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New World: Aeternum

New World: Aeternum Preview - A natural but imperfect console-focussed evolution

We've been hands-on with the PS5 edition of the upcoming action-RPG, which itself is a single-player version of the MMORPG from 2021.

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A few years ago, when New World was taking off and seemingly everyone was delving into Amazon Games' MMORPG, I was part of the bunch that wanted nothing to do with the game. MMORPGs have never been my cup of tea, so despite having the exciting premise of a broad and compelling fantasy adventure I found myself completely disinterested in checking out the game. And it's precisely because of this that New World: Aeternum quickly caught my eye.

For anyone unfamiliar with what this game is and how it differs to the main PC experience, it is first and foremost built for console players and controller inputs, but also features a reworked take on the main body of the game so that anyone can experience it from start to finish completely alone. Yes, you read that right. If you so please and want to, you can forsake the core social elements that made New World stand out in the MMORPG space and instead explore the world of Aeternum as a lone wolf.

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Now that might seem like a counterintuitive way to enjoy New World, and in many senses, it is, but it also makes the game far more accessible to the hordes of players that do not have established MMO guilds to lean on and find breaking into this scene overwhelming. Also, since New World: Aeternum features this central design a lot of the core gameplay has been adjusted to suit solo players. This means that while there is still a living, breathing land to explore populated by lots of players, you can tackle and overcome each and every core story encounter alone. You will need help to enjoy some of the more late-game and challenging activities, but this is the case with every game designed for multiplayer, and as a Destiny 2 enthusiast I'm more than familiar with this.

But anyway, let me move onto how Amazon has taken a hard MMO and converted and rebuilt it to suit consoles. First and foremost, the usual MMO interface that would make most players want to scream out in fear for their lives has been massively simplified so that no longer are you overwhelmed with a multitude of buttons and inputs that require tens of hours to master. Instead, every action can be performed with the press of a single button on your controller. Now that does mean that there's more limited player agency and fewer choices but it does also mean that the gameplay and action feels significantly more simplified and streamlined. The combat in particular caught my attention as now you attack using light and heavy attacks, swap weapons, and put a few specific abilities to your advantage without needing to have 10 function buttons and a whole slew of other inputs bound to various other buttons. However, it's not all sunshine and rainbows as the menu navigation seems to have fallen into a common and massively frustrating trap by using a cursor system to fiddle with your inventory, settings, and pretty much every other menu interface you could imagine. Needless to say, this doesn't stick the landing and would benefit from an alternative design philosophy.

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New World: Aeternum

If you were wondering about the impact of converting New World onto a console in a technical sense, let me reassure you that there's nothing to be concerned about here either. The performance seems to be without fault (at least on PS5) and the graphics hold up with grace, albeit while being a bit ugly when you zoom in close or enter a cutscene. But otherwise, it's hard to knock this console port for New World as it seems like Amazon Games has pretty much nailed all of the core pillars about what made the game popular while at the same time ensuring it suits and befits an entirely different type of player.

So long story short, Amazon has converted a pure MMORPG into something more akin to the action-RPG it has often claimed to be in the first place. When you consider this and the fact that Aeternum is bringing more character archetypes to master, a new large-scale PvP zone, end-game solo trials, an adjusted levelling experience, a 10-player raid, revamped dialogue systems, and also complete parity between PC and console, where console players even get all former New World content including the Rise of the Angry Earth expansion at launch too, there are a lot of reasons to be excited for this version of New World. And you'll be able to get a taste of this action soon too, as a closed beta is on the way and planned for between July 11 through July 17, where invited Xbox Series X/S and PS5 players will be able to put the game through the ringer and even get a sniff of some of the promised endgame activities.

New World: AeternumNew World: Aeternum
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