Where you construct your house will have real consequences in Amazon's forthcoming MMO, New World. If the settlement you choose is a quiet, low tax haven, that's great—but that doesn't mean it'll stay that way if a rival faction comes stomping in.
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"You'll keep your house," when the territory you live in changes hands, says game design lead Mike Willitte. "But the controlling company that takes over a territory, they'll set the tax rates for property, for trade, for property and refining. If an evil company comes in, and they want to raise all the taxes, depending on how lucrative your own businesses are, you might want to think about moving or overthrowing them. I'm really interested to see what's going to happen when the game is being played by a large group of people."
MMOs, by their nature, create their own culture. So much of the metatextual, human-to-human interaction on a 10,000-pop server is determined by the leeway in the game's mechanics. Some MMOs, like World of Warcraft, are entirely predetermined. You are simply residents of its world, with no substantial say in its politics, map, or territory holdings. New World's developers intend to diverge from that pattern.
After you wash up on the shores of the mysterious island of Aeternum and level up enough to become accustomed to the game, you'll be able to join a 50-player company which can wage war against other rival companies for control over the atlas of the new frontier. Companies can upgrade their "settlements"—the bustling town center of every capturable territory—which also serve as the real estate hubs for enterprising homesteaders. Plop down your roots in a cozy settlement, and hope that no marauding band of thieves are plotting to take the territory by moonlight.
Willitte tells me that players can have as many as three houses in New World should they meet the requirements. Homes serve as a crucial bit of navigation assistance when you're out in the wilds. At any point, players can fast travel back to their homes, making them an immediate safe haven from the beasties beyond the borders.
But the mechanic that I was most interested in were the "trophies" that you can store in your residences. Yes, there is plenty of furniture and decoration to beautify our in-game shelters, but players will also be able to take home artifacts won through battles and crafting, to be placed in their living rooms with high esteem. Interact with them, and you'll earn a distinct buff before your next night of adventure.
You might get a trophy through "hunting enemies around the world" that gives you a buff against the undead, for instance. "I go back to my house, I hang my trophy on the wall, or I place it on a table, and now I have this additional buff that gives me plus-X percent damage against the undead. I'm like, 'This is great, because I'm looking for a drop in a place that's infested with the undead,'" explains Willitte. "If I own more than one home, I can put one type of that buff in each house. By the time you hit level 60 you can stack three buffs in the same category."
This reminds me of the same rigamarole I went through in my early World of Warcraft days, where guilds would chase down the perfect cocktail of buffs to lay siege to massive raid bosses. Accordingly, New World's devs say that they intend for the trophy system to have the same envy-inducing impact as a max-level juggernaut in high-tier gear. When someone has a powerful trophy, you'll know just by looking at it.
"It's definitely that feeling, when you come into someone's house, to see that rare trophy. We wanted that to stand out," says Charles Bradbury, art director. "The trophies themselves tier up as they go. A lower tier trophy is a nice little shrine on the wall, but a high-tier trophy is a much more extravagant display. We wanted it to stand out from everything else in your house. When you finally get one of those in the game, and you get it going, you feel like you're making progress."
New World is releasing August 25, 2020. At the PC Gaming Show earlier today, Amazon announced that pre-ordering will get you into the closed beta in June—find more details and the new trailer here.
Here's a bit of housing and settlement concept art from Amazon, too: