New World is out now and it’s fair to say Amazon Game Studios have managed to hit it out of the park. Just last Sunday the game managed to hit nearly a million concurrent players on Steam.
Whilst some games might struggle with busy servers and long queues at launch, New World has managed to ride the issues and come out stronger on the other side.
Jeff Bezos has also tweeted his pride in seeing the game thrive, in a tweet that linked to a CNBS article calling it a smash hit. "After many failures and setbacks in gaming we have a success," Bezos said. "So proud of the team for the persistence. View setbacks as helpful obstacles that drive learning."
As for the staff at Gfinity & RealSport, we’re also hooked. Just another handful of people who are desperate to jump back into the game when the working day finishes.
Personally, I’ve not had the chance to play yet, but since the team won’t stop talking about it, I decided to rope together some of the staff to find out why the game is proving so popular. Here’s what I’ve found out.
Ok, so what's surprised you the most about New World since you started playing?
Connor Makar: For me it was the extent that companies play a part in PvP. This was something I knew about from the beta, but I'm pleasantly surprised by the extent that it drives a lot of what I'm doing and what my goals are. It's a source of enjoyment I didn't expect to be honest.
Niall Walsh: I was expecting a much more linear and regimented experience if I’m honest. In reality, from the start of the game, you're not handcuffed in any way and can take as many diversions as you like. Typically MMO's have the first few hours be quite boring and bland but with New World, I felt like I was way more in control of my own experience.
Rob Kalajian: The amount of walking required in the early game! The game world is vast, and when you first start playing it can be a tad intimidating like any MMO. Thankfully, once you find some Fast Travel points, things become a bit quicker and the map opens up more.
Josh Broadwell: I think for me it's how much depth they've managed to squeeze out of what's, on the surface, a fairly ‘simple’ combat system. Each weapon has three main skills, but they've also got two progression trees each. How you combine and enhance them, plus how they work with passives and your second weapon, gives the game a really satisfying heft, that I was quite surprised by.
Brandon Ridgely: For me it was the amount of players gathering and handling their professions instead of pushing quests, and how much unity there is in faction chat where PVP is being coordinated constantly around the world.
Santiago Leguiza: It was the crafting/gathering systems for me. As an avid MMORPG player I don't think I've ever had this much fun at doing that, and while it is complex it never stops being fun to play, so it compels me to progress more into it!
Josh Broadwell: Yeah, what Santi said. The systems feed into each other so naturally. It's a grind, but a good one that always makes you feel like you're progressing.
Connor Makar: 100% I think it's great how important crafting is to combat / gameplay too! For example, you need Azoth staffs to clear corrupted portals which encourages me to actually dive into trade skills more than I typically would.
Niall Walsh: Marauders because I'm a fan of making the right decisions.
Josh Broadwell: Syndicate because I'm a nerd and like the idea of being a scribe in an MMO.
Rob Kalajian: Marauders (for now). They seem like a very straightforward faction while I get used to the game. After my first 120 days are up I'll probably go Syndicate.
Connor Makar: Covenant had a lot of fun companies pushing to control the map, since I think Marauders and Syndicate seem to be dominant. I joined them since it adds a fun underdog dynamic to the server.
Rob Kalajian: The Covenant = incorrect
Brandon Ridgely: Rob you know you're able to do one swap for free now before the 120 day timer kicks in if you feel inclined.
Niall Walsh: Y'all can trust your books and deities, I'm trusting my weapon. We'll see who wins.
Brandon Ridgely: I ended up following my friends to Syndicate, but the best of the options for me would be Covenant.
Rob Kalajian: Biceps, Brain, or Bible. It’s that simple.
How have you found the world building? It looks like there's a decent amount of depth to the story from my semi-outsider's perspective.
Rob Kalajian: You know, I haven't gotten into the story much yet. I think that will pick up as I get farther into the game. I'm just so engaged in the combat, crafting, and gathering that I haven't noticed much else.
Josh Broadwell: It's okay. I think it's focused on building a world to do things in more than it is a world to care or think about. That said I certainly appreciate the lore not being overwhelming like Elder Scrolls Online.
Connor Makar: If you want to look for them, there are loads of lore pages scattered around that help flesh the world out a little.
Santiago Leguiza: I've engaged way more with the gameplay elements (which are honestly great).
