New World is an open-world, PvP-centric, buy-to-play MMORPG with 1000+ players per server. It mixes real world history with magic and mythology and has a strong PvP endgame focus. During their 10-month alpha, Amazon Games have made a lot of changes. They’ve added new zones, fishing, achievements, titles, and plenty of mid-to-late game content like Expeditions and Outpost Rush. Below, we’ve put together an extensive New World review covering everything you need to know, but for the “tl;dr” folks out there… from what we’ve seen so far, New World looks pretty darn excellent.
With the beta for Amazon Games New World launching tomorrow (July 20th), we got our feet in the door early for their exciting pre-beta event wherein we were able to test out all of the key systems, take part in Q&As, and even tried out the endgame content. We were pretty impressed and have a lot to say on what is undoubtedly one of the most exciting upcoming MMORPGs in years, so strap in folks and enjoy our ultimate New World review.
The Lore and Storytelling of the New World MMO
The opening cinematic, which had a decidedly Treasure Island vibe, was a delightfully intriguing introduction into the world of Aeternum. A mysterious encounter in a storm-beaten tavern introduces us to a storyline of a powerful lost island, doomed voyages, and great power over life and death.
In search of the island’s immortality-imbuing power, many souls have already found their way to Aeternum wherein they have discovered fates far worse than death. As a player, you are encouraged to ponder, “What is the price of immortality?”. The survivors, if you can call them that, are now locked in a constant struggle for control over this lost continent, its ancient secrets, and mystical powers. It is your mission to unite the factions against a common enemy, the Corrupted.
While the Corrupted are symbolic of the twisted evil of the island and make up the primary non-human adversaries, there are other NPC families who pose grave threats of their own:
The mysterious Ancients, of whom little is known other than their great power
The Lost, pour tormented souls caught between life and death
The Angry Earth, pure expressions of nature, naturally docile but fearless when provoked
Beginning a Game of New World
New World features satisfying character creation with plenty of choices for tattoos, scars, and whacky haircuts. It’s especially satisfying to see one’s character instantly brought to life as character creation merges seamlessly into the continued opening cinematic wherein a crash landing thrusts your character into combat on Aeternum.
The user-interface (UI) is well designed, showing you all your need-to-know info and clearly numerically individuating different quest locations - allowing players to multitask without having to endlessly switch back to their quest logs.
New World won’t win any awards for an innovative start to the game, the first quests are standard MMORPG fare, albeit slaughtering hogs rather than wolves. That said, it is undoubtedly a cool setting – dark sand beaches, high cliffs with the silhouettes of ruins, and endless shipwrecks filled with the reanimated corpses of lost seafarers.
Players are introduced to core crafting, combat, and movement mechanics. While New World won’t feature the full climbing capabilities of other upcoming MMORPGs like Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen, it was a welcome surprise to find that players will be able to clamber and scale over a lot of objects – allowing players to position themselves tactically for the battles that await them.
After completing their first handful of quests on the seafront, players are encouraged to go inland to find their first settlement – a Fable-esque village full of NPCs and other players that is a delight to explore as a pleasant string-based overture plays over the top. It is here that you come across the first houses available to buy that start to reveal Aeternum’s promise as a living, breathing, player-led world.
Combat in New World
It has become a bit of a buzzword to claim that your game has Dark Souls inspired combat, but New World takes its hardcore approach seriously and the resulting battles were great fun. It has no-lock combat ensuring that players must manually angle their attacks at all times. Weapons have real weight and physics, and most of the melee and ranged weapons I tried out felt satisfying to use.
Weapon skill is increased via using that weapon which in turn unlocks weapon-specific abilities and perks. Players can simultaneously level multiple weapons or choose to specialize. Each of the weapons we tried out encouraged a different playstyle ensuring that every party will have unique character.
