In a typical MMO, you’ll often find yourself locked out of using certain weapons purely based on the class you pick. Warriors specialising in melee attacks won’t be given access to spells, while spellcasters will be refused access to ranged weapons. If you want to experiment, you need to start all over again.

Not so in New World. Amazon Games’ upcoming MMO throws classes out the window, instead allowing you to pick up whichever weapon you feel like wielding, whenever it takes your fancy. You can spend hours mastering the warhammer but still carry a musket on your back and a staff in your inventory, which could come in handy when partying up.

But how do these different combat styles interact, and how do you know which one is right for you? To give you a headstart on the rest of Aeternum, ahead of New World’s closed beta starting on July 20, we’re taking a look at the three main styles of combat and what you should expect from them.

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Melee

If you like to get up close and personal with your enemies, then New World is happy to oblige. With swords, axes, hatchets, and even warhammers to choose from, you’re sure to find something that will keep a smile on your face as you cut down legions of beasts in Aeternum.

Melee combat is perfect for anyone who wants to deal huge amounts of damage to enemies as quickly as possible. Each weapon handles differently, and you’ll unlock different abilities as you gain mastery in each one. Warhammers, for example, are useful for stunning and knocking back enemies in a small area, but are slower to attack with, while rapiers allow you to afflict a bleed effect on foes and deal a flurry of blows to a single target, but deal slightly less damage in exchange for faster attacks.

Whichever melee weapon you choose, you won’t just be clicking on an enemy and waiting for them to die from auto-attacks. You’ll need to string together your own attacks into combos, weaving abilities into your strikes to make the most of status effects and ailments. And unless you’re wearing some strong armour, you’ll also need to block and roll to avoid taking too much damage from your enemies. Just keep an eye on your stamina gauge when you’re blocking – keep your guard up for too long and you’ll find yourself exhausted and unable to fight back.

There are some truly mighty weapons available for melee fans. Sword users can look forward to wielding Reconciliation, a powerful blade that deals out magic damage and is particularly potent against the Corrupted. Meanwhile, hammer fans can get their hands on Parabellum, which sets foes ablaze and deals additional damage to unharmed enemies.

Ranged

Ranged combat in New World comes in two flavours – bows and muskets. Bows are better suited for quick, precise attackers who want to deal a variety of status ailments on their enemies. Muskets, meanwhile, are slower and more powerful, focusing on skills related to blasting enemies away and setting up traps to lure foes into.

Whichever you choose, your place on the battlefield will be as far from the action as possible. You’ll need to focus on your aim when using ranged weapons, leaving you open to attack from your blindspots – or anything that happens to rush past your attacks. Still, you’ll get an added benefit in that you can hit for critical damage when you land a headshot, so taking the time to aim properly really does pay off.

Archers should keep a look out for the Legendary bow Longsight, which can electrocute enemies when an arrow lands on target. Musketeers, meanwhile, can eventually get their hands on Cryptic Message, a musket that deals additional damage if you have an active debuff working against you.

Magic

Magic is everywhere in Aeternum, and as long as you have a staff in your hand and some mana available, you can use it to your heart’s content. Staffs come in two forms – healers can use life staffs to help themselves and their allies stay alive, while destructive mages can use fire staffs to wreak havoc on their enemies. You can even carry one of each and switch between them mid-battle, helping to keep the direction of the fight in your favour.

Whichever you wield, you’ll need to pay close attention to your position in a battle to ensure your magic is actually useful. Most magic you’ll be using requires some kind of casting time, rooting you to the spot and leaving you wide open to attack before you can fire off a spell. These spells can also affect wide areas instead of a single target, so you’ll need to aim these spells in the right spots to ensure they hit for the highest damage possible or heal as many allies as you can.

The trade-off is that these spells can be utterly devastating. Cast a Meteor Shower with the legendary Agony fire staff and prepare to watch your enemies burst into flames as they’re struck again and again by giant flaming rocks. Or light up your friends with a Beacon spell from your life staff – perhaps the Newfound Longing, if you’re lucky – to not only deal damage to your foes, but heal any allies nearby.

However you like your combat, New World has plenty of ways to make it fun for you. And even if you decide after 50 hours that you’re done playing with swords, there’s no need to start over – just grab a bow or staff and jump back in. You can experiment with all styles of play in the New World closed beta from July 20, or join the adventure when the game launches on August 31, 2021.

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