Counting down to New World’s release

While I’m looking at a few months spent at Outland Summer Camp for Brave Kids, I’m sure that by the end of summer, I’ll be ready for a change of pace. That’s why it’ll be the perfect time for Amazon to release its much-delayed New World.

If I had to put my current hype level for New World on a meter, it’d be a… six? Six sounds about right. I’m excited, but in a “it’ll be nice when it comes” kind of way rather than “I MUST HAVE THIS NOW AND WILL GO ON A FISH-SLAPPING RAMPAGE TO MAKE IT HAPPEN” spree.

Part of those tempered expectations are the fact that Amazon’s yet to release any online game that it’s kept running. Plus, while I generally like the setting and theming, the whole package looks like a generic if well-rounded MMORPG. I don’t see a whole lot here that’s standing out in an innovative or exciting way.

So I expect that it’ll be a good time when it arrives, and if the actual experience exceeds those expectations, then all the better. I keep getting a bit of a Secret World vibe from the screenshots and my time in the demo, which definitely doesn’t hurt.

If Amazon does have a solid product here, it has a great opportunity to strike it big for MMO players starving for big-budget, high-profile releases. It’s not as if it’s going to be fighting off other new competitors, and that end-of-summer launch window is a historically great time for MMO releases.

As long as I get to shoot ghosts in the face with a Revolutionary War-era musket, a good part of me is going to be satisfied. And if I get to move into a cabin and put my feet on top of a bear rug in front of a roaring fireplace. I may or may not be talking about a video game at this point.

New World, I’ll wait for you!

If I wanted to chart out the bouncy rollercoaster of opinion that I’ve had on Amazon’s New World since its first announcement, it would show you that my feelings toward it have been all over the place.

Initially, I was stoked to see Amazon enter the MMORPG market and bring big guns and big budget to bear on a project. I also really liked the idea of an MMO set in a fictionalized version of the Age of Discovery, giving us a blend of muskets, magic, and maces. But then I soured on the whole thing when I saw how hardcore they were pushing PvP and how ludicrously soon the studio expected to push the product out the door.

But then they delayed and decided that PvP-only wasn’t the way to go, so a complete game revamp started to happen. Syp’s mood and opinion of the project increases. Some of the dev blogs look promising (hype up) and some look painfully generic (hype down). Then Amazon does a huge delay until 2021 (major mood sinker), which is not usually a good sign for an MMORPG.

Except that in this case, it looks like it is a good sign. From reports coming in, including the no-NDA-attached test this past week, New World is actually shaping up to be a good MMO. It just needs more time to develop features and flesh out content, which is understandable considering how greatly the game’s changed in the past year.

So now in my internal rankings of MMO projects in development, New World has bubbled up near to the top. It seems like it has a lot of necessary pieces in place for a solid launch, and with another six or so months of development, this could get off on the right foot.

So yeah, New World, I’ll be waiting for you in 2021. I would love nothing more to see a big budget MMORPG launch to good reviews and an enthusiastic community, because I think a lot of us are very hungry to see just that happen.

New World and new hopes

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Last night the relatively new Amazon Game Studios unveiled its projects at last and did the unexpected: It announced that one of the three games would be a huge MMO called New World.

Even with the studio snapping up MMO devs, I didn’t have high hopes that we’d see anything more than a survival sandbox or MOBA. Instead, it unveiled what I think is a very solid line-up of titles: a 4v4 “sports brawler” called Breakaway, a last-man-standing survival title called Crucible, and the aforementioned New World. Obviously, it’s this last one that has me the most excited.

From the official description:

Carve your own destiny in New World, a massively multiplayer, open-ended sandbox game set in a living, cursed land. Choose how you play, what you do, and whom you work with or against in an evolving world that transforms with the seasons, weather, and time of day. Band together to reclaim monster-haunted wilds and build thriving civilizations, or strike out on your own, surviving in the face of supernatural terrors and murderous player bandits. Focused on emergent gameplay and rich social features – including deep Twitch integration with broadcaster-led events, achievements, and rewards – your only limit in the New World is your ambition.

Breakaway was the game that got the most press, probably because it’s closest to actual completion, but the mere announcement of a new, big-budget MMO is of significant value to the industry. It’s been years now since a major western MMO was announced, one with the backing of a big studio and deep pockets. Even long-time MMO studios such as Daybreak and Blizzard had cancelled promising projects (Titan, EQNext) in favor of plucking lower-hanging fruit instead.

I was just floored last night at this announcement, an act that was soon followed by some rather alarming hooting, hollering, and fist-pumping. Man, we MMO fans needed something like this. We needed to see that the industry wasn’t just reverting to small crowdfunded indie MMOs and eastern studios, but still had hope with the bigger studios as well. And it seems to me that Amazon could’ve gone in so many directions with its games, and yet it made a choice to go with this. Rock on.

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There’s a video too that should give a better idea too, with some concept art to boot.

I certainly want to hear and see more of New World before reading too much into its description, but it certainly sounds interesting. The 17th century-meets-supernatural angle could be potentially neat, although my mind worries about this period in regard to issues with North American native tribes and the conflict with Europeans.

From the description, New World sounds like a mash-up of survival sandbox and a larger, more persistent world. I like some of the details it mentions, such as the changing seasons, choice, and “rich social features,” while the mention of “player bandits” has me a mite concerned that the team is making the mistake of creating a massive gankbox that will turn off PvE players.

We need more information and we’re just going to have to wait to find out more, but it’s a good start and a welcome way to end the week.