New World: Singularity

An interesting thing about New World after a few weeks of play is how suddenly empty the low level towns are. At first I wondered if this was due to the increased server capacity – perhaps they have implemented layer phasing – but I don’t think that’s right. My second thought was the game was shedding players, but that seems unlikely too – the active players per server seem to be holding pretty steady.

Eventually I came to the conclusion it’s due to the single-character-per-server rule. The impact of that rule is everyone levels out of earlier zones more-or-less as a bunch, and there are no alts backfilling the starter zones.

Even storage, normally a scrum of people, is empty

I assume the hordes that were in the starter towns are all now gathered in the 40+ zones, with no reason to return to lowbie-land other than PVP – which the lagging levellers can’t participate in so it does nothing to change the day-to-day emptiness.

Most MMOs that hook people are given extra longevity by alt-levelling, filling out rosters and creating specialist characters. Allowing one character to ‘do-it-all’ is great, but many would prefer to have different characters for different roles – especially those that invest more RPG into their game. I like having a Rogue, a Hunter, a Paladin, all with different personalities, trades, and looks. One character doing everything is less appealing, despite the obvious time and utility advantages.

It makes me wonder if the restriction is a strategic error by Amazon. The flow of new players will dry up which will really stymie the shared experience of the starter zones. It will be interesting to see if they have any plans to somehow bring those earlier zones back into play.

New World: Hot & Cold

New World confuses me greatly. And others too obviously. Bhagpuss is enjoying it, UltrViolet definitely isn’t, Kaylriene is surprised to be leaning toward yes, and Nogamara has resisted the temptation altogether.

There are things about it that are great (gathering/crafting), and things which are terrible (are there any enemies other than Withered??). After three days I was ready to call it quits, then decided that was unfair after conversations with the Warcraft team who were playing and enjoying it. A weekish later and I’m still on the fence, not fully committed but not fully against it either.

In honour of my confusion, and in lieu of coherent thoughts, here’s a listicle.

Hot

  • Gathering is a stupendous triumph. Seriously. The way you can see a node from miles away, be it an outcrop of iron or a shuddering sparking herb. So much more satisfying than a dot on a minimap. Then when you harvest there is a stub left which eventually respawns (which is a little strange for ores but we’ll put it down to ‘magic’).

  • The sound design is excellent. The cracking echoing ping as you strike an iron node makes me want to spend all day hefting a pickaxe. You can hear enemies before you see them, snuffling up from behind. And each herb has a different sound that reflects their visuals, from spewing poison to crackling light.

  • Crafting appears to be acres deep. The UI is easy to understand – with a few gotchas like cooking auto selecting too high components – and there are millions of recipes. Which require millions of things to be gathered in return: a perfect feedback loop.

  • Storage is immediately generous, though there is waaay too much stuff to collect. I instantly filled one town’s storage, having to use another as backup. Which encourages you to smelt and hammer and craft your resources to reduce the storage requirement – another good feedback loop.

  • I was pleased to stumble on a ‘rare’ boar early on, though I’ve only seen one other rare since.

And

  • Levelling is achingly slow. Which is good, but bad, but good. Feels bad being left behind, and there is no way to participate in the flagship PVP at low levels. But an honest-to-goodness grind to level is a new experience after Warcraft, SWtOR, GW2, etc. It feels even slower that Warcraft Classic.

  • Not quite convinced by the action combat. It’s quite fun creating a hatchet storm, but the dodging and parrying feels quite hit-or-miss and a little random. Though this is probably due to my woeful framerate (see below).

  • It’s weird seeing someone with a nice shield and not being able to source it or identify it. I suppose we’re meant to ask, but the chat is also quite badly handled.

  • It looks like PVP is delivering for those that enjoy it, but I’m not sure I have the stamina to get all the way to 60 in order to participate.

  • Going way against trend, I don’t love the look of the game. Most seem the opposite. Some of the vistas are nice, and the lighting can be quite atomspheric, but I don’t get the same sense of wonder I do from something like GW2 or Warcraft. It’s a bit too much like, well, our world, rather than a New World. The strange unexplained structures are the most interesting graphical flourish, but I fear there’s no rhyme or reason to them.

Cold

  • OMG I am so sick of Withered.

  • For the first 20 levels it’s been zombie Withered. Or ghostly Withered. Or half-buried Withered. And that’s it. The lack of imagination is a little perplexing – you have total freedom to create a world and you come up with one NPC? The hot theory of PVE shunted into a PVP engine rings most true here.

  • I watched some Level 60 streams and they still seemed to be attacking @#$@#$ Withered. Albeit much harder hitting, but still just slightly less-hunched crown-wearing ghost-humans.

  • Speaking of – everyone is human. No fantasy here. No variations. It gets a little boring seeing the same body type with the same armour on hundreds of people.

  • The quests are woeful. Go kill Withered. Go open crates (seven crates to be precise – always seven) guarded by Withered. Then do it all again. I’ve seen feedback that at level 40 it’s the same.

  • The story is barely there, or if it is it’s hidden in scraps of paper. Which is fine I guess, but it’s not very satisfying when the quests in each town are paper-thin excuses to kill more w*******. There seems to only be one ‘main story’ quest, and it’s pretty dire too.

  • The storage is great, but it’s very annoying transferring goods from one town to another if your faction doesn’t own both towns. A unified bank may not be realistic, but nor is fast travel.

  • Character movement is…odd. It feels very floaty, and given the huge amount of time spent jogging that’s a shame.

  • Loading the game at anything other than native resolution is a muddy mess – the scaling is terrible. For me that means having to run it at 4K, which also means 30fps. A little frustrating, especially when an ancient game like Warcraft can seamlessly handle scaling a 1080p resolution up to crisp 4k.


Writing all this, and reading back, maybe I’m not so confused after all.

It seems the one thing keeping me interested is the gathering. Which may one day lead to interest in crafting, but at the moment it’s just the gathering. That’s a surprise, though double-gathering in Warcraft is always my default. Perhaps I’m just a hoarder at heart.