How I survived the rough launch of Amazon's New World online game

More than 700,000 players tried to log in on the first day of this ambitious project. Here's what happened to me.

Oscar Gonzalez Former staff reporter
Oscar Gonzalez is a Texas native who covered video games, conspiracy theories, misinformation and cryptocurrency.
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Oscar Gonzalez
4 min read
Making swords to sell on Amazon

Waiting to play New World. 

Amazon Games

Amazon can sell nearly anything, so why not its own online game? New World, the latest project from Amazon Games, launched on Sept. 28 and immediately attracted more than 700,000 players. That's good news for New World, but not great for players like me who had to wait in long online queues to get into the game. 

The game is broken into hundreds of servers, or "worlds," each of which can host up to 2,000 players. How does anyone choose? Some worlds were bigger draws than others because a popular Twitch streamer was on them, or just for a catchy server name. The Valhalla server had more than 10,000 people waiting in its queue. The more popular the server, the longer the wait to log in, up to several hours. 

Screenshot by Oscar Gonzalez/CNET

I tried logging on at 9:40 p.m. ET on the game's release day, but the server I tried to join had more than 800 people waiting in line. This is even after Amazon Games added dozens more servers in the afternoon to accommodate players.

Before you actually try to join a server, you need to watch a CGI intro movie that lays out a bit of the story. Then it's off to create a character. I'm not one to obsess over every detail of my character. I usually select the "randomize" option, which automatically creates a character. You can hit the button over and over again till you find a combo you like. I usually try to get one that looks a bit like me. 

What a handsome devil

What a handsome devil.

Screenshot by Oscar Gonzalez/CNET

With my new character ready, long salt-and-pepper hair and all, it was time to find a server. The world I planned jumping into had gone down to a 500-person queue. Luckily I had some other things to do in the meantime, as it took about an hour before it was my turn to join the game. 

Starting off

Up first was the tutorial. This is where the game holds your hand to teach you the movement and combat basics. Because I'd already participated in the New World beta in August, this was familiar to me. 

The first area you're in is the Ship Graveyard, where you've washed ashore. A zombie sailor welcomes you with a flying attack and this starts the combat tutorial. Character movement is done with the keyboard, while the mouse handles attacking and blocking. You can use a game pad, if you prefer. The game will hold your hand, making sure you press all the buttons as instructed before you can proceed. I appreciated this tutorial the first time around, since New World's combat is far more action-heavy than that of World of Warcraft and other traditional massively multiplayer online roleplaying games (also known as MMORPGs). 

This tutorial ends with a battle against a zombified sea captain. Ideally, this is where you make use of all the skills you've learned, such as dodging, blocking and your special attack. Whether you fight the captain flawlessly or get smacked around, the battle comes to a close prematurely with a dramatic ending sequence I won't spoil for you here. 

A strange New World

After a few loading screens, you'll finally reach Aeternum. Players spawn in random starter areas of the map, so as to not overwhelm one space with hundreds of new characters. 

The first quests in the game are designed to teach you about gathering, crafting and more equipment. This is also when you can see all the other new players who just joined the game. Many would yell in the server chat about how happy they were to finally play after the long wait time. 

The quests you get in this starter area are mainly fetch quests: Go grab a thing and bring it back. There are some items you learn how to create, such as a skinning knife, which lets you obtain the skin and meat from the wild boar in the area. These boar are usually plentiful, but with so many new players in the area, it can take a minute to find one. 

After a handful of training missions, it's time to travel to the nearest city, Monarch's Bluffs. 

Life in the big city

I went to the city and it's a bit of a walk from the starter area to Monarch's Bluffs. One thing I noticed about halfway there was a large number of campfires. These act as a respawn point, a place to recover health and to do some crafting. The campfires litter the road to Monarch's Bluffs and reach all the way to the front gate of the city. 

This isn't some huge sprawling city, but it offers plenty to do. Like in the starter area, the quests here get players more acquainted with the other gathering and crafting options. The city also has a Trading Post that acts as an auction house and a storage shed for items from your inventory. 

During my first day in the game, I gathered wood and stones, then did some blacksmithing to create a longsword. As a reward, I was finally given the ability to create my own campfire as a personal re-spawn point. But it was getting late, so I decided to set up my own campfire among those littering the roads to the city and call it the end of my first day in Aeternum. 

That was just one day in New World, but games like this aren't designed to be completed in a single day, week or even over many months. That's the draw of an online game, it's an ever-evolving world, mixed with all the randomness that comes from throwing thousands of real-life humans together and seeing what happens. There's far more out there in Aeternum and that's what Amazon hopes will keep players coming back.