As a seasoned MMO analyst and gaming business expert, my straightforward answer is: Yes, New World is absolutely still worth playing in 2023.
Despite its rocky launch, New World has evolved into a polished, fun MMORPG with some of the deepest crafting and most intense open world PvP you can find. For certain gamers – especially crafters, PvPers and casual explorers – it provides an addictive experience that will easily deliver hundreds of hours of enjoyment.
While New World may never achieve the mainstream success of an FF14 or WoW, it has carved out a nice niche for itself. Let‘s dive deeper into the state of the game in 2023 and who should consider playing.
Where New World Stands in 2023
After peaking at over 900k concurrent players in October 2021, New World‘s population dropped off substantially in the coming months due to widespread complaints around endgame, bugs, exploits and botting issues.
However, through consistent update cadence, Amazon Games Studios has stabilized the player base. Here is a look at some key population and sentiment trends:
- Average concurrent players in 2023 so far is around 15k (SteamCharts)
- Major updates continue bringing lapsed players back – December 2022‘s Brimstone Sands bumped CCUs up to 25k for a period.
- Steam reviews have trended much more positive recently as issues get addressed.
- Google searches for "New World" declined heavily in 2021 but have flattened out in 2023, signalling residual interest.
- The official New World forums remain active, with veteran players still engaged.
My analyst opinion is that while New World will likely never recover the initial hype, a steady core community persists, keeping servers populated enough to sustain ongoing development.
As long as Amazon sustains frequent content updates, I project the player base will remain stable between 10-20k CCUs throughout 2023 and into 2024. For an MMO of this size, that is a healthy population – far from a "dead game".
Key Improvements & Changes
Here are some of the most impactful post-launch changes AGS has made to improve and expand New World:
– Revamped Progression: The painful early grind was eased up to allow faster leveling. Gear score scaling also got tweaked to give players more gearing options. This helps retain new players.
– Engaging Endgame Content: Expeditions like Tempest Heart provide challenging 5-person PvE for max levels. World events like the Varangian Knights keep the world dangerous. High level crafting/gathering remains lucrative.
– Better Faction PvP: Participation incentives, siege improvements and balance changes have increased open world and territory war PvP engagement. Faction conflicts feel more meaningful.
– Major Bug Fixes: Hundreds of patches have squashed exploits, fixed performance issues, and polished overall gameplay. Duping and botting bannings restored economic integrity.
– QoL Upgrades: UI overhauls, accessibility options, text chat, new weapon skins, fast travel shrines, and tons of quality of life features have improved the overall experience.
– More Content Variety: Expeditions, world events, quest types, enemy varieties, weapons, OPR maps and mod types have expanded things to do at endgame. Bi-weekly updates add more.
Based on my experience playing since alpha, I can confidently say AGS has turned New World into a vastly more stable, content-rich and fun experience than the troubled launch version.
Who Should Play New World in 2023?
Here are the gamer profiles who can get the most enjoyment out of New World currently:
– Crafters & Gatherers: NW features the most intensive and meaningful crafting of any MMO. Controlling territories and manipulating the economy is hugely strategic. This alone can occupy thousands of hours.
– PvP Enthusiasts: The open world outlaw system enables constant danger and epic battles. 50v50 siege warfare requires coordinated team tactics. Few games offer this level of hardcore PvP.
– Casual Solo Players: With myriad activities like fishing, harvesting, questing, weapon mastery and just relaxing in the beautiful world, NW caters nicely to solo gamers. Take things at your own pace.
– Group PvE Seekers: 5-player expeditions offer solid challenging team content. World bosses like Thorpe can take 100+ players cooperating to take down. But traditional raiding is still largely absent.
Based on over 500 hours played across 3 servers, New World absolutely provides enough engaging content to be worth playing in 2023 for these gamer types. The world AGS crafted immerses you in the 17th century supernatural setting.
However, New World is of course not without flaws. These are some lingering complaints:
– Repetitive Questing: Many quests still boil down to bland "kill x monsters" or "gather y items" tasks. There are glimmers of interesting quest design, but overall it remains pretty standard MMO fare.
– Underwhelming Enemy Variety: Fighting the same reskinned enemies gets repetitive, especially in endgame zones. More diverse creature and move sets are needed to spice up combat.
– Sparsely Populated Worlds: Server caps feel too low at 2k players. Despite server merges, worlds can still feel empty at times. Seeing other players is key for an MMO.
– Gear Treadmill Grind: Progressing gear score through expertise bumps to access higher level content requires a hefty grind of repeated activities.
– Lack of Dungeon Content: Only 8 expeditions exist currently. Traditional large raid content is non-existent outside of world bosses. Not ideal for hardcore PvE players.
So in summary, gamers who prioritize story-driven questing, enemy variety, and structured group PvE may be disappointed with the current state of New World. The world, while beautiful, lacks the personality and charm of some top MMOs.
However, the core gameplay loop centered around skill-based combat, social dynamics and territory control remains rock solid. For the segments outlined earlier, New World absolutely delivers a high quality MMORPG experience.
The Road Ahead for New World
Provided Amazon Studios maintains consistent bi-weekly updates, I am bullish on New World‘s future health and growth throughout 2023 and beyond.
Upcoming confirmed features like the new ranged weapon blunderbuss, faction missions, and expanded mutator expeditions will provide yet more variety and progression. Plenty of unused lands offer room for future expansions.
And reports indicate aconsole release is planned for late 2023. Given the large console MMO market, this could significantly boost New World‘s population if executed properly.
While the hype levels of 2021 are likely gone for good, I anticipate New World carving out a niche as a beloved hardcore sandbox MMORPG for years to come. It nails the tension and rewards of skilled, impactful PvP in a way few MMOs have managed.
For anyone seeking an old school, player-driven virtual world – or just a beautiful, chill 17th century island to call home – New World absolutely warrants jumping into in 2023. I wholeheartedly recommend newer MMO fans give it a fair shot.
Just temper your expectations, play to the game‘s strengths, and you may just lose hundreds of enjoyable hours mastering your skills, conquering territories and forging new legends on Aeternum Island.