Posted in New World

New World: Pirate-buster extraordinaire

Weirdly enough, my biggest sticking point with New World last year was being unable to find a good guild community during the month I was playing — and rather enjoying — the game. So it’s been on my mind to try a different server to see if I could connect with some people there and settle in a bit more securely. Thus, I rerolled as the purple-haired Foxgloves.

Back to the start, I had to find my weapons again — rapier, hatchet — and start training up skills. I don’t think I’ll be doing any crafting this go-around, looking instead to loot, salvage, and sell as many mats as possible to finance my war chest. And hey, first night and I found a very welcoming company on this server, so I feel that’s a good sign.

I get excited to see a rickety mine, because you just know there will be amazing loot within. Or a rock that falls and crater’s your skull. Either or, it’ll be an interesting day!

You know what New World does exceptionally well? Immersing the player in the feel and scope of nature. It often has that wild, outdoorsy feeling that a lot of theme parks lack. Visuals and sound design come together wonderfully for this — jack up the ambient soundtrack and see for yourself. And a lot of the fauna is far more fearsome and threatening than your average MMO critters, too.

And can we give this game credit for actually making its female armor more realistic than ridiculous?

I clicked on a spyglass in a pirate camp and ended up triggering a short event that was pretty dang cool. I was informed that a pirate ship was incoming — and I could indeed see it on the way. When it arrived, I fought a few mobs, including the captain, then lit the nearby cannon to blow up the ship. Really neat scripting with this one.

Posted in New World

New World: Houses and traps

The upshot of really taking my time going through the first zone in New World is that I managed to accrue a tidy bank account by the end — and could purchase my very own starter home. I didn’t want or need anything too elaborate; a one-room flat with a good location near services was perfect for me. Unfortunately, my six measly docorations weren’t nearly enough to fill the space up. Going to have to work on that some more!

It’s been off to Everfall for more adventures. Not too far out of my comfort (and level) zone, and it’s giving me plenty of space to level up my weapons, build back up my nest egg, and grind some of my gathering skills. Mainly, I like harvesting for on-the-go money grabbing.

I was slightly taken aback — in a good way — in the second zone when Everfall’s main town hub featured more European-style structures than the log cabin or Tutor villas that I had previously seen. It’s not bad, but it also sticks out like a weird triple-jointed thumb. I’m glad I didn’t buy a house here.

Upon exploring one of the many, many obelisks on the landscape, I stumbled into a teleporter. This sent me careening through a maze of traps — you know, lasers and the like, the usual thing that the new world had in 1492. I got really excited that a big reward would be at the end, but it just petered out into nothing. Maybe I missed something along the way.

As much as I was genuinely having fun with the day-to-day session experiences in New World, two factors worked against my kindled interest. First was the cold fact that after the bump from the Brimstone Sands patch, the population of this game started diving down again in December something fierce. Lots of people being negative about it, and I feel those vibes.

Second, and more important, I just couldn’t find a good guild to join or anyone to hang out with. I only ever saw two guilds advertise, and the one that invited me never, ever talked or had more than three people on. I didn’t think that a fresh start server would be this lackluster, but maybe high level players took a look at my newbishness and gave it a hard pass. In any case, worries about an uncertain future and not being integrated into the game’s social structure left me adrift in the sea of MMOs once more.

Posted in New World

New World: It’s hatchet o’clock somewhere

‘Twas the month of Christmas in New World, except that for some reason, this earthbound MMO set in a real time period doesn’t call it that. And it has much uglier trees. But hey, gotta bend over backwards not to be exclusive or offensive or whatever, I guess. At least there are lots of presents? I do like getting free presents!

I still haven’t gotten out of the first zone yet. Been pokey in this game in general, sidetracked by a lot of gathering skill leveling and whatnot. Actually, one of my favorite activities to do in this game, or any MMO for that matter, is occasionally break to simply farm a camp of mobs for a bit. Just shut off my brain and crank out some XP and loot with mindless killing. New World is surprisingly good for this.

I keep going back and forth on a weapon choice. The rapier is fun and flashy, but it’s certainly not the hardest hitting. I did give the spear a go for a while and found it a very solid weapon — if kind of ugly and cumbersome.

“Who’s the best doggie in the world? You are! Yes!” Man, I need a real pet in this game.

