Brave New World

I gotta be honest, I was sufficiently disinterested in New World to pay it nearly zero attention all this time. But then its open beta loomed and it started getting a lot of traffic on my YouTube feed. And it’s launching at the end of next month. So I started looking at it. About two days later I pre-ordered it (through Steam), giving me beta access.

Turns out it’s a pretty different thing than was being pitched a year ago, which is in turn different from what was being pitched a year before that… and so on. The vision for this thing has been though more realignments than my 2005 Kia. And the thing it is right now… is actually pretty good. It’s a solid MMO with fairly simple action combat, opt-in world PvP, fabulously chewy crafting and a huge open, seamless environment. It looks great — the view distances are spectacular — and has a distinct visual style. There are tons of ways to progress; not only by leveling but by increasing the weapons skills that provide the game’s abilities and through the 17 (!) craft skills. A single character can do all the weapon and craft skills, eliminating the necessity of alts, which I think is great. There is still a ton to do after reaching the level cap, which as far as I can tell is 60 and which I am nowhere near.

There’s also dungeons, which I have not seen. From what I hear the early ones (available starting around level 25) are quite easy, but difficulty ramps up steeply as you get to the later ones. From my superficial point of view this seems a sensible approach.

You can flag yourself for the open-world PvP in settlements, and those settlements can then be claimed by guilds. Other guilds can challenge (a.k.a. invade) owned settlements and a set-piece 50v50 PvP battle is scheduled to resolve it. Not sure how the timing will work out on this, or the selection of players for these sessions in guilds with more than 50 people, but on paper it seems neat. Guilds can improve their settlements with higher-tier crafting stations and the like. I see no particular obstacle to totally ignoring both the PvP and guilds and just playing it like a survival game; your progress is likely to be slower, but some folks probably don’t care about that. And there’s player housing and player-crafted furniture and décor.

It’s got weaknesses, of course. The combat is probably too shallow… although it feels fine to me. Character customization is rudimentary, although it does have some thoughtful touches like all faces and hairstyles being available to all genders. It has roughly as much customizability as WoW, so it’s way behind what one expects from a modern AAA MMORPG. Some elements such as Questing and achievements feel tacked on; quests (both PvE and PvP), are clearly procedurally generated and are feel the lack of variety. It’s also super grindy, but I think that’s a feature of MMOs that one has to either accept or avoid the genre altogether.

Of course there is the usual regimen of bugs, network issues, tuning quirks and login queues one expects from a game a month from launch. Most famously the game is alleged to be bricking a specific high-end video card (the GTX 3090), but that’s actually a hardware fault on the card; most if not all manufacturers are replacing them.

Honestly I am not inclined to put much more time into New World during the beta, as all this progress is just gonna get wiped anyway. But there I was last night, chilling away for an hour or two. It has great potential to serve as either a chill, relaxed experience or as an exciting PvP spectacle. And I hope it can pull this off. For now, it’s a diversion from ESO, which I continue to play as my “main game”. But I’m looking for a guild, which tells me that I’m going to be playing this avidly at launch.

3 responses to “Brave New World

  1. Sounds interesting! Don’t have a PC worthy of the newer games. Games like “Papers, Please” are the gold standard for this laptop, haha.

  2. I was in one of the NDA’d test runs last year. It was fine, but not really my cuppa. I’m told that it’s very changed since then, but I just haven’t been able to muster any interest in trying it again either. I’m glad to hear there are people liking it more than I did, though.