Saturday, July 24, 2021

IN THE EVENT YOU Play ” NEW WORLD “? Beta Impressions From The Frontier

Amazon Games’ upcoming MMORPG New World is in the spotlight as a lengthy closed beta session shows off the action ahead of an August 31st release. New World has changed its vision multiple times over the course of development, and now the question on everyone’s mind is – where is this going to land on release? What kind of player is it for? What kind of MMORPG is it? And perhaps the most important question, is it worth your time at all? Over the course of the beta (and a demo session that took me into an endgame slice with a fully-geared character), I’ve seen some areas with huge potential that are currently underserved in the MMORPG space – and some others that could be intense detriments for the title. Let’s talk about New World!It successfully lands a powerful frontier survival vibe If you’re familiar with survival games that have you punching wood to get a house going, New World delivers on this front initially by giving the player myriad survival pursuits. Hunting turkey on the borders of your established safe zones to raise your cooking skill and create rations is far more engaging than it has any right to be. Hunting down elusive saltpeter deposits in mines and crafting your own shells for your old-timey rifles feels fun. Being able to skill up in everything to your liking is a classic system à la Runescape, and its nice to know you can work up every single crafting and gathering skill if you wish, right down to doing some fishing. Banging together your first batch of gathering tools is actually freaking awesome. Digging up carrots and potatoes feels meaningful. Coming back to your town in the middle of the wilderness to trade feed and talk with your fellow explorers has all the allure of bustling about Disney’s Frontiertown, and I’ve rarely had so much investment into crafting and trading systems in MMOs. I can see potential problems with these aspects later down the line, i.e. do I really want to spend my time in the endgame gathering resources just so I can play the game, but for now, there’s plenty of magic in creating my own food, ammunition, and supplies before I trek out into the wild. It feels gritty, it feels raw, and it feels fresh. Faction PVP can be a lot of fun Territory control and faction-based opt-in PVP not only bring back a bit of realm-vs-realm feel from the glory days of Dark Age of Camelot, but they inject something that many online experiences have moved away from in the last decade – social interaction. That means yes, you are going to see a player named PoopyPants (Yes, this was a real player I saw) cutting down trees and screaming outside of town about the price of silver ore, and your chat feed is going to be inundated with comments that make the infamous Barrens chat look downright erudite. However, it also successfully adds shared social stakes to the experience, even if you choose not to interact at the verbal level with any other players. By funneling players into three different factions, you have an investment in your tribe regardless of how deep you want to take it. If you still just want to solo and bring back a load of furs to trade in town, you can – but the real fun is to be had by grouping up, interacting with others, and eventually taking over some territory as your chosen faction. At the solo, guild, and greater level, having game flow dictated by players instead of the “theme park” experience is a bold choice and more than a bit refreshing. The issue here is how interesting and meaningful are these faction wars going to be in the endgame? While I don’t have the answer to that yet, the prospect of really engaging with other players in a meaningful way in a MMORPG gives me a powerful nostalgia bump and some serious differentiation from many other genre offerings today. On the flip side, if you’re not really interested in territory wars or PvP, other existing MMORPGs might be a better choice. The combat is New World’s biggest weakness In almost every MMORPG, you’re going to be doing a ton of combat. It’s probably the biggest portion of the entire gameplay experience. With limited skill options, awkward animations, and very little excitement, New World’s combat is decidedly dull. Now, there’s something to be said about popping an opposing faction member from a great distance before you engage in a 3v3 skirmish that gets real greasy, but that’s more about the player-to-player interaction than the combat, which can often feel wooden and wonky. While I enjoy systems that attempt to break the genre out of the tab-targeting standard that’s been grandfathered into MMOs for ages, it misses the mark here.  I found it hard to determine if the other aspects of the game that seem enjoyable can carry this particular aspect either, as combat is the core of almost every other pursuit. Even if you’re just spelunking for saltpeter, you’re going to have to fight a ton of various zombie-like creatures, wolves, or bears, and it simply does not feel good. This problem is exacerbated in group experiences, both PvP and PvE, but more pronounced in the latter. Chewing into spongey opponents as a pack with the glaring lack of feedback from weaponry is almost comical, and your options in combat feel extremely limited and lacking. Everything can feel the same Enemies, locations, and activities can become a big bowl of mush without breaking it up with some PvP pursuits. You’ll see many of the same rickety little fishing villages, decrepit farms, and crumbling ruins as you traverse the giant world. Killing some undead buccaneers at level 5 feels the same as it does at level 15, and you’re going to be doing a ton of daily-quest/fetch style activities in order to grind out your faction reputation, like wandering around the aforementioned locations for boxes and killing X undead baddies. It feels intensely repetitive even after only twenty hours of gameplay, so I’m concerned about how that will translate to the endgame – will I still, as an elite member of the Syndicate, still be wandering farms killing undead and picking taters? I mean, I do like picking taters... Travel is rough When you’re just starting, it’s fine that you’re walking everywhere because you don’t have far to go. However, this takes a turn at around level 12, where you’ll find the autorun button and some movies on your favorite streaming platform to be your best friends. The world is large, and traveling it all on foot is a huge pain. Without mounts, and the fact that fast travel is limited by resources, moving around the map is an absolute bore and a chore. I realize there are other meaningful concerns that probably flow into this decision, like the implications of having everyone zoom around in a game that’s attempting to create stakes with territory control and PvP, but this becomes harder and harder to ignore the more you play and get quests on opposite ends of your map. Forging ahead Based on the beta, New World is going to be an interesting but potentially niche addition to the current crop of MMORPGs. However, it seems to really serve players that want to play with small groups of friends for faction skirmishes and that are interested in greater territory control wars with big guild politics and all that. If you’re not interested in that kind of greater pursuit with plenty of social interaction and PvP, the PvE elements by themselves do not seem compelling enough to keep things rolling.  While I love the feeling of crafting my own stuff, slowly increasing the areas that I’m strong enough to explore, and fastidiously upping all my gathering and crafting skills, I can see those charms fading rapidly as the activities become somewhat rote. The dynamics involved in faction wars and territory control seem to be the peppy antidote for the never-ending rock farm in various undead shacks and homesteads. As with other games that lean into this kind of emergent gameplay (RIP Shadowbane), some of New World will be what players shape it into.
