New World: Amazon’s foray into video games is a pleasant anachronism | Games
II’m back in one of my happy places: hanging out in an hour-long queue, twiddling my thumbs, waiting to connect to the overloaded servers of a massively multiplayer game. Soon I’ll be back in Amazon’s latest video game, New World, where I’ll mine veins for ore, skin animal skins, and turn 10 ghoul heads into a featureless character that promises a point reward. experience and a longsword with a modest bonus to dexterity. It’s been a long time since the heyday of the mid-2000s of this genre, when countless World of Warcraft facsimiles burst onto the scene, eager to replicate its meteoric success. (Warhammer Online, Tabula Rasa, The Matrix Online. All failed, it was a bloodbath.)
Business model declared dead as studios pivot to Guild Wars or Destiny multiplayer format – a few hub areas populated by the specters of thousands of players that you barely see or hear. This makes New World Amazon Games’ first game since its shooter Crushed and burnt crucible spectacularly last year, hilariously obsolete. And yet, this RPG has managed to reinvigorate a rich, dormant genre, which had been left to ferment for decades as the well dried up. The numbers are staggering. New World Accumulated 650,000 simultaneous players at the exit, which makes it most played new game on Steam and one of the real surprise hits of the year.
A vogue like this is hard to ignore. After all, the best MMOs are mostly powered by oppressive Fomo. So, I walked into the waiting room, calculating the integers in my talent tree, scrolling through the guild recruiting notices posted on the subreddit. I can not believe it. It’s like I’m back in high school again.
I still don’t know if I really enjoy New World or if I’m just relishing the chance to indulge many of my most repressed gaming instincts. Your character is stranded on the shores of a legendary island called Aeternum, which is swaddled in a remarkably generic tropical-colonial aesthetic, and weighed down by traditions as thin as paper. (There is a lot of talk of a kind of malignant centrifugal force called, sigh, Corruption.) I wielded a damaged shield and a water-damaged sword, as a group of survivors led me to the First Quest Center.
From there, New World revealed its staid fundamentals. A nearby wreck is home to a wandering group of ghostly sailors, and someone at base camp wants me to slaughter the herd. I cut a dozen and return to the quest giver, who hands me a slightly better weapon and reveals the next step in the quest chain: there’s another shipwreck elsewhere on the beach, and now I have to send enemies. slightly beefier in pursuit of another marginal armament.
We’ve all done this same loop from EverQuest, and New World does not want to upset the formula. Instead, the game bolsters its conservative MMO attributes with other elements pulled straight from Steam graphics. Aeternum is home to a whole ecology of trees to be cut, plants to be harvested and stones to be picked. The fruits of the earth quickly accumulate in your inventory, until they are grouped together in a vast network of interlocking planes. You got the idea. Minecraft’s DNA has permeated every nook and cranny of game development, so no one should be shocked that it has made landfall here.
The result is that the New World feels like a proud and ruthless grind – the absolute zenith of watching the numbers go up. You can level up your character, but you also have treadmill schemes for each of the game’s weapon types, which are needed to unlock extremely hard-hitting combat abilities. All of the different professions (cooking, fishing, leatherworking, etc.) have their own skill levels, which slowly unlock the best recipes from the crafting menu. In addition, your reputation must be maintained with each local municipality in order to obtain favorable tax rates. New world ensures that you are always left behind.
I am a longtime World of Warcraft grumpy, and that makes me particularly vulnerable to this kind of heuristic. I’ve spent endless nights cultivating the potions, reagents, and materials needed to optimize my raid nights every two weeks, so a video game that asks me to hunt an endless variety of carrots is fine in my wheelhouse. That said, even as someone who’s played an MMO as a second job before, New World’s the stringent requirements quickly waned.
My sessions with the game are frequently punctuated with a trip to town – checking the task board, melting an iron payload, all for a mouthful of XP – as if the game wants to demonstrate how far away I am. the promised land. Want to make bullets for your musket? You’ll have to hunt down charcoal, flax, flint, and saltpetre, all isolated in their own corners of the island. Good luck! I once had the will to sacrifice all my free time on the altar of progression; but right now I wonder if the New World deserves to absorb all my weekends and vacations.
Amazon tempers some of that chore with a big fight. There’s no jaded auto-attack here – all pushes and retorts are keyboard mapped. It makes the New World decidedly more modern than any other MMO on the market. Your character’s power level depends on both their stats numbers and the player’s ability. I’ve heard rumors in chat from players around, say, level 30, taking down opponents at level 60 or less. It adds a fascinating wrinkle to fights with other players, which is bad enough already. Everyone on a server is filtered into three distinct factions, which constantly clash in Aeternum’s territory. Player-led guilds within these factions can take control of certain settlements, where they set tax rates and earn passive income on trade. There is a fascinating anarcho-capitalist experience lurking inside the New World – but you would need to stay a long time to see it.
Maybe that’s why I’m coming back. Despite New World’s intransigence and intransigence – despite the fact that I’ll probably have to dive another 80 hours into this game before I start orbiting its many intriguing endgame elements – I still have a journal full of quests that burn a hole in my pocket. Amazon clearly understands the people in my stock; he knows we’re suckers who like to see our cooking skills go from 13 to 14, then 15 after that. (Hey look! I can make butter now!)
The chat box in the corner of the screen is teeming with constant activity, as my fellow gamers search for groups and advertise their products like the good old days. What a joy to revel in an MMO at its peak. The excitement is really palpable. New world is tedious and bossy, but it also happens to be absurdly popular in a way that games like this haven’t been in decades, and so it always brings the Fomo.