New World Interview: Talking Heart of Madness Update with Creative Director David Verfaillie

With the latest update from Amazon New world blow this week heart of madness offers players more ways to enjoy Aeternum. From a climax expedition to a new type of weapon designed to add variety to combat, heart of madness aims to bring something for everyone New world Players new and old.

However with everything New world it doesn’t seem to be going to be easy, as evidenced by this week’s update delay. Bugs, economy freezes, general grind issues and more continue to be the focus of some players when watching Amazon’s MMORPG. New world however, aims to provide more meaningful content with each update, and the Tempest Heart Expedition is an important step in that direction. Concluding the story of Isabella and the corruption that plagues Aeternum, max-level characters can explore the deepest recesses of the capital city of Myrkgard. It’s a challenging expedition that will spur on even the best groups in Aeternum.

Before the release we were able to send some questions to the New world Team for an email interview asking you about the expedition, the team’s approach to expeditions in general, as well as the team’s reaction to player exodus compared to the heights at launch.

MMORPG: Expeditions remain my favorite thing to do in New World, and the Tempest Heart Expedition is no exception. How was it, especially now that the team has a few expeditions under its belt, to create these encounters? How do you make sure they stay fresh and interesting and not just linear versions of the same thing?

Dave Verfaillie, Creative Director: We learned a few things from previous expeditions and used those lessons to make Tempest’s Heart feel really new and epic. As this expedition is the culmination of the Isabella storyline, one area that we pushed was storytelling – with lots of environment storytelling, NPCs and even a movie at the end. There are also some new mechanics in this Expedition, like unlocking an Expedition Chest with items found in the Expedition and some turret gameplay.

New World Heart of Madness

With so many expeditions tied to story progression in the main questline, how do you ensure that even players who may not have the best gear or stats but still want to experience the content can without much trouble?

DV: Our goal with Endgame Expeditions is not to push the difficulty too high. We want players with decent gear to be able to complete the basic expeditions so they can partake in the experience and story they offer. We’re starting to increase the difficulty on the mutant versions of these expeditions.

While many areas in New World have a similar feel, especially in the early zones, the later endgame areas feel unique, especially the Expeditions themselves. I LOVE the art direction on the Tempest Heart Expedition – the moments where you progress through the Corridors with the vines and just walking the crimson skybox were some of the most impressive sights in all of New World. How does the team ensure these endgame areas – and especially those pivotal encounters and moments – look as unique as they feel?

DV: The team was very excited to do this expedition. We gave them the time to really explore the concepts of corruption, the mental and spiritual conflicts, and the history of Isabella. The depth of thought and their passion resulted in a very unique experience that advanced graphics, gameplay and storytelling.

How has the feedback been on Expedition Mutators since their launch earlier this year, and what has the team done to address any feedback you may have received?

DV: Overall, Mutators have been pretty well received. Players like the extra challenge they offer and enjoy figuring out how to deal with the new mutations and curses. There’s also some great gear to chase after! Players also really appreciated having a reason to return to the Dynasty Shipyard, so expect us to do so with other leveling dungeons in the future when the Depths are next. There was feedback on balancing and tuning, and we’ve addressed most of the key concerns there and will continue to adjust over time. Another feedback we’ve heard a few times is that the bosses in dungeons that aren’t affected by mutations are a missed opportunity. We agree, and we have started to work on solving this problem.

Last week’s PTR floated the idea that the team would be testing 40v40 wars to make things more strategic. However, this appears to have been scrapped based on feedback. The main reason I read is simply the difficulty of getting into wars as they currently are and how the reduction in available slots could make this impossible for some. What is the team doing to ensure that new ways to experience war can be tested and such while also being attentive and responsive to player feedback?

DV: We decided not to introduce 40v40 wars based on feedback from war participants that it’s really important for wars to have as many people as possible; more important than some potential gameplay improvements that we think 40v40 has brought.

Overall, Wars still feels like an exclusive event, something many players may never experience in New World due to limited slots and the fact that companies are always picking players and favorites they are familiar with. How is the Amazon team solving this issue so more players can participate?

DV: We believe war is a high point in New World and want to give anyone who wants to try it a chance to do so. As we expand our instancing technology, we plan to bring War and Invasion into the system and offer more on-demand ways to participate in these modes. But there is still a lot to do to develop, test and iterate this before we bring it to market.

The blunderbuss is such a cool weapon. Can you talk briefly about what will use it, especially in group activities? Why would anyone pick this up and level it up against a loadout they might already be familiar with?

DV: I hope that many players try out the blunderbuss. Like you said it’s a cool weapon that comes with some really cool new abilities like claw shot that players can use to quickly close the gap and fission grenades that deal big disruption and damage. The Blunderbuss also scales primarily with strength, so it’s a great weapon for melee players who want a bit of mid-range damage.

And to help players experience this new weapon, we’ll be hosting a Double XP Weekend that will also double XP for Weapon Mastery so you can level up your Blunderbuss quickly.


According to the roadmap, new weapon skill lines are coming this year in addition to the blunderbuss, with the greatsword planned for fall. How hard is it to plan and execute new weapons, and how do you ensure that when they are introduced they are as balanced as possible with the meta at the time?

DV: Weapons is one of the features with the longest timeline of any of our content, as it includes not only the weapon and its abilities, but also all of the crafting integration, weapon variants for drops around the world, and the legendary weapon quest line. So we launch weapons months before players see them on the PTR.

Because of this, meta isn’t an important factor in our weapon choices. We’re much more focused on what gaps we have in our weapon arsenal and what we think is cool. But as we get closer to weapon release, we’re running extensive testing with the in-house team to make sure the weapon is fairly balanced compared to the current meta. Then the PTR gives us a large dataset to do some final fine-tuning around. For example, we scaled back the Blunderbuss a bit due to its strong performance on the PTR

The team has been pretty transparent with updates, plans and more. The very lengthy YouTube conversation videos you’ve been posting over the past few months have done a lot to keep the community informed. How important is it for the team to maintain that level of communication even when it’s a difficult time (like another dupe bug or something else that might impact the title at this point)?

DV: Maintaining a high level of communication is very important to the team. We’ve seen the relationship we’re building with the community translate into a better game, with great feedback on the endgame changes we made in January and some of the “friction reduction” efforts we made in the Publish February and March. To have good communication, it needs to be open and transparent, and that means communicating not only about the upcoming great new features, but also about some of the long-standing issues with the game. We try to cover these issues and our plans to address them in the team update videos and hope players understand that these are complicated issues that sometimes take time to properly fix.

Many people care about the current player count reported by Steam DB, which reports a small fraction of the massive user base the MMO launched with. Does this bother the team at all and how would you allay the fears of fans worried about what this could mean for the future of New World?

DV: Amazon Games is behind New World and we have a long future ahead of us. Since launch, there has been a drop in player count, and some of that is natural. It was also impacted by technical and gameplay issues, and we’ve been working hard to fix those issues. Hopefully, this effort and the recently released roadmap will show players our commitment to New World. There will be a lot of cool content – new weapons, new expeditions, new PvP modes and even a new territory. And we will update the roadmap with newer versions over time. New World Interview: Talking Heart of Madness Update with Creative Director David Verfaillie

Fry Electronics Team

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