Like many people, I washed up on the sandy shores of Aeternum yesterday with New World’s release. I’ve done a bit of poking around, killed some skeletons and donned some new clothes, but I’m still yet to properly sink my teeth into the game. There have already been some notable frustrations, like the horribly lit character creator—made even more annoying by the fact you can’t change your appearance later down the line. There’s also the pretty dire queue times, though they should stabilise over the coming days.
The one thing that has flabbergasted me more than anything so far, however, is just how shit the jump is in this game. I love a good, satisfying videogame jump. I don’t care if my character doesn’t conform to the logical physics of the universe, big, dramatic leaps feel damn good. Especially in MMOs where you’re spending a good chunk of your time walking around, having a cheeky jump run from points A to B can make for a more visually interesting journey. Especially in a game that, for whatever reason, doesn’t have mounts.
As Polygon wrote back in 2014, a report from Jason Begy shows that we have positive associations with height. Jumping in games is “ultimately about expressing power,” either over opponents, other players, or the environment itself. Long story short: big jumps make the brain feel good.
As I plodded through New World’s tutorial, the usual prompt to jump appeared. I didn’t think much of it and hit the spacebar, and was instantly taken aback by how rubbish it felt. It was like my character was trying to jump in a vat of sludge with dumbbells strapped to her ankles. It’s like those videos you see of cats trying to jump, only to have a brain fart and plummet down.
It’s more of a trip, really.
Admittedly, my MMO of choice is usually Final Fantasy 14, a game where my catgirl basically does squats in mid-air. Guild Wars 2 nerd and editor Phil Savage told me how the game utilises its big jumps in sprawling platforming puzzles, something which wouldn’t work without its beefy leaping. It’s hard to guess exactly how New World’s jump will serve exploration, apart from looking like you’ve accidentally stepped on your shoelace.
To hand it to New World, it does include climbing and scaling things as a way to get around, something which makes plodding around on foot a hell of a lot better. According to a tweet from last year, jumping wasn’t even a mechanic the team was planning to add, so silver linings, eh?
I know some of you like the jump too, and that’s great! But I’ll hear no arguments of realism in a game that’s set on a supernatural island and has you slaying blue skeletons with magic staffs, thank you. MMOs are naturally goofy, social spaces, and jumping is often an unspoken way to show joy to those around you. Not having a lofty jump sitting on the spacebar removes one universal way of expressing yourself in Aeternum.
Jumping isn’t the only jarring method of navigation in New World either. As Fraser discovered, swimming isn’t even a thing—it’s just underwater walking.