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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    RANKED: The 12 Best Designs by the Late Ron Cobb

    RANKED: The 12 Best Designs by the Late Ron Cobb Comingsoon.net is taking a look at the best designs by the late Ron Cobb. Check out our picks below! Legendary underground cartoonist turned production designer and concept artist, Ron Cobb, passed away on his birthday Monday at the age of 83. Star Wars, one of the many franchises he contributed to, paid tribute to Cobb on Instagram, “We were saddened to learn of the passing of Star Wars: A New Hope conceptual designer Ron Cobb, who designed one of the most – if not the most — memorable characters in the Mos Eisley cantina… Cobb’s illustrious career contributed to several iconic films, including E.T The Extraterrestrial, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Alien, Back to the Future, and many more.” He will be missed.” The aesthetic of numerous sci-fi and action films were achieved through Cobb’s inimitable talent. Pivotal objects like Back to the Future‘s DeLorean, Conan the Barbaian‘s sword, and numerous space ships stick with us because of the imagination and subsequent work of Cobb. In addition to design, Cobb also served as a director and writer. Honoring the prolific career (which began in 1956) of one of the best illustrators of all-time, we’ve ranked some of Cobb’s most memorable designs (and films). Check them out below. RELATED: CS Video: Back to the Future’s Bob Gale Remembers Designer Ron Cobb All concept images via roncobb.net 12) Dark Star’s Spaceship Click here to purchase Dark Star! Cobb’s first production design job was John Carpenter’s debut film, 1974’s Dark Star. Cobb designed the exterior for the film’s main space ship—which went on to heavily influence the ships/special effects of Star Wars and other space operas. It was on this film that Cobb would meet writer Dan O’Bannon, which would lead to jobs working on Alejandro Jodorowsky’s Dune and Ridley Scott’s Alien.  11) The Abyss’ Deep Core Rig Click here to purchase The Abyss! Cobb designed the massive underwater drilling rig in James Cameron’s The Abyss (1989) as well as the helmets, suits, and breathing tanks used by the crew. He also helped to create the two operable submersibles used in the movie.  10) Robot Jox’ Mech Suit Click here to purchase Robot Jox! Cobb served as a concept artist on Stewart Gordon’s Robot Joxs (1989), designing every inch of the 180 ft. tall, multi-mode robots, their support systems, and their worlds. Most of the costumes, automobiles, and other devices were also done by Cobb. 9) The Last Starfighter’s Spaceship Click here to pre-order the upcoming The Last Starfighter Blu-ray from Arrow Video! In addition to the Gunstar, Cobb designed the enemy space crafts, the planet Rylos, Starcar, aliens, and costumes for 1984’s The Last Starfighter. 8) Total Recall’s Memory Implant Chair Click here to purchase Total Recall! Paul Verhoeven’s 1990 classic, Total Recall’s entire plot revolves around one machine’s ability to plant false memories into people’s brains. Not only did Cobb design the “Rekall” machine, but he created the look for the Mars colony (mine complex, mining machines, taxi cabs, etc.), the Marsliner spaceship, and all of the vehicles on the futuristic Earth.  7) Raiders of the Lost Ark’s Nazi Airship Click here to purchase Indiana Jones: The Complete Adventures! After meeting Steven Spielberg at Universal while working as a production designer on Conan The Barbarian, Cobb landed a job as a production artist on Raiders of the Lost Ark. Cobb ended up designing the Nazi Flying Wing from that film, on which, Indiana Jones fights that large Nazi in what is one of the greatest fights in cinematic history. Cobb and Spielberg maintained a close relationship for the remainder of his career.  6) Star Wars’ Momaw Nadon (“Hammerhead”) Click here to purchase Star Wars: A New Hope! Initially unaccredited, Cobb served as a conceptual designer on Star Wars: A New Hope. He designed most of the elaborate aliens in the famed Mos Eisley cantina sequence. Momaw Nadon AKA “Hammerhead” is considered by many to be the most memorable.  5) The Rocketeer’s Jet Pack Click here to purchase The Rocketeer! Cobb contributed an early design for the rocket-powered jet pack in Joe Johnson’s Rocketeer (1991). 4) Conan the Barbarian’s Sword Click here to purchase Conan the Barbarian! Not only did Cobb serve as a production designer on 1982’s Conan the Barbarian, but he was an uncredited director of second unit photography. That said, in addition to Conan’s iconic sword, Cobb was responsible for all of Conan’s weapons, armor, architecture, and scenery.  3) Aliens’ Drop Ship Click here to purchase Aliens! As a concept artist on James Cameron’s Aliens (1986), Cobb designed the “Drop Ship,” the armored personnel carrier, some of the weapons, the interior/exterior sets, and vehicles of the earth colony complex.  2) Alien’s Nostromo Click here to purchase Alien! As a concept artist on Ridley Scott’s Alien (1978), Cobb conceived the interior and exterior of the infamous Nostromo ship—the film’s setting. That said, the ship’s aesthetic has influenced countless other sci-fi projects and the Alien franchise as a whole. Cobb was also the one to suggest the titular Alien’s blood be corrosive so that the crew couldn’t just shoot it dead.  1) Back to the Future’s DeLorean Click here to pre-order Back to the Future: The Ultimate Trilogy (4K)! Cobb created the initial design for the Back to the Future’s (1985) time-traveling De Lorean. Spielberg, a producer on the film, asked Cobb, “how he would make a DeLorean into a time machine?” He told Spielberg to make it look homemade like Doc Brown made it with stuff he picked up at Radio Shack. 

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