Compiling my thoughts about New World, Amazon’s newest game that’s so big I can’t even see the finish line, is a tall order. Now that I’m more than 40 hours into the game, there’s plenty to discuss.
There’s nothing groundbreaking about the story and later I’ll argue the story isn’t the main focal point of the game. You’re part of a crew sailing to find a mystical place called Aeternum. The land is said to be full of treasures, but during a storm, you’re cast onto the shores and end up knee-deep in the island’s dark energy called the Corruption. Once you fight your way through that, you finally reach the beach and start your journey in Aeternum.
Starting out in New World
Before you can get to Aeternum, you must create your character. The options aren’t impressive, but there’s a fair bit of customization available—and there are plenty of hairstyles from which to choose.
Once you get through your cutscene at the beginning, you’ll be introduced to the basic combat controls and sent out into Aeternum with the rest of the people who were shipwrecked. Pretty early on in the game, you have some weapons to choose from, so you can try them all out and see which combination works best for you. After a few introductory quests, you’ll be tasked with finding the first town, which is different depending on where you spawned in.
New World’s storyline
The first thing I’d do to New World is completely rewrite the story and add cutscenes. Gathering is fun as heck, the combat is good, and PvP is the meat of the game. But if you’re going to have a story mode, at least pay some attention to it. Some of the side quests can be really interesting if you take the time to read them, and the main story isn’t boring, but it leaves more to be desired. The storyline in New World is bare-bones and the quests are uninspired.
Let’s be honest here, the story isn’t good, nor is it the focus of the game. I’ve played several MMOs with at least a decent story and New World’s biggest downfall is the way it tells the story. There are plenty of journal pages around the world if you’re interested in reading the lore, but I doubt even 10 percent of people read them. I sure didn’t.
I also graduated with a degree in film, so my expectations are quite high when it comes to storytelling. My favorite MMOs are the ones that can show a story, not just tell it. New World does a horrible job at this. The main quests and many side quests are voice acted, but there are no cutscenes (at least not up until where I am in the story) and no dialogue outside of the person you’re directly talking to.
Regarding dialogue, it’s not bad. The NPCs have some character to them. I had a quest, for example, where I had one NPC who sent me to check out an area. When I came back, she told me she didn’t believe me and that she’d go check for herself. Fine, be that way. But then, she gave me another quest, doing something similar. And when I came back and told her the answer to a question she specifically asked me about what happened while on my quest, she said she didn’t believe me again. I was screaming over Discord to my friends about this quest, but I secretly loved that she was like that.
The story could use a big improvement, but as I said before, it isn’t the main focus of the game. The scenery does provide some clues to the lore, such as the plethora of ships that are all broken on the shore or the big broken tower that you visit pretty early in the game. It still isn’t enough to make the story something to buy the game for.
New World looks and sounds gorgeous
Although there isn’t anything groundbreaking about the look of the game, it does have an air of beauty to it. I especially liked the lighting and how different the world looked during dusk or dawn. The towns at the beginning were filled with rundown-looking homes, but they started to become populated as people progressed through the game. One of my favorite things to do, when I get to a new town, is to walk through it to see if anyone has purchased a home yet and decorated it. The render distance is quite impressive and although I may not see every detail, it’s still beautiful from a distance.
The sound in the game is pretty impressive and it’s unlike anything I’ve ever heard in an MMO. The sounds aren’t flat at all and you can tell the difference when you’re mining surrounded by trees and land compared to when you’re mining out on an open cliff.
The game’s skills sound amazing, too. I almost don’t want to use one of my hammer skills every time it’s available because it sounds like thunder and can be heard a fair distance away. The cracking of a rifle sounds as impactful as it would in real life.
New World is a sandbox MMO
There are two different types of MMOs out there: a sandbox MMO and a theme park MMO.
Theme park MMOs are more linear. You have a set of tasks in the game that will allow you to go to the next town or checkpoint and the story is what drives you to do it. Games like World of Warcraft, Guild Wars 2, and Final Fantasy XIV are theme park MMOs.
New World is a sandbox MMO. This means you could run to the end game towns at level one, even though you’ll most likely die before you get there. There’s some light guidance in the game. For example, once you hit a certain point, you’ll stop leveling up because the mobs are too low level. But for the most part, the game allows you to do whatever you want, wherever you want.
I like that New World is a sandbox MMO and it’s the first of its kind that I’ve actually enjoyed. Although the combat is similar in other sandbox MMOs, this is the first where I haven’t been completely turned off by the combat mechanics.
The only problem is that I tend to get very distracted. On my way to my faction quests, I end up chopping down trees or mining up ores, and then I see some more of those things just a little bit away, so I go to those. And before you know it, I’m encumbered and farther away from my quests than where I started.
If not for story, what is New World good for?
I hope you’ve got friends and a company because this is where New World shines. There are three factions: the Covenant, Marauders, and Syndicate. There’s no big story behind them. The Marauders are based in the military and believe in a free nation, the Syndicate are secretive and search for knowledge, and the Covenant is based in the church.
These nations claim towns and then fight over them—and that’s the essence of what New World is all about. There are a lot of perks for that company to hold a town, including gathering bonuses, damage increases, and discounts on crafting, just to name a few. The more towns your faction controls, the better the game will be for you.
All of those perks create a great reason for companies to come together and fight to take over as much of Aeternum as possible. I haven’t fought in any of the battles yet, but my company has participated in and streamed a few of them (shoutout to Siege Warriors) and they’re pretty tense. I know I’ve held my breath a few times while defending Windsward for the first time.
What kind of player will enjoy New World?
Those who love PvP will likely love New World. I don’t love PvP on my own, but I enjoy it in a group. I also enjoy being a helpful company member who crafts and gathers stuff for people who go into battle. So as long as you’ve got a fun group of people to play the game with, you’re going to have a good time.
For those who enjoy MMOs for the story, you’re probably not going to like New World. The quests are repetitive and I’ve often referred to New World as “Running Simulator 2021” because they’re so very far from where you start them.
With that in mind, the people the game is targeted for will probably enjoy New World. There’s plenty of reason for conflict between the factions to keep the fights alive and it even makes for an interesting strategy. For example, my faction has already negotiated a cease-fire with the Covenant so we can focus on the Marauders, who are the biggest force on our server.
All that said, this game has a quickly approaching expiration date for those who play it solo—unless they also enjoy playing PvP solo. MMOs are typically played for years and years if they’re successful and the game is way too new to see if it will succeed long-term, but I think New World has a good chance if the devs keep the game updated and fresh for those who stick around.