New World review-in-progress: It’s complicated

I’ve spent so much time in New World since it launched on Tuesday that I can’t close my eyes without seeing a parade of musketeer hats, wolves and trees. I’ll be entrenched in Amazon’s MMO for a while yet, but I’m ready to take a quick break from my job as a stylish, wolf-hunting lumberjack to return to my other calling, writing too many words about videogames. It’s review-in-progress time!

There’s nothing quite like a big MMO launch. The scale alone is absurd. Hundreds of thousands of people suddenly popping into existence inside countless parallel worlds, which keep growing in number to accommodate yet more people, all questing and hunting and arguing 24-hours a day. And since it’s been a while since we had one, this launch is all wrapped up in an extra level of anticipation.

Full house

With everyone exploring the world for the first time together, it’s the most an MMO ever gets to feel like a proper adventure, and all this potential and anticipation creates a buzz of excitement that echoes through the starting zones, the hubs and the crowds waiting around for bosses to spawn. Even the dullest stuff becomes slightly more palatable because the bustle of a fresh MMO is weirdly energising. 

(Image credit: Amazon)

If you can get through the queues you’ll find New World heaving with life. I’ve been playing some older MMOs lately, and it’s a real trip to go from ghost towns to watching hordes of players charging out of towns or groups trying to figure out a queuing system so everyone can eventually skin a unique creature. This liveliness is evident even when you think you’re alone. Thousands of players mining, chopping down trees and shooting helpless woodland critters creates a constant cacophony that cuts through everything.

With everyone exploring the world for the first time together, it’s the most an MMO ever gets to feel like a proper adventure.

Very little of what I’ve encountered so far requires a group, and you can solo nearly everything up until you start getting access to dungeons at level 25. Other players can still be a boon, however, helping you out of a jam and getting experience for it even if they aren’t in your group. There’s a lot of competition for resources, too, which adds a dose of excitement to the humdrum tasks of gathering and hunting, but can also lead to frustration when you kill an animal and watch helplessly as another player skins it and scarpers. It’s a real pain in the arse.

(Image credit: Amazon)

I’ve mostly been busying myself with the task of finding larger and fancier headgear for 20-odd levels, but other players have bigger ideas, and it looks like I’ll be embroiled in a war by the end of the week. New World has three factions vying for control over the island, you see, and on my server the churchy Covenant quickly became the dominant outfit. I’m in the Syndicate, which is cool and purple and maybe does crimes. We don’t get along with the Covenant, and it doesn’t look like we’re going to end things diplomatically.

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