Amazon is aiming to improve the endgame experience in its fantasy MMO New World with a new feature called "expedition mutators" that will change the complexity and difficulty of combat encounters and offer better rewards including "new bespoke gear and resources" for players who are up to the challenge.
"Mutators change the familiar by augmenting 'Normal' and 'Named' Enemies found within expeditions, changing the way encounters play out and what strategies players should consider before battle," Amazon explained in a blog post.
"This system is intended to rotate through a unique combination of Expeditions and Mutations each week, with 10 difficulty levels per Expedition Mutation. Players will be challenged to climb the ladder, with the aim of eventually reaching the max difficulty."
Expedition scores will be based on a combination of factors including total time, enemy kills, player respawns, team wipes, and various performance-based bonus multipliers. Do well enough in a mutated expedition and you'll advance to the next mutator difficulty level, with bigger and better rewards up for grabs. But it won’t be easy: Amazon warned the recommended Gear Scores will be important for mutated expeditions, "as it directly factors into enemy scaling," and higher difficulties are expected to be extremely difficult.
Expedition mutators are available now on the New World public test realm, which went live yesterday. To facilitate testing and ensure that players have access to a range of mutations in multiple endgame expeditions, the mutator rotation will run on an accelerated schedule during the test period. One of the three expeditions—Dynasty Shipyard, Garden of Genesis, or Lazarus Instrumentality—will be mutated every 48 hours. All players on the test realm will be given a 600 Gear Score loadout to start, along with a "generous sum of keys to run Expeditions," and a maxed loadout (Gear Score 625) will be provided to all PTR players during the final week of testing, so everyone can take a proper run at the level 10 difficulty mutations.
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To accommodate the mutator changes, expeditions have been adjusted to bring them more in line with other endgame activities: Drop rates for named enemies have been "significantly increased," T5 gear has been added to the Dynasty Shipyard loot table when playing it mutated, and the number of enemies players face when sealing the Ancient Azoth Portals in the Ostium in the Lazarus Instrumentality expedition has been reduced.
New World has struggled with a number of bugs and exploits since it launched last year, but endgame content has been an issue as well. "We have to do a better job of driving players to all of our endgame activities,"game director Scot Lane said in a December 2021 interview with PCGamesN. "Right now, they are being driven towards a very small portion of our endgame mechanics and it is rightfully leaving them wanting more."
The PTR also features a new resource called Umbral Shards that enables players to boost items with a Gear Score of 600 to 625, which Amazon said "is critical if you want to dive into higher-difficulty Mutated Expeditions or gain a competitive edge in PvP." The Expertise cap has also been increased to 625. Umbral Shards can be earned in three ways:
- Completing Mutated Expeditions.
- Crafting a Gear Score 600 item when your Expertise with that item is also at 600.
- Opening a Gypsum Cast when your Expertise for that item is also at 600.
The PTR also increases the cost of summoning Brutes, makes a few combat-related tweaks, and reduces fast travel costs.
All New World players are eligible to join the PTR, but you'll need to download and install a separate PTR client to do so, and create a new character—live characters aren't compatible with the test realm. Full details on what to expect and how to get in are up at newworld.com.