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New World feels like an MMO designed for mounts, even if it doesn't have any

Sitting down on the road
(Image credit: Amazon)

My feet are tired. Not my physical feet, which rarely have to do more than walk from my home office to my kitchen, but my digital feet. Over the course of hundreds of hours, I have walked the length and breadth of New World's Aeternum multiple times, jogging through a forest that never ends, fleeing from wolves because I just can't bring myself to kill another one. There's a lot that Amazon could do to improve its new MMO, but at the top of the list is the desperately-needed addition of mounts.

When Amazon announced that New World would not feature mounts of any kind—you won't even see any horses, let alone ride them—it was a source of disappointment, but one that had a few defenders. And it's true that mounts can have negative repercussions. Blizzard only lets you unlock flight in World of Warcraft expansions after you reach the endgame because flying everywhere makes exploration trivial, and designing areas around flying mounts means you get massive zones with huge empty spaces between the points of interest, like in Burning Crusade.

(Image credit: Amazon)

A regular mount stuck on the ground just makes you a bit faster, though, and Aeternum is already packed with big empty spaces. It still feels like an MMO designed for mounts, even if they don't exist. This is especially true once the quests dry up and you start needing to fulfil orders for towns—known as town projects—often by crafting and gathering huge piles of junk, to get all that sweet XP. I'm approaching the endgame now, and for the better part of 20 levels I've just been running between towns with my inventory laden with goods that they've requested. I'm like a travelling merchant, and what travelling merchant doesn't have at least one donkey?

Allowing me to reach a town I've visited 100 times before in a few minutes instead of ten is not going to ruin the sense of wonder that comes from exploring all the nooks and crannies of a new area. Forcing me to run everywhere is what's doing that. Whenever I leave a town and embark on another long journey, I just sigh and stick on another episode of Seinfeld. Idle games are more engaging.

Whenever someone complains about this you'll usually hear the counterpoint that fast travel negates these problems. These people are lying to themselves and everyone else. Yes, you can fast travel between every settlement and shrine that you've visited, and you can teleport to your registered inn or one of your homes. There are actually more fast travel options than you get in most MMOs. But those MMOs have mounts. And there are limitations.

(Image credit: Amazon)

Fast travel costs azoth, a rare resource you'll primarily get from quests. Quests that you'll quickly run out of. It's not a flat rate, either. The distance, the weight of your inventory and what faction controls the area all dictate the price. And you can't just stockpile azoth. It's capped at a meagre 1,000, allowing you to fast travel maybe five or six times before you run out of gas. If you're doing a lot of town projects, then you're going to be spent very quickly.

I don't see any reason why you couldn't design an MMO exclusively for walking. Indeed, many of the survival games that New World apes make you use your feet at all times. But Amazon has not made an MMO that makes walking everywhere a pleasure. The way that it drip-feeds you a measly number of quests that send you all the way across the zone and back again, only to get more quests that send you back to that area, is not designed for sauntering. Even with mounts these quests would be terribly designed, but at least they'd waste less of your time. So New World doesn't need mounts because it's an MMO; it needs mounts because Amazon hasn't found a way to make them unnecessary. 

Fraser Brown

Fraser is the UK online editor and has actually met The Internet in person. With over a decade of experience, he's been around the block a few times, serving as a freelancer, news editor and prolific reviewer. Strategy games have been a 30-year-long obsession, from tiny RTSs to sprawling political sims, and he never turns down the chance to rave about Total War or Crusader Kings. He's also been known to set up shop in the latest MMO and likes to wind down with an endlessly deep, systemic RPG. These days, when he's not editing, he can usually be found writing features that are 1,000 words too long. He thinks labradoodles are the best dogs but doesn't get to write about them much.