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Hands on: New World Review

First Impressions

Amazon’s New World is a very promising MMO, with excellent combat, rewarding progression and a huge number of endgame multiplayer modes to incentivise you to keep on upgrading your gear and skills.

Availability

  • UKRRP: £34.99

Key Features

  • Open-world MMONew World is a massive multiplayer online game, taking place in the fantasy world of Aeternum
  • 50vs50 multiplayer mode:A new War mode sees two teams of 50 players fighting over a fort, complete with siege weapons.
  • Platform:New World will only be available on PC.

Introduction

Amazon has been trying to make it big in the gaming industry for a number of years now, but with several major game cancellations and flops, things haven’t exactly gone to plan for the online retailing company.

With this in mind, I have to admit being sceptical about Amazon’s New World, an upcoming fantasy MMO that hopes to follow in the footsteps of the likes of World of Warcraft and The Elder Scrolls Online.

But after going hands-on for a good few hours, most of my concerns are gone. With surprisingly stellar combat, a fascinating world, a deep loot system and the promise of lots and lots of post-game content, New World actually looks to be one of the best PC games of the year.

Amazon Games invited me to a preview event, allowing me to start from the very beginning with my own custom character.

Character creation and progression

  • Lots of physical customisations available
  • No class system means you start off with a blank slate
  • Experience points are locked to corresponding action

The character customisation screen had an abundance of face shapes, hair styles, scars and even tattoos. Interestingly, there’s no class system and I couldn’t even put points into certain personality traits or skill sets – everyone begins with the same blank slate. 

I’m a big fan of this move, as New World instead encourages you to improve your attributes by interacting with the world, taking on a nurture over nature approach. This makes progression feel more natural and rewarding, although I’ll have to wait until I get the chance to play more before deciding whether this improves the experience in the long run. 

New World Character creation

That said, I personally like that progression is locked to the respective action, so I couldn’t, for example, keep killing grunts with an axe and then use the experience points to improve my archery skills like you can in Skyrim.

Once my character was created, I was immediately shipwrecked on an unknown island, with nothing but a sword and torn clothes. Then I’m faced with some sort of zombie pirate, with New World not waiting around to introduce me to combat. 

Combat

  • Simple combat controls focused on timing
  • A big range of weapons including swords, bows and staffs
  • Can unlock new moves with each weapon type

I’m personally put off by the combat for most MMO games, often featuring floaty melee mechanics based more around stats and attributes rather than timing or accuracy, but New World clicked with me immediately.

Controls are pretty simple, allowing me to block or shift to avoid damage, and the option of light and heavy attacks to hack away at my enemy’s health. However, the simplicity works to great effect here, being easy to get to grips with, but still a challenge to down my enemies without getting struck. 

New World combat

Combat steadily becomes more complex as you progress through the game too, as you unlock more attacks for your sword and shield, while also being introduced to other weaponry such as bows, magic staffs and more. I appreciated this gradual incline of complexity, as it prevented me from ever feeling overwhelmed in the early stages in the game. 

As I ran around the beach, slashing at the roaming zombie pirates, I levelled up my sword mastery and unlocked a new ‘Whirling Blade’ move in a skill tree. Each weapon type has its own skill tree, so I’m intrigued to see what’s on offer, creating more of an incentive to try out more options.

With my foes lying dead on the beach, I could loot their corpse by simply hammering ‘E’. I’m impressed by how easy it is to equip new items, requiring a simple tap of the Tab key to bring up my Inventory.

New World inventory

Here, I could easily hover over each item for a snapshot description, and then drag them over to my many vacant slots to get them equipped. I’ve often been intimidated when first opening up expansive inventories in various RPG games, but New World’s user interface is so clean and easy to use that I never had such concerns here. 

Quests and crafting

  • Features a large open-world to explore
  • Conventional MMO quests with rewarding loot
  • Comprehensive crafting systesm

With both my sword and shield equipped, I began ascending a steep hill that’s lined with gorgeous green vegetation. Tiny blue and yellow butterflies danced in front of me, emphasising the fantastic detail of New World that really brings the environments to life.

Once reaching the top of the hill, the camera drifted from my control and captured a mesmerising vista of a glistening ocean and a supernatural volcano with levitating rocks. That’s just a glimpse of this vast open-world, but it was enough to get me excited to explore the rest. 

New World bow

My tutorial had now ended, and it was time to take on some missions. An NPC in a nearby camp gave me a number of objectives, from slaying demons to collecting flags on abandoned ships. It was all conventional MMO stuff, but the engaging combat, frequent level progression and rewarding loot kept me hooked throughout. 

With the first few quests completed, it was time to venture to the first big town, which had lots of other players darting around to complete errands. I was introduced to various shopkeepers, while also learning how to craft new weapons and materials. The breadth of attainable items was impressive with simple, streamlined menus showing the resources I needed to collect for crafting.  

New World town

It’s here where I’m a little concerned that New World could become a littly grindy, as I spent at least 15 minutes chopping wood, mining rock and hunting beasties to amass enough resources to craft some basic gear. But this is an MMO after all, and I felt the hard labour was justified after seeing my character fully kitted out. 

I also reckon New World has done a great job of adding some unpredictability, as while I was gathering resources in an entry-level location, I stumbled upon a thick red fog that surrounded an ominous-looking monolith. Naturally, I was curious about this sight, and so started to approach, only for the Amazon Games developer in my group chat to fire over a warning that it was a random event. 

High-level monsters suddenly emerged through the thick red fog, with one wild slash taking off a huge chunk of my health bar. Despite being a coward and fleeing the scene immediately, I enjoyed the experience and relished the chance to encounter more random events – although next time I’m hoping I’m better equipped to deal with it. 

New World Monster

That was unfortunately all I had time for in my preview session. It was just a bitesize sample of what New World has to offer, but I’m impressed with what I’ve seen so far and can’t wait to experience more. 

I didn’t get much of a look in at the main story unfortunately, but I’m intrigued by the premise as you’re tasked with colonizing the fictional Aeternum Island. While the land will be loosely based on North and South America, there are many fantasy-based beasties roaming the land.

Multiplayer modes

  • Multiple endgame modes offer large-scale PvP
  • 50vs50 currently the largest PvP match
  • Expedition mode offers co-op dungeon crawls

Outside of the story, I’m particularly keen to try out a number of endgame PvP modes, with Outpost Rush seeing two teams of 20 fighting it out to take over three outposts. And then there’s the 50vs50 War mode, with one team defending a fort, and the other using siege weapons to break down defences. 

And if you don’t fancy battling with other players, there’s also an Invasion mode that sees 50 players defend against numerous waves of AI-controlled enemies for 30 minutes. If unsuccessful, your territory will be downgraded, adding some high stakes to the game. 

New World Siege

Expedition will also act as New World’s dungeon mode, allowing five players to team up, solve puzzles and defeat challenging bosses. While such modes have been present in MMO games for a long time, it does seem like such an addition could appeal to modern-day fans of the likes of Destiny 2.

That seems like a lot of stuff to keep you preoccupied, and since New World is an MMO, you can expect more content to be available further down the line.

Initial Verdict

I’m really impressed with Amazon’s New World so far. The combat is one of the best I’ve seen in an MMO, while the staple quests and look look to have a very rewarding cycle. 

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FAQs

Does New World require a monthly subscription fee?

No, New World uses a buy-to-play model, while also using microtransactions for cosmetics at launch. There is no subscription fee, although optional battle passes may be introduced.

When is New World coming out?

Amazon’s New World officially launches on 31st August 2021.

Will New World be free?

No, you’ll need to pay an upfront fee to play the game.

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