From the minute you load Sword of the New World, you know it's going to be an engaging experience. The characters and the environment are beautifully created and the music makes you want to jump into the game immediately. But first, let's look at character creation. Instead of controlling just one character, Sword of the New World provides you with a party (aka family). For the tutorial, you find yourself on a boat heading to the New World and are given a simple task (also known as bringing the ship's captain some booze). You may only use one character at this point, but once you have landed in the New World, you are free to use up to three of your family members. Within your family's quarters you will get to decide their gender, class and outfit. I was definitely disappointed with the lack of customization in terms of faces and hair options, but there are numerous costumes to choose from, and they are certainly pretty. At this point in the game, you have four possible slots available for characters, which may sound like a lot but as you progress further and open new character classes, you will definitely need more - which you can eventually obtain. After fiddling about in the quarters for a few minutes, I decided on composing my team of a Fighter, a Wizard and a Scout. I figured this was pretty standard and the best way to get things moving. At last! Brienne, Sansa and Arya were ready for their New World, papers in hand.
Stepping out into the city, it is again impressive to see the amount of detail in the towns. You immediately get the feeling that this is "old money" come to the new world to colonize, and help out with the local beasties and rebels attempting to ruin everything. The main city is always busy and would lag at times, but it was bearable. This is also where you pick up quests to complete while out and about. Now, there is a difference between a "quest" and a "mission": a quest moves your family's story along, will have numerous objects and may even open up a few missions along the way. Missions are, for the most part, kill X number of Y. At times this number can be as many as 200. This does sound daunting but the combat goes very quickly. While the grind is definitely still there in all its glory, your family is not taking out a couple monsters at a time, but instead mowing through dozens upon dozens of ever-plentiful beasties. It's actually rather fun. This does highlight, however, one of the game's more frustrating points: the lack of control.
At times one of my characters would bound off to start killing things that I really did not want her to kill. The wizard, for example, would run off and start firing down giant wasps and spiders - attracting leaping crocodiles in the process. This would then cause the other two members of the family to run to her rescue. And, yes, I did just say "leaping crocodiles." This is a strange New World and I am glad I did not have to colonize it. According to the tooltip, if you put your characters on the "hold" stance, they will not run off and start smashing or burning things. But, this only seemed to work some of the time. Or, it would fail completely and my characters would stand there in their pretty dresses being beat on by a bunch of hellhounds. So, I tended to just give up and keep the family on "defend" or even hostile mode to watch them run to a specified point and destroy things on the way.
On a related note, SOTNW has implemented two ways of creating a large amount of diversity among characters of the same class. A stance is the combat style your character is in and using. Each stance has different abilities attributed to it and may require training and/or new weapons to be used. For example, a Scout with no weapons will become a healer and will be gaining experience in his/her healing stance. Give that Scout two daggers and you've got yourself a dual-wielding Assassin capable of large amounts of damage. With each level, the character is awarded skill points which can be placed into the available abilities up to skill level ten in which he/she is the Master of that skill. These points cannot be reset or transferred to a different stance, so it's best to use them when you get them. These abilities can be triggered either by clicking on them or using hot-keys. Beneficial spells such as a shield or healing work the same way only they are targeted to your family member through the F1-F3 keys. The game also does an excellent job of alerting you when buffs have worn off ... though it is hard to miss, due to the elaborate shiny auras they tend to give.
As for the classes themselves, there are numerous to be played throughout the game. Some are available upon starting the game and others can be discovered or bought through K2's SOTNW Cash Stop. Find a class you'd like to play but don't want a lowly level 1 straggling behind your high-powered "main" characters? Easy. As quest or mission rewards, you can be given EXP cards which can be applied to a character for easy experience. There is a level requirement on some of them, but they can easily be obtained by having your character run around behind the wave of death that your high-level characters create. Levelling is also very quick the first time through, due to the high-speed combat and numerous rewards.
I did not get a chance to try my hand at player versus player, except for the occasional duel. Once a character/family reaches the level cap of 100, a whole new world of PVP will open up in the ways of a civil war. You can choose your allegiance and fight for what you believe is right!
Overall, Sword of the New World was a fantastically fun MMO to play. While not as intricate as some other MMOs, the dynamic of having three characters to control instead of just one is a lot of fun and definitely gives the player a lot of things to do and learn throughout his/her experience.