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    Prepare for battle with a deeper dive into Godfall’s combat techniques

    The team here at Counterplay Games has been working hard on Godfall to create an experience for players where they can truly embrace an engaging combat experience while fighting with intensity and finesse, as they dominate the battlefield. We want players to put their own fingerprint on the game with how they play. That said, we created a number of ways to approach and defeat the enemies you’ll face in Godfall. Recently, we debuted a combat trailer that showcased a closer look at the Water Realm and some of the challenging enemies you will encounter there. With that trailer, we focused on a couple specific things, one of which is exploiting the Weakpoints in enemies. Weakpoints are one of the many combat features in Godfall that we want to dive deeper into with you today as we break down some of the different combat techniques you’ll have at your disposal when the game launches on PlayStation 5 on November 12. Targeting an enemy’s Weakpoints Valorian knights can use their Valorplates to reveal hit locations of particular vulnerability on their enemies. This allows skilled knights to take advantages of the imperfections and weaknesses of an otherwise daunting foe. An enemy’s Weakpoint will typically reveal itself after they attack, and there are also a few additional unique triggers for Weakpoints that you will find while you play. With Weakpoints, we want to reward players who approach the game with patience and accuracy. Once an enemy’s Weakpoint is revealed, you will need to aim for a direct hit to deal bonus damage. Additionally, there will be loot traits tied to some weapons that will give added benefits to hitting Weakpoints (e.g. healing, detonating elemental explosions, etc.). Breaching an enemy As you fight your way through the World of Aperion, you will come across heavily armored enemies. You will need to breach these enemies in order to do effective damage against them. So how do you breach an enemy? The most effective way is to hit them with a heavy attack (R2) and then follow-up quickly with light attacks (R1). Using Heavy attacks on their own can also be effective. Once you fill up the enemy’s breach bar, the enemy will be stunned and become vulnerable to takedowns. Finish an enemy with a Soulshatter Every Valorian knight learns to affect their opponents’ internal Aetherium – the very fabric of their spirit. As a Valorian strikes their foes, they make small rends in their enemies’ spiritual fabric. Then, at the right tactical moment, a powerful strike is delivered that will turn these fractures into a large internal detonation. When performed correctly, this move will utterly destroy a being. Soulshatter finishes are a fantastic way to dispose of enemies in your path. As you deal damage to an enemy, you accumulate a bank of damage that can be consumed with a heavy attack (R2). If that bank of damage is larger than the enemy’s remaining health, you will soulshatter the enemy. Soulshatters also serve as an additional trigger to traits you may have on individual pieces of loot. As you finish your enemies off with a soulshattering blow, you will see various payoffs as you utilize those triggers. In addition to the already beautiful explosion of your enemy, you may see additional payoffs such as shooting elemental projectiles from the shatter, triggering secondary explosions, and more. Utilize Polarity Attacks to increase your potential As you utilize both your weapons at your disposal, there is a bonus for players who swap their weapons mid-battle. Players can charge up a Polarity Attack by hitting enemies with their weapon. When fully charged, a weapon swap unleashes a shockwave that boosts your weapon’s damage by 20% for 30 seconds. The potential shockwave damage can be increased as you level up specific player attributes. Players who want to maximize their damage completely will find themselves swapping between weapons mid-combat. Similar to Weakpoints and Soulshatter, Polarity Attacks are tied to loot effects. A simple example is increasing the damage for the shockwave or increasing the charge rate. Some examples of exotic loot traits you may find include inflicting an ailment whenever you use your Polarity Attack or applying a debuff on enemies hit by the shockwave. Shields are made for offense Sure, you can use your shield for defense, but it is an equally capable offensive tool. Here are some ways you can utilize your shield to defeat your enemies: Parrying – You can test your reactionary skills in battle by parrying an enemy’s attack (L1). A successful parry right before an enemy attack lands leaves the enemy vulnerable for a short time. Shield Throw – Need to get an enemy out of your way or maybe they’re just too far across the fight from you? Hold L1 to aim your shield, and then throw it at the enemy by pressing R2. Throwing your shield can damage and knock them down. Just remember that your Shield Throw has a short cooldown, so utilize it wisely. Stomach Punch – Up close and personal