New World Disorder

By Shamus Posted Monday Oct 18, 2021

Filed under: Game Reviews 143 comments

So let’s say you fire up some 90s style shooter built around rocket jumping and circle-strafing. Something along the lines of Doom, Quake, or Serious Sam, with a heavy metal soundtrack and copious violence. You play through the first couple of levels and everything is more or less what you’d expect from this genre. But when you get to the end of the first area, the game asks you to pick a “clan” to join:

  • The Warrior Clan. Masters of firearms and rocket launchers, these fearless fighters have no equal in battle.
  • The Banker’s Clan. These financial planners are the masters of money and savings.

Maybe in an RPG these would work out to be equally viable routes through the game, but in the context of a classic shooter there’s no reason for the player to pick Banker. This game doesn’t have dialog trees, trade, or money. Being a banker might sound appealing to some players in another genre, but that’s probably not what this particular audience was looking for when they chose this game.

Even if you’re an outlier and you like the idea of playing as Banker, you already know what kind of game this is.  You know the mechanics do not have any systems for diplomacy or investing. You have no idea what the decision means or how it’ll impact the game going forward, but the safest, most sensible thing for you to do is pick Warrior. Whatever happens, you probably can’t go wrong if you pick the group that’s thematically and mechanically aligned with the gameplay.

This is the weird situation we find in New World, the new MMO from Amazon Game Studios.

Age of Sail for Sale

New World takes place in (roughly) the age of sail. Europeans and Asians have sailed to the new world, only instead of the Americas they find a strange continent of magic and supernatural wonder. The game is focused on PvP. Sometime around level 10 or so, the player is asked to join one of three factions:

Covenant: We fight unspecified enemies in the name of unstated ideals in service of a vague religion under a piss-yellow banner and we have no idea why nobody wants to join.
Covenant: We fight unspecified enemies in the name of unstated ideals in service of a vague religion under a piss-yellow banner and we have no idea why nobody wants to join.

Since the game is built around these factions fighting each other, I have to assume the designer wants them to be roughly equal. So you’d expect them to make the factions equally appealing. But… no. We get:

  • Marauders (Green): Now, when I hear the term “marauder” I think of  “murder and looting”.Either that, or that one meme character from Mass Effect 3. But this game suggests that marauders fight for “honor and glory”. That strongly aligns with the self-image that PvP players like to project. It also fits nicely with the mechanics of the game, which are built around martial combat with a splash of magic.
  • Syndicate (Purple): This faction isn’t unappealing, but their stated methodology of fighting with “cunning” doesn’t really align with the gameplay . It’s a safe bet that you’re going to end up going toe-to-toe in button-mashy combat with rival players. Since that’s the case, why wouldn’t you pick the faction built around that idea, rather than this faction that wants to pretend that their hectic melee is some sort of chess match?
  • Covenant (Yellow): A religious faction. Oh dear. Now, if the designer called these guys “Demon Hunters” or gave them some over-the-top personality (like the Paladins of Warhammer 40k) then you might have an idea that players could grasp onto. But this faction seems to be built around the idea of organized religion as an abstract concept.  That’s already a weak sales pitch with today’s youth, and it only gets worse when you realize that the 1600s are not remembered as a high point for European-based religions.

The Two-Party System

No, that's not Covenant territory at the top. That's unclaimed land. On this map, Marauders have 5 territories, Syndicate has 6, and Covenant has ZERO.
No, that's not Covenant territory at the top. That's unclaimed land. On this map, Marauders have 5 territories, Syndicate has 6, and Covenant has ZERO.

I’ve been on four different servers now, and the emerging pattern is pretty clear: Marauders and Syndicate fight for control. The Marauders usually have a bit of an edge. Meanwhile, Covenant is always a hilariously weak third party that can’t hold much territory and doesn’t do much aside from acting as a spoiler in the battle between the Greens and Purples.

