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New World Review: Ctrl+C, Ctrl+V

todayOctober 26, 2021

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New World on PC

I’m going to tell you a funny thing about New World that will surely make you turn up your nose in disgust and wonder to yourself, “Why would anyone play this?”

So, in the early hours of the game when you’re just starting out, you’ll do tons of menial chores as part of the main story and side quests. The missions all consist of you going from point A to point B, and you’re tasked with killing X number of enemies or opening X number of chests, or interacting with X number of glowing blue points. Then, you go back to point A to turn the quest in and you’re done.

At level 50 and beyond, as you’re approaching the 60 level cap, the quests are exactly the same. Go here, kill enemies, open chests, interact with glowing blue points, go back, profit. The enemy types don’t change either; from 1 to 60, you’re killing the same pirates with the same movesets, or the same zombie-type enemies with the same movesets. Even the animals are the same: bears, lynxes, wolves, elk, turkeys, rabbits. They’re all the same. It’s so repetitive, even the towns in this massive open-world follow the same three sets of layouts.

New World is, simply put, the most blatant copy-pasted MMORPG I’ve ever played, and I loved every damn minute of it.

Let’s back it up a little. New World takes place on a mysterious continent known as Aeturnum. Your character gets shipwrecked here, and you soon find out that the land is plagued by an affliction called the Corruption. Aeturnum is home to unbelievable power, and there are those who would exploit it. The main story sets you on a quest to uncover the mystery of the Corruption and put an end to those who want to use it for evil. That’s more or less the gist of it; I’ll be real, I stopped paying attention to the story at some point, partly because the quests all feel so weightless and trite, and largely because I just wanted to get to the good stuff: the Grind (TM).

For all of its faults and missteps, New World does one thing exceedingly well: giving players a tangible sense of progression. Amazon Games achieves this by implementing beautiful UI elements and menus that make it a joy to scroll through a hundred items on a list, looking for the one thing you want to craft, and by providing multiple ways of leveling up.

Everything you do in this game contributes to your overall player level; it’s possible to ignore the main story entirely (past the initial tutorial quests, of course) and just focus solely on your crafting and gathering skills. This will lock you out of some major PvE activities, but you could get to level 60 just through crafting and gathering, and you can still craft some of the most powerful gear in the game without having to touch the story. I like that.


And on the flipside, if you’re just here for the combat, New World features a swathe of PvE and PvP activities to assist with just that. There are expeditions, which are basically five-man dungeons you can run through for experience and loot, and Corruption portals, which pop up all over the map every so often and you have to clear out waves of enemies and close the portals for your rewards.

With so many options available for gaining experience, I found myself dabbling in a bit of everything and as a result, the leveling experience never felt stale. I’d spend tens of hours mining iron veins and gathering fiber so I could convert them into materials, which could then be used to craft light armor to level up my armoring skill. Once I got bored of that for the day, I could spend hours fishing to level up my fishing trade skill, and sell any clams I managed to fish out to other player for coin.

And if I got bored of that, I could continue the main story to unlock more expeditions and do those with my friends. And if I got bored of that, I could turn on PvP and start farming influence for my faction in enemy territories. Which brings me to New World’s biggest headlining feature: inter-faction PvP skirmishes and wars.

At a certain point in the main story, all players will get to join one of three factions: the Syndicate, Marauders, and Covenant. By raising enough funds and generating enough influence for your faction in a territory via PvP quests, you’ll be able to declare war on the governing faction of that territory. And if you win that war, you’ll take over that region and be paid vast sums of coin via taxes from all the players who use the facilities in that town.

Controlling a region comes with plenty of benefits, such as cheaper fast travel costs (trust me, that stuff adds up fast). If you’re part of the specific company that led the war and won the territory, you’ll also enjoy tax discounts from crafting, refining, and home ownership. Simply put, there are lots of benefits to participating in PvP and helping your faction win territories, and even as someone who’s a lot more PvE-inclined, I found myself jumping up to help my faction push back other players whenever they tried to make a push for a town that was under my control.

