The developers of New World explain the design philosophy behind their expedition mutators

In a new post, Amazon Games details some of the thought processes behind one of the key features touted for New World since early 2022: mutators. The article deals with the development history of mutators, their origins and their design philosophy.

According to World Experience Lead Mike Willette, the idea behind Mutators has an interesting origin: roguelikes. The idea here was to provide players with unexpected challenges, similar to what roguelikes can do for unprepared players in a playthrough.

What mutators should do from a design perspective, said Darren McKinsey, a level designer New world describes it as a way to “encourage varied counterplay, encourage teamwork, and encourage communication” within the MMO’s dungeon-like expeditions.

“The guiding principle behind Mutators, according to Darren, is to encourage varied counterplay, encourage teamwork, and encourage communication. These goals alone could create a few fun moments, but together they greatly improve replayability. Each week, players can participate in a different set of Expeditions with randomly selected mutators for different challenges and gameplay patterns. This diversity comes from feedback. Realizing that players prefer strategy over pure difficulty adjustment, the developers continue to design mutators around what players can do to trump each effect.”

However, the challenge for the developers was to find the right “challenge level”. The team was tasked with making sure that mutators provide just the right amount of difficulty to provide a sense of accomplishment, to overcome them, while also making sure they can’t just roll over anything that gets in their way.

“So how do they know when the challenge is just right? The mutator difficulty is like a ladder. Each step up adds additional effects. When players feel a great sense of accomplishment, it’s a win regardless of their step. The designers are always looking for ways to build those moments. More importantly, they want to give players the freedom to experiment with their favorite roles and find fun, winning tactics for their team.”

Mutators themselves help add variety to the dungeon-style expeditions that are some of the best content New world has to offer players. However, the development team isn’t just focusing on the PvE aspects of the MMO and mentioned last month that PvP will get a lot of traction.

You can see the full post on the page New world Website. The developers of New World explain the design philosophy behind their expedition mutators

Fry Electronics Team

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