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Everything we know about New World, Amazon's upcoming MMO

(Image credit: Amazon)

New World feels somewhat anomalous. It's a new MMO, but not a wildly ambitious Kickstarter project, not a survival game, not free-to-play, and it does not take place in space. It feels like a game that could've released alongside Guild Wars 2 in 2012—but it's brand new and it's releasing here in 2020. It's also Amazon's first big PC game release, so expectations are high.

A few things help New World stand apart from other fantasy MMOs: It takes place on Earth and the player characters are all human; swords, bows, and guns seem to be more common than magic; and the active combat requires aiming and timing, dodge rolls and blocks—it's not stand-and-whack-each-other MMO combat. 

There's also a territory capture system that pits player companies against each other. It isn't as wild as EVE Online's unregulated corporate warfare, but brings some of that flavor into the world, and the 50v50 siege battles could be fun. If PvP and politics aren't your thing, though, you can just explore and fight the world's many monsters—New World doesn't totally ditch MMO conventions. 

Below, we've summarized everything we know about that world, its monsters, and the PvP aspects of New World. Check out our recent hands-on preview for more.

What is New World's release date?

The official word is that New World will release sometime in May 2020, with no specific date, but the Amazon listing says the date is May 26, 2020.

Does New World require a subscription?

No, there will not be a subscription fee to play New World. You only need to make a one-time purchase—it's $40 for the standard edition—though there may be expansions or other things to spend money on in the future.

On whether you can purchase in-game items with real money, Amazon simply says that "players will be able to purchase optional in-game items."

Will there be a New World beta?

Yes, Amazon is planning to run a closed beta in April, which you can get access to by pre-ordering. You can also sign-up here for a chance to get free access to the beta.

How many players can be in a New World server at a time?

Amazon says that we'll share the world with "over 1,000" players at a time.

What's the story of New World?

You wash up on Aeternum, an island of legend which contains veins of a magical mineral which both empowers and corrupts. So, it's an island full of magic and monsters.

There are ancient ruins left behind by an ancient civilization (and guarded by their skeletons), natural creatures enhanced by the magic, corrupted settlers, and other baddies to fight. There's more to the story than just the setting, but so far we just have the basic setup and a glimpse at the villain in the trailer above.

What kind of MMO is New World?

There's a PvP territory control element to New World, but it isn't a totally player-driven sandbox. If you want, you can spend all of your time fighting monsters, leveling up, and finding or crafting new gear. You can group up with other players to take on world events or attempt a boss fight. You don't have to pay much attention to player politics at all, and can play New World like a standard open world RPG: Explore new areas, kill new things, find new resources, craft new stuff.

If you want to fight other players in the open world, you can turn on your PvP flag once you join one of world's three factions. If you're killed by a player from another faction, you only lose some equipment durability, and maybe some pride and time. Your reward for opting into PvP is extra experience points for everything you do.

(Image credit: Amazon)

OK, but what about that territory control?

If you want to really get involved in New World's social side, you can found or join a company. Companies are 50-player groups—New World's guilds, basically—which can take over and govern territories.

That doesn't mean that a company can charge in and throw you in a dungeon cell or kick you off their land—it's much more regulated than that. Here's how it works:

New World's island setting is divided into territories, most of which contain one settlement and one fort.

  • Settlements are where you'll find a territory's crafting stations and player housing.
  • Forts are what companies need to capture to take control of a territory.
  • A company that controls a territory can set its tax rate and organize public projects, such as improvements to the territory's fort or settlement. A company that wants to remain popular will make efforts to upgrade the settlement's crafting stations so that players can create better gear. They'll also want to upgrade the fort defenses.
  • If another company thinks it should be in charge of a territory, it can declare war, and a battle will be scheduled according to the preference of the defenders (so you can't attack them when they're all asleep).
  • Both companies will recruit armies of 50 (they don't all have to be company members) to fight for them. During the battle, the attackers will have to capture control points around the fort, bust through the doors, and capture a central point. Siege weapons, defensive turrets, explosive barrels, and other munitions come into play here.
  • If the attackers win, they take control of the territory, though aspects of it will be downgraded after the battle and they'll have to build it back up.

(Image credit: Amazon)

Amazon hopes that if you play New World for a while, you'll want to be involved in this territory control system at least a little. You can buy houses in settlements, and they act as fast travel points. You want your fast travel point to lead to a settlement with high tier crafting equipment, not one that's being neglected, so you may find it useful to form a company and take over, or support a company that promises to make strong efforts to improve a territory—without taxing you at a ridiculous rate.

Aside from being recruited to help defend a fort from invading players, a company might recruit you to help defend a fort from invading monsters. If PvP isn't your thing, you can still participate in big sieges by signing up for one of those monster invasion defenses. An unsuccessful defense can harm the settlement and fort.

We're avoiding too many specifics when describing all of this, because tweaks were still being made when we last saw New World, and these systems may not be identical when it releases. But that's the gist of it all.

You said you can buy a house?

Yep. At level 20, you can buy a house in a settlement, and it'll act as a respawn or fast travel location. It's not going to be in a unique plot—many players can 'own' a house on the same plot of land, but once they enter they'll see their personal version of the interior, which will be customizable with decorations and furniture (some of which can provide you with buffs out in the world). You can bring up to four players with you into your house to hang out.

At level 40, you can buy a second house, and at level 60, you can buy a third house, allowing you to quickly fast travel between three settlements.

How do leveling and combat work?

While New World's combat requires more than just tactical skill—your attacks have to connect with hit boxes, and there's dodge and block timing to master—you level up like in a typical MMO. As you gain levels, you'll be able to add points to a few base stats. Strength will increase your damage with melee weapons, and agility will do the same with ranged weapons—it's the standard stuff.

As you use different weapon types, you'll also gain proficiency with them independent of leveling. The more you use, say, a sword, the more active and passive swordfighting skills you can unlock in the mastery tree. Active skills are special attacks—a spinning attack that hits multiple enemies, for instance—that have long cooldowns. If you wanted to, you could completely master every weapon type.

So far, the weapon types we've seen are: swords, hatchets, spears, warhammers, bows, and rifles. Interestingly, you can have three weapon sets ready to go at any time, and can switch between them quickly by pressing 1, 2, and 3. So, for instance, you could have a sword and shield bound to 1, a bow bound to 2, and a spear bound to 3. You won't ever be locked into one combat style.

There are also crafting skills, but we haven't explored those deeply yet. Gathering materials is streamlined, and rarer materials will be in more dangerous parts of the island. You'll also need high tier crafting stations to make high tier items. There'll be trading posts where you can put materials and items up for sale, too.

Is there magic in New World?

Yes, although we haven't seen much of it yet. During our recent visit to the New World studio, we were told that magic will be tied to items, such as a healing staff and a fire staff. Like regular weapons, these magical items will have mastery trees that allow you to learn new active and passive skills. 

Where can I find out more?

New World is available for pre-order on Amazon, but what you'd be pre-ordering is a Steam key, and it's also listed directly on Steam. The official site has a few trailer and very staged screenshots, as well as a handful of article explaining some of these systems in depth. Here are a few of them:

Hey folks, beloved mascot Coconut Monkey here representing the collective PC Gamer editorial team, who worked together to write this article!