New World: Hands-on Preview of Amazon’s New MMO

Amazon's new MMO, New World, sets the stage for big battles in its 50v50 War mode. We went hands-on with the mode and have some thoughts on the MMO in general.

New World
Photo: Amazon Game Studios

New World, a new MMO title from Amazon, is the tech company’s second video game offering after its online shooter Crucible had a less than stellar launch earlier this year. With this new take on the well-trodden PC genre, Amazon hopes to put its fledgling game division back on course.

Developed by Amazon Games’ Irvine Studio, the game is set in the 16th century during the “Age of Exploration,” on the mysterious island of Aeturnum. Magic, historical weapons, and firearms coexist in the folkloric setting, as three factions battle it out over territory and resources on the creature-infested island.

The game is combat-heavy and eschews a traditional class-based system for a weapons-based one in which custom build-outs and skillsets are tied to weapons. Combat feels similar to Dark Souls: dodge rolls, blocking, and perfectly timed strikes are keys to victory in a fight. But the responsiveness isn’t quite as razor-sharp as what you’d experience in the Souls games, but considering the game is an MMO, I left impressed with how it played overall.

While the game was originally set to feature PvP only, Relentless recently shifted focus to include PvE, which is likely one of the reasons the game was delayed to next year. New World also features a deep crafting system, traditional questing, as well as faction warfare that sees players fight for and contribute resources to their group as they try to take control of the game’s dozen-or-so territories and build up colonies to their liking.

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Folks who preordered the game can participate in a preview build starting today. Ahead of the launch of the build, Den of Geek was invited to participate in a gigantic, 30-minute 50v50 PvP “War” session in which one faction defends a fortress against another. I was a member of the defending faction, and the ensuing battle was chaotic, to say the least.

The forts are outfitted with hulking, mountable weapons like arrow turrets and dump-able hot oil cauldrons, with high stone walls and towers overlooking the battlefield below. At the moment there is only one fort layout available for War, regardless of territory, though the devs said in a press briefing during the demo that there may be more layouts available down the line. Meanwhile, the attacking faction is equipped with mountable siege weapons too, as well as armament stations that refill supplies and ammo.

From the start of the battle, it became readily apparent that the fight would be a tactical one. Straight away, many of the attackers descended on one of the several control points on the battlefield, and as a war hammer-wielding grunt, I rushed to meet them. I was quickly dispatched, and after a few deaths and respawns I realized that a more strategic, concerted effort with my allies was in order, so we attempted to take out the enemy siege weapons, which were slowly being positioned closer and closer to our gates.

I tried other tactics too, like mounting an arrow turret to damage the enemy siege weapons and take out enemies that managed to reach one of our gates. Eventually, the attackers pushed through our gates and we were forced to defend the main control point at the center of our fort, where we essentially got plastered by AOE spells (fireballs rained down on our heads and there was really nothing left for us to do).

Even though it was a one-sided battle, I enjoyed the brief glimpse I got of the game. The combat feels pretty great whether you’re hack ‘n’ slashing or using projectiles like magic staves or guns. I mostly used my great hammer.

The character customization is pretty standard fare, with plenty of cosmetic options at your disposal. The real meat resides in the weapon skill trees, in which you use mastery points to learn new abilities and become more proficient with each weapon type. Even though there aren’t character classes, you can quickly switch between weapons on the fly, and with each weapon comes a completely different buildout, essentially. Combining weapons with different pieces of armor and equipment deepens the customization further and means players can create a super-specific buildout catered to their playstyle.

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There are a lot of other things available for players to do in New World, though I unfortunately didn’t get to see much of it during my demo (I glimpsed the world map for a few moments and hung out in a town square while waiting for war, but that’s about it). I’ll be interested to try out some of the PvE events in the future, in which groups of players take down hordes of zombie-adjacent monsters for big rewards. But as for what I’ve seen so far, I’m intrigued by the game at the very least, particularly because the combat is some of the best I’ve played in an MMO to date.

New World is out in 2021 for PC.