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New World Aeternum devs explain MMO relaunch as review bomb continues

As the New World Steam page is continually review bombed, the team behind Aeternum tells PCGamesN what the MMO’s relaunch means for PC.

It’s been a tricky week for New World. The long-running MMORPG from Amazon Games is now due a relaunch in the form of New World Aeternum, which revitalizes the entire game, adds new characters and endgame material, improves combat, and delivers a litany of additional, player-requested features. It sounds promising, but the response to Aeternum has been resoundingly critical. The New World Steam page is still being review bombed, pulling the game’s rating, based on recent player responses, down to ‘overwhelmingly negative.’ Speaking to PCGamesN at Summer Game Fest, Amazon Games explains how Aeternum is meant to transform the MMO for the better.

Criticism about New World Aeternum centers around a perceived shift by Amazon to focus on the console rather than PC version of the MMORPG – one of the key features of the relaunched edition of New World is its revised combat system, which has been designed largely around a controller rather than a mouse and keyboard. Players are also critical regarding the cadence of New World patches and updates, and say that the reveal of Aeternum, after their long wait for more material for the PC version, feels insufficient. Of the more than 3,000 player reviews posted on New World’s Steam page during the last 30 days, only 10% are positive.

There are also concerns that New World Aeternum will compromise or sacrifice the game’s MMO foundations in favor of mechanics that are more traditionally those of an ARPG. Speaking to PCGamesN, live from Summer Game Fest, the team behind New World offers greater insight into its intentions.

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“I call it [Aeternum] a spiritual successor,” game director Scot Lane says. “By the time this comes out, we’ll have been live for three years. We’ve been partnering as closely as possible with players to drive the changes we’re making. This is the culmination of all that. I was talking to someone who was playing, who hadn’t played New World since its beginning, and they said ‘this feels like a different game, just in the same kind of genre.’ I think that’s what we were going for.”

“To me, Aeternum is the ultimate New World experience,” senior producer Katy Kaszynski says. “If you played in 2021 when we launched and you haven’t played since then, when you come back, it’s going to be a completely different experience – it’s not going to be the game that you remember. If you’ve been playing, this is now a continuation of your journey.”

So what’s different? Why do Aeternum, and why do it now? Amazon Games explains that it wanted to refine certain systems, streamline others, and expand on the New World endgame. The idea is to reduce some of the busywork and build on some of the more rewarding and fulfilling parts of the RPG, including character, quests, and gratifying endgame material.

New World Aeternum MMORPG: A magical landscape from Amazon Games MMORPG New World Aeternum

“The high-level story is still much the same,” creative director David Verfaillie explains. “It’s about this island that’s almost a character, and unraveling the mystery of ‘what is Aeternum?’ But I think there have been new elements added to the stories, especially new characters and NPCs you will meet along the way. The core of the story is the same, but we’ve done a lot to bring in some really great new characters to go on the journey with you.

“What I like about Aeternum is how we’ve made the onboarding and the initial experience great for new players. It’s not just the narrative. We’ve streamlined the quest experience. It’s also filling in gaps that players have been telling us about for a long time, like Group Finder – we launched without that, and now it’s so easy to get into a group. It fills in all the gaps we’ve had and now it’s a full, ultimate experience.”

New World Aeternum MMORPG: A magical deer in Amazon Games' New World Aeternum

Every long-running or live-service game will potentially run into this problem. Months or maybe years after launch, when the fundamental technical work is complete, the base game is humming along well, and the player base is established, there’s the opportunity to start designing and delivering transformative updates and patches. But if you have so many ideas and so much new material that you want to get into your game, rather than incrementally building on top of what’s already there, it’s perhaps easier to do a soft relaunch.

“I think there are a lot of reasons to come to Aeternum,” Lane says. “It’s a very different experience. If you haven’t played New World since Brimstone or before, it’s almost unrecognizable. There’s just so much more to do.”

“We did a good job of reducing the grind but keeping the challenge,” Kaszynski explains. “The grind is still a little bit there – you can’t have a game like this without a little bit of grind to get your highest level stuff. But now it’s a lot more fun than perhaps a lot of people who left once felt.”

“A lot of the systems that players have been playing in the endgame, they’re only getting bigger and better,” Lane continues. “This is an addition to the endgame. It’s making it more endgame. There’s our first raid, our PvP zone. We’re adding our solo trials – you can do those as an endgame activity now as well. We’re not taking anything away from the endgame; we’re enhancing it. And one thing we are doing for PC players, if they own Rise of the Angry Earth, they get this for free – it’s a free drop.”

New World Aeternum MMORPG: A small town from Amazon Games' MMORPG New World Aeternum

Between World of Warcraft Classic and Old School Runescape, we’ve also seen some modern MMOs revert to previous versions, so that long-faithful players can still enjoy the games as they first found and fell in love with them. For the New World devout, Kaszynski says that Aeternum is a “continuation of their journey…the end-to-end game, plus the endgame.” On the question of an alternate version of New World, akin to WoW Classic, Kaszynski says that Amazon “will always listen to our players.

“If we hear that there is some desire for that, that’s something we can put into the backlog,” Kaszynski says.

While we wait for more on Aeternum, check out some of the other best RPGs available right now, or maybe the best multiplayer games that you can get on PC.

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Additional reporting from Summer Game Fest by Lauren Bergin.