I mean, I have a great home in Brightwood, a region that’s under Syndicate control on my server. I pay my taxes happily (kinda), knowing that my hard-earned money is going to a good Syndicate company that upgrades the important crafting stations in town, and is committed to keeping enemies out. If a bunch of dirty greens barge into our territory trying to take it over, you bet your ass I’m gonna do my part to drive those barbarians out.

The social aspect of New World is intoxicating and all-consuming. Before long, I found myself swept up in inter-faction politics. It could range from simple things like passing a Covenant member in the open-world and thinking to myself, “Ugh, it’s a loser yellow,” to more petty encounters like stealing a deer kill from an opposing faction member by skinning it before they could get to it. While no MMO chat is safe from occasional instances of casual racism, sexism, and hate speech, the in-game animosity between factions always felt like friendly competition and it makes for interesting player dynamics that can differ from server to server.

New World

There are, of course, problems with the game overall that go beyond just copied and pasted towns and enemies. For starters, you need to be okay with the fact that if you’re a very casual player, it’s unlikely that you’ll ever get to participate in a war. These 50v50 encounters sound exciting on paper, but unless you’re ahead of the curve in terms of player level or have a good social relationship with the various company leaders in your faction, your chances of getting picked for the war roster are pretty slim unless someone doesn’t show up and you’re picked to fill in for them.

On the PvE side of things, there are only a handful of dungeons available in the game right now, and while they are fairly fun to run through with friends, they’re also pretty bland on their own. Dungeons all look a bit samey with their dull grey color palettes, there’s no ambient music, and worst of all, New World doesn’t have any sort of party/group finder, a rather basic feature that seems like a no-brainer for an MMO. If you need a group to run a dungeon with, you’ll have to post it in the general or recruitment chats, which isn’t always ideal especially if the chats are busy at the time.

And at the time of writing, both the endgame and economy of New World are pretty much in shambles. The endgame activities mostly consist of running around the high level zones, waiting for some elite bosses to spawn, then farm them for loot. The economy is also experiencing pretty intense deflation, especially since the income outflow is much higher than its inflow. Once you’ve run out of quests to do (yes, that is definitely possible in this game), it becomes significantly harder to make money, which isn’t much of an issue if you don’t plan on buying a house. But look, at level 60, you’re definitely going to need a house at some point if you don’t want to keep paying exorbitant Azoth prices for fast travel.

New World is a huge grind, with a scary lack of content and an economy that isn’t particularly fun to participate in. In spite of all that, though, I found myself coming back to this game day after day. I can’t really explain why; it’s likely because this game appeals to my lizard brain mentality, and I just like watching small numbers become big numbers as I level up my individual trade skills. I like that rush of dopamine I get whenever I mine a rare resource from an iron vein, or when I craft something godlike and sell it on the market for tons of coin.

I like feeling as though I’m an integral part of my faction whenever I turn in PvP quests that help reduce enemy influence in our territory, and I like that feeling when you finally save up enough money to buy your first house. Sure, the taxes might ruin you down the line, but in that honeymoon phase, you have the luxury of crafting your own furniture and making that new house your own.

For all its faults and shortcomings, New World is probably the most immersive MMORPG I’ve ever played, thanks to its rich open-world and faction politics that keep things interesting each time I log in. This isn’t an easy game to recommend, particularly because there are already other MMOs out there that have totally nailed the PvE questing and endgame aspects so perfectly that New World looks like a bumbling fool compared to those. Even so, it’s hard to deny the allure of Aeturnum and all the potential it holds.

I can’t recommend New World to anyone who isn’t already 100% invested in the idea of faction politics and PvP, but there’s a solid foundation here. Give it an expansion or two, and this could turn into something truly special.

New World Critic Review

Reviewer: Zhiqing Wan | Copy provided by Publisher.

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