Brandon Ridgely: I think my only "attachment" to the world around me is in doing work for the city I'm choosing to live in (the beautiful Everfall) and for my faction as we try to fight for control of the lands. The world's depth to me is driven by the constant player conflicts that can change minute to minute, hour to hour.
Niall Walsh: I like the attention to detail when it comes to character interaction. Like the Everfall Survivalist Odnell Lee and his quest which see you gather Ore as a gift for Artificer Petrowski. It was nice to see some character depth put in place.
Josh Broadwell: If NPCs with interesting backstories played a greater role in the story in future, or if they have continuing storylines, it would improve the depth of the story even more. There's a lot of potential here.
What weapons and armor are people running with right now? What kind of build should new players start with?
Josh Broadwell: It’s the Hatchet and Fire Staff for me!
Connor Makar: Warhammer and spear! Heaviest armour I can get my hands on.
Rob Kalajian: I'm currently running Hammer and Life Staff. Armor is just whatever keeps me protected!
Brandon Ridgely: I can't be without my Spear as the movement and animation cancelling is simply way too fun, and managing distance in a game like this is a blast. I've struggled to find a great pairing with it, but thematics have gone with the musket so I can feel like a Watchman, guarding those around me.
Niall Walsh: Currently, Sword/Shield and the Ice Gauntlet. I wanted to use the Bow so bad but I'm not refined enough yet and can be a pain when you're outnumbered in combat.
Santiago Leguiza: Rapier and switching between Fire Staff and Ice Gauntlet, I'm having too much fun playing magic weapons (which never happens to me).
Josh Broadwell: Ooh yeah, the Ice Gauntlet is so much fun, I forgot about that! I do swap the musket in every now and again. It's a good ranged weapon for PvP if you've got someone else to take the front.
Speaking of Combat... it sounds like they've nailed that aspect of the game then?
Connor Makar: Oh god, it's so fun.
Josh Broadwell: Absolutely!
Rob Kalajian: It's simple, but REALLY solid.
Niall Walsh: Super simple, super fun.
Josh Broadwell: Surprisingly I’ve found it closer to a really solid action RPG than most MMOs.
Brandon Ridgely: Yeah the combat is for sure the strongest aspect of this game, making fights with NPCs feel exciting whether it's a wolf or an elite boss mob. Nailing your combos and learning the best way to dodge your opponents feels great, and the game really rewards attention to detail.
Santiago Leguiza: 100%. The combat is simple to grasp and fun to play, once you get to grips with different weapons it becomes really enthralling.
Josh Broadwell: Yeah, I think letting players have two weapon slots was one of the best choices they could have made. Plus it's generous with upgrade points so you can experiment at will.
Rob Kalajian: The ability to respec is also fantastic
Santiago Leguiza: Yeah, haven't seen too many MMO's that let you experiment that much with so much freedom
Connor Makar: Josh is totally right. Two weapon slots really allows for interesting diversity in loadout, you can mix and match and it's wonderful.
Is the progression system decent? Do you think it's robust enough to keep die-hard MMORPG players happy?
Rob Kalajian: I feel like I'm progressing fairly quickly. I love how levels, weapon levels, region levels, etc... are all separate. Makes it feel like I'm always moving up in one or another.
Niall Walsh: Yes, but more importantly, right now at least, it's not subscription-based, not Pay-2-Win and they have promised to use player feedback to dictate how they improve/add to the game
Rob Kalajian: There is so much to work on, and I'm always levelling something up, be it faction rank, town reputation, or crafting/gathering levels.
Connor Makar: Yeah there are plenty of avenues to work on - even once you hit 60 I imagine you can just set your focus elsewhere, be it trade skills or whatever. And if you're not too keen on that it's like Niall says, you can just put the game down for a while until an update happens
Josh Broadwell: It's hard to say, since New World is still so, well... new. I think it's definitely enough to keep folks happy for the time being, but I hope the devs continue to add more weapons or a class system
Rob Kalajian: The idea that you can stop playing for a bit without worrying about paying for a sub is great.
Josh Broadwell: Very true
Santiago Leguiza: Yeah, the fact that there isn't a subscription helps a lot. You always feel like you're wasting time no matter what you do in games like FFXIV. New World is refreshing in that regard.
