Monday, July 26, 2021
Do I need a new world?
Once upon a time, this was a MMORPG blog. I spent thousands of hours of my life in World of Warcraft and other MMORPGs, and thousands more reading and writing about them. Until I got bored with the genre, feeling that it had stagnated, and not lived up to the promises of its early days to deliver us attractive virtual worlds in which we would lead virtual lives. And it wasn’t just me. MMORPGs stpped being “a thing”, investors stopped financing them, developers stopped developing them. These days, releases of triple A MMORPGs are few and far between. And the next one is New World from Amazon, developer and publisher of great games like … uh, help me out here, uh, actually nothing that wasn’t cancelled. They sure have money, but can they make and run a MMORPG? They might actually have an advantage in the running department, with their Amazon Web Services being considered as a leading cloud computing services. But what about the game?
So I tried to understand what New World is, by reading reviews and watching gameplay videos from the beta. Overall I think it is safe to say that it isn’t a revolution. It is a mix of features we have seen before, and in some aspects New World is certainly playing it safe by not deviating too much from the old, stagnant formula of games from a decade ago. With technology having evolved, combat is possibly a bit faster than earlier generations; too bad that “Dark Souls-like combat” is not a feature that attracts me at all. In fact, I might not buy New World at all because of the combat system. The other feature that is definitively a turn-off for me is PvP, although that has been scaled down from the initial concept.
The features that attract me to New World are an extensive crafting system, and a player economy in which the same goods can have different prices in different regions. That is unusual for a fantasy MMORPG, usually only Sci-Fi games offer the possibility to buy low, transport, and sell high elsewhere. But what I couldn’t find out is in how far that is actually a possibility, or whether the PvP system prevents you from living the life of a trader. I already heard that playing a pure crafter isn’t really possible. One of the banes of the genre is interlocking game mechanics, where you are basically forced to do a bit of everything, and concentrating on a single aspect of the game is heavily discouraged. It stems from a vision of MMORPGs as games, not worlds.
New World also appears to have some tried and failed bad ideas implemented, like not locking the loot of a killed monster to the player having killed it. There are “collect 10 foozle pelts” quests in the game, where a large number of players can end up hunting a limited number of foozle spawns, and players can steal the foozle pelt from another player’s kill.
So, up to now I am far from convinced that New World is a game that I would want to buy. I’ll have to see whether my Amazon Prime subscription gives me a cheaper way in, and how the game evolves after release. But riasght now this still doesn’t look like the game that would bring me back to the MMORPG genre.