Hi all. So, as context, I’m a GenXer, and my MMO credentials are WOW, SWTOR, City of Heroes, and ESO (which I still play). I have limited time to play games, as a dad with teenage kids, so I place a high value on my ratio of enjoyment/time when I engage in a leisure activity. After spending some time in game (nearly up to 50 as of this writing), I have a few observations. I’ll start with a summary, and provide specific examples afterwards. Some of my observations might be based in ignorance of a feature that would mitigate my issue, so I apologize if any of those have already been addressed and I just didn’t know how to deal with it.
My overall impression of the game is that its excellent moments of fun and engagement are spread far out between mindless periods of resource grinding whose goals are set so high that they seem unattainable. I would not recommend it to either a new or seasoned MMO player. Although there is some minor innovation, the core experience is pretty much the same as any other MMO, and it offers very little that is truly new with respect to either gameplay or immersive content. There is a rich history of commentary on MMO gameplay and performance available from forum feedback from other games, and the developers of New World appear to have learned from some of it, but have also ignored a lot of it, which I find puzzling.
A staple of MMOs is the half-handed and inelegant implementation of lore and quest lines mixed with grind aspects that force the player to engage in skill-less and repetitive tasks dependent on RNG and time gates, ostensibly to increase player time in the game, which converts to cosmetic sales. I was disappointed to find that New World has apparently embraced this design feature to extremity, to the point where I don’t want to keep playing it.
At my current in-game level, I find the combat too simplistic, slow-paced and heavily dependent on precision aiming and timing rather than tactical execution, which is one of the things that has kept my interest in ESO (which I know is a personal preference and not an objective viewpoint, but this is all my opinion, so that’s okay). The PVP metagame is interesting and engaging, but without seeing its evolution as servers mature, it’s too early to say whether this will be a long-term attraction. I would have already dropped the game if this were not part of it, so I view the time I’m spending now as a necessary gate to unlock the PVP aspects I plan to enjoy.
- I think that the gear system is well designed, with the ability to craft gear that is also dropped.
- The graphics and overall performance of the game, with respect to rendering, latency and responsiveness, has been excellent so far. It’s truly beautiful. I’m amazed at some of the environmental effects, especially the water. I almost got sea sick while fishing on a beach.
- The UI is well designed and implemented, but there are some opportunities for improvements, and it’s fills the screen well.
- The PVP metagame of capturing and warring over zones looks really cool and has some detailed design aspects that I think will be persistently engaging. Since I’m not quite 50 yet, I have not had the opportunity to participate, so that remains to be seen, but it’s the one reason I’m continuing to play it.
- I like the fishing minigame – it rewards skill and requires paying at least some attention to what’s going on.
- Dungeons are very cool, and I found them challenging, but expensive, to complete. I liked the puzzle oriented designs. The boss mechanics are pretty cool. They don’t replay well, though, once you’ve leveled out.
- I seriously love how you can climb on everything. Love it.
- Foot travel. This appears to have become a ubiquitous complaint on the forum, and I have heard that mounts are intended for the future. The common response to the foot travel is that the world is designed to be smaller, and so mounts should not be necessary, and the amount of time spent traveling is reasonable relative to other MMOs with a larger landscape. I think that is true when you stay in zone, but there are many quests that require you to go to other zones, and when that happens, the travel time is punishing. There are two ways this happens: when a quest directly requires travel to another zone, and when a quest requires resources or materials that are exclusive or prevalent in another zone. I’ll spend 10-20 minutes just walking until I can get a fast travel point, time which is just unenjoyable.
- The hunt quests. Some of the New World critters are just unobtainable when it comes to killing them. Elks and bison are the worst ones in my experience. Some specifics:
- The first time I did the Primrose quest, I spent an hour trying to complete it. I was not leveling a ranged weapon, since I was focusing on tank. (I suppose I should not even take the quest unless I have ranged damage? Perhaps I missed the intent if that’s the case.) My experience here was that I’d get a hit on a bison, it’d run away, I’d chase it, and then someone else would kill it. I would not get the credit for the kill, and could not skin it because I was too far from where it went down.
- The elks in particular run so far on the map that if you don’t one shot them, you’re basically done trying to kill it – you can’t even see them on the screen after they’ve completed their sprint. They also run through corrupted zones, which seems counter-intuitive since they are running from danger into even more imminent danger, but that’s not a real complaint, just an ironic observation. The real problem is that they are gone. Everyone I’m playing with does not even take those quests now at all.
