On the PTR last week, I had the chance to check out some of the latest end-game content coming to New World, namely the next Expedition, Tempest's Heart.
New World approaches the MMORPG a little differently than most. The survival-game roots are still heavily felt in its DNA, and it's a title that focused so hard on its PvP side during development that Amazon delayed the MMO to ensure it had enough PvE quests for players to enjoy. While for some the amount - and quality - of those PvE quests and encounters can leave something to be desired, one aspect I have always loved have been the dungeon-like Expeditions.
It's these Expeditions that really make New World shine as an MMO, in my opinion, and the latest one to be added continues that tradition.
While the large-scale PvP battles remind you that you're not alone in Aeternum (as do some of the major trade cities on the island), they can be chaotic and unorganized. It's a mass of people slamming into one another sometimes with no real strategy unless you're part of a company that really understands how to attack and defend.
Expeditions, however, require the type of planning and strategy that will be familiar to long-time MMORPG fans. While not nearly as extensive as the epic raids that make up World of Warcraft's history for sure, Expeditions in New World do require a balanced party, planning and a little bit of skill to pull off.
The latest Expedition coming with the March update requires players to be at their best. A level 60 Expedition, it's assumed you've built up your character using every tool available to you at the moment, as well as learned how to play your role in a group as well as you can. While the class-less system allows players to create whatever weapon combination you want, in the end the meta still overwhelmingly relies on a balanced group that remembers the Holy Trinity.
Our group, helmed by New World developer Mike Willette from Amazon games acting as our tank, was pretty balanced. We had a few DPS, as well as a main healer (I also provided heals when I could). The Tempest's Heart takes players into what is described as a "corrupted dimension of reality." Players are confronted with the final confrontation with Isabella in the dungeon, as well as some of the hardest boss fights I've encountered in New World thus far.
What stuck me most initially, though, are the visuals. While some stick out, such as Starstone and its laser mazes, as well as the beautiful ruins of the Lazarus Instrumentality, nothing looks or feels like Tempest's Heart. The corruption encapsulating Myrkgard is all-encompassing as it feels like you're not simply traveling through Aeternum, but also Isabella's subconcious.
There were times where we were greeted with a twisted-looking corridor, tendrils reaching for the sky all around us. Blood crimson shone everywhere while the sounds of our footsteps echoes eerily. It set the stage for what is a visually impressive Expedition. At every turn there was no doubt there was something seriously wrong around me, the corruption that plagues all of Aeternum seemingly manifesting from this spot.
It's not simply a wonderworld to gawk at, though. The storyline takes you through a journey of learning more about Isabella, her crew and their fate. Seeing this play out in memories as the party moves through the Expedition is a nice touch, though it would be cool if we could somehow take part in some of these narrative moments as opposed to just watching them unfold and then moving on.
Where the Tempest's Heart shines, though, are its encounters. New World's team has done a good job of building challenging encounters throughout each Expedition, and it felt like Tempest's Heart was no exception. It's not just the boss fights, either, which are plentiful and require you to learn boss attack patterns and more in order to survive, but regular monster encounters can also provide a challenge. Knowing how to engage a group with the perfect pull reminded me of running Carn Dum for the first time in The Lord of the Rings Online (which was one of my first endgame dungeons I ever ran in an MMO as a guild leader).
Carefully picking our way through waves of enemies, puzzles and more gave me the teamwork and social vibes I look for in an MMO, something New World's Expeditions have done consistently throughout its short life. Boss fights require timing and exquisite teamwork to ensure you survive. One such fight saw us facing off against a denizen controlled by Isabella. This boss had the ability to add a bleed debuff that stacks if you got caught in an AOE every so often. Dancing around the battlefield, trying to figure out where we needed to go to avoid each wave required constant communication.
Later on in this fight, orbs would be spawned that would power up the boss, as well as apply that debuff. Just so you're aware too, this debuff does no go away, either. It simply chips away your health until you wipe. Knocking down these orbs while still ensuring the boss is being handled also requires you to stay on your toes. Calling out the orb, keeping the tank and party healed during it all, and more - it's a lot to handle.
It's these moments where New World really seems to shine. For all its issues with slow leveling, lackluster PvE grind and more at launch, the team at Amazon are balancing and tweaking the MMO to get it to where players want - and these Expedition experiences are a great step in that direction. It's when the MMO feels most like an MMO, in my opinion. We simply need more of them - as well as smaller encounters like this in our regular questing.
If you're looking for a reason to check out the endgame in New World, this Expedition is a good reason to dust off the Greataxe and Syndicate tabard (because there is only one faction you should consider, of course).