New World: A promising, but incomplete, Action MMO RPG

“New World” is an Action RPG MMO developed by “Amazon Games Orange County”, “Relentless Studios” and “Cloud 9 Games” which is published by Amazon Games. It mixes various already existing game mechanics into one game, and added it’s own twists to it.

Full Disclosure: I have gotten access to the Closed Beta for free, but am not part of their Creator Program. Neither have I been offered money or a sponsorship for writing a review about the game.

Update: Fixed a number of typos that appeared. Also fixed an issue where i wrote four instead of five.

Video: Visually pleasing, but a repeat of the early 2000s

In simple words, the world is beautiful, not overly stylized, and fits together visually. All zones have a relatively unique look to them, allowing you to identify where you are just by looking at your surroundings – something that is missing from many single- and multi-player games released since 2010. Geometry and Textures are detailed enough to not be visually lacking in the experience, and even the animations fit with the world.

But all of that is overshadowed by the Developers repeating the early 2000s through heavy abuse of Bloom and Volumetric Effects, to the point that it is impossible to see your own character at times. The heavy usage of Bloom and Volumetric Fog can be seen in the images below, and it often ruins the decent visuals of areas. Similar to the early 2000s, the Developers haven’t grasped the concept of HDR yet, so many areas are too dark or too bright.

Overall, if they can fix the abuse of Volumetric Effects and Bloom, the game would look great. A few examples of what New World has to offer visually:

Weavers Fen
Weavers Fen
Restless Shore
Restless Shore
Brightwood, Town

The Good

  • Stylized, but it all fits together.
  • High quality models and textures everywhere.
  • Easy to identify where you are by just looking at your surroundings.
  • Ground clutter is dense enough to give the illusion of actual grass and plants.

The Bad

  • Some areas are still incomplete in the Beta and have floating objects or missing ground.
  • Back to the early 2000s, this time with Volumetric Effects and Bloom.
  • Post-Processing effects are outdated, often result in haloing around objects, and use naive distance measurements.

Audio: A Listening Experience on Repeat

The audio design in New World is one of the better ones, but it has a serious lack of variety. It becomes very clear after just 4-8 hours of playing that most sounds are not even varied by pitch to give the illusion of more sound effects, and you’re just listening to the same one again and again. On the flip side, most of the sounds do fit together and create a continuous experience, including the music which doesn’t distract from the gameplay. There are some exceptions though.

The Good

  • Music does not distract from actual gameplay.
  • Sounds mostly fit with the action performed.

The Bad

  • Very little variety, most sounds repeat.
  • Various sounds clearly are unfinished.

Game Mechanics: Crafting & Gathering

It’s very obvious that Amazon Game Studios wants the Players to be the Content in this game, and the Crafting & Gathering mechanics are one of the ways to do that. New World wants you to go out into the wilds, chop down trees, gather rare materials, and then craft your own gear which will often be better than what you get from Loot and Chests. There’s just one major problem: It is incredibly boring and unbalanced, and should be done on the side.

Let’s start with Gathering, of which there are five types you can do: Logging, Mining, Skinning, Harvesting, and Fishing. Out of all of these, Fishing is the most enjoyable and complete, because it feels like you’re still playing the game through a mini-game. The other four are walking from A to B to press a button to watch a cutscene for a few seconds, and then you repeat that – I hope that these are expanded with mini-games as well in the future.

Then there is Crafting, which I can only describe as a mix of every crafting system that has been implemented into MMOs. While it does not suffer from the progress bar problem that major MMOs suffers from, it is still very uninspired and not even necessary to progress in the game for the most part – in the end you will end up just doing it on the side anyway.

Both of these systems suffer from a lack of content, as most things are grouped together at milestones instead of spread around. This is a problem I’m seeing appear more and more, and it makes it less fun to do either of these actively. It favors players that can spend 24/7 doing just that, which will alienate casual players. As it is right now, Crafting and Gathering are incomplete – not to mention extremely reliant on grinding.

The Good

  • Fishing is relatively fun.
  • Crafting doesn’t suffer from the progress bar infection many MMOs suffer under.

The Bad

  • Post-Processing effects are outdated, often result in haloing around objects, and use naive distance measurements.
  • Some Crafting or Gathering options lack content to an unusual degree.
  • Not fun to actually do actively, as it relies on 24/7 grinding.

Game Mechanics: Combat (PvE and PvP)

The Combat system, a mix of good and bad, though it mostly is the latter. It feels non-interactive, due to it being impacted by latency and clearly missing a lot of bug fixes. The simplest description that I can come up with is that you’re telling an actor to perform a certain action, and they perform it overdramatically, but will immediately be interrupted by a fly in their way and refuse to do it again for a few seconds.

At the same time, it is less turn-based than most other MMOs are, and you actually feel involved in the battle instead of being a spectator. This is something I haven’t seen in many MMOs, as most eventually fall into the “Global Cooldown” trap to improve Server performance, while drastically degrading gameplay experience. However, even with that, it is still very clunky and definitely needs work.

Unfortunately for a mixed PvE/PvP game, it significantly lacks on the PvE side to a degree that isn’t even funny. Enemies do not follow the same rules as players do, and at times can just completely ignore the rules set for players. Whether it is hitting by simple teleporting into you, impossible to avoid attacks, permanently staggering or stunning you, New World has all PvE problems that come with bad PvE games.

