New World Steam Page Reveals Magic, Other New Clips

The official New World Steam page has been updated with a few short video clips, replacing some of the previous concept art.

The four clips show some combat footage featuring a two-handed hammer, the musket clip we already saw on Twitter earlier this week, some vicious tree-chopping, as well as magic in action for the first time. Check it out below and on Steam!

Note: These are videos. Click on the thumbnail to start them.

PvP Dev Blog Coming Soon

If you are not constantly refreshing the dev tracker or are glued to one of the various Discord servers (or all of them?), you may have missed some updates that the New World team posted on Twitter today.

The first piece of news that everyone's been waiting for is that the next dev diary is coming by the end of this or the beginning of next week. It will answer some of the questions that fans have been asking since the previous news came out.

We are absolutely working on some info bombs for you right now. We want to make sure that by April (Closed Beta) players will have a very firm grasp on the core features of the game. We're currently drafting up our first dev blog now and it's all about PvP and how PvE relates too [source]

Depending on how the week shakes out, end of this week or early next week is what we're aiming for. Want to make sure it answers as many of the players questions first. [source]

We may also be seeing a separate dev blog detailing the new PvP and PvP gameplay, which might be coming out even before the dev diary.

We've got some good content planned for this month. The first thing you can expect will be a dev blog detailing the changes to PvP. We'll make sure people know all about the core features before April (Closed Beta) [source]

There is even a statement on future testing phases, but unfortunately it doesn't seem like we'll be getting another test very soon.

Not just yet. When we have info on future testing outside of Closed Beta we'll be sure everyone hears about it. [source]

Speculating about the New World Gameplay Changes

Ever since the New World release announcement there has been a fierce debate about some of the changes described in the new interviews.

This was the first time since New World went dark in June that we've heard any news about the game. For many readers of the websites that posted exclusive interviews with the devs, it was most likely the first time they ever heard about it at all.

A large part of the current community consists of hardcore fans who have been following the game for years. We're more interested in the details, the explicit changes, the patch notes.

But the interviews had to give a broad overview of some of the features that set New World apart from other games. The goal - half a year from release - is most likely to raise awareness and create hype, to get more people interested in the game. Not necessarily to keep the hardcore fans in the loop.

Has there been a major change of direction? Some of what David Verfaillie (Player Experience Lead) and Scot Lane (Game Director) have said in recent interviews sounds very much like it. But they were also trying to give an overview to readers who don't know the game at all. So if they are describing something in broad strokes, it's easy to misinterpret when we already have certain expectations.

Let's look at the major points and wildly speculate about what they could mean for New World. And if you haven't had a chance to read the articles and interviews, we have a round-up of the recent news.

1. New World is now an "Open World MMO" and no longer a "Sandbox MMO".

Usually the big distinction is between Sandbox (more freedom) and Theme Park (on rails).  Both can have an "Open World", so this statement is a bit meaningless. Worst case, some of the less restricted gameplay elements have been toned down. For example in previous gameplay videos you could see that New World has a free building mode, allowing players to place tents and other structures. It's possible this has been restricted for balance purposes.

2. New World removed "Survival elements".

We don't know how many survival elements the game had before. Most often in MMOs, eating/drinking or paying attention to weather elements such as cold or heat become a chore, and only play minor roles. Getting rid of these is a good thing for the game, and it also allows AGS to differentiate better from games such as Rust, Ark and other survival games. This may be important because many of those games have a rather unpolished feel to them, so it may be better if potential players don't associate the same with New World.

3. Adding player factions to New World

This is a big one. Depending on how these factions are implemented, they could result in a completely different PvP experience. If PvP is only possible between factions, that would be a major element being taken out: Guild vs guild warfare and politics. Few games offer these gameplay elements with a lot of depth anymore, so I am still looking forward to seeing these in New World. But if alliances and enemies are pre-determined due to faction membership, this would be severely diminished.

The other possibility is that factions provide a low-risk way for players to enter PvP not tied to wars or sieges. Imagine being able to join a faction and then being able to engage in PvP with other faction-flagged players freely. Some games, such as Albion or Eve, already offer this. Yet they offer this gameplay mode in addition to the normal PvP modes.

Factions could provide a lot of engagement for solo players or smaller groups without the need to join a large company and wage territory wars. So I hope this will be implemented well, but as an alternative PvP-mode.

4. Instanced sieges?

Some statements by the developers led fans to speculate that sieges are now instanced. There is no way to tell right now if this is true, but having to "sign up" for sieges and having a better chance to participate depending on "your influence in the region" surely makes it sound like it. This goes against the "Open World" that Amazon wants to offer, and with their server tech it should not be necessary to limit the amount of players in sieges. Unless it's done for balance reasons. If "mass battles" are a major focus of the game, restricting them to 50 vs 50 seems unlikely.

But then there are other ways to do this, such as a sophisticated system for alliances, war declarations and criminal flagging. That way they could preserve the Open World nature of the game. At the same time it would still allow for emergent gameplay such as third-party interference during sieges, backstabbing and surprise attacks. The kind of things that transform a siege from a match-style event to a real experience, that players will remember and talk about.

