Today Ninja Refinery gets the great pleasure of hosting a guest post from the one and only JackelOP88, part of the newly-formed NinJack stream team (join the Discord!) and a long time friend and gaming buddy of mine.
Covering the hotly-anticipated first proper Amazon Game Studios release, New World.
MMORPGs aren’t strictly my bag (although moving to PC gaming makes it seem more feasible). JackelOP88 is a veteran in the genre, and is doing his best to convince all of the VasDown boys to join in. Perhaps this review will help sway us? Stranger things have happened!
Anyway, it’s been a pleasure to have a new guest post. Without further ado, here is Jackel’s initial review of New World.
Having briefly played a couple of the betas, and a couple of weeks into full release, it’s time to give some initial thoughts on Amazon’s entry into the MMO market!
I’ve been a huge fan of MMORPG’s since I gave The Legend of Mir 2 a go at the tender age of 13. It was around a 600MB download, and I had to leave the download going overnight whilst ensuring the phone wasn’t used until I could check it had finished. Good old dial-up, those were simpler times!
Back then, there was a real sense of impact in these games. Players became famous (or infamous!) for achieving certain feats, and names would be well known. The guild I was in back then was even featured on a TV show based around the game! In 2006, the first player to hit level 50 on the European servers had their character immortalised by way of a permanent statue being erected in game!
Over the years, I’ve tried out various MMO’s. I skipped World of Warcraft, favouring games such as Lineage 2, Aion, Eve Online, Black Desert Online, and a mixture of other much smaller releases. I’ve certainly seen a decline in the hold MMO’s of the past had on me. With a mixture of having less gaming time due to adult responsibilities, and the games themselves either being super grindy (looking at you, Korea). Or having a lot of issues around ‘pay to win’ (P2W) features.
Like many other MMO fans, this never really stopped me from looking for the next big release that I could love, which never really came.
A new hope
Everything could be set to change, with one of the first Western MMO releases that shows promise for years – Amazon’s New World. We’re also closely watching the development of Ashes of Creation, which is set to be another huge release – what a time to be an MMO fan! Is the drought finally over?
I was incredibly lucky to win a pre-order copy of New World quite some time ago. That means I’ve been able to jump in without fear of ultimately not enjoying yet another MMO. The pressure was off for me.
So let’s take a look at the launch, and overall gameplay. I was a day or two late for release, but I couldn’t wait – I’d felt an excitement about a game which I hadn’t felt for some time now.
Stand in line
Then came the queues.
With every MMO launch, comes queues. I don’t recall the last time I was able to jump into a freshly released MMO without having to wait in a virtual queue to play. With a company as huge as Amazon, I expected they would have the server capacity at launch to handle whatever was thrown at them, and succeed where historic launches had failed before. But we were plagued with the same issues here…
I get it. Companies don’t want to throw too much capacity on initial launch to avoid having to merge too many servers once the hype dies down. But with a total of 176 servers worldwide, each with a capacity of 2000 players, we saw queues across the board of thousands of players waiting. To put that into context – that’s a total capacity of around 352,000, and Steam had been reporting concurrent player numbers at over 700,000!!
Two weeks later, with some new servers launched and capacity tweaked, we’ve seen the queues die down. And luckily they are non-existent on the server I’ve been playing. Hopefully this is the end of waiting hours to play!!
However, as a result of these issues, we have seen a lot of people unable to play with their friends, having to elect to play on a different server on the promise of free server transfers in the coming days from Amazon – braving the New World on their own. Hopefully we can all be together soon!
A whole New World
So, minus queue times, I’ve managed a grand total of around 40 hours in game so far – and I’ve loved every moment of it.
We begin with a dramatic entrance to Aeternum, having shipwrecked off the coast and washed up on shore. During this initial cutscene, you are dropped into the character creation. I found that the customisation gives you a decent number of options for the usual features – hair, beard (very important), facial features and gnarly scars/tattoo’s. Where it lacks, it the ability to really refine your character’s features such as in Black Desert online, where you could literally change anything (yes, even those). However, this does result in the avoidance of any overly curious character designs, and I’ve seen some pretty strange characters in MMO’s in years gone by…
Following your character creation, it transitions directly back in to the cutscene, which I thought was a really nice touch.
With my character washed up and ready to go, I started breezing through the tutorial (I’ve done this twice before already in betas!) with my sword and shield. Again, I was introduced to the combat smoothly, with the usual moves covered – Attack/Heavy attacks, blocks, and dodges. New world has opted for real-time action combat, with timed blocks, dodging, and stamina management key to survival. This slows the pace of combat to a degree, but not so much that it’s crippling. You can’t just mash attacks and skills and expect to win, dependant on your build anyway…
Following the ‘pre-tutorial’, you are dropped onto the island with the rest of the hundreds of washed-up sailors on your server – hell of a storm, that one. The world is vibrant, filled to the brim with vegetation and wildlife (although the only type of birds here, are turkeys!), and it looks great graphically.