It was about this time, several weeks into the fresh start servers, that I had a gaming session where everything seemed to click with me in this game. I gave up trying to craft and started selling all of my gathered mats instead, raking in money. That put me within striking distance of buying a house, which I thought was a lot further off. Then I started farming camps and having a blast seeing how much gold I could raise in a gaming session. Turns out, a lot.

I did try the musket again for a hot minute, but man is this the worst weapon to use in a game with no target lock or tab targeting. You get one good shot in, and then the mob starts moving around and making it hard to hit. And I wasn’t doing THAT much damage anyway to make it worth it.

So in the end, I finally settled on a weapon combo for my character: hatchet/blunderbuss. They both use strength, and the hatchet is so satisfying to use. I wade into mobs and go nuts with berserker talents, usually ending fights within seconds.

Posted in New World

New World: Those turkeys are TOAST

There’s nothing I love more in New World than terrorizing turkeys. I don’t know why this is, but the second I see one of these birds, I’m like a dog off the leash for a squirrel. I run after it and laugh sadistically as it frantically flaps its useless wings and sprints in panic. It knows death is coming, and it has no defenses. And it knows that it is… delicious.

Of course, turnabout is fair play, and Cocaine Bear here was not messing around. He’s got 20 claws to my one rapier, that hardly seems fair.

And no, it doesn’t make sense how skewering a mostly vacant skeleton actually hurts it. Maybe it’s my fabulous ruffles that’s the true weapon. #awizarddidit I guess

I really do not like it when New World abruptly throws in a platforming segment, especially during a main questline. But at least I got a good view from up top!

Posted in New World

Lock ‘n’ load, New World!

Too much stuff happening in MMOs right now makes it hard to gain a lot of traction in any one game, but I’m giving it a fair go in New World. My greenhorn secured a rapier and blunderbuss, and is alternating between leveling them. The blunderbuss is more fun to use, but it’s hard to deny the rapid DPS of the thin sword.

It’s a game that’s quite easy on the eyes. Going into the first settlement, I got immediate housing envy as I’m still months and months away from having enough funds to buy my own place. But I would love to settle down here!

This game definitely throws off some Secret World vibes, especially when I think of New England and Transylvania. Lost, Filth, what’s the difference, really?

As I continued through Windsward’s quest chain, I experimented a bit with different loadouts and builds. If I do stick with the blunderbuss, I want to pump everything into strength and constitution for a while, and then deck myself out in heavy armor so I can be more of a literal tank.

Weapon experimentation continues. I gave the musket another try, mostly because it had the best stat synergy with rapier (both use DEX and INT). But aside from using it as a long-range opener, it’s not a very good weapon to wield in close quarters.

And honestly, I hate swapping between weapons in this game. It’s fiddly in a way that it shouldn’t be. Left click on the mouse should be the default attack of Weapon One, right click is Weapon 2. Numbers 1-3 on the keyboard are the first weapon’s special skills, numbers 4-6 are the second. Let the game flip between the weapons for you, I say.

I do like how some of the encounters can feel dangerous and desperate. In most MMOs, I don’t think much of alligator-type mobs. Here? One charging at you is like a dinosaur with a lethal mission, and I couldn’t backpedal fast enough.

Posted in New World

A new fresh start in a New World

Knowing that I was going on vacation right at the time that New World would finally release its batch of fresh start servers, I resigned myself to the fact that I wasn’t going to get in on Day One, but Day Eight. Which probably makes no difference other than to that part of my brain that loves to be there right when stuff gets going.

After returning from our trip, I deleted my old characters — I’ll never be playing on those servers again, and they weren’t that high level anyway — and started up a new one on the Sentinel fresh start realm. I’m still somewhat surprised that even though it’s been a year since this game’s been out, Amazon hasn’t released new faces or facial options for its somewhat limited selection. There are just too many fugly mugs on those screens and no way to tweak them. I went with a character sporting a bit of a Princess Leia Hoth Era hairstyle and jumped into the overhauled newbie experience.

It’s a great feeling to get off to a strong start, so I spent my first night taking my time to adequately gather materials, fight tons of mobs, craft some helpful items, and follow the storyline around a shipwrecked shore. There’s a simple pleasure in simply grinding mobs for loot drops, so I did this for a good while to gather up weapons and armor upgrades.