Alongside your standard swords-and-shields, there were loads of great weapon choices available: hatchets were great fun to use for damage dealing, muskets were deeply satisfying and helped add unique historical character, rapiers are high-skill and difficult to use, spears double up as melee and ranged, and magical abilities were a lot of fun. When testing out an endgame Expedition, I opted for a pyromancer using a fire-staff which was an easy-to-play damage-dealing class with an extremely powerful flamethrower-like ability that devastated the frozen undead.
My character, Nameless Jeff, giving the undead a taste of hell with New World's firestaff
Flexible builds encourage players to make their playstyle their own, though without more skills for each weapon, there is a chance of specialized players growing bored of their chosen weapon-set. That said, New World allows players to switch to a Secondary Weapon (while automatically switching equipped skills) at Level 5 enabling effective multiclassing.
The action-based combat was satisfying; positioning was important, skills had some epic flare, and big telegraphed attacks that really commit your character to the fray felt great when they went right. With right-click-to-block and shift-to-dodge defensive abilities, it felt important to ensure you had a smart choice of apparel. You receive alerts when a switch in gear changes you between heavy, medium, and light armour – these in turn effect how well you can move and dodge in combat.
New World’s Hardcore PvP Gameplay
Just as in Mortal Online 2, which we recently reviewed, New World prides itself on hardcore combat and a skills-over-stats approach that gives any opponent a fighting chance. You cannot rest on your laurels and expect victory just because you have shiny armour and you’ve chopped up more NPC hogs. Unlike Mortal Online 2, New World’s fixed and open-world PvP are both opt-in.
When it comes to endgame PvP, New World currently boasts two major game-modes:
Outpost Rush – A PvEvP instanced endgame mode wherein teams of twenty battle against each other and formidable AI characters in order to control a series of outposts. There are multiple ways to contribute during a game, from defence to assault to resource gathering to slaying powerful NPCs hidden away in caves. Amazon Games presented this as an opportunity for strategic adjustment and differing playstyles, though when testing out the game mode, I personally found it to be a bit chaotic. I suspect it could turn into a more compelling mode once players have found their footing and are able to integrate more strategy.
War – We didn’t get the chance to try out War in the pre-Beta tests but it looks incredibly exciting. It features PvP on a huge scale, 50 players on each side battling for rich rewards and control of a region of Aeternum. The consequences of these battles are real and long lasting, and not only for those who are fighting. These epic-sounding battles will dictate which Factions own forts and other territories (as well as the buffs and boosts provided by these locations).
How do Factions Work in New World?
This brings us nicely onto something we keep alluding to, Factions. The aspect of Amazon Games’ MMORPG that I’m most excited about seeing brought to life. Large swathes of Aeternum will be ownable and controllable by players – with consequences for all who live there. Territory and Faction Ranks will grant bonuses to the loyal, incentivizing players to make a region their home.
Factions will underpin a lot in New World, not least trade and taxes. Those who control an area could rule it like a benevolent democrat or a ruthless dictator. Should the latter be the case, plucky upstart Factions could gather support to attempt a War. But before these Wars can even happen, rival Factions must enter an Influence Race for the area.
We can imagine this becoming a super-exciting addition if it’s done right. Imagine the possibilities for treachery, subterfuge, grudge-based warfare, or ousted nations seeking support to reclaim their homelands. But it won’t be easy, many games like For Honor have implemented Faction-esque systems that have been nigh-on pointless.
While Amazon Games wants New World to be player-led, the success of the system will be down to how carefully they monitor the mechanics and implement light-touch adjustments and updates to keep things fresh and fair. Making the most out of the Factions system and creating some epic unofficial storylines (as in EVE Online) will require a balancing act. Amazon Games will ruin things if they are too heavy handed in their interference. And yet if their touch is too light, things may get stale.
Early signs indicate that Amazon Games are aware of this. Alongside underdog bonuses that give new Factions extra influence and a fighting chance, there will be strict limitations on joining the leading Faction therefore suggesting that Aeternum should remain in an interesting unending conflict.