And then there’s hit boxes and hit detection. Sometimes good, sometimes so bad that I’d prefer the hit boxes from Monster Hunter on the Nintendo 3DS. The visible geometry often does not match the actual collision geometry for attacks, so you can miss even though you have a clear line of sight to the enemy. You could have the cursor directly on the enemy, and miss because there was an invisible pillar somewhere between you and the enemy.

There’s not much else I really need to get into. New World’s combat system is lacking significantly and needs work before release.

The Good

  • Active Combat instead of Turn-Based.
  • No Global Cooldown nonsense.

The Bad

  • Clunky and incomplete.
  • Non-interactive experience due to latency and server lag.
  • Awful hitboxes and hitdetection, worse than some Nintendo 3DS titles.
  • PvE Enemies teleport themselves or their attacks into you and don’t follow the same rules as players do.

Game Mechanics: Skills & Classes

When you first look at the Weapons, Skills and possible Classes, it feels like there’s a lot of options. But to be exact, there are only a lot of options for Melee, with both physical and elemental ranged only having two options, and only exactly one option for healing. Even though healers are the most needed in the game, they are at a disadvantage by default, which sucks. Anyway, once you have picked a weapon (and thus picked a class), it’s time to decide on skills.

Each weapon comes with two sides of skills that can be picked from, most of which do not complement the other. This effectively makes the skill system pointless, as you only have A or B to pick from on most weapons, and it often isn’t possible to mix the two together well. While the system itself sounds like it has potential, it is currently locked away by a lack of variety and ability to mix and match.

If they add more ranged and healing options, it can possibly become one of the best MMOs.

The Good

  • Lots of Melee options.
  • Multiple skill trees per Weapon to pick from.
  • Skills not bound to the Character, but to the Weapon type.

The Bad

  • Few options for ranged, even fewer for healing.
  • Most Melee weapons are identical in range and damage.
  • It is extremely difficult to play a good Tank when you’re solo.
  • Can’t mix and match between skill trees, as they do not complement each other most of the time.

World Design and Quests: Grinding on Repeat

The World Design is lacking, uninspired, repetetive and just shit. I have played a fair share of games, including MMOs, and this is among the worst World Designs I have ever seen. The story is confusing and boring, the quests are boring and repetetive, the zones are copies of earlier zones, just with different colors. The entire game revolves around grinding over and over, which makes me think this may be an Amazon Warehouse Employee simulator – work or die.

Quests, if you want to even call them that, are similar. It is very clear that the Developers have never taken a look at good quest design, and tried to reapply an outdated quest design model to a modern game, which makes the entire game feel worse. They are also intentionally padded out by walking sections or by being locked behind doing the entire quest line for another NPC.

If that doesn’t sound bad yet, the rewards for Quests are basically non-existent. While you have to do Quests and some Combat to actually level up to the point they expect you to, the Quests give nothing to actually make it worth it. Neither money or experience is granted in any satisfying amount to be worth it, and many things you need to actually play the game as intended cost more than you earn in an entire day of playing.

I’d say, this is the worst aspect of the game, and they might have just turned this into an Arena Battle MMO RPG and it would have played the exact same.

The Good

  • Nothing

The Bad

  • All regions are copies of the previous region in both Quests and Enemies.
  • Hardly any variety in enemy behavior and types, only colors change.
  • Nothing to actually explore, no hidden areas or secrets.
  • Quests are uninspired, boring and grindy, and give no real reward for doing them.

The Remaining Parts

Some aspects of the game make up a small part of the content, for example Dungeons and Elite areas. Most of this content is “optional” in a way that you experience it passively through Quests, or not at all. The Dungeons and Elite areas are mostly identical across zones, usually with the same mechanics of dodge/block and hit the enemy. The Elite areas are usually just higher scaled enemies of the same zone, sometimes with new abilities, but often just scaled up in HP and Damage.

Second is the Loot system, which appears to be designed to keep you playing for as long as possible. It rewards long play sessions by occasionally giving you better items, but the majority of the loot – even from Dungeons – is completely useless for what you are playing. The loot you will get will be within the equipped gear range, plus/minus 10 to the maximum/minimum of it, with the higher range being much harder to come by. It requires extensive grinding to get gear that way, which is probably because they want you to use crafted gear.

Then there is the player-based Trading Post, which during the Beta appeared to be mostly useless. The economy during the Beta has not stabilised, and offers do not appear to work across Towns. This makes the market pointless, as there is no real trading hub to go to for now, but this might end up better in the future. Sadly some of the gear that drops from enemies is Bind on Pickup, so the loot that would be great to sell can’t be sold to other players – possibly to slow down player progress.

And finally the last thing I want to cover is Fast Travel. It requires a resource called “Azoth”, which is intentionally left scarce and you need a lot of it to travel large distances. Once again, an intential choice to delay player progress.

The Good

  • Nothing

The Bad

  • Dungeons are mostly a reskins of other Dungeons, and often very very broken.
  • The majority of mechanics in the game is to hit and dodge/block.
  • There is hardly any progress in Loot, with even higher level reward chests often not even giving an equal item to your current gear.
  • Trading Posts are pointless during the Beta.
  • Fast Travel is expensive to pad out the game.

Recommended, or not?

It’s difficult to say, but I will be giving the game a miss for at least a few months, and will recommend against pre-ordering it as always. It is very clearly unfinished and needs more work, if anything this feels like an Early Access game more than a full game. While the game is fun at times and even relaxing, the majority of it is a straight up grind with glitchy and clunky mechanics.

So my recommendation is to wait and see if it gets better.

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