Amazon's New World Devs Open Up About The Supernatural, Romance, And Longevity Concerns

Amazon has a few different games in the works, one of them centers around a tale of conquest and the supernatural. New World is set in the Age of Exploration during the 16th century. While on a quest to find the Fountain of Youth, players are instead dumped unceremoniously into a world filled with dangers both natural and supernatural. We sat down with a few members of the team after some more hands-on time with New World to learn more about what the new adventure has in store.

Sitting down with Mike Willette, head of world experience, David Verfaillie, head of player experience, and Scott Lane, the game’s director, Game Informer learned more about the different modes, possible raid content, and addressing longevity concerns that naturally come with an MMORPG of this nature. 

The story is rooted in the supernatural with some subtle underlayers that look like they will play a bigger role later on in the narrative, can you tell us a little more about that? 

Willette: Aeternum is a supernatural world with an eternal conflict that causes shifts in the island’s balance of power. The Corrupted, the Lost, and the Angry Earth are in a constant struggle for control. This conflict is at the root of our universe. Over the last century, the pendulum has swung in favor of the Corrupted. Our goal is to present the player with entertainment and mystery, encouraging them to deeply explore the island and its residents. The island has a vast and complex history threading through layers of both mythology and the science of possibilities. Besides questions about the origins of the island’s power and how that might’ve influenced earth’s evolution and humans’ understanding of themselves, there are also mysteries around Aeternum’s spiritual and cosmological relevance. We’ve charted a narrative course that lets us explore questions that have intrigued scholars for centuries as well as mystical connections that are purely about surprising the audience and creating world dynamics that we think will just be fun.    

How will New World keep the game alive post-launch? 

Verfaillie: We plan to continue growing Aeternum as you’ve seen in our most recent showing with Reekwater. Reekwater is an end-game zone that takes place in a dark and scary swamp with dangerous beings all over. We have other zones in development and will continue to grow the Island as we lead up to launch and then past launch. We think of launch as Day One and will continue to grow the game beyond. As we add new zones we will add narrative content for the zones to further tell the story of Aeternum and the cast of characters, we will also introduce new characters as we delve into more of the factions on the island. We also plan to continue adding more breadth in gameplay as we work toward launch and beyond. We showed Fishing today which fits so nicely into our tradeskill system. Players can craft fishing poles, gather fish bait, use the fish for cooking or other crafting outlets.  We are really excited to continue adding more modes and will do so beyond our launch date.

Being such a small chunk of gameplay, it’s hard to gauge the progressive flow of the story. With this small hands-on, it felt easy to feel lost and without direction. How does the pacing go for this game? Is it the traditional MMO style where you have an outline of a story but the meat is in the various side quests? 

Willette: There is a mixture of main story quests and side quests that lead the player on their journey through Aeternum, where the central question is, what is the price of eternal life? There is an encouragement to explore beyond just the main story as there is also a rich conflict between the opposing player factions with alternative goals and motivations. While we want the story told through quests to give players a strong sense of purpose and direction, we also look forward to watching players decrypt some of the mysteries we’ve embedded in the world, and those that we expect to emerge as the narrative progresses post-launch. We definitely see this as an adventure we’re taking with the audience, and we look forward to lively discussion and back-and-forth both among players and between players and developers. We want the audience to play a role in the direction of the various storylines as they unfold over time.

A mini-map would be a drastic positive change for open-world exploration, are there different ways to interact with the game outside of the map bar at the top? 

Lane: The compass at the top is a great tool for navigating Aeternum.  As your player levels their tradeskills, it is even more useful as it will show nearby prey, gatherables or even quest locations and help guide you to them.  In addition, as you move through the world intractable objects are highlighted to identify things you can harvest or explore.  We also have a fully intractable map that you can zoom in and out of and drop a marker that links to your compass that will help guide you through the world.  The map also highlights areas you’ve visited or areas you haven’t, and gives you an idea of what biomes are around. 

With meeting so many characters, how do those relationships with NPCs grow? Are there meaningful relationships built with these NPCc (friendships, questing partners, romance)?

Willette: We are creating more quest types and variations in the stories of Aeternum.  There will definitely be some characters with recurring roles, with whom players will form relationships over time, and we’ll be watching to see how players react to these characters and letting those relationships, and their ultimate fates, be influenced by this over time.  Expect to hear more about this in the future.

What is the origin of the supernatural basis for this game? Why this theme and how is it being harnessed in a unique way? 

Willette: The root of the supernatural theme was born from the excitement of creating a world that had swords, guns, and magic! A world of possibility and interesting gameplay decisions for players. The themes of New World explore ambition, adventure, conflict, and corruption. Aeternum is a source of both power and fear that many would try to possess. Our expression of those themes is through quests and our lore, our supernatural environments, and our unique gameplay.

Will there be a cosmetic shop so players can customize their characters more? Different hairstyles, colors, tattoos? 

Verfaillie: We don’t have anything specific to announce right now, but we really want players to be able to customize their appearance as much as possible and continue to look for ways to enhance customization.

Will there be any sort of raid mechanics in this game post-launch? 

Verfaillie: Currently, Wars and Invasions allow large scale battles with 50 players per side.  We want to continue to add game modes that allow groups of player to coordinate against really difficult objectives, but don’t have any further details to share right now.

With our most recent hands-on session with the game, we explored the endgame world of Reekwater, which lives up to its name for its nasty smell and dangerous nature. With supernatural foes competing against the deadly wildlife, this area was definitely not for the faint of heart. 

We also tried out the newly revealed fishing mechanic, a nice addition to the New World experience, and a feature that honestly should just be in every game with how much people love it.

We’ll have more impressions of New World going up both later this week and next month, so stay tuned! As for the game itself, New World is expected to launch on May 25, 2021 for PC players. 

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