My top 5 quality of life wishes for New World

I wasn’t really planning on playing New World at launch. I had planned to sit the launch out at least until it was on sale, but then, at the last minute, FOMO got the better of me. This is the biggest MMO launch we’ve had in a while, and we don’t get many new launches like this, so I couldn’t pass up being there one day one. I braved the ridiculous queues (which have calmed down or disappeared now, at least on my server), and, while it hasn’t made me forget about every other MMO out there, I’ve been having fun with it.

I keep sitting down to write my comprehensive thoughts on the game, but somehow I never can. I have a lot of ambivalence about the game. I’m not really sure it’s for me, and Amazon Games doesn’t have the best track record, but then last night I logged in and played for like four hours straight so it must be doing something right. I think a lot of it will depend on how much care and attention Amazon puts into this game going forward, and what kind of changes they make. Will they focus primarily on the PvP side of things? Will their cash shop, which is currently pretty tame, suddenly explode with all manner of lockboxes, pay-to-win, and other grossness? Will dungeons continue to be (from what I’ve heard) somewhat underwhelming and samey and not terribly rewarding? If any of these are true, I may not stick around for the long term.

Regardless of anything else coming or not coming to the game, there are a number of quality of life improvements I would like to see.

5. Barber

At least New World is up front about the fact that you can never change your appearance after creating your character; it says so before you leave the character creation screen. But why? Why can’t I at least change my hairstyle? I actually rerolled my character after the first night — yes, when the queues took six hours or more — because I didn’t like the way he looked once I got in-game.

I’m sure that this will come to the cash shop eventually, just like it is in most modern MMOs that launch with a cash shop already in place: Guild Wars 2 and Elder Scrolls Online spring to mind. But I would really like to be able to change up my character’s appearance for in-game gold. I just talked to a guildmate last night who liked the way his character’s hair looked… until he put a hat on. That’s the kind of thing you don’t get to see on the creation screen, and I think it’s important to be able to make those changes after character creation.

4. Real transmog

Transmogrification, transmutation, glamour, outfits, costumes, call it what you will, I just want to be able to change the appearance of the dorky looking armor piece with good stats that I just got from a drop to that of the cool one that it’s replacing. New World has a transmog system already… but only for cash shop armor sets (and I think some that come from achievements? I’m unclear on that). And the armor sets in the cash shop right now range from gaudy to hideous. There’s really only one or two that I almost like, but I’m not sure I’m willing to drop $10-$15 on it yet. Fortunately, Twitch Prime is currently giving out a pirate outfit, which isn’t bad at all. It doesn’t stand out from the random gear skins you get early on, but I don’t need to, I just need it to not be ugly.

A lot of the skins I’ve gotten so far are really nice, I would love for this game to copy the cosmetic system of any other MMO — even cosmetic systems I don’t care for as much — and allow me to make my character’s outfit look the way I want. I would prefer a system that lets me just stamp skins I have in my inventory to my outfit and then keep that until I change it, but I would settle for one that lets me change the skin of this particular item, and forces me to redo it every time I change gear. Again, this system is already in the game, why not open it up to every skin?

Early on, I had this nice quaker look going, with a long black coat and a round black hat, and I really wanted to keep it, but alas, I quickly got new gear that made me look like a garish Revolutionary War soldier. I stashed the old stuff in my bank, in the hope that this will get added later.

3. Filter for transmog skins

When the aforementioned guildie was bemoaning the way his hair looked in hats, I mentioned to him that he could hide hats by clicking on the head slot, then clicking change skin, then picking hide. Even after I pointed this out, he said it wasn’t an option for him. It took him a second try to find what should, in my opinion, be the first thing on the list, because it was obscured by all of the clutter of skins he doesn’t own. Why can’t we at least filter those out? While you’re at it, I’d love to be able to filter by light, medium, and heavy as well. Especially if the number of skins grows with the above real transmog.

2. Cheap quick travel between cities

Ok, I get it, you’re trying to give me a reason to run around a lot so I’ll PvP and stop to pick flowers and stuff, but it can take me most of a play session just to get from one town to the next. Yes, I can teleport between cities I’ve been to using Azoth (which I keep reading as Azeroth), but I’m still unclear about how rare or valuable that’s going to be later in the game, so I’m trying to save it (besides, at level 20ish I only have enough for 2-3 teleports depending on weight). I understand having a fee for teleporting to town from the far end of nowhere or even to the shrines out in the world, but would it be the worst thing if I could just teleport from one city to another for free? Or at least for gold? It’s especially frustrating since banks are separated by town, so if I’m in a distant town and want to craft something, I have to hike all the way back to my original town to get my mats.

If quick travel cost premium currency I would say it was a cash grab, but it costs Azoth and… oh no, Azoth is totally going in the cash shop at some point isn’t it? That’s a fun pay-to-win argument just waiting to happen.