Territories and Housing in New World
Each township has a Town Project Board full of quests that will help players improve their local reputation. By helping out a town, you will gain Territory Standing Points which can be spent on localized benefits such as earning more EXP or increasing crafting and foraging speed in the area. Once your Territory Standing increases to Level 10, you will be sufficiently accepted into the local community to get your foot on the property ladder via Housing Rights.
Housing has multiple benefits beyond just being a fun addition to a game. It grants you storage, a vital Recall point, and a place to store Trophies which in turn grant regional benefits and bonuses.
Gathering, Crafting, Trading and Economy in New World
New World’s Crafting system has a lot of potential. Gathering resources doesn’t require manual clicking every time you want to swing an axe. Simply equip the right tool then click “chop” and “mine” and wait for things to finish. There are multiple ways to gain ingredients. For example, greenwood could be harvested without an axe, albeit less efficiently, from bushes rather than trees. Rarer and more valuable trees and ore deposits can only be gathered at a higher level.
The Crafting system itself is recipe and skill-level based. Just as you become better with a weapon by using it, you become better at crafting by doing it – theoretically leading to master crafters who can build hyper-powerful (and valuable) endgame weapons and armour. There will be many ways to earn your fortune in New World.
Amazon Games have made their intentions for a player-driven economy clear. They have taken the bold choice to not feature any merchants or traditional NPC-run stores. Instead, players must list their goods for sale for other players to purchase via Trade Posts. These trading posts will not be linked with each other – creating local economies and endless possibilities for interesting cross-regional buying and selling. Factional control will have a key impact here; as well as setting tax rates for the stores, the access of goods in and out of a territory will massively impact prices and availability. As CCP Games and EVE Online will tell you, putting players in charge of economy can result in things getting pretty wild, and I eagerly await the blocked trade routes and resource-driven warfare that should hopefully emerge.
Other Late and End Game Content in New World
Alongside the PvP modes we described above, New World offers plenty of cool PvE content. In addition to elite POIs dotted around the map, players can take part in dungeon-like Expeditions in parties of five. On the Expedition I tested, I didn’t see anything groundbreaking, but it was a well put together dungeon in a frosty undead setting complete with a highly challenging boss and some puzzles.
Various Zones are available to explore and battle in from the haunted ruins of Reekwater to Ebonscale Reach where an empress is attempting to reclaim her lineage through the enlistment of the Corrupted.
And while New World is largely PvP focused, I’m personally most looking forward to experiencing their epic endgame PvE mode Invasion. In Invasion, players must throw everything they have into defending their fort against seven waves of incoming Corrupted. That means battling them with cannons, boiling oil, and anything else you have to hand. These major in-game events, like War, have serious consequences. If lost, the entire town will be downgraded.
Closing Thoughts on Amazon Games New World MMORPG
I came into this New World Alpha review without particularly high expectations. New World, to me, was lacking that innovation “gotcha” moment. And it’s true: though not missing innovation, New World is not the most innovative upcoming MMORPG. And I wasn’t particularly blown away by the the PvE and PvP endgame modes. And yet I still came away impressed, very impressed actually.
New World is an extremely well-designed game taking popular aspects from many other leading MMORPGs. Its long-term success will be dependent on both the popularity of its endgame content and on how well the player-led Factions systems will work in reality. There are many reasons to think New World will be a massive success; the hardcore combat, the large-scale battles, the rise and fall of Factions, and the dynamics of the player-led economy leaves us with a lot to be enthused about. A whole new world awaits.
Which, as always, leaves us with the million-dollar question? Will I continue playing New World now that I’ve finished with my review? As loath as I am to put more dosh into Mr Bezos’ already bulging pockets, the answer is an unequivocal “yes!”
New World is due for launch on August 31st, 2021. If you have any unanswered questions, check out our accompanying New World review Q&A where we got the developers’ responses to crucial questions like solo play, additional weapons, joystick compatibility, switching Factions, and more. As always with Alpha and Beta reviews, this shouldn’t be assumed to represent the final product for New World.
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