At first glance, Amazon Game Studios’ MMO New World does not appear to be all that special. It’s set in a very typical low-fantasy world on a largely untamed continent. All of the characters are human with no appearances from other common fantasy races like elves or orcs. Player abilities just aren’t that flashy compared to those in other games like Final Fantasy XIV or World of Warcraft. Frankly, when I saw the initial announcements, I wrote it off as uninteresting. I learned how wrong I was when I had the opportunity to try it for free during the open beta test that was held shortly before its release. During the couple of days in which I had access, I played twenty to thirty hours and learned that there’s much more to this game than meets the eye.
Freedom in Combat
Instead of picking a class during character creation, player abilities are tied strictly to the weapon that they have equipped. This means that your role as a tank, healer, or damage dealer is tied to your weapon. In addition, each character is allowed to have two different weapons equipped at the same time that can be switched during combat. This leaves players free to deal damage at melee or long range, heal and do damage while the party is healthy, or even tank and heal at the same time. My first attempt at a dungeon was with a severely under-leveled and under-geared party at the end of the beta. With minimal preparation we were only able to get about halfway through, but it felt like there was real potential for it to work out with a properly leveled party and a bit more preparation. It’s unlikely that a healer/tank (or “hank” as I call it) will ever be the most viable way to play either role, but the fact that it’s even an option is something that hasn’t really been done in an MMO before.
Meaningful Player Politics
Player politics are hardly a new idea for MMOs. They are very social games, so it’s natural for players to want a way to influence the game world on a large scale through the voice and effort of the people playing in it. Black Desert Online, for example, lets guilds control cities and go to war over them. The problem with a guild-centric politics system is that people outside of the large guilds have no reason or means to participate.
In New World, players can choose to join one of three factions: the studious and mysterious Syndicate, the devout and zealous Covenant, and the combative yet honorable Marauders. There doesn’t appear to be much difference in gameplay based on which faction a player chooses, so the decision is mostly based on where a player’s friends are, or which ideology sounds more appealing. Guilds, called Companies in-game, are formed as a part of that faction. This means that players in different factions can’t join the same guilds, but it allows the political system to include many more people and encourage them to participate. Companies still get to control cities and levy taxes on the many services within, but the faction to which the company belongs controls the zone surrounding the city. This does not impose penalties on players from different factions, but it does give significant bonuses like tax cuts, cheaper teleportation, and free crafting materials to members of the same faction in the zone even if they are not part of the company that owns the city.
I’ve spent much more time in Black Desert Online than I have in New World and can say with confidence that I never took part in the politics system. In two days, New World‘s system had me running missions with and donating gold to people in my faction so that we could expand our influence and secure ourselves those sweet, sweet bonuses. Seriously, it’s awesome!
Entirely Player-Driven Economy
The most interesting part of New World that I experienced in the open beta was its economy. Many MMOs have shopkeepers that allow you to sell old items and buy new ones. In those games, any time a player sells something, the vendor generates currency that didn’t exist before and adds it to the total money circulating in the economy. Similarly, if a player buys something from that vendor, the money is removed from the economy, reducing the amount in circulation.
There are no vendors of any kind in New World. The only way to generate money is to complete quests or loot it from chests and monsters. There is a player-driven market where you can trade your money with other players for items, but any money obtained from there is just circulating what already exists. Even without vendors the game still has plenty of ways to remove money from the economy through mechanics like gear repairs, player housing, and more. Ultimately, this means that currency in New World is going to be incredibly valuable compared to similar amounts in other MMOs, and looting any amount of money from any source feels very rewarding Depending on how the developers manage the economy with those gold sinks, it may not last forever, but at least in the early days, it should be very interesting to participate in!
If you’ve seen some of New World‘s announcements and weren’t interested at first glance, I highly recommend you give it a closer look. There’s a lot more to it for MMO fans than what meets the eye, and it doesn’t take a long time playing the game to uncover those things. The game releases on Steam on September 28th, 2021. I hope to see you there!