More alarmingly, I don’t see anything in the mechanics to balance this out. Ideally you’d have some system where the more territory you have, the harder it gets to hold, and the less territory you have, the easier it is to win. Instead, the feedback loop goes the other way, with winners getting stronger over time.

Territory is controlled through cities. When you control a city, you get to maintain it and collect taxes. Players will pay taxes when they use the auction house, when they purchase homes, and when they craft stuff. Same-color players will enjoy a discount on these taxes. The winning team also gets discounts on Azoth. Azoth is used as a currency for the fast travel system. It’s also used to craft magic items. This means that the winners will have more Azoth, and in turn they’ll be able to craft better gear.

So the system already has a bit of a feedback loop that creates an advantage for the winners. That’s bad enough, but then the whole thing is amplified by player behavior. What level 10 player is going to look at the green and purple map and decide to join yellow?

It would make sense if faction quest givers only had so much XP, gold, and InfluenceInfluence is a currency used to purchase items from faction leaders. I think the WoW equivalent would be “Honor”. to give out, and it had to be divided among everyone working for the faction. So you could join the overpopulated winning side and enjoy lower taxes and more frequent use of the fast travel system, but it would take longer to make money and level up.

I can’t promise this would magically fix the game. In the real world, factions are supported by real-world ideologies, cultures, races, and religions. An Englishman fighting in the Nine Years’ War isn’t going to switch to the French team because the French have been winning this week. But in an online game, most players are willing to go where the fun is and aren’t genuinely aligned with in-universe groups.Although I did see WoW players taking the Horde vs. Alliance conflict more seriously than made sense. Then AGAIN, you literally can’t switch sides in WoW, so fanaticism was reinforced on a mechanical level. If the Red team is always losing, then some Red players might not be as eager to log in. If Blue team is always winning and if being on the winning team is advantageous, then you can expect new players to favor Blue.

I might take my religion seriously. I might take my nation seriously. I might take my culture seriously. And depending on what color I am, I might be compelled to take my race seriously. But I have no fealty to the color-coded factions in your fictional world, and I’m likely to change sides based on nothing more than aesthetics and a desire to keep things fun and interesting.

The point I’m getting at is that massively multiplayer games are horrendously complex and difficult to balance. I can’t promise that any given change would even things up, but the system as it exists now is inherently unstable.

The Only Winning Move


I see a level 55 character killing a level 12 newbie for giggles.

New World:

That’s just the rules of the game. Totally fine. If the newbie didn’t want to die in an impossible fight, they shouldn’t have turned on that PvP flag.


Look at that. It’s a mob of a dozen players that are roaming around, ganking stray members of the rival faction in hilariously lopsided fights.

New World:

It’s all part of the experience! You have to take the good with the bad. We don’t want to put limits on what the players can do, because that makes the game less dynamic and less interesting.


Wow. This hardcore PvP player is just killing this guy over and over until the loser logs off in shame and frustration.

New World:

(Shrugs.) Hey, don’t hate the game, hate the player. We just create a set of rules. It’s up to players to decide how they want to engage with those rules.


Like, half of all player names and groups are penis jokes, and most of the rest are weed jokes.

New World:

That’s fine. We don’t want to limit anyone’s self-expression!


I found a companyA collection of players. Most MMOs call this a “guild”. with “Holocaust” as part of their name. They say the only requirement to join is that you “be racist”.

New World:

We’re strongly against that sort of behavior, but look: We can’t be everywhere. We can’t control everything. We can’t monitor every little thing done by every player. You need to accept that when you play online, you’re going to be exposed to some things that you might not like.


Okay. I guess I can see where you’re coming from. I can see you’re pretty hands-off about how players behave.

New World:

Thanks for the understanding. Now go have some fun.


Oh I will. I found a fun way to play. I’ve decided I’m not going to pick a faction at all.

New World:



Yeah. No PvP for me.

New World:



I just want to stay independent.

New World:



Why would you cut me off from PvE content for refusing to engage with the PvP parts of the design?

New World:



Oh come on. You seriously won’t let me craft a better backpack because I won’t pick one of your stupid teams?

