When you think of MMO (massively multiplayer online) games, World of Warcraft is often the first title that comes to mind. Blizzard’s planet-dominating title is a billion-dollar business, though, so this isn’t exactly surprising.
There have been plenty of pretenders to WoW’s throne, but nothing has come close to capturing such a large player base. Even Star Wars: The Old Republic and The Elder Scrolls Online didn’t manage to put a dent in the armor. Final Fantasy XIV is trucking along, but can’t really compete with the longevity that WoW has experienced yet.
With such a lead over the entire market, it’s going to take a company with deep pockets to even come close in 2021. Enter Amazon Games and their latest big-hitter, New World.
Here’s everything you need to know about it.
Look back to move forward
To really understand what makes New World so interesting, you have to dig a little into the history of Amazon Games. After announcing a move away from the mobile games market in 2014, nothing really happened until 2016, when a trio of titles was announced: Breakaway, Crucible, and the subject of this article, New World.
No longer would we have to endure poor, money-grabbing casual games. We’d finally be able to play AAA titles that would compete with money-grabbers from the likes of Ubisoft instead! It didn’t exactly go to plan though. Breakaway was canceled in 2018, and Crucible lasted just seven months before Amazon Games killed it.
Even New World has been delayed multiple times. It should have been released in May 2020! Basically, New World has become a big, big risk that may make Amazon Games reconsider its place in the market if it doesn’t succeed.
What is New World?
It’s an MMO, so without being too cynical, it hits plenty of the box-tickers you’d expect to see. Large, varied environments? Check. PvP (player-versus-player?) Check. PvE (player-versus environment?) Check. Deep, branching skill trees? Check.
Several player and NPC factions with different loyalties, enemies, motivations, and a mutual penchant for war? Check, check, check, and check.
This is both a good and a bad thing. Newcomers to the genre should find that the familiar tropes make it a little easier to get into. However, long-time fans might be left spinning their wheels until they reach the endgame content.
It’s in the story where New World starts to set itself apart. Set on Aeternum, a fictional island in the Atlantic Ocean, your goal is to colonize the place. Unlike real-world missionaries, you won’t be bringing the words of magic sky daddies with you. You will however find actual magic, known as Azoth. This fun substance makes the plants and animals treat you as a threat, so they all want to extinguish your existence.
As an added bonus it also revives the dead explorers who came before you. They’ll want you dead, too. The only way to survive will be harnessing the power of Azoth to defend yourself.
Anyway, you choose your faction – The Marauders, The Syndicate, or The Covenant – and from there you’ll separate into your chosen company, which is New World’s term for guilds and clans. After picking a side, you’ll make like the British Empire as you take settlements throughout Aeternum and transform them into bustling hives of scum and villainy. Or business, trade, and battle. Whatever.
Things would be pretty boring if that was it, wouldn’t they? Luckily, Amazon Games has this covered too, because once you’ve built a settlement, you’ll have to defend it, too. The Corrupted, The Lost, The Ancient, and The Angry Earth are all NPC factions that you’ll have to align with and fight against as the story evolves.
A captivating story and a rich, magic-based system would be all for nothing if there wasn’t plenty of gameplay to keep you occupied. So let’s break down the different play modes.
Expeditions are the ‘traditional’ MMO dungeon experience. You and a crew of up to four partners combine in a hopefully unbeatable team. Enjoy plenty of exploration and lots of bad guys to farm XP from.
Maybe that sounds a little small-scale, though. Maybe you want to join in with War Mode. This is the PvP experience that online games can live or die by. Up to 100 players total jump in here and you’ll need to attack or defend a settlement.
Ok, ok, I get it. You’re hard to please. You want big, epic battles but don’t want to get shown up by other humans. In that case, hop into Invasion. This is where you’re placed into a team of 50 and forced to defend your faction’s fort against waves of computer-controlled enemies. Surviving for 30 minutes will grant you with a victory. It sounds a lot like Horde modes.
Finally, Outpost Rush is where everything combines into an MMO-themed homunculus. This is where you’ll be placed into a 20v20 battle to attack or defend an outpost. At the same time, you’ll also have to fight computer-controlled enemies. That’s right. PvPvE. Bring the chaos!
Does it have promise?
If the initial response is anything to go by, there’s a big possibility that New World is going to break new ground. It’s already (kind of) breaking the internet, as hundreds of thousands of people have been logged on and playing or queuing up to try it out. In fact, it’s currently sitting in fifth place for the most concurrent Steam players at one time, with more than 700,000. Less than a week after launch.
Obviously, only time will tell whether New World has the staying power to really make headway in this crowded space. We’ve seen the next big thing pop up time and time again, only to get stomped on by WoW (see: City of Heroes/Villains, The Matrix Online, Marvel Heroes, BSG Online, ESO, Final Fantasy XIV (sort of), and uh… Hello Kitty Online.)
What does give hope is the game’s Steam reviews. There has been a mix of responses, but a lot of the negative reviews are based on the long wait to get into it in the first place. Which must be incredibly frustrating for new players, but isn’t the worst issue Amazon Games could have.
New World – the verdict
If you can get into the game it seems like there are some really interesting systems at play here. But even if you can’t, the sheer number of users watching the game on Twitch is phenomenal, too. Almost 1 million viewers tuned in on September 28th.
New World definitely has the “it factor.” As we’ve said a couple of times, we can only wait to see what happens over the next few months. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to do what us English do best. Queue up and complain about it until I get to pick my faction.
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