Now that New World has been out for a few days, much of what ailed it in the beta has been fixed, leaving a flawed but fun MMORPG that doesn’t have a whole lot of new ideas, but still manages to stay fun with briskly-paced progression and just enough variety to keep you interested. While it does successfully cater to a wider audience than most of its contemporaries, it also missed a few opportunities to leverage that broad appeal into anything particularly remarkable.
Keep in mind, just because most of the bigger bugs seem to have been promptly fixed following player feedback, that does not mean the game is what I would call particularly polished. Some odd audio glitches and server-side issues still remain that cause load times and general progression to stall. Amazon Game Studios still have some work to do on this, but thankfully they do seem very aware of that and are tending to the game on a constant basis. That aside, when it’s working as intended, which is most of the time, New World is pretty enjoyable. Satisfying action-based combat with a good variety of weapons goes a long way to keeping the fairly repetitious mission objectives fun despite being utterly uninspired on paper. From great axes, sword and shields, bows, warhammers, magical staffs and more, the game is full of weapon types you’ve likely seen many times before in similar games, but they are fun to use and level up and experiment with variations thereof as you fight your way through the game’s many enemy types.
"While New World does successfully cater to a wider audience than most of its contemporaries, it also missed a few opportunities to leverage that broad appeal into anything particularly remarkable."
Much like the speedy progression that quickly gets you acquainted with the game’s many facets, you’ll also see lots of enemy types just within a few hours of starting the game, which isn’t particularly common in the genre, and it feels like a good approach that should make New World more welcoming than many of its counterparts. Whether this results in longer legs for the game is something that we’ll only know later on, but as of now, it seems to be working with reasonably populated worlds and a steadily improving consensus about the game as Amazon rolls out various fixes and improvements.
Compared to the average AAA action RPG, New World doesn’t look like much by 2021 standards, but compared to the average MMO, I’d say it looks rather good, which is another element that makes the game stand out a bit in its genre. Lots of variety in backdrops, vegetation, enemies and locations can be found within each of New World’s… worlds. As day turns to night, grass flows in the wind, and bodies of water sparkle according to the present amount of light, you’ll quickly become enamored with the art direction despite only a moderate amount of general detail being present. Being able to select a world-set based on the level of population within it is also an interesting metric to use as it can make starting out less intimidating to newcomers of the genre – although I wasn’t a huge fan of that being tethered to any given character you’ve created.
Speaking of character creation, the choices are a bit limited but what is here does look good and it all seems to cater to enough styles that most should be able to find their ideal character within the options available. Once you get your bearings, the standard quest types and somewhat shallow characters will quickly become apparent. Regardless of the small amount of context around them, almost every quest basically amounts to go to the place, kill the things, and loot the stuff. Thankfully this is often balanced out by the very approachable gameplay and exploration that stays fun longer than you might think it would.
"Compared to the average AAA action RPG, New World doesn’t look like much by 2021 standards, but compared to the average MMO, I’d say it looks rather good."
Combat in New World is simple to get into and not that much more difficult to master. As I mentioned earlier, there’s basically nothing to it that you haven’t seen before with cooldowns to manage and various levels of each weapon that become available at a fairly steady pace. Heavy weapons aren’t that slow, and light weapons aren’t that weak, so the game is pretty flexible with you regardless of what you like to use. Each weapon type has its own skill tree that you will quickly earn unlock points for as you use them. For those looking for more uniqueness or complexity, New World might not be for you, but it’s still certainly nice to see so much of it all come together in such a comparatively short period of gameplay time. Although the slots for your handful of auxiliary abilities open up a bit slower than the speed at which you acquire items to put into them, that also just gives you more time to get acquainted with the enemies and hone your own combat skills.
You’ll be gaining skill points and unlocking more moves at a steady clip, so for those that find the slow uphill climb of most MMO’s a deterrent, this could be just what the doctor ordered. That said, for most ardent MMO players, there’s not a lot here in the gameplay that makes this game particularly recommendable other than it just being another competent entry for the genre. That said, it’s worth mentioning that the microtransactions seem entirely limited to skins, cosmetic items, and emotes. So that bodes well for the game and should quell fears about the game letting people pay to win – at least for the time being.
Music and sound in New World are largely unremarkable but serviceable. Granted, the quality of the sound design isn’t really what most MMO fans are looking for, and what’s here is adequate- but a soundtrack that soared a bit higher could have done much more for the game’s world-building. But as it stands, it’s not bad. Music doesn’t really change much either – regardless of what you’re battling or who you’re talking to, which again might not be a big deal to most MMO fans but it was something I noticed and felt like a missed opportunity most of the time.
"New World has a solid combat system, plenty to do, and just enough intrigue to get you into it."
All things considered, the sheer amount of content here is likely worth the $40 price tag to most MMO players – especially those who are more so focused on quantity than quality anyway. Gaining the in-game currency, chests, and other items as rewards for various quests within each area is a fun grind and is made even more fun with friends – there’s no denying that. Ganging up on bigger enemies with other players and trading with others in the game’s many settlements are fun and addicting considering the vast array of rewards to be gained from both. New World’s apparent approach of making a game that can smoothly transition a larger, less hardcore audience into its world largely pays off with a very welcoming MMO that puts you on the fast track to familiarity in a way that most similar games don’t.
It may pay a price for that down the road with hardcore players looking for more complex and uncommon experiences elsewhere, but that could be largely mitigated depending on how the developers manage it. As it is, I wish the game did a bit more to stand apart in its genre aside from just being a bit more approachable, and your mileage on how that affects your experience will largely vary based on what you like to get out of your MMORPGs. I also would have liked to see just a bit more polish at launch, regardless of the normalization of these sorts of games being buggy at launch. That said, New World has a solid combat system, plenty to do, and just enough intrigue to get you into it.
This game was reviewed on PC.
Fun combat; Plentiful weapon variations; Speedy progression; Decent graphics for the genre.
Generic quests; Shallow characters; Not a lot of new ideas; More bugs than can be excused.