and just want to knock your enemy on the ground? Once unlocked from your skill grid, players will be able to utilize a Stomach Punch with their shield to knock down enemies. Flat Bash – Once unlocked from the skill grid, players can utilize a Flat Bash that can interrupt an enemy’s Red Power Attacks (non-interruptible attacks), and petrify the ones Breached by it. Petrified enemies will be turned into obsidian that can then be smashed into pieces across the battlefield. Shield Ground Slam – Once unlocked from the Skill Tree, players can perform a Shield Ground Slam to cause area-of-effect damage. This attack will also petrify enemies Breached by it. Petrified enemies will be turned into obsidian and can then be smashed into pieces across the battlefield. Shield Catch Area Blast – Once unlocked, give yourself room to breathe by causing a large Shield Shockwave. Press L1 right as your Shield Throw returns to you to release a blast of energy. Shield Zoom Attack – Want to get up close and personal with your weapon but the enemy is just too far away? Once unlocked, press L1 right as your Shield Throw hits an enemy to dash quickly to their location and start swinging away. Archon Mode Archon Mode is the ultimate showcase of what your Valorplate can do. We want players to discover and try all the archon modes as they play. At a high level, you will fill up your archon bar as you fight enemies around you. Once completely full, press down on both analog sticks (L3+R3) to activate your Archon Mode. Alongside an ability (like summoning three allies to fight alongside of you), you will receive buffs that have triggers attached to them. Trigger those effects to immensely escalate your destruction potential. We can’t wait to see how high players can rachet up their damage output. Weapons in your arsenal In a previous blog post, we shared some of the unique combat features of the Dual Blades and Longsword. We wanted to touch on the final three weapon classes with you today. You saw the Warhammer and Polearm used in the Combat Trailer, but we’re also going to give you a look at the Greatsword in action. Warhammers Because Valorians are frequently outnumbered or outsized on the battlefield, the great Warhammers were developed to take advantage of the strength give to wearers of Valorplate. These heavy-duty weapons the hardest armors and scatter multitudes of smaller enemies with each strike. Wield the Warhammer to inflict slow, but big area-of effect blasts as part of its standard combos. Outside of your normal light and heavy attacks, Warhammers gain charge over time. You can gain charge faster by attacking enemies. When the charge is completely full, you can perform one of your two weapon arts. The first technique is massive energy discharging slam in an area around the player. Your other option is to aim and slam your Warhammer to send a directional shockwave that deals bonus damage at the end of its travel. Polearms The term Polearm, as it applies to Valorians, encompasses a class of weapons with a long reach designed to keep enemies at bay. Because the Valorian martial style is predicated on attack, Polearms are typically used to drive back opponents with their superior area control rather than as weapons meant to receive charges. The Polearm is a fast precision weapon with lots of thrusts and aimed stabs to deal high damage to a single target. Beyond your normal light and heavy attacks, Polearms have a charge bar that charges overtime. When the bar is blue, you can perform one of your two weapon arts. Utilize your first weapon technique to jump quickly forward and perform an area-of-effect slam that deals moderate damage but gets you in the middle of the fight and staggers nearby enemies. Your second technique is a powerful javelin throw. This attack is perfect for a precision strike from distance. Aim it at an enemy’s Weakpoint to inflict massive damage.  Greatswords Like the Warhammers, the Valorian greatswords require the incredible strength granted by your Valorplate to properly wield. Greatswords exist to give knights the striking power of the Warhammer, but the precision of a Longsword. Depending on the weapon, these swords are just as capable of smashing as they are of actually cutting. Your Greatsword has a charge bar that fills whenever you hit or are hit by enemies. The charge gradually empties over time. While the bar is red, you can perform either of the Greatsword’s unique weapon techniques. The first technique at your disposal is one that launches yourself forward in a whirlwinds hitting nearby enemies. The second technique requires more precision as you aim and launch your Greatsword to deal damage to enemies in its path.  We hope you have enjoyed a deeper look into some of the combat features that Godfall has to offer. We can’t wait to see the amazing ways players come up with to dispatch enemies in front of them as they ascend to fight the mad god, Macros. Keep your eyes open as we’ll be sharing even more information with you as we get closer to our launch on November 12.

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