Heroes are not to cry
So hold your head up high
The future is ours to see
So come on and rescue me
So tell me what I have to lose
I am ready to feel these new world blues
-New World Blues, Gov’t Mule
It has come to this. Once I was annoyed by people always telling me that this MMO or that was so much better in beta, and now here I am treading down that same path. I am here to say that New World was better.
Kinda… sorta… in a way.
I’ve been meaning to write about New World for some time now. At first it just wasn’t possible. I was in some of the very early testing, back when the Imperium got a blanket invite to come play test the game. Everything was under an NDA back then. No screen shots, no blog posts.
More recently I just haven’t been moved to write because the way the game evolved just didn’t move me. But the launch date it growing near and soon we’ll be awash in posts and news and whatever about the game.
I am sure that my not being all that enthusiastic says more about me than it does about the current state of the game. But the way the game evolved also says a lot about what players want, or what they think they want.
Back in the early beta the game felt very much like what H1Z1 was supposed to be… H1Z1 Just Survive that is, not the clownish battle royale game it became. This was going to be Smed taking what was learned from that and refining it into a better game that would deliver on that promise. It was going to be sandboxy and allow players to group up and hold territory… you don’t invite a pile of null sec EVE Online players to your early beta for anything else I bet… and have a whole survival aspect to it.
And the initial world felt rough and dangerous. There wasn’t a lot of guidance, PvP was on out in the open world so people were wary of each other, it had a really interesting vibe to it. Crafting was raw but good. You had to make things, and to do that you had to gather resources.
There was an early element in the beta where I had made a bow and was out learning how to hunt deer and wolves that felt really right. It was that same sensation that later drew me into Valheim. The early New World felt a lot like Valheim did, only it looked a lot better.
It was easy to get lost in that stage of New World, both on the map and on your path forward. It definitely needed something more to keep enough people engaged and playing to be viable, but it felt like a world you could get into.
Maybe making it an MMORPG was a mistake. Maybe it should have been a co-op, host your own world game like Valheim. I have to imagine that Amazon would have happily come up with an AWS plan to host private instances of the game. But and MMORPG was what was promised and an MMORPG was what had to be delivered.
That early beta test culminated in a giant PvP battle in a valley. It was probably as big of a fight as one could have with the current state of rendering tech, and it was strange and laggy and fun. That was the other promise of the sandbox, something to at least approach the grand battles of New Eden.
Then the beta was over and Amazon went off to work with what they had found and the feedback they have received. More beta events came and went as the launch was pushed back again and again in order to get the game right.
Which brings us to the current state of the game. That rough feeling, that survival vibe, that sense of danger, all gone, paved over by a slick guided PvE experience. I had skipped some of the interim beta events, having decided that the game was going to be worth the effort when it finally showed up. But it changed so much.
Some of the early version still comes through. The crafting is still similar, though it feels a bit out of place, almost awkward now, in the shiny quest drive PvE world the game has become.
It isn’t a bad game. Far from it. And clearly a lot of people like the way it has turned out.
It is quite possible that I just haven’t gotten into it enough to find the hook that would keep me invested. I am notoriously reluctant to get too involved in beta, to get took deep into any game before launch, before everything is “for keeps,” because that advancement is part of the hook a lot of games have in me and dulling that with early play and resets could turn me away… or make me that person who always says that the game was better in beta. One of my minor claims to fame is that when Aradune asked me over on TorilMUD if I wanted to get into the EverQuest beta I turned him down. So I might just be bad at getting a read in beta.
But still, I am wary. I saw an article over at PC Gamer that sort of put a finger on a bit of my angst, the idea that the game had evolved from something different into something trying to be the next World of Warcraft… though even early WoW was a lot less hand-holdy that New World is now.
I will be there at launch all the same. Like I said, I could very well be wrong, though I’m still just tagging posts “New World” rather than making it a full fledged category yet. And it is sill another event in the genre. We’ll see where it ends.