Us MMORPG lovers are used to being promised the world and then having our hearts ripped into a million pieces. And yet against all odds, in spite of the betrayal and heartbreak, our agonised desire for a new MMO love will not be cowed.
Like Aladdin to Jasmine, Amazon Games offering promises to show us a whole new world. But should we trust them? In our New World review, we’ll give our verdict as to whether the new MMORPG on the block is the one we’ve all been waiting for or whether it’s just another dud for the reject pile.
Pre-date Nerves (New World Hype)
After waiting years with those first-date shakes, I finally had a chance to play the big-budget release that supposedly heralds a new dawn for MMORPGs. Hype around New World has been rivalled only by Ashes of Creation and for a far smaller albeit fiercely dedicated audience, Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen. All three of these games genuinely hold promise to usher in this new golden age of MMO gaming.
Amazon Games’ MMORPG was first to launch. But carrying the weight of a new world on your shoulders is a heavy burden. Gamers, critics, and reddit alike had their muskets drawn.
First Date (New World Character Creation)
Character creation in New World is permanent and irreversible. There are no barbers that will chop your buzzcut into an afro. Aside from awesome star constellation tattoos, character creation didn’t offer anything particularly unique, and quite a few of the premade faces look pretty goofy. We would have appreciated a few more options for tattoos, scars, hairstyles, and facial hair. The same is true of the skin tones, a few of which seem a little dubious for one of the few fantasy MMORPGs set on a historic Planet Earth.
Still, we could be fiddling and obsessing with our hair and makeup for hours. It was time to meet our date, and New World really starts with a splash. As soon as you’ve made your final selection, New World thrusts you into shipwrecked, undead-slaying action. We may have been looking a little goofy, sure. But with the graphics cracked up to 10, the light cutting through the clouds and gleaming off the metal of our blade while the waves crashed onto the shore, our date was looking ravishing.
Our First Holiday (Exploring Aeternum)
The different territories in New World each have their own unique aesthetic, resources, and character. Crossing a border from Everfall to Ebonscale Reach feels like you’ve travelled from West Europe to East Asia. Choosing which of Aeternum’s regions to build a reputation in and work towards buying a home in is an important step and an exciting one. Not realising this, I began establishing my celebrity in Everfall – the most generic RPG town in the whole of the lost isle. I wish I’d held off a little longer, as some of the settlements have a lot of character, such as First Light, built around a giant shipwreck, or Monarch’s Bluff, a tropical clifftop pirate settlement.
Outside of the settlements, there are plenty of cool spots: overrun fishing pontoons, shipwrecks stuck in waterfalls, shattered obelisks, misty swamps, forgotten pyramids, secluded temples, mysterious archaeological remnants, you get the gist.
While the varying availability and concentration of resources does provide reasons to explore, as does the search for new and higher-level missions, I nonetheless found myself craving further incentivization to get out into Aeternum and just look around. In larger MMORPGs, you have that feeling that you could discover some hidden secret or utterly rare, guarded treasure in a hidden canyon. That’s something New World lacks. Still…
The Honeymoon Period (Early Game)
It soon became clear that this was a game I would be playing for some time. Every aspect was entertaining, and I found myself forgetting my other games and RL hobbies. I wanted to try everything, cook everything, mine everything, fish everything, chop everything, harvest everything, do everything. My storage was quickly filling with silver jewellery I’d crafted with metals and gems that I’d cut from mountainsides, linen clothes I’d sewn from hemp, azoth infused armours, tarragon poultry sliders, spiced melon pies, and potions of all varieties.
And the New World Trade Skills are great. Even just the Gathering skills: from chopping down glowing blue Wyrdwood trees to harvesting Suncreepers and mining Springstones. While at later levels it makes sense to specialise, many of the Trade Skills synergise well with one another. And by adding the chance for bonus rewards in nearly every Trade Skill discipline, New World ensures that they remain entertaining over time.
But hey, we’re hot blooded and, like Amazon, we're in our prime; we didn’t fall in love to sit around fishing all day. We’re ready for some action. Weapons and combat in New World are a joy. The spear, the rapier, and the ice gauntlet were my immediate favourites even if not the most effective New World weapons. But once again in this new-love frenzy, I enjoyed trying out each and every one of them. When the light reflects off a sword's golden hilt in the heat of combat or when the screen periphery blurs as you aim down your musket, you're reminded you're playing a game of quality.