New World:



I really don’t want to. What happened to “self expression”?

New World:


Having Fun by Refusing to Play

According to the map, EVERYONE is currently making WAR against EVERYONE ELSE. But not me. I'm just minding my own business, mining iron and cooking food.
According to the map, EVERYONE is currently making WAR against EVERYONE ELSE. But not me. I'm just minding my own business, mining iron and cooking food.

This is a very slow way to play the game. I don’t have a faction, which means I can’t do the auto-generated faction quests that pay the best money and XP. Factions are also the only way you can get a “rune of holding”, which you need in order to make bags to increase your carrying capacity. There’s a quest at level ~10 where your quest goal is to join a faction. That quest is a necessary step in the overall quest chain where the game awards you the tools to fight the corruption. Lots of other quests around town (like doing fetch quests for the bartender) don’t open up until you’ve joined a faction, even though those quests don’t have anything to do with the faction conflicts.

I’ve leveled into my 30s by playing the game the intended way, and I’ve done it again with my faction-less character, and the difference is pretty stark. By level 30, my regular character had thousands in gold. I used the fast-travel system freely and I still had plenty of Azoth.Like I said, Azoth is used for fast-travel AND for crafting magical items. Your Azoth is actually capped at 1,000 for some unexplained reason, and I was often sitting at that cap.

Meanwhile, my no-faction character is flat broke. Azoth comes in very slowly and I generally consume it all with crafting, so I never have any to spare for the fast travel system. So I have to walk everywhere.Actually, once I crafted a full set of gathering tools that yield bonus Azoth, I’m finally bringing in a small surplus. Took a while to get here, though.

The rewards for town project contributions are VERY small. Some give no XP. Even when they do give XP, it's often less than what I'd get for killing ONE same-level mob. Some pay so little they barely cover the wear & tear on your equipment.
The rewards for town project contributions are VERY small. Some give no XP. Even when they do give XP, it's often less than what I'd get for killing ONE same-level mob. Some pay so little they barely cover the wear & tear on your equipment.

My only real source of income and XP is to do the auto-generated jobs on the town mission board. These jobs don’t pay particularly well, but you can make headway if you do enough of them.

The faction-less game is pretty grindy. I spend a lot of time gathering resources and hauling them back to town. (I actually enjoy this process and find it sort of relaxing.) Then I deliver a bunch of resource-gathering jobs to the town board, craft myself a few supplies, and head out again to repeat the process. I enjoy this loop, although it’s monumentally slower to make progress than playing as intended.

Also, death is brutal when you play this way. The game damages your equipment on death. Taking a nonsensical page from Dead Island, you somehow repair your own gear using money. If I were to die now at level ~30, the total repair bill for my gear would be several times what I have available.Worse: My gear is actually getting pretty old. I’m sure the repair bill would be even more ruinous if I was wearing level-appropriate gear. My regular character can YOLO into risky fights because I’ve got lots of spare cash to fix my equipment when I die, but my indie character needs to be extremely conservative to avoid a downward spiral of failure where death leads to broken equipment, which leads to being under-equipped, which leads to more death.

The Virtue of PvP

I forgot to get screenshots of PvP battles. So here is a shot of a bunch of people fighting the corruption. PvP looks just like this, only not as clear and organized.
I forgot to get screenshots of PvP battles. So here is a shot of a bunch of people fighting the corruption. PvP looks just like this, only not as clear and organized.

Way back in 2008 I wrote Game Developers at the Beach, about how developers often design their games with mechanics that reward Player vs. Player behavior, making it an easier and more direct means to progress. The mechanics take the rhetorical position that there is something inherently virtuous or desirable about PvP, and that PvE is somehow an inferior or less valid way to play. I doubt a developer would use those exact words, but this is how the in-game rewards are structured. Fighting other people is more deserving of rewards than overcoming the in-game monsters.Obviously a PLAYER, being a human being, is going to be monumentally more dangerous than a single AI driven monster. But comparing 1 human to 1 monster is apples-to-oranges. It makes more sense to measure progress per unit of time. 10 minutes steamrolling monsters is far less productive than 10 minutes spent fighting humans.

