets the conquistadors and other maritime colonial power characters exist side by side with the mythical and impossible without making it all fall apart. It is easy to understand how this game started as a survival experience, and has evolved into this, but honestly, it feels like it all works. The characters feel both a part of the fantasy but also based on reality to make it something new and exciting. It is also a setting not often seen in the MMO space. Seeing colonial type armour, flintlock rifles and swords side by side made it all feel ripe with possibility.
Amazon did not leave all the survival elements on the cutting room floor, with New World offering plenty of crafting and creation for the player to explore and take advantage of. Should you need some bricks or iron bars, you can mine it and then smelt it in the local town. If you need new leather gear, you can skin an animal, tan the leather and finally craft the needed garment. It feels intuitive and easy to get into. While it is hard to say how much this will play later in the game, from the early experience I enjoyed what I saw.
Jumping over to combat, it felt good, if not amazing. The action-based combat system kept things moving. Each different weapon you equip will force you to adjust your strategy but also making it accessible for players who may not be experienced in how MMO’s work. You can opt to take on the hordes of creatures with a sword and shield, or could pick them off at a distance with a rifle or bow and arrow, all have advantages and disadvantages and all can work based on your play style.
At least in early game, New World’s creatures telegraph their movements and actions, so you can get a sense of the dodging, attacking, and blocking to make the most of the little you find. You can see the improvements as you level and find new gear, making every find feel tangible and rewarding. Even crafting new gear and seeing each new challenge you can face with it with the short time I had with the game was exciting, and something I will be excited to see more of as I play more of the game.
But as this is a preview, what the game truly has to offer remains murky. With such a limited experience with the New World I did not get to see how the core gameplay loop expands as you get deeper into the storyline, or how the in-game housing will work when you have a server full of players. But these are all things we will soon see once the beta launches.
New World feels like a major push for Amazon, and one that has the potential to pay off big when done right. There is a lot to love with this game, including a great combat system, stunning visuals, and a setting that feels fresh and new. But with any MMO, it depends on how the monetization works and the people it attracts.
With such talent on display, New World has the makings of a great MMO and if Amazon plays it right, it could have a long life. We will have to see as we move past beta into final release to pass judgment. As it stands now, I am eager to see what this New World has in store for me and all MMO fans currently looking for our next experience.
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