It sounds like it's really come on since the beta then.
Brandon Ridgely: As someone who avoided playing or watching the beta so the game would feel new to me on launch, I've enjoyed my experience plenty. I'm not sure what areas they leveled up in that time, but for now, it feels like the game and systems themselves are in a good place.
Rob Kalajian: I wasn't part of the Beta, so I can't speak on that. All I know is that the game quickly engaged me and has kept me interested so far.
Niall Walsh: I think a big part of that was fans trying to stay reserved and not buy into the hype. Word of mouth slowly spread that this might actually be something big and launch proved that. Unfortunately, past projects have been far from what was expected, but New World has delivered in a big way so far.
Connor Makar: I think the beta had some issues and they were fixed as far as I know. Also, it's hard to focus on the long term areas of fulfilment in a beta (stuff like owning territories, levelling up all your trade skills). Also, I think the game gets a lot better the higher level you get, so people hitting that part of the game are seeing a side of it they might’ve missed. Like in a two week beta, there's no point getting invested in a company / faction. And that's a big part of why the game is great in my opinion.
Ok, really sell it to me. What's been your coolest moment so far?
Rob Kalajian: The best part for me has been discovering what weapon combo really clicked with me, then working to level up those weapons to further explore how well they work together. There's nothing like blasting a foe from far range while simultaneously healing party members, then crushing skulls with a hammer's heavy attack when they get in close.
Connor Makar: So on day one, there was a massive group of us covenant players and a gigantic group of marauders, all with PvP enabled for that sweet XP boost, and we just threw ourselves at each other. All like level 11 and barely able to play the game. It was great!
Josh Broadwell: It's not so much one specific moment for me as it is every time I see my weapon builds pay off. Blitzing through enemies with a hatchet, then switching back to a magic weapon and retreating to rain fire down on them is just something that never gets old
Niall Walsh: I was solo'ing a mission down near the shore and got ganged up on by ethereal pirates. Just as I was about to die a passing group of Marauders saved my a** and then invited me to their Company. It's that kind of community feel that hasn't been replicated in any other MMO's I've played.
Santiago Leguiza: Two moments for me. First, when I killed a boar in the first woods after you begin. I said "ok, that was it" and started fiddling with my inventory, and the boar re-spawned and attacked. I didn't expect it to re-spawn that fast and it caught me off-guard, it was fun to see. And second, when I chopped down my first tree and saw it disappear instead of being just a gathering menu. Both those moments made me realize how alive the world looks and how immediate your influence in it becomes apparent.
Brandon Ridgely: For me, it was travelling through a much higher level zone, pulling a few mobs, then fighting them in very dramatic fashion as I would kite back, start a heal, switch weapons, dive back in for damage, and every time a mob would die, one would join the fight in its place. Fighting a mix of ranged and melee mobs at the same time creates some very intense battles where you're dodging missiles while keeping your eyes on the closest foe, and healing is not easy or given to you, so regenerating your health feels purposeful and active. The feeling of surviving that gauntlet just on skills and reaction time really felt rewarding in a way that other MMOs can miss out on with less active combat systems.
Ok so, I’m sold. But Would you recommend the game to your friends? What would your elevator pitch be to convince them to join you on your quests across Aeternum?
Rob Kalajian: I would! The best thing I could say about the game is that partying makes it MUCH more fun, and the lack of a subscription model makes it low risk to get into.
Josh Broadwell: Yep! My pitch: Wanna fight dead people with magic weapons? But seriously, I think Rob pretty much nailed it. It's way more fun in a group and respects your time more than most games.
Connor Makar: I would recommend it IF they are either big into crafting or big into Player vs Player content. I hope they continue to update the PvE elements. Rob is totally right about playing with friends
Santiago Leguiza: Yeah, absolutely. The combat is really fun whether you're solo or in a group, and the fact that you can interact so much with the world around your character makes it extremely interesting.
Brandon Ridgely: I would recommend this game to friends and have played with my group migrating over from World of Warcraft to give it a try. The game isn't for everyone, as it departs from many traditional MMO structures like a straightforward main quest system. In its place, you get more customization and the ability to impact the world around you. New World is really what you make of it. The game won't hand you everything out of the gate - you'll have to find it yourself, and there are plenty of opportunities to do exactly that.