Earlier this week, Amazon Game Studios invited me into a special alpha build of its upcoming MMO, New World, so I could slosh around in a new zone called Reekwater and try my hand at a new feature to the game: fishing.
Fishing wasn't originally going to be part of New World's launch, but earlier this year the game was delayed into 2021 to bulk up its "middle and endgame experiences," and the feature made it in after all. It's something the developers had wanted to include for a long time, and of course they did, because every game should have fishing.
New World contains over 40 species of fish which are rated by rarity (including some unique aquatic monsters), and they have different bait preferences depending on whether they're fresh or saltwater fish. Catching them is a simple minigame—reel, then relax to lower tension, then reel, and repeat—but there's a metagame to finding fishing hotspots where rare catches are more likely to be circling. It's also tricky to land your bait in such a hotspot if you find one.
I only fished a few times, and found it simple and functional—it was easy to reel them in, but I was only catching basic fish. As I wandered around looking for good spots to cast my line, I kept getting attacked by swamp creatures, and so awkwardly poking at things with my spear occupied a decent amount of my time.
Reekwater is gloomy, which is expected given the name, but the bayou setting is impressively lush. It's nothing as good-looking as Crytek's Hunt: Showdown, of course, but I could've gotten lost in New World's stagnant (but somehow potable) pools just the same. I also found a badass horn helmet in my inventory, so of course I wore that:
New World is scheduled to release in spring of 2021. Due to Covid, most of the developers are still working from home, and while it took some getting used to, they say they've adapted well. More than anything, the most recent delay came about to allow Amazon's team more time to build out the game.
Fishing, obviously, is just a small part of New World, which includes territory capture, 50 v 50 PvP battles, home ownership, a crafting system and economy, and both solo and group PvE fights to seek out. For more, you can read my thoughts on the PvP territory battles from February, though it's worth noting that every time I get a chance to play New World, something major has changed, so things may be quite different by the time it releases next year.
After traipsing around Reekwater for an hour, I continue to think that New World has good potential, although it's hard to be certain of anything when it comes to MMOs or online games of any kind, which so often just don't take off (although comebacks aren't unheard of). Amazon won't have any illusions about that, though, given how Crucible fared.
Here are a few more images of Reekwater and fishing: