My latest demo with New World made me realize two things: first and foremost, this is absolutely not a game for everybody. At all. The combat is a bit clunky at first, the world is very dangerous, and it doesn’t hold your hand as much as other MMOs. This demo also made me realize, perhaps more importantly, the developers have really been working hard following several release delays. Compared to what I saw during my previous session and especially compared to my first demo back at the start of 2020, New World has come a long way — especially in terms of PvE content and general polish.
This week I got my first real chance to see what it would be like to play a high-level character in end-game caliber content without being guided around by developers or ushered through a specific piece of content. The session wasn’t about the big War battles (I’ve seen those already), and it wasn’t a high-level overview of the game itself with a fresh level one character (I did that already too). Instead, I was plopped into a level 60 end-game character with a fully stacked inventory of gear, all weapon mastery points ready to be allocated, and a full complement of attribute points to spend.
The Swamps of Reekwater
It’s difficult to show off end-game content in an MMO prior to release. The account I played on represented, roughly, 150 hours of progress according to a representative from Amazon Games Studio. As a result, the entirety of the latest preview was a legitimate look at actual end-game content in a new, never-before-seen zone, Reekwater.
My adventure was inadvertently segmented into three parts. The first part began in the central waterside village area where I rounded up a bunch of quests before setting out for the closest waypoint on my map. We needed to explore some ruins, mark down some ancient drawings, and retrieve some stone tablets. Pretty straightforward.
The ruins were overflowing with enemies and other players had already arrived before me so fights were underway with massive tentacles erupting from the ground, armor-clad demonic warriors firing arrows, and enormous wildlife charging at anything that gets in the way. It was absolute chaos, but seeing the action play out in real-time, in an MMO, was pretty spectacular.
If you’ve ever played an older MMO then you’ve probably seen the “tab-targeting” style of combat in which you can fight enemies effectively by just tabbing between them, auto-attacking, cycling through your abilities on the hot bar, and that’s it. That type of combat absolutely can be intense and strategic, but it’s most often not. Modern MMOs try to get around this issue with more action-packed combat systems like Guild Wars 2 and The Elder Scrolls Online, that are sort of hybrid approaches, or TERA and Black Desert Online that go full-on action RPG style.
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New World adopts a similar philosophy, but leans more towards the methodical and deliberate combat style of Dark Souls. I know that’s the inspiration because the developers themselves told me so and you can immediately feel it while playing. Even just swinging a light attack takes patience and timing.
Pirate Life For Me
The second phase of my adventure consisted of another player in the demo session approaching me and a friend as we were exploring and asking us if we wanted to visit a secret pirate bayou. Of course we said yes.
The player led us to a massive, intricate cave system complete with zombie-esque pirates living in little shacks by the water. I used this opportunity to experiment more with ranged weapons since we had a group of three capable fighters. The fire staff seems a bit unwieldy to use since so many of its best attacks require multi-second charge ups that completely root you in place to cast, but when you land one of those big fireballs at least it feels nice.
This version of New World had all of the weapons and their skill trees fully available, which includes sword and shield, hammer, bow and arrow, hatchet, musket, spear, fire staff, and life staff. Every type of weapon is vastly different from the last, each with a finite amount of mastery points to invest across two unique skill trees. Each tree has three active abilities and several passives, but you only get three active abilities per weapon slot — so you need to choose your upgrade path wisely.
I experimented with all of the weapon types, but by the end I was gravitating towards sword and shield for my go-to “Okay, I need to take this seriously” moments, but usually preferred to open up with the hatchet. What I love about the hatchet is that it’s a very fast melee weapon, but you can also throw it for mid-range damage. This is super helpful for drawing enemies towards you and chipping away at their health as they approach, then switching to the sword and shield to block and bash before finishing off.
MORE ON NEW WORLD
- New World was delayed into Spring of 2021
- Check out four minutes of fort-capturing gameplay
- Don’t miss a recent gameplay trailer from earlier this Summer
Taking The Bait
My third slot ended up going to the Life Staff in most cases, because being able to heal between fights without setting up camp or wasting potions and food is pretty invaluable. Or if someone else in your group takes a Life Staff you could put a true ranged weapon like a musket or the bow and arrow in there.
Since you can equip up to three different weapons at a time, plus a wide range of armor and trinket gear slots, there are tons of ways to mix and match and customize your ideal build. I can really see a lot of potential for speccing out different builds for different enemies and situations being a huge part of end-game play.
Finally, my adventure ended as a friend and I wandered around Reekwater looking for a nice spot to try out the new fishing mechanic. The first two spots we tried were too swampy and not scenic enough, but we finally found a nice river near some mountains on the outskirts of a bog.
Fishing in New World is pretty simple, you just perform a short little Quick Time Event (QTE) and then click at the right moment once it bites and alternate between holding down the click and releasing so it doesn’t escape or break the line. Admittedly, there is a lot more nuance here than most MMO fishing activities, so it’s encouraging to see a bit of depth here.
This was the most promising session I’ve had with New World so far. I already knew the big PvP War Battles were epic, but the PvE side of end-game always seemed so mysterious. Although I didn’t see anything resembling a dungeon by any means, questing in higher-level zones is much more challenging and exciting than the early game. The amount of depth and variety with how you build your own character is quite liberating.
Whether or not the journey to end-game ends up being compelling remains to be seen, but I’ve been reassured the focus the last few months leading up to its new release date has been on expanding mid-game and post-game content — which sounds like a very good thing.
David Jagneaux is a freelance writer for IGN. Talk RPGs with him on Twitter at @David_Jagneaux.
Source: IGN Video Games All