1. Multiple characters per server

It’s kind of ridiculous that I can only have one character per server, and two characters in total. It feels like such an oldschool MMO thing. This game has a lot of weapon types, and I don’t doubt that it will be adding more in the future, but you had better figure out which weapons you want before level 20, because after that you will be charged a fee to respec your stats. Early on, I was dumping my points into dexterity and using spear and musket. Then, one night when I didn’t feel like waiting in queues, I rolled a second character who used fire and ice magic. I really liked the mage playstyle!

Normally, I would be happy to level two different characters with two different skill sets, especially since this game has multiple starting zones. But in this game, I have to choose one character that I want to play on the server with my friends. After some introspection, I decided that I wanted to be a healer, so I dumped all of my stat points into focus and picked up a life staff, and I’ve been alternating my secondary weapon between spear and ice gauntlet, but I still kind of miss that all-out DPS life.

If it’s a matter of people being worried about PvP factions spying on each other, I would gladly be locked into one faction account wide. I don’t really care that much about this game’s factions anyway; I only joined one because the main quest made me, and I only picked the one I did because that’s the one I had to pick to join my guild. Honestly, I probably would have picked the yellow faction, not because I like the theme better than the others, but because I like yellow better than green and purple.

An acceptable alternative would be a loadout system that let me set up a few different builds and swap between them for free on a cooldown. In fact, with how crafting- and gathering-centric this game is, that might actually be better (as much as I love making alts).

So that’s my top 5 quality-of-life addition wishlist. There are, of course, other things that I would love to be able to do, like setting up custom chat channel filters, zooming in to first person, being able to rebind the hide UI key (seriously, why is that a thing?), some improvements to the auction house UI, etc. but the above are the top 5 highest priority for me. If you’ve been playing New World, let me know what kind of improvements you would like to see!

(Spoiler-Free) Path of Fire Launch Impressions

It’s finally here! Guild Wars 2’s second expansion is finally live! I’ve had so much more anticipation for this expansion than last expansion, despite the fact that the time between its announcement and release was really short. I think that’s due in large part to the change of scenery. While jungles like that of Heart of Thorns always feel cramped and frustrating to navigate, deserts are wide open and interesting to explore. Also I’ve been excited to play the new elite specializations. When we only had one choice of elite spec, you were pretty much always limiting your character’s potential if you didn’t use it in some fashion. Now that we have a couple of different elite specs to choose from, we start to get some real choices. Some of my characters are definitely staying in their current spec for now (revenant, warrior) and some will be switching ASAP (engineer, thief), and for some the jury is still out (elementalist, ranger). So far most of my time has been spent on my engineer with the new holosmith elite spec. The vanilla engineer ended up being a bit of a disappointment for me by endgame, and the scrapper spec didn’t do much to help. The holosmith’s lightsaber sword proficiency and holoforge mode gives the engineer a fun, in-your-face type of gameplay that really resonates with me a lot more than swinging a giant wrench or lobbing grenades ever did.

It occurs to me that this expansion offers a lot of returns to the old, pre-HoT Guild Wars 2 formula. The map is so much easier to navigate (again, open, flat desert vs. layered, convoluted jungle), and the mob density/difficulty is a lot more similar to that of Central Tyria than that of the Heart of Maguuma. Similarly, hero challenges seem to be mostly designed such that an average solo player can complete them instead of most of them requiring two or more skilled players. In short, it feels like an expansion to the Guild Wars 2 from 2012, not the one from 2015. And I’m quite happy about that.

While I’m glad that the gameplay structure of pre-HoT Guild Wars 2 is back, I’m a little frustrated that some annoyances are not fixed yet. In typical ArenaNet fashion, characters are repeatedly introduced as if we should already know who they are. I really don’t get how this keeps being a problem. I can’t go into more detail because I marked this as spoiler-free, but maybe I’ll write up a little rant about it in a few weeks when the people who care about spoilers have seen everything. Also, mandatory reminder that people want new dungeons. Raids are fine, but we still want dungeons.

I also wanted to mention how impressed I am once again with ArenaNet’s management of the game. To my knowledge, the servers went down for a total of maybe half an hour over the course of the launch week. That’s really impressive for an MMO of Guild Wars 2’s size. There were some problems with individual maps, but they were limited in scope and even those didn’t last terribly long. There were a few patches from time to time, but Guild Wars 2 servers can run two versions simultaneously, meaning that it notifies you that a new version is available and gives you two hours to finish what you’re doing and log out to receive the patch. I was also amazed at the seeming lack of lag I experienced. The only reason I could even tell that the servers were under heavy load at all was the fact that it took a long time to log into the game a few times (I’m guessing I was in some kind of queue, because switching maps or instances didn’t take a long time, just the initial login). Launch wasn’t 100% perfect, but it has gone better than some games with much bigger budgets than Guild Wars, and I really appreciate it.
EDIT: Apparently there were some problems affecting Europe, but this launch still went smoother than many I’ve seen in the past.

Overall, I would say that Path of Fire has been the most fun I’ve had in Guild Wars 2 to date, which is saying a lot. Great job, ArenaNet!