At 2 o'clock this morning I stood up from my desk and shouted obscenities at a dead critter. It was an outpouring of rage and anguish that had been building up for hours. It was not the corpse's fault, but rather New World's, for making me waste so much time hunting it only for a random passer-by to skin it, forcing me to continue this miserable quest. So I yelled until I was out of breath, and then ate three scoops of ice cream, which I immediately regretted. Late night desserts don't sit well. I'm blaming New World for that, too.
New World is teeming with wildlife, and a significant number of early quests, most of them generic and repeatable, task you with culling their numbers. This is frequently wolves, but pumas, deer, boars and even sheep must be put out of their misery. Killing regular animals is definitely one of the weaker common RPG quests, and even for an MMO with survival game vibes like New World, where these animals provide you with lots of helpful resources, the vast number of these humdrum tasks is egregious.
Some games with prominent hunting support this with additional systems, like tracking in Red Dead Redemption 2. In New World, you have to earn that kind of utility. You can eventually see animals on your compass, but not until you've levelled the skinning skill up to 25, and then only small ones. You won't be able to track the big predators until 175. Otherwise these hunts are just like any other quests: you go to the area, you bump into the mob, you kill it. If it's a hostile creature, it will attack you, making things easier, but skittish beasties like deer will flee, forcing you to give chase and kill it from range. The risk here is that the time it takes for you to run up to the corpse might be just enough for another player to start skinning your kill.
While there are plenty of quests just designed to make you defeat creatures, hunting quests often demand skins as well, so it's not good enough to just kill your prey. And even if it was, competition for spawns is so great that you might not even be awarded the kill, because you only had enough time to get one stab in before it went down. It's not clear how much damage you have to inflict before an enemy dies for the game to acknowledge your contribution, and sometimes one attack seems to be enough, but I've been in plenty of brisk fights where I've managed to get in a few slices to no avail.
There are so many animals wandering around that it's hard to imagine scarcity being an issue, but these quests always seem to send you to places where the critter population isn't nearly high enough to support even a few players. I can't walk out of town without getting mauled by a wolf, but the moment I'm sent to a specific location to kill them, I can't find any. It's exasperating.
One quest in particular is soul-destroying. It's a faction quest that sends you to hunt sheep. All you're told is that there are sheep and you must kill them, which suggests that any old sheep will do. That is a lie. It's a specific kind of sheep, and naturally it's the rarer one. I reckon there are maybe two or three sheep spawning in the area, but it's hard to tell when they vanish so quickly. This is a very early quest, so it's also one a lot of people will be doing.
What's particularly frustrating is that this quest has been in the game throughout the tests, so it already has a reputation for being bullshit, but it's still here and just as much bullshit as before. And it's indicative of a game that hasn't really figured out spawn times. I've fought bosses who respawn so quickly that I don't even have time to loot the chest before they reappear and attack me again, but other bosses take a geological age to respawn, giving you nothing to do but wait and pray you'll do enough damage to be awarded the kill. The inconsistency actually suggests that Amazon is tweaking them and trying to find that sweet spot for each area or encounter, but so far it still feels way off.
As much as it's not particularly thrilling to hunt hundreds of weedy forest critters, like its survival game inspirations New World revels in mundane activities, and I've gotten into the crafting enough that I can find some joy in the purposefulness of murdering for resources. Sure, I'm sick of wolves, but I'm always very happy when I get back to town and turn all those skins into leather. Even so, it feels like New World is making it as difficult as possible to enjoy.
So there's nothing for me to do but shout at dead animals. That brief bit of catharsis gives me enough energy to get back to the grind. But would I bother if I wasn't in the midst of a review? Not with these server queues I wouldn't. This article was brought to you by the number 672, my current position. Getting close!