New World review – Amazon’s MMO lacks reasons to invest in its gorgeous world
Amazon’s MMO New World has finally arrived, and despite being an ambitious game, a lack of narrative and lore hurts its chances of long-term player investment. Here’s our New World review.
MMO launches don’t tend to come around very often. They’re huge undertakings for both publishers and developers, dependent on a large player count and a wealth of content. While Amazon’s entry into the genre, New World, isn’t pulling up any trees in terms of falling into the predictable template that comes before, it does offer its own bizarrely unique world – if you can log in.
While it remains predictable throughout, New World offers the occasional hint at something special. Sadly, a lack of narrative cohesion makes it feel somewhere between a sandbox and an MMO, with all of the tedium of both and none of the payoff.
New World, same old issues
At the time of writing, New World has been live for just a couple of days. Sadly, much of our playtime in that time has been spent in server queues. These aren’t uncommon for a newly-minted massively multiplayer title, sure, but given Amazon’s seemingly endless resources and servers, it’s disappointing to see the queue tick down so slowly.
Perhaps worse, then, is that I’ve already seemingly had my character deleted while waiting in a queue. In the hour and a half it took to see my place in the queue reach around 400, the connection dropped and I’m yet to recover my hero. If you are planning to jump in, maybe wait for a little while.
This would perhaps be more understandable if New World had launched for free, but hundreds of thousands of players have paid for a product that, in some servers, is unusable. It’ll work itself out, sure, but for anyone that’s been anxiously counting down their preorder timing, it’s a bitter pill to swallow.
Scratching the surface
The real shame of this is that New World offers its own surprising charm once you’re in. Slightly unsettling colonial overtones aside, its mix of 17th-century settlements and crafting with more fantastical monsters and spells feels a far cry from its overtly fantastical contemporaries like World of Warcraft or Final Fantasy XIV.
That’s shown in the visuals, too. Amazon’s Lumberyard engine is doing plenty of heavy lifting here, and while frame rates do drop in more populated areas, there’s an abundance of flora, fauna, and settlements to engage with. The former is particularly important, given New World’s focus on harvesting and crafting, while the latter facilitates the constant economy (complete with taxes, which feels somewhat ironic given the publisher).
The last thing to touch on today is the game’s combat and leveling. New World essentially levels up your weapons and abilities as you use them, meaning your playstyle can be entirely flexible. While you can build an AoE mage, with a switch of your weapons you can be swinging an axe instead. That’s a big positive but does lead to some bizarre instances of needing to level up something like harvesting to be able to… harvest an arbitrarily higher-level resource.
New World review update – October 6
We’ve been able to dig a little more into New World over the last few days. While (sadly) server queues persist, New World is evidently off to a solid start in terms of player count – towns and settlements hum with life, players engaging in faction-baiting quick chat and creating their own narratives.
That’s good, then, because the more time spent with New World it becomes clearer that the game’s lore is… well… it’s barely there at all. It’s strange, given the plot-heavy universes of World of Warcraft, Final Fantasy XIV, or even MMO-adjacent Destiny 2 to find a massively multiplayer offering where the players are given such minimal direction.
That perhaps ties into the appeal of New World – that players are off to make their own fortune in whichever way they please. In any case, I’m getting closer to the required level for dungeons at Level 25, so I’m interested to see if the game’s open-ended narrative gels with a more curated experience.
New World review update – October 13
While I’ve now settled into a server, I’m still finding occasional queues to log in and play New World sapping my desire to, you know, actually play New World. While the queue numbers are now much lower, it still takes what feels like an eternity to tick down.
Those issues aside, though, and I’m having a lot of fun with what’s here. The aforementioned “just go with it” style of storytelling aside, my sword-wielding hero has been using an axe to clear dungeons, sorry, “Expeditions” – and I’ve had great fun in the process. With the right party composition and basic comms, they aren’t particularly tough, but I’m hoping the difficulty will pick up soon.
For now, though, New World is massaging the part of my brain that all good MMOs should. I’ve got things to do, see, and kill, and all of it is giving me just a small bit of serotonin at a time. I’m enjoying building my character, and New World is delivering on that promise of letting me be who I want to be in Aeternum.
New World review update – October 21
Despite feeling pretty relaxed in my time in Aeternum, I do find myself starting to sour somewhat. What began as logging, foraging, crafting, and completing quests has now become the anticipated grind I was worried it would be. For all of Aeternum’s serenity and detail, I’m ironically more compelled to play when I need something to calm my nerves.
As a result, New World has become a fairly passive game. I log on, I hunt/chop/mine, turn in what I have, and then move on to the next task. There are some nice vistas, sure, but I’m struggling to find reasons to return – which is worrying a few weeks from launch, especially given how long it took to log in.
Final update – October 26
It’s time for our final verdict, and after a few dozen hours I can honestly say that I’ve really enjoyed my time with New World – but it’ll take something big to draw me back in for longer than an hour or two.
Amazon’s MMO is an ambitious, player-led experience, but that doesn’t forgive a lack of narrative or worldbuilding. For every good idea or unique concept, it feels like it’s missing the chance to take the next big step and do something more interesting.
And yet, I find myself returning to Aeternum’s shores just to passively enjoy its community spirit and stick it to rival factions through the community board. I just wish there was something bigger to hold me there for longer.
If you have gotten onto the servers, be sure to check out some of our guides in the interim.
New World faction guide | How to get the Waning Crescent staff | Life Staff mastery tree | Fiber and Linen guide | Great Axe guide | Fishing guide | Where to find sheep | Candied Strawberries | AoE Mage guide | Ice Gauntlet guide | Saltpeter locations | Iron Ore locations