New World Diary: Hard Going But I'm Muddling Through (For Now)
Just like the real New World, it can be hostile to newcomers.
The last time I was truly hyped for an MMORPG launch was when Guild Wars 2 was on the way. I devoured all the dev diaries, tweets, interviews, videos, and everything else, so I'd know exactly what to expect on day one and beyond. GW2 was going to be different in a lot of ways from other MMOs, and after absorbing every scrap of info I could, I felt more than ready to take on Tyria.
It's been a completely different experience so far with New World. I'd glanced the way of a dev diary or two over the past couple of years, but never thoroughly dissected one like I did with GW2's. I wasn't planning to get the game, especially after how Amazon Games' previous titles flopped, until Magicman swooped in at the 11th hour to gift me a copy on Steam.
In the six days since that happened, I've racked up 18.5 hours and I'm definitely enjoying myself – far more than I thought I might, especially after I bowed out after about an hour in an early beta – but I'm a little confused as to what the game wants to be and whether I'm really on board with all it has to offer. In that way, I think New World is similar to Guild Wars 2, and the primary difference is in my preparation for it.
If I'm going to blame Amazon for creating a confusing mess of a game – and the thought has crossed my mind a few times – then I'd likely have to dock ArenaNet for the same thing. I know that there were players of that game who, in its early days, were confused about how all the systems worked, systems that I was familiar with even before I set foot in the game, so perhaps it's just my lack of pre-launch knowledge about New World that's making me feel a bit “clumsy” as I explore Aeternum.
Case in point: the whole faction war/territory war stuff. I get that a faction can control a territory … somehow. And when that little bar fills up (somehow), there's a war over it. There was one last night that I signed up for but didn't get to participate in because I wasn't selected because I wasn't high-enough level and the numerical restrictions are ridiculous. And the Outpost Rush PvP thing isn't available until I hit level 60? Well, I'll just do quests for my faction to gain reputation or whatever it's called – oh wait, I've maxed out my reputation and can't advance any further until I do a quest that's five levels above me.
In short, there are a lot of little frustrations I'm running into that maybe wouldn't be bothering me as much if I had read about them beforehand. Even now, there's probably a website or a wiki somewhere that explains how all of it works, but I'm not that inclined to seek them out now, not when there are other things to do in the game that allow me to progress in other areas.
You can call me “lazy” if you like – and I'm not saying you're wrong – but that's going to be the experience of a lot of people, especially after the initial rush of players who were actually excited about the game and were clogging up the servers in its first couple of weeks. New players to the game in a month (or year) or two aren't going to be the ones who read all the dev diaries beforehand; they're going to be like me, going in with little information and few expectations beyond what an MMORPG normally provides, stuff like leveling and crafting and dungeons. That's all the stuff I can figure out easily enough, and if the game doesn't want to make it easy for me, and others, to understand and participate in its more complex systems, that's its loss when players bow out because they don't want to take the time to wait for the fun bits.
There are other ways the game is “user-unfriendly” to newer players – things like a lack of weapon diversity (Why can't they let you select a starting weapon like every other game?), crafting imbalances (I want to level Alchemy, but most of the components I need, even for early-level stuff, are rare or require a high Harvesting level), and mob respawn times (Too short for the hordes of regular enemies that can swarm you as you're dealing with their neighbors and too long for named bosses that you need for quests). I was also completely unaware of the game's light/medium/heavy encumbrance system until someone pointed it out to me while I was streaming.
All of these gripes come from (I like to think) a reasonably skilled and experienced MMORPG player. Imagine dealing with all this if New World was your first such game. In short, Amazon's unlikely to draw in the “casuals” or people with limited MMORPG experience who might be otherwise drawn to a game with such a recognizable company at the helm.
There's a reason why most games eventually redo their “new player experience,” and it's because, in the rush to get a viable product out the door, those early explanations are seen as mostly extraneous details that “we'll patch in later.” That's going to be especially true for a game that went through several reinventions throughout its development history, like New World. It's bound to be a bit rough around the edges at the start, and its more innovative systems, while receiving some testing from dedicated players in alphas and betas, are not likely to be well-balanced against each other or understandable enough for the general public to grasp on day one. It was like that for Guild Wars 2, and it's like that for New World.
With all that being said, I still like New World and I want to keep playing it, for now at least. The ongoing battle is going on between my desire to keep exploring the, well, new world, and the game's “level up and it'll get better” messaging and how it restricts me from doing cool PvP stuff. For now, I'm still enjoying the general questing and progression, but I can already see how that could get a bit dull without something else to shake it up. I'm almost high-enough level to tackle the game's first dungeon, so we'll see how that goes the next time I check in.
About the Author
Jason Winter is a veteran gaming journalist, he brings a wide range of experience to MMOBomb, including two years with Beckett Media where he served as the editor of the leading gaming magazine Massive Online Gamer. He has also written professionally for several gaming websites.
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