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SGF 2024: Hands-On With New World: Aeternum's New Console Version

Kazuma Hashimoto Posted:
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Amazon Games is looking to bring New World to the console market through New World: Aeternum. While Amazon Games has remained firm in stating that the game will be functionally the same, Aeternum ushers in a new age for the MMORPG.

After some time spent with Aeternum, I can say that whatever adjustments were made to New World through the upcoming release of Aeternum, there have been improvements. At least regarding how the MMORPG will control and perform on consoles. I had the opportunity to play a bit of New World: Aeternum on the PlayStation 5 at Summer Game Fest, which included a look at the new starting area and the introduction of basic mechanics to new players.

Obvious adjustments have been made in order to streamline and facilitate the opening of the game, which includes picking an archetype during character creation. This will determine what weapons you will start with, along with the overall aesthetic of your character, but does not set them on a predetermined path. This means even if you start as a Musketeer, you can still obtain and use weapons from the other starting archetypes and level up the corresponding skills. I decided to stick with the musket I was given upon selecting the Musketeer. Shooting with the controller felt good, and slotting skill points obtained from continued musket use rewarded me for getting headshots and rapidly killing enemies.

In my experience, MMORPGs or other online games that jump to console after their initial PC release have left me wanting. The controls are clunky, and inventory and skill management, along with the user interface, tend to be unwieldy. 

Musketeer New World Aeternum

But New World: Aeternum doesn’t have these issues. Selecting skills, equipping new gear, and sorting your inventory is easy to do, and the user interface isn’t obtrusive or hard to navigate. This was a pleasant surprise, as I was more or less expecting the worst, with memories of TERA leaving me apprehensive. However, the foundations of New World lend themselves well to the console experience, and if I had to pick a way to play the game, it would arguably be on the console after my experience with the PlayStation 5 version of the game.

To be fair, I do play Final Fantasy XIV on a controller, so that may impact my feelings about playing an MMORPG on a controller or console, but if you have any experience with that, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how well New World controls and navigates.

The opening segment, along with how various tutorials are presented to the player, have been changed to more or less streamline the experience. Tutorialization happens on the way to Aeternum, where players are forced to fight their way off of their burning ship. Captain Aldos Thorpe is still present, but if you are not familiar with New World and the significance of this character, fighting him as a boss a few minutes later can be confusing.

I had attempted to play New World sometime after release, with the story's details hazy, and I can’t say that Aeternum did a good job of introducing previous story elements or incorporating new ones outside of generic plot beats. You do meet some interesting characters, like a sharp-shooting red-headed pirate and other NPC characters that populate Aeternum. Each of them introduces you to various parts of the starting zone, which is more or less just a derelict beach that is laden with treasure and materials to craft your first camp.

New World Aeternum Rapier

It feels like a complete restructuring, something to sand away the edges of the game to make it more approachable for console players. This seems to be the developer's intent, as it’s clear Amazon Games wants to court the console market in an attempt to bolster the numbers of their flagship MMORPGs. While it is a shame some of the friction from the beginning of New World is lost, and this new area feels like a whirlwind of mechanics and brief introductions, the game will probably be better for it, even if there are some changes I don’t necessarily agree with. However, this comes from the perspective of an MMO player who has seen what abrupt changes in starting zones sometimes herald. And that’s the beginning of the end, or the end of an MMO, as its loyal player base may know it.

Regardless, I think New World: Aeternum is a sign of things to come — whether those be good or bad. How the MMO performs on PlayStation 5 and its controller support are objectively worthy of praise. Aeternum makes Amazon’s MMO more accessible than ever, and those looking to play New World for the first time or even return after a long lapse of time will probably find the game enjoyable. And despite my own experience and watching several MMOs more or less turn into something unrecognizable with similar changes, Aerternum was enough to keep me interested and eager to give the game a second chance on console once it releases this October. 


kazumahashimoto

Kazuma Hashimoto