There is a chance this point was misunderstood, due to the "50 vs 50" quote from one of the interviews. It could just be a way to describe two companies fighting each other and not actually refer to a hard cap. Hopefully we can get some clarification soon.

5. PvP being completely optional

I'd say out of all the things that came out of those interviews, this is the big one. During an interview with German site "Mein-MMO", Scot Lane said that "PvP is now a voluntary Opt-In". Keep in mind that this is something that has likely been translated from English to German (and back to English), so it has to be taken with a grain of salt. If true, and PvP can now be completely avoided by players who prefer a pure PvE experience, there is still a chance to balance this in the context of a larger PvP world.

There are several issues with players being able to opt-out of PvP. For instance it allows players to level up or gather resource in complete safety from rival players. I'd argue that this is fine, if properly balanced by having more rewarding areas in the game where it's not possible to opt-out of PvP. This would be how Eve does it with high-sec and null-sec areas. As long as players put themselves at a disadvantage and level up slower or are able to gather fewer and less valuable resources while not PvP-enabled, this can still make both types of players happy. Those who prefer being safe from other players and those who prefer the full PvP experience.

For example on the map that was released by AGS on Twitter some time ago, you could have the high-level resources in the north or the center, but designate the entire area as a PvP zone.

Another problem is that non-PvP players can potentially grief others, by blocking them, stealing kills or loot, and countless other creative ways, without the other player being able to retaliate. It would mean that the system that AGS came up with to protect players (by toggling off PvP), could actually be turned around to harass others instead.

I also think that a world where you can be completely safe is not actually that intriguing to players. Even those who say they don't want to participate in PvP will probably admit that the possibility of being attacked at any moment makes the game a lot more exciting. A lot of players of online RPGs don't just want a game, they want an experience. The kind of experience where actions have consequences, reputation and relationships matter, and where those relationships form through shared moments of excitement.

There are not many games that offer meaningful relationships and communities, deep politics that result in your company either getting help from friendly companies during a defensive siege, or being stabbed in the back by a mercenary clan, or a coalition of smaller companies forming against you because of your awful reputation. New World can still offer this, and it would set it apart from many of the other games nowadays and hold players' interest long-term.

6. Housing and Settlement Taxes

It sounds like the devs want to let solo players or those in smaller companies that cannot hold a settlement of their own be a part of larger settlements. That way they would have access to all the same resources and buildings the owning company has. For the owners this would mean tax income and potentially the support of their "vassals" in the case of war. Again for the latter to really play a role, sieges would have to be non-instanced.

7. PvE sieges

This was mentioned a few times in different articles, but I feel that it's not actually a very important feature. Fighting masses of AI just is not as exciting as fighting an organized group of players, so it really shouldn't have the same priority as PvP sieges. It could be a nice way to prevent a server from getting too stale, when one company owns a lot of territory and other players cannot organize against them - but then again you also can't make it impossible to beat the AI, because it's probably much more frustrating to lose your city to a scripted in-game event rather than being outplayed by another group of players.

Overall it sounds like New World has gotten a lot of new features, such as skill trees and crafting that improves as you use certain tradeskills. It remains to be seen if by trying to appeal to both the hardcore PvP crowd and the more casual players, Amazon may have watered down the game. 

The devs have stated that we'll hear more about the changes soon, quoted below, until then we can only speculate.

We know folks who participated in the Alpha test want a deep dive on PvPvE, we understand. We are working on a solution to provide a sense of the big picture, how all these systems and mechanics work together. The majority of people just learned about New World for the first time when we released our Trailer at the Game Awards on 12/13. We launch in May, Beta in April. We will make sure there is 100% clarity on gameplay prior to launch and address the existing concerns as soon as possible. We hear you and we care.

If you want to read more about all the new systems, check out our round-up of the interviews that we published last week. Feel free to join us on our New World Discord or tweet at us if you have any comments.

New World Release & News Roundup

The New World team announced a May 26th release date on the game's store page. They also revealed a cinematic trailer at the Twitch Video Game Awards and gave interviews to several press outlets. Here is a round-up.

This post is constantly updated. Follow us on Twitter for updates or come discuss it with us on Discord!


Interviews & Press

Translation of Mein-MMO interview (keep in mind that things might get lost in translation, so take it with a grain of salt)
Amazon announced the release of New World in May 2020 at the Game Awards 2019. On this occasion we conducted an interview with Game Director Scot Lane at MeinMMO.

Scot told us that New World had received a major overhaul last year.

Here's a quick overview of the biggest changes New World has undergone since 2018 before its upcoming release:

- the forced PvP and also the survival elements are removed
- PvP can now be switched on and off in Open-World via the "Drop-in" function. So if you want, you can completely avoid PvP.
there are NPCs now that give you quests.
- Mass battles can be played either in PvP against others or cooperatively against AI opponents.
- there are now 3 factions in the game, which you can join
- Weapons now get skill trees that are strongly based on RPGs. There will still be no character classes.
- In general, the MMO is now more accessible, the combat system is faster and more fluid, and a lot of PvE content has been added.

