First impressions of Amazon’s New World MMORPG from a World of Warcraft veteran
The long content draught between WoW patches has given me something of a case of wandering eye. I had logged time in both Guild Wars 2 and Star Wars: The Old Republic, but then I received an invitation into the closed beta for Amazon’s New World MMORPG. I had to check it out.
It’s at once familiar, yet vastly different from anything I’ve played. The graphics, voice over work, and sound design are all great. My RTX 3080 had no trouble producing gorgeous visuals. I’ve only completed the first few levels, but I wanted to capture how the game compares to World of Warcraft at my most unfamiliar state with it.
What’s familiar in New World for a World of Warcraft player
The opening story reads like a version of Mists of Pandaria. During the mid-1600s, a mysterious island emerged in the middle of the Atlantic ocean. Rather than a red versus blue faction conflict like MoP, you’re part of the crew of a ship seeking fame and fortune with the rather ominous warning that none who has set out for the island has returned.
There is a standard character creation screen with options similar to what you see in World of Warcraft. You’re picking from pre-defined selections. There aren’t any sliders. There’s only one race—humans, but you’ll find a wide variety of skin tones, hairstyles, tattoos, etc.
As you might expect, your ship sinks as it approaches the island and you are washed ashore as one of the few survivors. Here you go through a tutorial which walks you through the standard controls. ASWD to move. Spacebar to jump. I did like how my character could scale small rocks and fences. The animations are smooth and believable.
You have hit points, mana, gear, and bags. You get the standard variety of kill quests and fetch quests. Most of your victims are your former crew, but don’t worry, the island’s dark magic (Corruption) has turned them into soulless abominations so it’s okay for you to mercilessly murder them…right?
While I haven’t gotten high enough level for group content yet, the game has five player dungeons called Expeditions. Also a twenty-player battleground with a mix of PVE and PVP called Outpost Rush that plays like Alterac Valley. There are other multiplayer modes, but they are different enough as to warrant their own discussion later.
There’s standard crafting with a few tweaks. It may be because it’s beta, but I have yet to hit any limits on what I can learn. It seems like you can have all the crafting skills. The one major change is they split crafting into three tiers. For examples, mining and smelting are two different skills rather than part of the mining profession like in World of Warcraft. You even have to craft your own fishing pole to fish.
Classes (or the lack thereof) and Progression
One huge thing you’ll see missing in character creation is choosing your class or role (healer/tank/DPS). New World doesn’t have classes, instead your special skills and talent trees are tied to your equipped weapon. When you pick up a new weapon, you’ll start earning points in its trees to get its special skills/spells. These skills have cooldowns long enough that they are effectively one use per combat.
You still earn character levels, but those allow you to put points in your attributes like Strength or Dexterity. As you might expect, Strength enhances your melee weapons while Dexterity enhances your ranged weapons. Magic staves use Intellect, while the Focus attribute is specific to healing staves.
Here again, I have yet to encounter any artificial limits. It seems like you could learn every weapon in the game given enough time to level them. The only warning is that won’t have enough points to fill out both talent trees for any individual weapon so choose carefully. You can respec your weapon’s talent tree, and your attributes with the Azoth resource. It’s basically their name for magic, fae, or ley line energy. Call it Azerite. It’s even bluish-white.
I wonder how this will play out on alts. For example, I had in mind to play a Musketeer, but as of level 5, I haven’t encountered a musket to equip. I have found many other weapons like spears, hatchets, and bows. Any alt will start out pretty much exactly the same until you find the weapon you want to specialize in. So if there are no limits on the weapons or the crafting professions you can learn, there may be a limited need for alts.
Amazon calls their system Action Combat. It feels like a combination of Overwatch and World of Warcraft. There’s no tab targeting or hard lock targeting. You don’t click on a mob. Instead, there’s a crosshair in the middle of your screen. Your main attack is your left mouse button and your block (if you have a shield) is your right mouse button. You can also dodge with Left Shift like in Guild Wars 2. Your attacks and skills have ranges but there’s no indicator drawn on the ground for either you or your opponent. After some trial and error, you figure it out, but it’s a little disappointing the first time you blow your eighteen-second cooldown and hit nothing but air.
Your character starts with a sword, and soon after gets a shield. You run up to a mob, put it in the crosshair and start wailing away. You watch your opponent and when he rears back, you either dodge or use your shield. After a couple of combats, I got the hang of it and the early mobs are quite forgiving. There’s slow out of combat healing or you can eat food. Cooking is an important trade skill in the early stages. Crafting in general feels important, at least in this early stage.
It’s the same with ranged attacks, spells, and heals. Healing is quite challenging. It’s a bit like Moira from Overwatch where you are spraying healing at your party.
Large scale PVP/PVE
As you adventure through the game, you’ll come across various towns and outposts. While they welcome all players inside, one of the game’s three factions controls each town. Players belonging to that faction receive an advantage while in the town. One of the large scale PVE modes, Invasion, consists of the the town being attacked by waves of enemy mobs, and requires 50 max level players to repel. This sounds like a Garrison invasion from Warlords of Draenor, but with many more players.
Towns can also change the faction that controls them through the War mode. This is a fifty versus fifty PVP battle where one faction tries to take control of the town from the current one. This is also intended for max level players and I’m not sure there are enough for these modes to even be tested yet.
Was it fun?
My key criteria for any entertainment—a book, movie or game—is the simple question of ‘was it fun?’ While I only finished the first quest hub, the game was a blast. There’s a level of immersion in the combat and crafting systems that is missing from other games I’ve played. The unique setting gives me a new time and place to explore. I’m curious to see where the story will go, and I’m definitely going to keep playing throughout the beta. I’m looing forward to my next log in, and that’s an exciting feeling.
The game uses a Buy-to-Play model like Guild Wars 2 rather than a subscription model. You pay one price, and can play as much as you like. I haven’t decided if I’ll purchase it. I’ll burn that bridge when we get there at the end of August. For now, I’ll simply enjoy exploring the world and learning about the game.
What questions do you have about New World? I’ll answer as many as I can in the comments.
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