It’s rare I say something out loud while playing a game. Outbursts are usually reserved for moments of great triumph, utter defeat, or extreme stress. In the first couple hours of New World I didn’t make a peep until I suddenly exclaimed “Oh, hell yeah!”
I yelled that because I’d found a big patch of hemp and I was the only player in sight. Honestly, I didn’t even need the hemp. I just needed to increase the skill I use to gather the hemp.
I didn’t start playing New World by taking on quests. I wanted to get right to the gathering, crafting, fishing, and other survival elements to see how they worked, so I left the slaughter of zombie pirates to the other players and just ran straight for the nearest town. I gathered wood and flint along the way, made myself a knife at a crafting table, and started skinning animals. I did a little fishing and a bit of cooking. Mostly, I ran around picking up whatever plants and herbs I could find.
Somewhere along my ramblings I came across a plant I couldn’t pick. It’s called a Lifebloom and requires a harvesting skill of 30 to pull it out of the ground.
With nothing on my quest list, that was all the incentive I needed to do some serious grinding: the promise of someday picking a flower that I don’t even know the use for.
But you don’t raise your harvest skill by grabbing wood from bushes or chopping down trees. You have to gather certain plants like hemp or herbs to exercise your harvesting muscles. And once plucked, these little crops vanish for everyone for a while. I immediately began scouring the countryside for harvestable plants to level up my skill, and of course I found I wasn’t alone.
Turns out harvesting isn’t an activity, it’s a damn footrace.
I quickly developed a new sense. An herb sense. While dashing across the field toward a small bundle of purple or pink in the distance, I feel like I can sense exactly when another player coming from a different direction has honed in on exactly the same target. The shift key doesn’t make you sprint in New World, so both of us maintain the exact same speed, which somehow makes the race even more thrilling. Sometimes I arrive a split-second before the other player. Sometimes they beat me by a hair. But only one player can harvest a plant. The loser has to scurry off to a smaller bundle, cursing bitterly under their breath.
Honestly I am often the loser. But I still compete, for the love of the game. Heck, sometimes I’m just too late and have to watch the whole thing from the sidelines:
This competitive herb gathering got my harvesting skill leveled up to 30 in an astonishingly short time, and now it’s time to continue the competition on more valuable herbs, the ones that level check you before you can even lay a finger on them.
Lifebloom, you’re mine. I still don’t know what you’re used for, but it doesn’t matter. I’ll defeat anyone who dares make a beeline for you while I am also making a beeline for you.
I know other players are busy joining factions and competing for territory and carving each other up in PvP. But this is my version of player versus player. To the victor go the herbs.