It’s been 13 years, and this attitude doesn’t seem to have changed. Games with both kinds of content rarely treat both as equally valid means of progression. Instead, games seem to be designed so that PvE leads to PvP, even though those are two very different kinds of play and I strongly suspect a lot of players are only interested in one or the other.

PvP fans are often forced to slog through hours of PvE content before they’re finally allowed to engage with the competitive systems. At the same time, there is a push to “cure” those boring PvE nerds of their inexplicable desire for low-stress play and get them to jump into the arena for a little bloodsport with other players. The worst offender I’ve encountered is Black Desert Online, where you have to endure 50 agonizing levels of grinding before you’re allowed to try PvP, but once you hit level 50 you’re forced to be vulnerable to predation by other players. Referring back to the Game Developers at the Beach post, games are still trying to get PvE players to build sandcastles so that the PvP players will have sandcastles to knock down.

Getting Back to New World

Yes, the graphics are pretty or whatever.
Yes, the graphics are pretty or whatever.

I don’t want to make it sound like I’m complaining that New World doesn’t allow for my goofy-ass playstyle. I’m clearly doing stuff the designers never intended and so it’s not surprising that the rewards and progression systems are wonky. I doubt anyone even tested the game under these conditions. I don’t really mind that progress is slow.Although I am curious how deliberate this is. Like I said, I doubt QA spent much time exploring this style of play. I’m just reporting what I’ve found because I think it’s interesting.

(And yes, I know I could join a faction and then just never enable the PvP flag, which would allow me access to a bunch more PvE content without really doing any PvP. But that sort of misses the point of this self-imposed challenge. I really do want to see what sort of limitations or quirks I run into as I level up as a faction-less player.)

I don’t know how long I’ll do this for. I plan to keep at it until it stops being fun.



[1] Either that, or that one meme character from Mass Effect 3.

[2] Influence is a currency used to purchase items from faction leaders. I think the WoW equivalent would be “Honor”.

[3] Although I did see WoW players taking the Horde vs. Alliance conflict more seriously than made sense. Then AGAIN, you literally can’t switch sides in WoW, so fanaticism was reinforced on a mechanical level.

[4] A collection of players. Most MMOs call this a “guild”.

[5] Like I said, Azoth is used for fast-travel AND for crafting magical items.

[6] Actually, once I crafted a full set of gathering tools that yield bonus Azoth, I’m finally bringing in a small surplus. Took a while to get here, though.

[7] Worse: My gear is actually getting pretty old. I’m sure the repair bill would be even more ruinous if I was wearing level-appropriate gear.

[8] Obviously a PLAYER, being a human being, is going to be monumentally more dangerous than a single AI driven monster. But comparing 1 human to 1 monster is apples-to-oranges. It makes more sense to measure progress per unit of time. 10 minutes steamrolling monsters is far less productive than 10 minutes spent fighting humans.

[9] Although I am curious how deliberate this is. Like I said, I doubt QA spent much time exploring this style of play.

From The Archives:

143 thoughts on “New World Disorder

  1. Mersadeon says:

    There’s a WoW player that has done something similar, even had an article written about them. For people that don’t know, apart form having two big factions in WoW, an expansion added Panda-people, who are monks and neutral, and so get to level up a bit before getting to choose which of the two big factions to join. Normally, all races are coded to join one of the two factions.

    Similarly to New World, many ways of progressing through the game are cut off if you refuse to choose a faction in WoW. It’s clearly unintended, but they never truly force you to do it. You have to stay on panda-island and grind, but at some point, monsters do not give you any XP anymore because you’re too high a level, so you have to grind through non-combat means, which give very small amounts of XP.

    1. Mattias42 says:

      I find it weird that being neutral is so seldom a thing in games. Like, not punished, not rewarded, just… ignored.

