Impressions of Amazon’s New MMO World: Not Quite New, Not Quite a World

ByJose A. York

Oct 1, 2021

New World promises players a lush and strange continent to explore and conquer, full of dangerous enemies and the promise of glory and treasure. It’s a modern MMORPG in every way – absolutely gorgeous, surprisingly stable for launch, and well-acted. There is also a vast network of constant communication between the players. As queues pile up and players try to join the same server as all their friends, once online, I enjoy a smooth ride through developer Amazon’s world of adventure.

New world looks like the first MMO designed without World of Warcraftthe DNA of as an essential characteristic. It’s not about slaying Blizzard’s goliath, more about being content with being something of its own. Right from the start, the game manages to capture the best part of embarking on a new adventure. I found my feet, then looked out at the horizon of a vast world waiting to be explored.

Large parts of New world are polite and competent. I begin as a shipwrecked sailor on the shores of Aeternum, a mythical island full of treasures and curses. My captain is consumed by the dark and restless mists of the island, so I must fight my way through my former crew, now corrupt and macabre, to the safety of an established colony. No one can die on Aeternum, and so all survivors of doomed voyages have decided to buckle down and try to build a civilization here.

Image: Amazon Game Studios

Combat and leveling feel great, and New world throws hard-hitting choices at me without overwhelming me. As my sailor progresses and transforms into a traveling mercenary and marauder, I choose to focus on hatchets and sword and shield combat. I can also change weapons at any time. Tired of being a tank? I can equip a life staff or an ice gauntlet and become a mage. The environments are beautifully designed, and I roam lush wild lands or dive into haunted caves to slay hideous monsters.

It’s almost wrong to complain about the rest of the game, since the production values ​​are so high and there are ubiquitous signs of care in the textures, logs and monster models. But the character creator, for his part, is extremely annoying. A negative Steam viral review simply reads “no catgirls”.

The player character in an MMO allows us to create the lens through which we see their world, but there’s not a whole lot of variety in the people I see around New world. There are no elves, bunny girls or Twi’lek; it’s just a lot of humans, some with cool hats or scars, running around in their various pieces of armor. Some of them have names like Gideon Greyhawk and John Holland; others are called things like Swaglord420 and Weebscum Uwu.

These silly names hurt my immersion, and the Isle of Aeternum is already hard to connect. Since my time in the game, it seems like Amazon has erased lore to address early concerns about colonialism, and so when I get to the first colony, I find it’s run by good-natured women and people of color. They need me to kill monsters and mad beasts, which is the objectively correct thing to do when living on a magical island. The game is determined not to be controversial at first sight, but in the end, it’s still a game about exploring and settling a new continent. He feels disjointed to the point of being naive.

New World - two players take on a misty revenant in the middle of a dark ruin

Image: Amazon Game Studios

The game’s faction system, on the other hand, is one of its most compelling offerings. There’s the sly and erudite Syndicate, the driven and fanatical Covenant, and the brutal and bellicose Marauders. Faction is not a permanent choice – you can trade, but with a 120 day timer – and if you want to join a player society – the equivalent of a guild in other MMOs – they must be under the same banner. In short, while I don’t have much of an interest in battling various supernatural beings, be it my fallen shipmates or gnarled monsters emerging from the mist, I can at least enjoy beat another player or claim a city.

Colonies around the world are up for grabs; factions can fight for them in wars, which are 50 vs. 50 PvP battles. If a faction claims settlement, they can control things like tax rates and buffs in the local area. Players can opt in and out of PvP, so they can leave a settlement without being instaganked.

When these systems work well, it’s satisfying, like the polished triple-A version of a survival game like Conan Exiles Where Ark. There’s room for player rivalries and back and forth, whether it’s jumping on an unfortunate solo player under the Syndicate banner, or running away when I see a Covenant squad with muskets arrive on the horizon.

The success or failure of New world will build on the social scene already building around the game, which is the source of much of its initial gameplay. Players crowd into Discords to coordinate which server they want to ride on and which faction they want to join. People ignore the lore provided by factions and create their own, choosing who they think would make a glorious victor or a satisfying underdog. There is even a fan-made Zillow for the gaming real estate market. Immersion isn’t the point; it’s a social arena that only MMOs can deliver properly, and games like New world are few and far between.

Will the first wave of players stay? It depends if New world can resist their machinations. If every server becomes dominated by a single faction, or if PvP can’t hold people’s attention, the game seems doomed to wither on the vine. The game itself is not really the main indicator of New world‘s achievements – these are the dynamic scenes built around it in Discords and social media, where players plan their best approach to claiming the island against all takers.