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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    The Last of Us Day 2020 Preview: Celebrate with New Posters, Collectibles, and More

    Hey everyone! It’s been a few months since we launched The Last of Us Part II in June, but we’ve been keeping busy. In August, we launched our free Grounded Update*, which added new features like Permadeath Mode, Grounded Difficulty, and other bonuses to the game. We’ve also been hard at work on preparations for The Last of Us Day, our annual community celebration, which kicks off tomorrow September 26. We have a lot of exciting content lined up, which you’ll be able to find on TheLastofUs.com/TLOUDay tomorrow starting at 9:00am PT / 6:00pm CET, but we wanted to give you a little preview in the meantime. Let’s get right to it! The Last of Us Part II Original Soundtrack 2XLP Vinyl + Limited Edition Posters We love our good friends at Mondo and the incredible artists they collaborate with. We’ve created some special things together for The Last of Us Day in the past, and this year, we wanted to go even bigger. Tomorrow, Mondo will be debuting a special vinyl release of The Last of Us Part II Original Soundtrack by Gustavo Santaolalla and Mac Quayle and debuting not one, but two new screenprinted posters. Renowned illustrator Tula Lotay designed the stunning album art for this special 2XLP release, as well as two beautiful new The Last of Us Part II-inspired posters. All will be revealed and available for pre-order tomorrow starting at 9:00am PT/12:00pm ET/6:00pm CET.  The vinyl will be available while supplies last, but the posters will be timed editions with pre-orders that end on 9:59pm PT on Wednesday, September 30 (1:59am ET / 9:00am CET Thursday, October 1). In other words, after pre-orders close, they’re gone and won’t be printed again. Keep your eyes on MondoShop.com for more information and don’t miss out! Announcing The Last of Us Board Game Tabletop gamers, rejoice! The Last of Us Board Game is coming. We’re excited to announce our new partnership with the talented team at CMON, makers of Bloodborne: The Board Game and God of War: The Card Game, to develop a brand new board game for The Last of Us. Our love of games–digital, card, board, or otherwise–knows no bounds, and we couldn’t be more excited to be bringing the characters and world of The Last of Us to a tabletop format. Development is already underway, and we can’t wait to share more info with you when the time is right. For more info, be sure to check out the full announcement over on CMON.com. The Last of Us Part II Abby Cosplay Guide Each week on our social media channels, we spotlight the meticulously crafted costumes, props, and makeup created by The Last of Us cosplay community. We’re continually in awe of the level of thought and care that goes into representing our characters, which is why, last year, we wanted to share our support by releasing an official cosplay guide for Ellie. The response was incredible, and we’re proud to follow it up with an official cosplay guide for Abby. This downloadable PDF features high-resolution renders of every facet of Abby’s design, including detailed shots of her clothing, weapons, equipment, and hair style. You can also find information about materials, color reference, and more.  We’ve already received some incredible Abby cosplay submissions in the months since launch, so we can’t wait to see what you can do with this additional reference. Be sure to share your cosplay and other creations with us via naughtydog.com/ugc. New The Last of Us and The Last of Us Part II Premium Statues For all of the collectors out there, we have new The Last of Us statues to add to your display cases! First up, we’ve collaborated once again with Gaming Heads — makers of the Clicker statue we revealed for The Last of Us Day 2015 — to produce a new 16” Ellie statue from The Last of Us Part II that is available in three unique editions. In the base version, Ellie stands at the ready with her machete, while the Stealth Edition adds interchangeable arms and a head piece that allow you to alter Ellie’s expression and swap out her machete for a bow. A special Hunter Version offers everything in the Stealth Edition, but features a special paint finish. All three can be pre-ordered starting today and more info can be found via GamingHeads.com. Next, for the fans that have been with us from the beginning, we have a brand new modular statue from Mamegyorai Collectibles. Sculpted and painted by Masato Ohata, these two individual statues of Ellie and Joel stand at 1/9th scale and can be displayed individually or adjoined to form a unified scene. The set is available for pre-order via Mamegyorai’s website and will ship in March of next year. Free New The Last of Us Part II PS4 System Theme As we thought about introducing players to the experience of The Last of Us Part II, we wanted the main menu to symbolize the journey you were about to take and, once finished, the one you’ve taken. For The Last of Us Day, we wanted to take that final parting image of the boat washed ashore with the waves gently rolling onto the beach and make it into a dynamic system theme, so that you can enjoy it anytime you load up your PS4 system — and we’re making it available to everyone for free. Get it now at PlayStation Store. To top it off, we’re also making all of our existing The Last of Us Part II themes and avatars free on PlayStation Store from now until Monday, September 28 at 11:59pm PT. Don’t miss out. Save on The Last of Us Remastered, Left Behind, and on The Last of Us merch Oh, we’re not done! Rounding out our celebrations for The Last of Us Day, PlayStation Gear Store is introducing new items to their The Last of Us collection, including the Joel Funko Pop! (while supplies last) and a brand new t-shirt and mug available tomorrow. There will also be a limited number of the special edition The Last of Us Part II Taylor 314ce and GS Mini guitars back on the store for The Last of Us Day — for one day only — so if you missed an opportunity to grab one in July, you’ve got another shot.  Existing The Last of Us merch not added for The Last of Us Day will be discounted up to 40% on PlayStation Gear Store and PlayStation Store will be hosting a The Last of Us Day Sale with a 50% discount on The Last of Us Remastered, The Last of Us: Left Behind, and select The Last of Us Remastered Factions Bundles all weekend. The Last of Us Day PlayStation Gear Store and PlayStation Store sales start today and end on Monday, September 28 at 11:59pm PT! The Last of Us Part II Photo Mode Contest With every Photo Mode post we receive on social media, we get to see our own game through a new lens — yours. The way you’ve been able to capture the characters, landscapes, and emotions of The Last of Us Part II in Photo Mode is so inspiring and for The Last of Us Day, we wanted to share our appreciation. That’s why, we’ll be kicking off a brand new The Last of Us Part II Photo Mode Contest for the month of October. Each week, we’ll select winners that will receive a coveted Ellie Edition and runners up that will earn a The Last of Us Part II Limited Edition DualShock 4. To enter, all you have to do is capture your masterpiece in The Last of Us Part II’s Photo Mode and share it with us via NaughtyDog.com/ugc and include your name, address, and date of birth between Thursday, October 1 12:01am PT and Thursday, October 29 11:59pm PT. We’ll be selecting one winner a week every Friday starting on October 9 until Friday, October 30 and featuring the winners on Naughty Dog’s social media channels. The contest is open to fans who are 18 years or older and legal residents of the United States (excluding Arizona) and Canada (excluding Quebec). Void in Puerto Rico, all U.S. territories and possessions and overseas military installations and where prohibited or restricted by law. For full T&Cs, visit naughtydog.com/TLOUDayContest. We can’t wait to see what you create! We’ve covered a lot here, but we have a few other things up our sleeves for tomorrow’s The Last of Us Day festivities. Be sure to check TheLastofUs.com/TLOUDay and follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to get all the latest updates. *Available via patch 1.05. Internet connection and an account for PlayStation Network required.

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