Hehe my new coat has barnacles on it. AVAST YE LANDLUBBER!

My overarching goal for the starting area was to get both the rapier and blunderbuss, as I’m planning on that combination being my loadout for the foreseeable future. Happily, I did find both (the first through drops, the second as a quest reward). I already knew I was partial to the rapier’s lightning-quick attacks, but the blunderbuss was new to me. For all intents and purposes, it’s a shotgun/grenade launcher/grappling hook — and how can you not love that? It feels satisfying to use, and I had a lot of fun trying to get the hang out of the crazy bouncing grenades as fight openers.

It is a shame that you can’t join a guild until level 17 and joining a faction, though. I know that’ll come quickly, but you would think that the devs would want you to get into social circles even before that. Without a community, I feel more alone than I’d like.

Posted in New World

New World beckons once more

As I write this at the end of October, it’s still going to be a couple of weeks before I’m going to get enough time to sit down and play New World, thanks to a family vacation and the wait for fresh start servers. But I am increasingly excited to be heading back into this MMO. I’ve felt that a return was long in the coming after a year to season and find its footing, and the recent early game revamp seemed like the right time indeed.

I’ve been thinking about how I want to play it, which can be a trickier question. Sometimes you can play an MMO too slowly or too fast. Too slowly, and there’s a danger of stagnating in a zone and feeling like you’re not making much progress at all. Too fast, and you’re skipping over content and not relishing the journey. I felt that at launch, I went perhaps so slowly that I was spinning my wheels with repeatable quests and a lack of forward momentum.

But this time around, I don’t want to feel the pressure of catching up to blast up in levels. I’m going to trust to the revamped early game that it will keep me on an even keel.

It’s a whole lot of game that I haven’t seen yet, and I’m raring to get going. I haven’t settled on a weapon combo, but I’m pretty sure that shotgun will feature pretty prominently. I do wish that they had added double pistols by now, but oh well.

What perhaps excites me the most is that one of my colleagues over at Massively OP called this the “New Secret World.” I always thought that, from the aesthetic of it, but he’s a lot more familiar with both games and can speak with more authority to that. I miss me some Secret World vibes, and I wouldn’t mind if this one became a kissing cousin substitute.

I also appreciate that the game is, by and large, fresh territory for me. We all have MMOs that we’ve drained of surprise and novelty because we’ve leveled through them a thousand times before. But one that spreads out before me like a field of untrampled snowfall is something to be embraced.

So yeah. Here’s to a winter with New World — may it continue its upward climb while drawing me into its strangeness.

Posted in Lord of the Rings Online, New World, World of Warcraft

Being in the middle of a three-way MMO tug-o-war this fall

Coming out of August, I didn’t think that this fall was going to be as crazy as it’s shaping up to be. Week after week over this past month, I’ve had to continually revise my gaming “dance card,” so to speak, due to all of the developments and date announcements.

What’s even nuttier is that a lot is converging upon November. New World’s fresh start servers are arriving at the start of the month, followed closely by LOTRO’s Before the Shadow. Both of those are coming post-patches that introduce elements that I’ve been waiting for (New World’s new leveling experience, LOTRO’s Hobbit Lore-master) but I’ve held off because I also want the full package.

I’m a little more grumpy with New World for delaying the servers for two weeks after Brimstone Sands — it would work out a lot better for me to jump in the middle of October to stagger things out. Now I’m looking forward to two new characters in two games vying for equal attention.

And that attention may get even more split thanks to another big November release, which is Dragonflight. No, I really didn’t think I’d be anywhere near that orbit, but it’s hard to escape the undercurrent of a new WoW expansion when you’ve been a player for decades.

So if things break three-for-three, I might be rounding into December with a trio of MMOs and a whole lot of juggling. Hey, I’m not complaining — having more new and interesting stuff plopped into one’s lap in a short span of time is a good problem to have. And there’s always a long, long winter ahead that’ll need plenty of entertainment to fill the hours. It’s just nutty how sometimes all of this seems to converge at the same time for us fans.

Posted in New World

Is New World beyond salvation or salvage?