- Faction PVP questing has some short term issues. Last week, there was a level 45 Covenant player camping outside a low level green town to kill anyone who came out if it that was flagged. They were one-shotting everyone, even grouped players of 20-somethings. The obvious solution is to not flag PVP, but then level becomes a gate to introductory gameplay participation if one powerful or experienced person can effectively lock down an entire town without requiring equivalent response. If it’s an L2P issue, fair enough, but my immediate reaction was that it dampened my enthusiasm for the game. The lesson learned, of course, is don’t flag for PVP unless you’re in a zerg or if you’ve hit 60 and have the right gear. If that’s the intent, fair enough.
- The faction design has created a presumably unintended set of toxic players who will lobby to kick people from opposing factions from PVE groups. These players either leave after being unsuccessful, or they get what they want. Drama ensues in global chat and the recruitment channel. The gentler souls among those in the audience wilt and diminish.
- Gathering resources is truly boring and is a massive time sink. The one exception to that is the fishing skill line, which at least has a relaxing mini game. This is the aspect of MMOs that I personally hate, New World is not different in this regard (although it might be worse than some others), but it’s where I was hoping that some innovation might be applied. So here are my problems with it, speaking not as an experienced MMO player, but as someone who is spending limited personal time in the pursuit of enjoyment:
- The sheer amount of resources required to level all skills to 200 is daunting enough that I don’t want to do it. Just getting Logging up to 100 was a soul-crushing and mind-deadening experience, and now I have so much more to go. The resource pyramid requiring low level resources to be farmed to generate high level resources eats so much time. That time is not leisure time. It’s just plain and dreadfully boring, and players have to do considerable research in order to optimize the process. I would have thought by now that level and crafting progression would be organically integrated. It’s not. It’s way out of whack. I think if you just leveled crafting, you’d get to 60 without relying on a single quest or killing anything but beasts.
- Competition for resource nodes, as always, creates toxicity. If one has a limited amount of time to do a farming run during the day, two or three other people in the same area can ruin that. Rather than blame the game, the irate player blames the other players, direct messages happen, call outs happen in general chat, etc etc. It’s not a fun environment.
- The process of preparing to gather resources itself is a massive time sink. I spend time looking at maps and doing research just to know where to go to gather things that might not be there to gather, plus I spend either time or game currency to place myself there. It’s a stressor that irritates me, when I should be having fun. It’s my leisure time.
- There are already bots available for sale on the usual websites to auto fish/farm. The fact that they exist and have a market represents a fundamental failure in New World’s game design – people want the mats to progress, but they hate actually gathering them because it is not fun and they don’t want to spend that time that way. New World is not unique in this (although I was hoping otherwise), but if people are willing to pay money and risk getting banned in order to circumvent the game’s mechanics because they are so unenjoyable, did you make a game or a joyless job simulator?
- I have concerns about the game’s economy. My current acquisition of gold is dependent on two things: questing and selling stuff. Everything I make when crafting as of today gets me no real gold, because crafted stuff now sells for less than what the mats sell for. What happens when the quests dry up? Farm mobs. The rate of gold acquisition for killing mobs is low relative to its shop value. For example, to get the rune for a low level bag, I pay faction tokens and 500 gold. Mobs generally seem to drop about 1-2 gold. Solo, I can kill a mob during a farming session at a rate of about 1/minute (including factors like travel and spawn time), so 500 gold is a lot of time to get that bag rune if I am only farming mobs, not questing. This is also not engaging gameplay. Repeatedly killing the same stuff over and over again to farm gold is not quite as bad as repeatedly hitting trees with an axe for hours at a time, but it’s close, and I wonder about diminishing returns given the high cost of gear repairs. How will we keep up with the in-game coin costs of playing the game at 60? Either farm mats and sell them in a flooded market slowed considerably by little gold generation, or farm mobs to slowly create gold. Either sounds awful.
- Why can we not share quests? I play this game with my friends, and we all basically gather online to do way different things in different parts of the map. There is no shared experience, no time spent together in game unless we find someone with an orb and do a dungeon together. I seriously don’t get it.
