New World Closed Beta First Impressions

New World is here in Closed Beta, ahead of the full launch at the end of August 2021. This is Amazon Game Studios’ new MMO, currently PC only, and this closed beta is the final test before the big release coming in only a few week’s time. New World is a game that’s managed to get its hooks into me through a combination of combat, crafting, Factions, economies as well as the PvE and PvP.

When you first start out on New World you can create a character and then pick a region and server to play on. The character creation tools are OK, nothing to write home about, and then you are dropped onto a beach in the strange New World called Aeternum. After being caught in a storm on a ship, this is a mystical place with animals, thousands of other players, and about 14 different regions to explore. New World is big, ad it’s going to take plenty of time to explore and get your bearings.

You’ll get dropped into one of the four starting regions and run through the tutorial for combat, gathering, crafting, and then you’ll find yourself in your Settlement – essentially the main town of your starting Region. Here you’ll be introduced to various vendors, and as you level up you’ll be able to take on quests, then eventually Faction Quests when you reach about level 9 or 10.

The gameplay loop in New World consists of a mixture of leveling up, gathering materials, crafting, and fighting – and you can decide to take on PvE enemies or PvP players. As with other MMOs leveling up is key and earning XP through questing is your basic gameplay loop. This will send you out into the world on foot, gathering materials like wood, food, leather, or even mining for Iron Ore. The more quests you do the faster you’ll level up and then as you level other parts of the game will open up to you.

Crafting is a big part of New World where once you gathering materials you can craft at the various vendor stations dotted about your Settlement. There’s woodwork, smelting, weaving – lots of different skills to level up and you can earn XP through crafting, so you could in theory avoid the other parts of the game and simply become a master craftsperson.

The economy in New World is a great addition too. Once you have crafted your materials you can get into the economy by trading or selling your crafted items. If you decide to focus on a particular crafting ability at the start and you find a niche, perhaps there’s a gap on your server, then you could strike it rich by selling your crafted items on the economy. Not only that the economy is different in other settlements. For example, arrows may be going cheap in your settlement, but head out to a settlement that’s about to go to war, then you could strike it rich by selling a bunch of arrows that are high in demand due to the impending war. The economy looks deep, complex, and variable, and you could in theory spend hours crafting items and catering for the markets.

Combat is where things get interesting in New World. At first, you’ll be fighting PvE opponents, but eventually, you’ll level up enough to take on other players in PvP. There’s plenty of weapons in New World to get acquainted with such as Swords, Staffs, Bows & Arrows, Spears, Hatchets, Axes… you name it, New World pretty much has it. As you use your weapons you’ll earn specific experience points for weapon mastery, and you’ll unlock new skills and buffs for your character through these points.

For example, when you start out with a Hatchet, you can only swipe and smash up close. A few points in and you’ll be able to throw the Hatchet then burst into a Berserker Mode (essentially like Hulking up), plus get a mobility boost for your character so you can run faster. Each weapon has a complex tree of skills, so you’ll be able to specialize in a range of weapons. As you’re battling you can change weapons on the fly. You can hold two weapons at the same time and switch between them nice and fast, but you can also hold other weapons in your immediate inventory as well as storage in your Settlement if you need to.

Once you have leveled up a certain amount then you’ll be introduced to factions in the game. We have The Marauders, The Syndicate, and The Covenant. Picking a faction is a key choice in the game and can affect your time in New World. By picking a Faction means you can now accept quests from the Faction Quest giver. There are three PvE quests to pick and three PvP quests at any one time. Then head out into the world, complete them at various points on the map and come back to turn in for XP gains and continue your leveling up. Factions can band together to form Companies and then Companies can go out roaming the world taking on other Companies in huge battles to take over the land. If you win the land then you can set tax rates and set up projects to further your Faction interests.

PvP is a big component of New World and it’s likely to be many players’ focus. However, you can level up through crafting and also Town Projects found in your settlement. This means you can pretty much explore the world and complete Town Projects to level up, meaning you could specialize in these areas if you wanted to.

It’s worth noting that the combat in New World is active, rather than other MMOs like Final Fantasy XIV or WoW. Combat controls more like Dark Souls or Legend of Zelda, where you select the weapon to use and strike, dodge and block with a combination of buttons. The combat isn’t anything revolutionary, but so far the combat feels good. I’m yet to take part in a major PvP battle or Dungeon, but I am looking forward to it.

There’s a huge social element to the game, and this is a game where you’ll likely want to band together with a few friends, form a company, and go roaming New World to take over territory. I’ve been playing solo so far, but when the full release comes out I’ll be joining a company on an EU server as the social pulls of the game look too great to overlook. So far I have been getting my head around the combat, crafting, and locations, but the endgame looks like you’re going to need to band together.

One of the endgame elements is called Expeditions, these are New Worlds Dungeons. You can get into these around levels 20-25 and this requires players to band together to take on some of the toughest enemies in the game. Although there’s plenty of room for growth here as the max level goes up to 60. Some of the other endgame content includes

  • Expeditions (Dungeons) – Level 25 and above
  • Outpost Rush – Level 60
  • Invasions – Level 50 to defend settlements

As with many games like New World, the game really begins when you get to the level cap.

I’ve barely really scratched the surface with New World but through the Closed Beta, I’ve had a taste of all the different modes and gameplay loops. It’s definitely got my attention. I did play the Alpha in Summer 2020, and the game has seen significant upgrades in terms of graphics and audio. The game looks beautiful and the ambient sounds of the forest – particularly the somewhat soothing chopping sounds, all add up to an immersive experience.

To get into the Closed Beta you have to pre-order the game. Different from other MMOs, where you have to pay a monthly subscription, here you pay the price of the initial game. I would imagine later on they are going to charge for expansions or DLCs, or perhaps make money through the in-game store. The beta is only going on until August 2nd though, plus all content gets wiped at the end of the beta so everyone starts fresh on August 31st.

I’m looking forward to the release and putting a little more into the Beta this week to try and get into more PvP combat and Expeditions to see what that’s all about. So far I’ve found myself lost in the title, wanting to play more, thinking about the game when I am not playing, and this is always a good sign. Whether you are out in the wild hunting ad skinning animals, or you’re taking down PVE or PVP enemies, this game is off to a good start. It’s not perfect by any means, the combat could do with some tweaks to be more satisfying, and we’ll have to see what the endgame has to offer. However, there’s a bunch of potential here and it’s a game I’ll be keeping a close eye on for sure.