It’s with an overly cautious and guarded attitude that I come back to New World. Probably not the best attitude, to be honest, but it’s all I could muster for this MMO. In a different timeline, the launch would’ve been rocky yet popular, leading to a strong first year where the studio would’ve played catch-up with systems and bugs while a community set up home. In our timeline, the game all but got forgotten about after its first month — and I’m not only speaking of the playerbase. The devs don’t seem to really want New World to succeed — they’re not “hungry” the way that a team needs to be to set the stage for success.

But I haven’t entirely given up on it. I’ve heard a few good things about the last six months of patching and systems additions, reports are that a solid (if small) core of players are pretty dedicated to it, and I’m curious if there is something here worth saving — or at least salvaging. To check it out, I created a brand-new character (my old one is a year out of date at this point, and I wasn’t that far up in levels anyway). Gave her an Asian punk look, or as much as I could.

It’s still quite the good-looking game. The opening beach with flowers were lit by a great angle of the sun, and I felt ready for adventure. Another thing I like here is the fully voiced quest introductions. I’m gonna slow down and really soak in the lore, because why not? No Day One crowd to rush to keep up with.

Combat’s still as meaty and satisfying (for action combat) as I remember, as is the general character movement (aside from the lame jumping). My goal is to go 100% blunderbuss when I can find one, but until then, the sword and shield will do. It’s basic, but it works.

The intro beach questline is fine — actually, a little more than that. It’s got that nice balance that I look for in a tutorial zone, somewhere around “freedom with guided prompts.” The whole event culminates in a trip through a creepy Secret World-like cave with all sorts of corrupted red vines everywhere. This game blew its budget on Red Dye #2, let me tell you.

The only real problem with New World is that it can’t be compelling enough to yank me away from LOTRO and RIFT right now. The combat is good, the world looks beautiful, but I’m still not sold on the lackluster skill trees and handful of combat abilities. I would like to keep going to get a blunderbuss at some point, but I’m not exactly pouring gobs of time into this either.

Posted in Elder Scrolls Online, New World

Why do some MMO developers fight so hard against mini-maps?

One trend that I’ve been watching with some dismay is the increasing tendency for MMO developers to push back against having a minimap — an on-screen overhead view of your position — in their games altogether. Fallout 76 and Elder Scrolls Online chucked this in favor of a less-informative compass. New World doesn’t have one at all. There are some older games like Wurm Online and upcoming ones like Embers Adrift that don’t see a need for them.

I think this is flat-out ridiculous. Minimaps are not just helpful to MMO adventuring, they’re a standard feature at this point. So why the pushback from devs (and a vocal segment of players)?

Well, if you listen to devs talk about why their game is so grand as to not need a minimap or discuss with anti-minimap players why this is a good design choice, the argument tends to be boiled down to two talking points:

  1. It encourages you to explore more
  2. It frees up screen real estate

In my view, both of these are really flimsy arguments. A person who loves exploring in an MMO won’t be held back by a minimap (and can often elect to minimize it if so desired) if they really want to explore. I explore a whole ton even with minimaps available. And minimaps are never the focal point of the UI anyway, often tucked into a corner for occasional use. You weren’t really needing that corner empty to make room for some more god rays or something.

It’s not worth the trade-off, because what minimaps give us is so much more than a vague motivation to poke around without directions. The way that I’ve always seen it, minimaps are a representation of your character’s sense of surroundings. In real life if I’m in a room or a familiar building, I have a sense of the layout even if I’m not directly looking at it.

Furthermore, the radar helps navigate unknown spaces that would be confusing and frustrating otherwise. Old school CRPG gamers might recall back when dungeon mazes had to be mapped out on graph paper because you’d have no map whatsoever in your game. More immersive? To some, sure, but to most, just severely annoying. It’s the same reason why I drive around with a GPS-enabled map app, because I’m more interested in getting where I want to go than to get lost, confused, and possibly sobbing in a ditch somewhere.

Taking my minimap away is cutting off a dependable feature that I’ve relied on in MMORPGs for decades now and then telling me that it’s a better product for it. This delusional, “you think you want it but you don’t” kind of thinking may get the devs on that high horse, but meanwhile players scramble around to install minimap mods to make up for this design deficiency.

Stop taking minimaps out of the games. This is dumb. Thanks for coming to my SYP Talk.