My heart sinks every time I accept a quest in MMORPG New World, which isn't ideal. These are tickets to adventure, to discovery, to that sweet, sweet EXP. But the more time I spend with the game, the more I'm beginning to loathe them. It's got nothing to do with what you actually do in them, it's the getting there that's the problem. I have to run my little legs ragged and I'm tired. I'm so very tired of it.
For those of you who aren't versed in the world of MMOs, a mount is traditionally a mode of transport that'll get you from A to B quicker than your legs would. Think something like a horse, or in the case of Final Fantasy XIV, a chubby cat that's described as so wobbly, "the earth and the very firmament tremble as it trundles".
Usually, you'd earn a mount after a few hours breaking in your boots and getting to grips with the MMO's world. Nowadays, games like World Of Warcraft and FFXIV dish them out pretty early on to add some pizazz to travel. And they act as an exciting reward for sticking out those early hours, like you're finally worthy of possessing a steed. I mean, I'll never forget earning my first rideable ram in WoW or my first Chocobo in FFXIV. The elation was dangerous.
But New World doesn't have mounts. According to an in-game lore note, they simply can't exist and it's very silly. Entitled "The Animals Revolt", it reads:
"After a recent spate of back injuries, the doctors of Aeternum feel compelled to issue this warning to anyone who transports goods between settlements: "Please remember that there are NO beasts of burden on Aeternum. No horse or donkey will pull your cart, carry your pack, or tolerate a rider. All efforts to domesticate or re-domesticate these animals have led only to injury and a lot of swearing. "Therefore it's important to transport ONLY as many goods as your own back can bear. Do not overburden your packs or carts. This is not the Old World. In Aeternum, we must all pull our own weight. "Your joints will thank you!"
So the animals in New World can't be tamed because they're unruly. Which is a shame, because running to and fro between quest markers quickly grows tedious. Sure, it's slower, but I also reckon the world itself contributes to the boredom. For me at least, many of the game's areas lack character; they don't inspire the excitement that comes with travel. That blast of hot air when you step out of a plane, or the magic of being lost in an unfamiliar place. In MMO form, this hit me when I first wandered up the stone steps to Stormwind in WoW. That powerful music with the blokes singing "ha, ha, ha, haaaa", the city's bustling streets and scale forming a perfect contrast to the quiet, warm Elwynn Forest it sits in; hoo boy, it was quite something. New World is pretty in places, sure, but it doesn't leave me wanting to drink in the atmosphere on my regular jogs.
Let's not forget that mounts aren't just tools, but important status symbols in other MMOs. One of my favourite things about FFXIV is the sheer variety of rideable robots and animals and mythical creatures. I like wandering into a town and seeing all these bizarre vehicles on display and wondering how on earth I can get my hands on them. Often they're only obtainable by completing a dungeon under special circumstances. Maybe they'll pop into your inventory once you've ticked off an ultra-rare achievement. Sometimes they're unique rewards for being a long-standing subscriber. Whatever it may be, I want to chase it, so I too, can peacock about a town square like all the high-level folks.
Step into New World and it's all limbs and no hooves. No wheels, or flying saucers. They're not allowed to exist, and in turn, it lacks this important strand of player progression. I'll be an endgame character backtracking through areas in the same manner as someone fresh out of Bezos' cloning facility. The only thing I can show off in town is my outfit and my calves. Here's hoping the game's animals have a change of heart because I really need them to. My legs. They burn.