- Where is the minimap? I, and others like me, often check the map while moving and end up running into something that intends to do me harm. Or perhaps just a wall. Or off a cliff. Or into a tree. You get the idea. I could stop and look every time I doubt myself, yes, but who has time when you need to run 1000m to the quest location? It’s already going to be five minutes running there. Call me lazy, call me impatient, I’m just trying to get there quickly without getting lost because one wrong turn and you die, or you spend two more minutes extracting yourself from a closed-off rockwall.
- The UI, as nice as it is, needs some functional improvements. The two biggest in my mind: make it more convenient for the player who is crafting multiple things at once, or shopping for a particular piece of gear in the traders. I get cramps and mis-hit buttons when I try to salvage the 70 things I just crafted. In the trade window, you can’t filter for things that you care about, so how will things effectively sell unless I am willing to pore over a ton of listings and hover over the icons? I don’t get it how it got released this way.
- My experience with ad hoc PVP is that if someone gets a lead on you, they just run back to a sanctuary area, and if you are not ranged or have a gap closer, they are basically gone. During one fort battle the attackers fled, and we chased them 700m across the map and never caught up. I guess this is by design? It was an unsatisfactory experience that had no conclusion. It might be realistic, I guess, but it was not fun. I have done some PVP in the game so far, and won some and lost some, because usually people actually want to fight. Watching that zerg flee for 5 minutes across the map kind of stuck out in my mind, I guess.
- There are a lot of super annoying bugs, all of which have at times, frustrated me considerably:
- I bought a 7.5K house, which I now regret, expecting the tax rate to be discounted as posted (500g), but it wasn’t. I now owe 1000g at the end of the week. I’ll be okay for a few weeks, but I suspect I’ll just stop paying the taxes sooner anyway. Even if that was not an issue, there is still the fundamental devaluation of the asset given the likely long term economic issues. It’s basically an expensive closet, which only matters if you are crafting. I’m probably going to just stop that entirely.
- Sometimes mobs become invulnerable. I just have to run away and hope for the best in those situations. Most of the time when that happened, I got away. A couple of times there was a fat repair bill.
- The resource tracking on the compass randomly stops working. This happens every day, and it kills my farming runs, (which, as previously mentioned, I already hate doing to start with). Logging out and in again sometimes fixes it, sometimes not.
- Auto-run randomly stops working. Logging out and in again fixes it.
- I get kicked for being AFK when I am most definitely not AFK. I’m touching the keys and moving my mouse and everything. One of those happened when I ported out of The Depths. Weird.
- Probably not a bug, but that chest in the tree at the start of The Depths is terrible. Two groups I was in both spent 5 minutes trying to learn to play the mini-platform game to get up to the second branch. Is it supposed to be that hard? Why? I got up there the first time, but not since then. I don’t bother with it, because everyone is waiting for anyone who can’t seem to get it done, and I’m already worried about being kicked just because I’m in a different faction or something.
Despite how all of this sounds, I’m not bashing on New World at all. This is honest consumer feedback, delivered with the intention of articulating to the developers what I don’t like about their game. It’s possible that I’m not their target consumer, and I acknowledge that. I was interested and looking forward to the game. My comments come from a place of hoping that changes are made to the game that make it more fun, because right now, it’s not fun. I pre-purchased a while ago, but waited until launch to play. What I was hoping for was something that would augment (or even supplant) my Elder Scrolls experience. It’s not even coming close. It feels to me like first-year WOW but ten times more grindy on the crafting side, with the addition of an unsustainable economy and really slow and uneventful PVP combat.
I’ve complained about MMO grind mechanics before on other forums and in reviews, and I am invariably told that I should just not play MMOs. Here’s my response to that: MMOs don’t have to be grindy, they just have to be massively multiplayer. Beyond that, the sky’s the limit. If you’re going to implement a gathering/crafting system, make the process of gathering and crafting fun and engaging. Make it skill-based. Make it a distraction from my work, don’t remind me of it. I don’t want stuff handed to me, but I also don’t want my time and intelligence insulted by being forced to repetitively and mindlessly move to and fro, pressing a single button and relying on node accessibility and RNG to progress in the game. It would be great if some studio with deep pockets designing an MMO recognized that fundamental fact of life – that games are supposed to be fun and that the time of their players is limited and probably regarded as personally valuable to them – and then built a game deserving of that audience. AGS missed an opportunity with this one, and honestly, I’m not sure how they can change it so that it’s going to appeal to me long term, but I hope they will, because I already paid for it.