Going All The Way (Mid-to-late Game)
As with all relationships, time transforms love from burning desire to a quieter, more comfortable admiration. And while New World stopped surprising me so often, I still found a lot to appreciate in the mid-to-late game content. I found myself really appreciating the strategizing dialogue and roleplayed comradery in Companies chats; seeing the sleepy villages we’d spent our first dates in evolve into townships and cities; and, of course, what more special moment could there be than buying and decorating our first house together? A lovely two-up, two-down in the ironically named township of Brightwood.
We’ll publish another dedicated New World review for late-game and PvP content soon, there’s too much to say here. Especially when we have a drawn-out romance metaphor to conclude. In brief, the PvP modes and PvE Expeditions are imperfect but excellent fun regardless. It’s a joy defending towns from Corrupted Invasions, Warring for control of forts, and slicing through fellow players like a jealous lover.
My Wandering, Wondering Heart (Areas for Improvement)
They say that you should never expect your lover to change, but is it okay to ask for more? Because it’s depth that will determine whether this relationship is only casual summer lovin’ or whether we’ll be Sandy-and-Danny dancing all the way through to the end-of-year carnival.
Frankly, we’re not at all interested in Amazon Games promise of regular “drops” of new skins. We want depth, a world with secrets and treasures that reward the brave. We want mounts, rowing boats, heck…what about player-controlled frigates that connect Aeternum to other isles? We want ambushes, dynamic events, intelligent AI, year-long wars, blocked trade routes, hidden caves behind waterfalls, and legendary lost loot. I know, I know; we’re being demanding. But as Marilyn said, “If you can't handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don't deserve me at my best.”
There are other frustrations, of course, as there always is. Am I right, girls? We’d have liked more variety and originality in missions. We’d have appreciated more of a narrative focus. And waiting alongside 12 other players for Scratchy the massive bear to respawn so we could each try to skin him for his big paw was rather frustrating. But these are things we’re confident Amazon Games will be able to iron out with time.
Flashbacks to a Toxic Ex (Community Moderation)
I joined the Otuken server, named after the capital of the first Turkic and Uyghur Khaganate, and a city with great importance in Turkic mythology. As such, there are a higher proportion of Turkish players alongside a large contingent of players from the USA. I joined on Day 2 to find a global chat already rife with racism, both casual and otherwise. New World has a fairly strict language filter (players can’t even call themselves Jeff Bezos); but as anyone who has been following the Activision Blizzard scandal knows, it takes more than asterisking naughty words to detoxify a community.
Us MMORPG players have had our share of toxic partners. If New World is to lead us into a new era of MMORPG love, it needs to do more than stick a plaster on a fatal wound. If it starts showing red flags of permitting racism and misogyny like our old ex World of Warcraft, we’ll be out the door without a second look.
The “L” Word (New World Conclusions)
From the intuitive and compelling Trade Skill systems to the engaging and balanced combat, we firmly believe that New World is the best new MMORPG in years. The more we get to know it, the more we like it. Screw it. No word of exaggeration, we love New world.
Though for us to reach that 100%, head-over-heels, buy-an-engagement-ring, cancel-my-FFXIV-subscription “in love” level, we’ll have to see what the patches, updates and competitors deliver.
With Ashes of Creation (AoC) promising untold depths of RPG goodness in dynamic player-led worlds while Pantheon strives for a challenging, social PvE world of endless mystery and back-to-its-root gameplay, we’ll continue to keep the door ajar. New World has a big head start, but whether they can keep our hearts forever will be purely down to their flexibility, innovation, and courageousness. They’ve shown us a New World, but we need to see a braver new world for that perfect 10/10 score.
Has New World resurrected the glory days of the MMO? Not quite yet, but it’s the biggest step to revitalizing the MMORPG genre in a decade. Should Amazon Games make bold and intelligent decisions with their ongoing game development, then they could do it. And even if they can’t do it alone, alongside upcoming games like AoC and Pantheon, a new golden age could soon be upon us. And hey, who are we to turn down a menage-a-trois or an open marriage? It’s 2021, baby.
Will I be continuing to play post-review?
Absolutely. This one ain’t getting away yet.
New World Score out of 10?
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