New World Beta Unimpresses

855 words.

I’m not going to dwell on this very much, because everyone else seems to be enjoying it, but just for the record, I didn’t care for the New World beta very much. I was ready to give up on it after a half hour, but I recognize that MMOs tend to start slow. So I persevered for a little over two hours and by the end I felt it to be repetitive and unrewarding. I feel like two hours is plenty of time for any game to make their case for why I should continue playing.

I didn’t care for the alpha very much either, but I can’t talk about that. The beta may or may not be the exact same systems, with a thin veneer of a PvE questing experience painted over top of it.

The (new) story of the beta didn’t provide me with much motivation for my character to exist in the game world. (I noted that they had utterly abandoned anything that might even hint at a connection with colonial expansion… I’m baffled that they haven’t changed the name of the game.) So the “role-playing” part of the MMORPG was out the window from the very beginning.

To be honest, I had to re-watch the video I recorded to even remember the story. The entire story is: “Save the world from Corruption.” Thrilling. Actually, that’s not even your story. That’s the story of the other guy. You just happened to be standing next to the guy who was sent to destroy the Corruption. Your story is, “Oops I’m stuck on this island forever, separated from my no-doubt grieving family back home.”

Others have already talked about how limited the character creation is. If you’re one of those people who wants to spend hours in the character creation screen, you’re going to be very disappointed. (I personally like to click “randomize” a couple of times and then click “play,” so it suited me fine.)

There’s been some discussion of whether the combat is good or not. I recognized that the game wanted me to believe it was a rich action combat system of blocking and dodging and tactics, but in actual practice, up through level 10 at least, you can usually just walk up to any monster and brute force button-mash them to death while standing completely still. Watching the enemy’s attack patterns and reacting accordingly felt largely optional (maybe that’s what this game considers “role-playing”). A little strafing and a lot of sword swinging killed everything I encountered. I don’t remember dying, or even feeling the slightest fear of dying, at any point in my two hours of play time. Because of that, I would rate the combat as sub-standard compared to the gold standards of action combat in the gaming industry.

I noticed numerous technical issues I won’t go into, but they left me thinking I was playing an early version of a game where nobody was in charge of polishing little details. Things like texture pop-ins, weird collisions and hit boxes, and puzzling keypress handling. (As one example, when getting my sword out, if I held the X key down just a tiny bit too long, I would get my sword out and then immediately put it away again.)

After my measly two hours of time in the beta, I felt like I had seen everything the game had to offer for the next hundred thousand hours of game time. Every quest was to go to a place and kill some things and/or loot some chests. The stuff in the chests didn’t matter. There were no entertaining NPCs, they were all blank robots who dispensed walls of quest text that didn’t matter, which I took to be the bare minimum of effort required to try to change it from a survival sandbox into a PvE questing experience. The enemies were as generic and uninspired as could possibly be made: Undead and animals. The game seemed to think that I would want to spend most of my time gathering and crafting, as in a survival sandbox, because of the abundance of resources in the world, but it didn’t give me any particular reasons to do those things, in the form of goals or benefits or dangers to avoid.

In the end, I have no idea what this game is trying to be. It’s more of a collection of game systems than a game. It looks to me like it’s just Amazon trying to recreate the games we’ve already played but under an Amazon brand name. Because, like I’ve said before and I’ll keep saying until proven wrong, I’m still 100% sure their main development goal is making a test platform for their Lumberyard game engine.

Just so I put something positive in this post, the game looks fairly nice. However, I’m struggling to keep from adding “for an MMORPG” onto the end of that sentence. Because it doesn’t look that great compared to some other games I’ve played recently, like Death Stranding, or The Last Of Us Part II, or Assassin’s Creed Odyssey.

Here’s a couple of videos I recorded.

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