New World review: So close, yet so far

Tons of PvP fun, but PvE is lacking.

New World
(Image: © Amazon Games)

I've never been a huge fan of MMORPGs, as I often find their multi-layered UIs and their overwhelming number of systems to be frustrating to keep up with. I attempted to give World of Warcraft a shot for the first time last year during lockdown, and I simply gave up after trying (and failing) to feel my way through menus and mechanics that the game either explained poorly or didn't explain at all. Ultimately, most MMOs suck at onboarding players that are new to the experience, and because of that I've struggled to hold an interest in them.

Enter New World, a new MMO from Amazon Games that aims to offer players a significantly less confusing experience by streamlining many aspects of the gameplay. I've spent about 40 hours with New World since it launched on Sept. 28, and I'm happy to report that New World is the most accessible MMO I've ever played.

Unfortunately, while it's easy to get acclimated with New World and its systems, there are a lot of issues with its content and quest design. Combat and the PvP experience are really fun, but boring quests and low PvE enemy variety have me questioning whether or not New World has enough depth to hold onto its massive launch population.

Disclaimer: This review was made possible by a review code provided by Amazon Games. The company did not see the contents of the review before publishing.

New World: What you'll like

Source: Amazon Games (Image credit: Source: Amazon Games)

Above all else, the thing that I love about New World the most is how simple it is to jump into. Unlike most MMOs that have "hotbar combat" with 20 different buttons to press, New World plays like a third-person action game with light attacks, heavy attacks, blocking, and dodging. Your weapons have hotbar abilities, but there are only three that you need to keep track of. The game's user interface is also clean and easy to read, making navigation, inventory management, crafting, and quest tracking much easier in New World.

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CategoryNew World
TitleNew World
DeveloperAmazon Games
PublisherAmazon Games
Minimum requirementsWindows 1064-bit, Intel Core i5-2400/quad-core AMD CPU8GB RAMNVIDIA GeForce GTX 670/AMD Radeon R9 280DirectX 12
Game size35GB
Launch price$40

Combat itself is also a ton of fun, and despite how simplistic the combat is on the surface, there's a surprising amount of depth here. Players can use their cooldowns in the middle of their attack combos to create devastating custom attack chains, and there are also a lot of synergies between the different weapon types that makes playing with friends feel exciting and empowering. There's also a lot of build potential in New World thanks to the game's deep crafting system that allows players to create armor and weapons that boost specific stats and synergize with unlocked skills.

New World's PvP is easily the best part of the gameplay experience.

Between New World's PvE and PvP offerings, PvP is by far the most enjoyable. New World's action RPG-style combat is a perfect fit for large-scale PvP, and I've been having a ton of fun patrolling contested areas of the map with an army of my faction allies and attacking other groups we run into. I've died a few times, but thankfully, New World doesn't punish you with XP or gear loss when you die. New World factions can also fully declare war against one another and fight over territories on the map. On my server, my Covenant buddies and I are currently preparing to defend the territory of First Light against an invading Syndicate force, and things are set to kick off on Saturday night. Holding the territory means that everyone in the faction will continue to enjoy lower trading and crafting fees in the region, so we're giving the defense everything we've got.

If New World's dynamic open-world PvP experience isn't for you, there's also a matchmade Outpost Rush mode that pits two teams of 20 against each other to try to accrue 1,000 points by capturing and defending forts that you can play once you reach level 60 (Most people, myself included, aren't at that point yet). If you're not interested in partaking in PvP at all, you can disable it.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Another thing I really like about New World is its presentation. While most MMOs are set in a typical fantasy world, New World's Aeternum changes things up a bit with its tropical island aesthetic. The game also blends the appearance of Spanish conquistadors with things you'd see straight out of medieval Europe, resulting in armor and weapons that stand out amongst other MMOs that lean heavily into standard fantasy tropes. It's a nice breath of fresh air for the genre.

When it comes to audio and music, New World's offering is good, but not anything special. The game's music is enjoyable to listen to, and both weapons and abilities boast solid sound design. There was never a moment where the game's audio impressed me, but what's there is satisfactory.

New World: What you won't like

Source: Amazon Games (Image credit: Source: Amazon Games)

The thing that's dragging down my enjoyment of New World the most is how bland its PvE questing experience is. Most quests, main or otherwise, simply ask me to kill X amount of enemies and search X chests at a specific location, with little to no relevance to the story whatsoever. There are no interesting objectives or meaningful story beats that connect me to Aeternum or its inhabitants at all, which is a problem because the game supposedly wants me to care that an evil Corruption is threatening to destroy it. There's barely any dialogue in the game so far, and what little there has been has mostly amounted to meaningless fluff. Compared to something like Star Wars: The Old Republic's diverse and story-rich quests, New World's grind is painfully dull.

New World's PvE is sorely lacking in quest depth and enemy variety.

The majority of the PvE experience, in general, is lacking, too. I haven't encountered much of anything other than zombies, skeletons, and hostile woodland critters on my journey, and I'm pretty much in the endgame at this point. Because of that, I have a feeling that enemy diversity isn't going to improve regardless of how far I progress. New World's instanced five-player Expedition missions help somewhat since they have a few unique enemies and some light puzzles, but it's not enough.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

New World also has an absurd amount of running from point A to point B. To be fair, this isn't exactly uncommon for MMOs, but New World doesn't have mounts that speed up the process, which is a bizarre omission. Fast travel is also heavily restricted by timers and resource costs. As much as I can appreciate exploring the open world and checking out the scenery, running several kilometers to and fro to complete quests gets very old very quickly.

Finally, New Worlds also has an infuriating loot drop system that only allows one player to loot quest creatures before they despawn. For example, I recently had a quest to kill a specific bear called Scratchy and skin it for meat. I worked with other players to take Scratchy down, but because only one player gets to skin it, everyone else was forced to wait five minutes for the bear to respawn. I ended up spending almost 30 minutes in that goddamned cave before I was finally able to skin Scratchy and finish the quest, and at that point, I wanted to throw my keyboard across the room.

New World: Should you play it?

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

I'm having a good time with New World, but as I continue grinding my way to the level cap, I'm left wondering how much longer I'll be willing to put up with the game's poor quest design, lacking enemy variety, and other frustrating aspects like the constant running and the annoying quest item drop system.

New World could be one of the best multiplayer PC games ever made if its quests and PvE encounters were as good as its streamlined mechanics, combat system, and PvP experiences, but they're not. And while I'm having a blast in PvP right now, I'm not sure I'm comfortable saying that the game is worth getting when it faces several outstanding issues.

Brendan Lowry

Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.