Color me rather cynical, but one thing I cannot stand is when a game company attempts to make something old appear as if it is new and revolutionary. For those that never experienced such a thing, perhaps it will be, but for anyone capable of grasping history or has lived long enough to have experienced these “innovations” before this marketing strategy is just a disingenuous ploy to build hype for a product. A ploy that more often than not tends to come from products that when launched are revealed to be painfully mediocre.
In a recent interview with Xbox Magazine, picked up by Respawn First, Game Director Scot Lane does exactly this for Amazon’s much derided MMO, New World. If you want to save yourself some time, then just know it is a Dark Souls MMO. That’s it, there isn’t anything special about it. A potentially cool concept, but nothing that will reduce your brain to a puddle of mush through its pure innovative glory.
The ploy starts by discussing the use of Cloud Servers. Though it sounds fancy when you word it as such, what it boils down to is most of the actions will be processed server-side, with your client responsible for just rendering the result. AKA it’s an MMO.
“We made New World thinking, ‘What could we do in the MMO genre, and what could Amazon do?’ We have the power of the cloud thanks to Amazon Web Services, so we can push things in ways they haven’t been pushed before. We thought it’d be cool to take action-RPG combat, put it at scale, and see what happens.”
Not only is this not new, but it is hardly revolutionary. Several MMOs have boasted about featuring large scale battles. Eve Online occasionally has World War tier events with so many actions they’ve had to delay inputs by up to 45 seconds so the server could handle the load. All because someone forgot to pay the rent.
Continuing the developer talks about how the game will be more physics and skill-based rather than stand there, click action, calculate damage. Not to sound like a broken record, but MMOs have done this for a long time. Off the top of my head you have, Rust, Planetside 2, Black Desert, Absolver, innumerable survival mechanic MMOs, and even Fallout 76 managed to not screw this up… too badly.
“Your position and physics matter in-game, to you and the world and other players. And that creates a tension that you don’t see in other games like this because you have to stay on your toes.”
“When someone – regardless of equipment – could trounce us on the floor, it showed us this really is a skill-based game. A lot of MMO players aren’t familiar with staggering, or block-breaking, or other things you’ll see referred to in fighting games, and we’re trying to teach MMO players that as fast as possible.”
Finally, the interview concludes with the announcement there will be no class system, magic will be grounded and the setting is a low fantasy set in during the time period of the Golden Age of Exploration.
“In terms of technology and advancement for humans in general, there was a lot going on. It’s one of those unique periods of time that saw lots of different technologies intersect. There were gunpowder guns, swords and shields and other more esoteric weapons all in play at the same time. That makes for a very advantageous gameplay setting – it had nothing to do with the idea of colonialism.”
All of this may produce an MMO that is both engaging and a blast to play, but to pretend like you’ve reinvented the wheel over a decade too late is disingenuous. It just makes consumers look at you like you’re a liar and ruins the hype for your product as those that buy into it are then made to look foolish when they run into anyone that actually knows the industry.
We’ll see how innovative the game is in August when it launches. Personally I’ll settle for wokeness-free fun.