In this update the Ashes team shows off the gathering system they are lifting directly from New World. Every tree is now able to be chopped down (previously in earlier alpha tests it was sparse nodes across the world) and that will expand from there to other node types such as rocks, plants, and more. Asmongold's quote to kick off the video was "New World is the gold standard of harvesting/gathering" which I'll agree with, but also as my comments will show there is room for enhancement.
For anyone that has played New World this is very familiar. New World brought this type of mechanic out of the realm of survival games and into an MMORPG. Chopping down a tree is one of the most satisfying feelings in all of New World. I can't imagine playing a future MMORPG that doesn't let me cut down every tree, break up every rock, and gather almost anything I can see. I am all for games like Ashes lifting ideas from other games and this was the right idea to grab from New World.
What can, or what will, Ashes do to improve on the system?
First, they can add more variables to the system. If there is a knock against New World's system it is that the node spawns are static and do not vary at all which means farmers and bots can camp them. A great change for New World and where Ashes could improve this type of system is to randomize the spawn locations of the nodes. Certain areas could still limit what type of node spawns so players know where to go to gather but the actual placement in that area could be changed up. This would reward the often overlooked explorer play type.
The good news is it sounds like Ashes is solving for this with their surveying skill which will allow players to find and learn about node spawns and if I understood it correctly it will allow players with higher surveying skill to find randomly placed nodes. This brought back memories of surveying in Star Wars Galaxies (SWG) which allowed for players to locate and find unique resources and cash in on them before others showed up. The key to the SWG system was randomization and time limited nature of where you could get the resources.
Next the Ashes developers talked a good bit about how the materials you can gather will vary based on seasons, "node" (referring to their land parcel system), and other player actions. It definitely sounds like to be a successful gatherer you will need to know the systems and the world as well as have leveled up skills. The question is whether they can make the system where it rewards the average player and doesn't just become a system where the elite players lock everyone else out.
In the Ashes stream Steven (the guy at the head of Ashes design/funding/everything) asked us to think about two areas when giving feedback and talking about this update so I wanted to oblige him.
Feedback Focus 1: Steven asked the community how we feel about the change to have far more resources available for gathering in the game? A caveat was most of the increase in gatherable materials it would be focused on general construction and trade; not necessarily for making gear.
Answer 1: As I mentioned earlier in the post I can't see myself playing an MMORPG that doesn't have this sort of harvesting/gathering system. Chopping down trees may just be a "minimum requirement" going forward for me to consider a game. I think this was the right choice and with the surveying system it looks to improve on the system from New World. The only concern I have is it may get too complicated. There is a benefit to the simplicity of New Worlds system: see tree, chop tree, get stuff. Adding too much more to that loop may make it less fun.
Feedback Focus 2: Thoughts on the visual fidelity of the gathering actions.
Answer 2: I tend to not get deep into visuals in games these days. They play a role, but not as they did in the past. As long as it feels like it fits and doesn't take away from performance then I am fine with what I saw in the video. Not necessarily visual, but the audio in the demo was not that great. New World nails the sound of chopping and mining so feel like Ashes has some room on the audio end to improve.
The Ashes devs also commented on group gathering. This is a great idea and something that Crowfall had (probably one of the only things that game did well). I love the idea of having to team up to gather. I love the idea of needing a second player to take the other end of a giant saw to go at a massive tree.
Steven also asked about what players felt about the system where what is inside a node is only revealed when you take the harvesting action. The example given was a rock that once broken revealed there was a crystal inside and a second harvesting action was required to gather the crystal. I am fine with this but over time it may become irritating having to harvest nodes twice instead of just getting the internal materials on the first pass. Will have to see how it feels when playing.
For those that need it here is the Ashes update embedded below.
Speaking of gathering; let me harvest your thoughts by leaving a comment. Thanks!