New World hands-on preview: Go your own way

Amazon Game's ambitious MMORPG wants to give players a whole New Wolrd to do with as they please. But is there enough there to keep them occupied?

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Amazon Games Studios' latest title New World is an MMORPG in the exploration and survival genre. The game takes place in an alternate history where a mysterious new island is discovered in the Bermuda Triangle region. Instead of colonizing the Americas, countries start sending people to explore the island. While the island has its beauty it is definitely not the promised land settlers thought it was. I went hands-on with an in-progress build of the PC exclusive title to see what new settlers can expect when they get to the New World.  

As players explore the land they’ll find an abundance of natural resources that they can collect, like flint stones, lumber, hemp, or iron. All sorts of wildlife inhabit the island as well and players can expect to run into things as harmless as turkeys and as ferocious as giant bears. There’s also a supernatural presence and players may come upon ancient structures and they will definitely come across a variety of supernatural zombie-like enemies. 

If players want to be able to harvest resources, hunt game, or defend themselves against creatures they’ll have to have the right tools. The crafting system is how players will get most items throughout the game whether it’s armor, weaponry, meals, or harvesting tools. 

There are several safe areas throughout the territories where players can activate respawn points or work at various crafting stations for things like blacksmithing or fabric weaving. Players can also put items into a storage space at these locations, but whatever items are stored there are only available from that specific location. When out in the field, players will have access to a campsite where they can cook and craft. Getting downed in the field will result in players dropping everything not equipped where they die. Unless you want to trek back to get your stuff from a respawn point or campsite, caution will be key when exploring. 

As players level up they’ll be able to put their skill points towards anything they as opposed to being stuck playing in one class. Much like in real life, the odds of survival go up when there’s more than just one person. The concept of New World is that as players enter the environments the narrative will build itself. Since there are no character classes, players are free to just wander around doing as they please or perhaps become a farmer or soldier or whatever they’d like to be within a joined faction. As groups form and take over territory they’ll be able to change the world around them by building infrastructure. Doing things like making farms and fortifying strongholds with stone walls is all part of the bigger picture. 

new world gate combat screenshot

As factions get larger, the PvP aspect of the game will go into full effect. Groups will go to war to claim new territory. In order to stave off the issue of one team going in and wrecking another while they’re sleeping, there will be a built-in grace period for both sides to prepare for combat. The team at Amazon Games promises that these large scale battles will be what shifts power within the game and defines its history.

My first impressions of New World is that there are a lot ambitious concepts going on here. Certain elements reminded me of EVE Online with its emphasis on sort of giving people space and letting them decide how to approach. But that also means it will face the same problems that EVE players face like once worlds have been conquered by larger groups on servers it's going to be much harder to come in as a new player or smaller group. 

There needs to be a lot done to spice up the various aspects of the gameplay and exploration. As it stands now combat is very basic and sporadic in its execution for one thing. There are cooldown times on camp respawn points, and you can only access your stored items from the exact location you stored them in a massive world. I also got my butt handed to me by everything despite playing as a maxed out character. There are definitely glints of promise within a lot of New World’s concepts, but the game definitely needs some retooling to make it an enjoyable experience. Fortunately, there seems to be plenty of time to correct course since New World doesn’t have a set launch date just yet. 

Reviews Editor

Blake has been writing and making videos about pop-culture and games for over 10 years now. Although he'd probably prefer you thought of him as a musician and listened to his band, www.cartoonviolencemusic.com. If you see him on the street, buy him a taco or something. Follow him on twitter @ProfRobot

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