      Like… sometimes you get games where that’s a point of the story. Like Tyranny. The system there is pretty blatantly forcing you to pick Militery Dicks A, or Roaming Band of Lunatics B…

      Because it’s intentionally set up that way by the literal god tyrant you’re working for. If the minions are busy playing power games among themselves… they can’t murder the tyrant in her sleep, where all that power means zip. And those paranoid mind-games is clearly tearing the entire empire apart slowly, BUT also the only thing that keeps the current arseholes in power, so even they’re stuck. So if you try for neutrality… you get stomped by the people playing those power games for their own survival. A very nasty trap that ensnares all that come to close.

      (FYI, never finished that game, because the story got a bit too grim and real for me.)

      But more often, being neutral is just… freaking’ ignored. Like even in stuff like D&D games, where’s there’s supposed to be THREE takes on neutrality, you often get the feel that the writing is only focused on Lawful Good goody-two-shoes-ing, and kitten eating Chaotic Evil.

      Honestly, at times it feels like game makers have spent writing A or B choices for so many years… they forget that C, D, E even exists. And it’s a dang shame, and waste of potential.

      1. Mersadeon says:

        There are even more paths in Tyranny! I really like that game, even if it’s clearly way shorter than they wanted it to be.

        Here are some fun twists and endings you can have in that game (spoilers, obviously!):

        – You can now actually “win” at being a neutral servant of the overlord. They put this in in a patch because people wanted it so much. Basically you beat the other two factions into submission and submit yourself to the overlord Kyros, who backs off and acknowledges you as a part of their empire. This ending is really interesting considering there are a lot of hints that Kyros is trying to push you to end Kyros’ rule.
        – You can jump ship to the rebels. You can do this super-early or somewhat later, but either way, the rebels understandably don’t trust you at all and are essentially forced by their powerlessness to throw in with you.
        – You can stay a one-person-faction. There is a secret ally that will help you on this path, and it’s not who you would expect. Haven’t done that one yet, so I don’t quite know all the details.
        – You can out-lawyer the lawyer-demigod of Kyros. If you’re just smart enough with your words, you can twist things so that Tunon has to agree with you – and since he is ever bound by his own logic, he will have his forces join your faction!

        1. Zekiel says:

          Argh that first option is somewhat annoying given that this was exactly what I wanted to do in my (pre patch) playthrough, and was annoyed that the game wouldn’t let me.

          And I won’t play the game ever again because the combat is soooo annoying and there is sooooo much of it,

        2. Hal says:

          That sounds really cool, actually.

      2. Chris says:

        It’s easier for the writers to have good/evil. Also a lot of players prefer simply color coded options. In one of the TES retrospectives on this site, someone in the comments described their experience. You played as a young girl on the streets, the choices are morally grey. A player walked around, clicked dialogue, came up to the first difficult choice, froze, and after a few minutes asked the dev which choice was the “good” choice.

        1. Syal says:

          In one of the TES retrospectives on this site

          …no idea what game this is. The Elder Scrolls doesn’t make a lot of sense.

          1. Chad Miller says:

            It was actually Rutskarn himself talking about Unrest playtesting. It came up as an example of why he wasn’t particularly eager to see a morality system show up in a future Elder Scrolls game.

            1. Olivier FAURE says:

              Oh yeah, Unrest is a terrible game to play if you’re expecting a morality sytem.

              “So I have a choice between murdering these guards and stealing my family’s savings, or submitting to an arranged marriage where it’s strongly hinted the husband will immediately cheat on me and/or beat me to death. Which is the Paragon option again?”

      3. Parkhorse says:

        The Shin Megami Tensei franchise is good about neutral as an option, to the point that neutral routes are usually the best routes. They also tend to be the routes that let you kill the most major NPCs (because both Chaos and Law factions will oppose you), and thus get the most content to play through.

