Last week Amazon Game Studios held an invite-only event for press and content creators. Two of our team members were among the invited and had the chance to play through New World's first dungeon, the Amrine Excavation.
Please keep in mind that the game is still in Alpha and a lot of what we saw may change before release.
Amrine Excavation is the first dungeon - or expedition, as New World calls them - that players will encounter. It is located in Windsward, one of New World's more central, lower-level territories, and requires a group of three to five players. It is tuned for level 25 and can be considered an entry-level dungeon experience, aimed at introducing players to expeditions and boss mechanics.
Before you head into the expedition, there is some backstory and an associated quest line that you should pick up. You are then tasked with finding out what happened to Simon Grey and his team of archeologists that went missing in the dig site.
During the event we first got an introduction from the team and were then assigned to groups of five, each led by a developer who would tank the dungeon for us. I took on the role of healer with the Life Staff and the Ice Gauntlet as a secondary weapon.
The dungeon consisted mostly of Lost enemies, especially Withered and Ghosts. Thanks to being granted a full set of green gear and being slightly overleveled with our level 30 characters, most of the trash mobs were fairly easy. But even during the trash pulls we encountered several new mechanics that we hadn't seen in the open world during last year's preview. One of these was a Withered Nest, which would keep spawning Withered unless destroyed. So the whole group had to focus it down quickly. Luckily we had several players with strong AoE weapons, especially the Ice Gauntlet and Fire Staff, so we were able to make short work of these pulls.
As a healer my job was to keep the tank and group alive. While a lot of the combat in New World involves active mitigation and thus players can often take care of themselves, a healer is still very useful in dungeons and probably a requirement in endgame content. And playing with the Life Staff in a group setting is a lot of fun, although some of the healing spells are very hard to target. Such as Divine Embrace, a spell with a tiny targeting circle and a long cast time. After respeccing a few times mid-run, I ended up mostly using Sacred Ground (which has a much larger radius and provides healing to everyone inside it for 12 seconds), Splash of Light (an instant group heal), and Orb of Protection (for the tank). Additionally you can spec into a passive skill that allows you to heal allies with your light attacks. Instead of watching health bars as in other MMO's, in New World you have to consider your positioning a lot and actively aim your skills, even as a healer.
The new Ice Gauntlet is also one of my favorite weapons in the game so far and I often switched to it when we had a larger pull and the mobs were all grouped up nicely to cast Ice Storm. Watch out for a separate article and video for a deep dive on this weapon!
Throughout the dungeon there are spots where you have to interact or use your Azoth Staff to progress the quest and story line. You will also come across a small puzzle which you need to solve in order to spawn a bridge to be able to progress deeper into the dungeon.
Further on we encountered a first named boss - Foreman Nakashima. This fight introduced several new mechanics. First: the boss has several "tags" or affixes, such as "Magic Resistant". This boss also has a fairly deadly AoE, but luckily group members can be picked up during the fight in case they are downed. Each boss drops blue loot and you have a chance to get gear and crafting materials which are exclusive to each dungeon. You will also find chests, but some of them will be locked until their associated boss is defeated.
Should the party die, there are respawn points that unlock once you pass them, saving you from a long corpse-run.
The final boss fight takes place in a large cavern with an impressive background - an exploding obelisk, frozen in time, just like the Shattered Obelisk we can see in the open world. One thing is for sure: The team at Amazon knows how to craft beautiful scenes, powerful sound effects and music, and dungeons are a perfect fit for these world-building elements.
At last we find Simon Grey, who has been transformed into a giant abomination and attacks us after a short voice-over dialog. The boss spawns Withered throughout the fight and spews poison puddles that players have to avoid, while the Withered consume these puddles to buff themselves. Once defeated, players get an achievement, more loot and complete their quest.
Some of the loot from this run is pictured below, including a piece of the Amrine-exclusive armor.
For an introductory, low-level dungeon, Amrine Excavation is a great example of what Amazon can do with New World PvE. They provide a more complete experience than for example the Spriggan arena, and hopefully the endgame dungeons will be challenging and worth repeating even months after release. Maybe a challenge mode or changing boss affixes could keep things fresh and help low-level content stay relevant?
If you want an in-depth walkthrough for Amrine Excavation, make sure to check out our guide. We're looking forward to experiencing the other, higher-level dungeons. Speaking of which: New World will launch with six dungeons, available at level 25, 35, 45, 55 and 60.
After completing the dungeon, we took a quick detour to the nearby fort to check out the new capture mechanics. Unfortunately we didn't find anybody to fight, so we decided to claim the territory instead.
Thanks to the team at AGS for inviting us to this event. We'll be posting more guides and videos, as well as a round-up of all the coverage of other content creators over the next few days. Meanwhile, you can also check out all of the weapon abilities that we were able to record during this event in our database.