One of the things Amazon has really got right here, is the choices you get after you’ve created your character. The game offers a choice of 11 different weapons, of which you can have two equipped at any time. Freely swapping between them during combat. Each weapon must be used to level up your mastery, and in turn you can unlock active and passive skills. Every weapon has two skill trees that you can focus on, or mix and match. New World really allows you to put your own stamp on how you use weapons.
Each weapon also has linked attributes, which consists of the standard RPG attributes – Strength, Dexterity, Intelligence, Focus, and Constitution. You can improve these core attributes by levelling up, and via bonuses on your gear. In addition to improving the effectiveness of your weapons, you can get additional bonuses – Strength can give you increased mining speed, as well as the usual improve melee attacks, while more Focus will give you better mana regeneration as well as improve your fishing skills.
What this does, is really allow people to experiment with different builds, and really hone in on specific areas. It’s early days, but I can’t wait to see what weird and wonderful builds people design over time!
A good crafting system is absolutely vital for an MMO to be enjoyable – in my humble opinion anyway. This is another area where New World delivers strongly – with a range of gathering, refining, and crafting skills to sink your teeth in to.
Naturally, you’ll want to progress in as many areas as possible. The various things you might want to craft require materials from all of the other proficiencies. Or, you could make use of the trading market to buy the materials you need. This varied crafting system promotes exactly that.
I’ve lost hours to gathering and crafting so far, and I’ll no doubt lose many more going forward. Amazon has managed to implement a system which draws you in. You can spend entire evenings working on your craft rather than questing, taking on PvE dungeons, or fighting with opposing factions. Still feeling like you’ve made great use of your time in game.
Additionally, you can even craft furniture to use in your own house – once you can afford to buy one and pay the tax, that is. House ownership in MMO’s is always a great feature in my opinion, especially when you can have your very own dog – and yes, you can even pet it!
I can’t wait to really hone my craft, and start creating weapons and armour to improve on my overall PvE/PvP experience!
The majority of my playtime has been based around crafting and questing, so I’m not the best person to speak to when it comes to PvP just yet. I’ll be talking about that once I’ve managed to sink my teeth into that area.
What I can talk to, is the questing and general PvE. We’ve got pretty much the same old formula here when it comes to quests. Go to this location, beat up some NPC’s, gather this item etc. If anything, the actual content of the quests is a bit stale now. You find yourself doing incredibly similar tasks, just at different points on the map. However, I’m not really sure how that could be changed up in an MMO setting. There are PvP quests that you can do for your faction too, so I’ll need to give them a go to see if the freshen up the genre at all . But choices look to be limited in that area too.
Most of my PvE action has been centred around these quests. It seems it would be mostly a waste of time to go out to smash some heads without getting the extra bonus of a quest reward afterwards. Unfortunately, there’s been little-to-no variety when it comes to the enemies I’ve fought so far. The choices I’ve seen covers zombie farmers, zombie pirates, skeletons, and the odd zombie dog.
I’ve also ran the game’s first ‘dungeon’ setting – the Amrine excavation. This offers a little more excitement around PvE, with a couple of bosses thrown in along with decent loot. You’ll need to think about your party set-up here, and it’s a welcome challenge. It’s still very simple in it’s execution, but I’m hopeful for some more interesting mechanics for the higher level dungeons.
Is this the New World for me?
Will I be sticking around? Absolutely. A lot of the PvE action has been a little ‘samey’ so far, but it’s early days. I think the game will seriously hit its stride when I get more involved in the PvP aspects. The territory and faction system does a fantastic job. Creating a sense of reason behind actively contributing in PvP activities and quests.
I’ve enjoyed every moment being teamed up with my friends. And the gathering/crafting system is in-depth, and incredibly well implemented.
A huge aspect of my enjoyment so far has been the general feeling of not having to try to rush to endgame, or keep up with others. I’ve loved doing my own thing, taking my time and mixing up my in-game activities. Amazon has done a fantastic job at creating a game in the MMO space which caters to a more casual gamer – which is almost unheard of within MMO’s.
Amazon’s New World hasn’t been without its controversy. With queues, server transfer delays, and even the odd GPU being bricked (for clarity, manufacturers did admit fault here, but that’s another argument). But as an avid MMO fan, I’ve had a great experience so far. I feel like I’ve found my new home, at least for a while.
Hopefully I’ll be back soon. Once I’ve got some PvP action under my belt, to give a further look into everything New World offers. For now, it’s back in to the game to mine some more of that iron ore and beat up yet another zombie.