        1. Asdasd says:

          Respectfully, I would say that SMT goes a little too far. Neutral is more or less the only good ending in some of those games, with factions on both ends of the law/chaos spectrum requiring the player to endorse and engage in comically evil behaviour (genocide, planet-nuking, human battery farms etc)

      4. Syal says:

        I find it weird that being neutral is so seldom a thing in games. Like, not punished, not rewarded, just… ignored.

        I think gamers are mostly loners, and if you have a “don’t pick a side” option then that’s going to be overwhelmingly more popular than any of the sides, unless it’s mechanically discouraged.

        1. Liessa says:

          IIRC the first Witcher game allowed Geralt to stick to his principles by remaining neutral between the two major NPC factions, and that was a perfectly valid way to play which arguably led to the best outcome in some quests. Not that any decision is ever wholly ‘good’ or ‘bad’ in the Witcher series.

          Also, the Elder Scrolls games generally allow you to avoid joining any factions and just be a wandering adventurer if you want to. However, you’ll miss out on a lot of playable content that way.

          1. methermeneus says:

            Not so much neutral as chaotic, but VtM: Bloodlines had two playable factions (all PvE, of course, since it was a single-player game) and an actual take on what happens if you don’t join either:

            The Camarilla are the worldwide (Europe and the Americas, really, but they’re also fans of colonizing other areas if they can, which is how they took over the Americas, as well as any place conquered by the Roman Empire) top-down organization of local despots who may war on each other, but support each other against all other organizations, and which have definite laws and enforces for making sure they’re followed. (y
            You join them by deposing the current prince of LA and becoming the new more reasonable Prince’s enforcer.

            The Anarchs are kind of a local-democracy/large-scale-anarchy (the political philosophy, not actual complete lack of government) coalition that used to run LA before the Camarilla took over. Their only real rule is don’t make things harder for your fellow vampires, and they collectively enforce the rules if someone screws up. You can support them over the one guy who wants to be the new Prince of LA and make it an Anarch free state again.

            However, you can also choose to take out the Prince on your own without being given the quest by any faction leader. The ending has the Anarchs assuming you meant to help them out (they do value independent initiative, after all) and being shocked when you ignore them and keep going your own way. The result is probably a new war between the Anarchs and Camarilla, but the game ends there, so who really knows?

            The TTRPG is a little more complicated and nuanced, of course: They also have the Sabbat, who are usually seen as bad guys (they aren’t playable in the video game or even in the TTRPG or the LARP until the Revised Edition (don’t know why they didn’t just call it 3E)) and a number of independent clans… And also, the clans aren’t really political entities so much as convenient categories, so you can be a Sabbat member who belongs to a Camarilla clan or vice-versa.

  2. Grimwear says:

    I’m just here to comment that I don’t know how I feel about naming restrictions. Obviously some should not be allowed like say Swear Words but some others just seem odd. I went to make a Monk in Guild Wars and wanted to name her Jewel Fargol. It wasn’t allowed. It to me forever to realize that just having J-E-W in the name blacklisted it. Well fine I named her something else, logged in and immediately come upon a character named Sock Cucking Mule. So my lore appropriate name is a no no but this vacuum weiner is allowed no problem. Frustrating. Granted you can report in game names but the game is so old now there’s no one to even see the reports.

    I guess the point is automated systems suck.

    1. Dreadjaws says:

      Guild Wars is still around? I haven’t touched that game in ages.

      1. Canthros says:

        Guild-Wars-the-first is basically on autopilot. For years now, it’s been in a state where balance changes are automated, with little or no actual human intervention required. There were a couple guys at ArenaNET doing *some* maintenance work a few years back, but even that seemed like labor of love/voluntary stuff. And I’m not sure if they’re still with the company, now.

    2. Chris says:

      Korean gacha games are horrid for this. They just import some blacklist of swearwords. Assassin? ******in, string warrior? ***** warrior. Worst part is that once in a while they put in a new blacklist of some foreign language, so parts of innocent words get censored. Everything to keep the age rating low so minors can access the gacha gambling halls.