So between 2018 and 2019 a lot has happened in Amazon's MMORPG. During this time it was surprisingly quiet around New World. With all the major revisions to the game, it's now self-explanatory why.

Scot then explained to us in an interview how these big changes came about.

Forced PvP disturbed too many testers
For a long time PvP was a big topic around New World, which apparently some did not like in the planned implementation. Originally, it was supposed to be possible to attack other players anytime, anywhere in the world. Especially hard PvP should have become a strong focus of the game. They wanted to appeal to hardcore MMO players.

The fact that the developers now decided to remove an apparently so important core element of the game came as a surprise. That's why it was one of the first topics we talked about with Game Director Scot Lane.

MeinMMO: "We know from our preliminary talk that you removed forced PvP from New World. Why did you decide to do that?"

Scot Lane: "We learned in our early alpha tests that many MMO players wanted more content on the one hand, and they didn't like the Open World gank fest on the other. That made them lose the fun of New World.

So what we did was add more direct content. We added quests, objectives, missions, and community goals. We're more of an Open World MMO now, instead of a sandbox like it was before.

We now have PvP in play as a voluntary "opt-in" feature."

PvP comes with on/off switch
Scot explained to us how PvP now works in New World. You can imagine it as a switch that switches between PvP and PvE.

You can activate or deactivate PvP in your settlement or house. If you have just activated PvP, anyone anywhere in the Open World can still attack you. If you have deactivated it, then New World is a pure PvE experience.

At the same time, the Game Director explained that there are now three factions in the game. You join one of them and they will support PvP in a different way. With the factions you take territories and defend them as well.

Mass Battles Now at the Heart of PvP and PvE
So the hard focus of PvP is gone. But New World also wanted to make a name for itself as an MMO in which there are huge mass battles between the players. We went to see if there was a solution for PvE players here as well.

MeinMMO: "So far it looked like only players would fight each other in mass battles with the PvP focus. Now, is war with AI possible with the new PvE direction?"

Scot Lane: "Yes, you can do both. If you're a fan of PvP, we have 50v50 battles in which players attack a fortress to gain control. That's still there, you can keep fighting or not fighting, just like our PvP in the Open World.

PvE Wars have now been added. If you want to participate, do so, they happen very often. There is a board where you can sign up and participate in the battle. The greater your influence in the area, the greater the chance that you'll be there.

MeinMMO: So is a PvE battle more of a live event? It pops up an announcement in the UI and you can go to the place of the battle?

Scot Lane: "It's even easier. Every territory has a war interface. There's a battle going on at about 9am server time, or whatever time the owner of the area chooses. This war is then announced on a board in the city. Players can then log in and say that they would like to participate in the battle.

This mechanics of signing up for battles is really cool and I think it will also be relevant for streaming and fun to watch. I even know that, we tried it a lot."

Scot added that the three factions could declare each other a war target in PvP. The goal is to take a fortress or an area of the other faction.

PvE players can co-operate in mass battles and then fight hundreds of AI opponents. The AI can also attack areas and settlements, which must then be defended.

The step to Open World seems clever
Talking to Scot, we learned that we don't have to expect a theme park MMORPG at New World right now. The game hasn't experienced such a strong turnaround now.

There are no cinematics to guide us through the story and no linear story quests. The story of the game is explained through book notes and things in the environment, so a typical "Environmental Storytelling".

Choice quotes from interviews above

Notably, the game has shifted away from pure sandbox play to get more directed quests. “There’s a lot more guidance in the game,” Lane tells me. “We’ve added quests, we’ve added quest givers.”

You can now also opt in to factional, open-world PvP, regardless of what sort of server you’re on.

“[I]n the past we’ve had weapons that they’ve had a predefined set of moves and abilities you can do. With this new Weapon Mastery system, players can choose how they want to specialize within a weapon. So whether they want to focus on, for instance, the sword and shield, players can choose to focus on damage, and there’s a set of abilities and possibilities that players can choose to do that. Or they can focus more on working with their team to tank and support them. So it allows players to specialize with weapons, and I think that’s something that’s important. We want players to be able to play the way they want. What’s cool about this is you can combine a little bit from both trees and really create your own playstyle.”

Companies, New World’s guilds, can be formed and can claim land and settlements for their own - all the territories in New World are player controlled - and those players can control things such as the tax rate, crafting fees, upgrades to the settlements and so on. And while many games have a full free-form creation tool to allow Companies to fully build their fortresses, New World has gone away from that, opting for pre-built settlements with predefined layouts.

One of the more interesting aspects of the social structure of New World comes down to the fact that not everyone living in a territory will belong to the same company. You might build your house in a territory governed by another company - yet because you contribute to that settlement you’re going to be invested in its well being. You pay taxes, contribute to the town projects to improve the settlement - you might not belong to the same factions but you belong to the same social system.

"Fifty on fifty, protecting huge forts, attacking them, and warring over territory. But the world hits back too. The monsters don't want you here and as you start to move into their land, they will push back."

"They invade your territory," he says. "Slowly at first, but then more quickly, and you have to step in and defend yourself. Hundreds of AI will move in and try and take over territory, which creates cool social experiences."

New Art and Screenshots