      1. Parkhorse says:

        Pokemon is pretty bad for this, having its censor list be international. The funny part is that several Pokemon cannot be traded online without being given custom nicknames, because their names trigger the censor list. Some like Nosepass or Cofagrigus are fairly obvious, but Bulbasaur, Croconaw, etc. are less so, because they’re non-English swears.

    3. Eric Howes says:

      First time I remember running into this was Dark Souls II. I kept seeing a bunch of people with variations on “K***ht Artorias”. Took me forever to realize that the automated system was censoring “Knight” while being totally okay with things like “FxUxCxKxBxOxIx69”.

    4. Exasperation says:

      The problem you ran into is known as “the Scunthorpe Problem”, after a town in England (and a 1996 incident where nobody in the town could get AOL because their account applications were blocked by the profanity filter). It’s been causing problems for decades now, with no signs of stopping. My favorite example was when Putin got mad at Twitter and had their services blocked in Russia. This included their URL-shortening service,, and as a result all of Russia temporarily lost access to all websites with in the URL, including and Russian state-sponsored news site

      1. Lino says:

        Hmmm, and here I was thinking “the Scunthorpe Problem” was something we’d already solved

      2. Jason says:

        I had a friend who lived on Chardonnay Way who couldn’t register his address with AOL.

    5. Marc Forrester says:

      The grown up solution is to let each player (or their parents) set up (or download) personal filters to suit their own tastes and cultural rules, but as you say this conflicts with the business needs of being PG12 in order to prey on the most vulnerable shoppers.

  3. Ophelia says:

    I’m pretty impressed that nobody seems to have developed a solution for PvP faction warfare always being a nightmare mess of border gore and one faction being the punching bag that never wins while the two other dominant factions get to have a tug of war basically entirely influenced by pure player numbers. There has to be some way to do it, but I don’t know how extreme it needs to go. Like faction-locking on a character basis is a bit flimsy, people can make new characters and it might be worth it to start over for some if they TRULY want to just follow the winning side. Hardcaps on population in factions? Like if Blue Team is just overwhelming in terms of population size, then nobody else can join Blue until Green and Yellow come back to an approximate equillibrium? Or possibly some sort of Underdog buff proportional to your handicap? If Yellow has half the population, then each individual is buffed both combat-wise and economically to be twice as powerful? I have no idea how to broach this problem.

    1. Awetugiw says:

      How about: give rewards primarily for taking territory, with moderate rewards for fending off an attack and very little for actually controlling an area. Then make attacking relatively easy compared to defending, by allowing a relatively brief period of local superiority to suffice. Give areas a moderately large time of being immune to attack after having been taken over.

      On average, the weak faction will still control very little territory. But that doesn’t matter, as long as you and a few buddies can somewhat reliably take an area for a short while.

      1. Awetugiw says:

        To add some detail: suppose that the method for taking control of a region is to assassinate some of the faction officials in the area. You don’t need to kill all of them, once you get a few the rest will panic and retreat to a safer area. Each official has some bodyguards, which will delay (but usually not prevent) assassinations, giving defenders some time to intervene.

        The number of targets and bodyguards can be used to balance things. For example, you can increase the number of targets if there are more defending players in the area. Or, if you want to make it hard to hold the same area for a long time, you can slowly increase the number of targets and decrease the number and power of guards over time (they get complacent).

      2. Gethsemani says:

        The problem with incentivizing attacks over defense is that you’ll soon see weird player behavior, like factions deliberately losing land to score the rewards for taking it back and no players going to defend territory because they real rewards are in attacking in some other place.

        In a game like New World I’d probably go for a system where capturing territory means you need to rebuild it to get access to quest givers, NPC merchants, defenses etc., with a scaling cost for each territory beyond the first. That way the entire faction needs to consider whether it is worth investing in the frontier areas or if they should just leave it a hollow husk for another faction to easily nab. It would slow the mighty factions since they’d need ever more resources to actually see benefits from new territory and the weaker factions could easily grab a territory or two and build it up without too much investment.

        Add scaling rewards for taking and defending areas with lots of investment and you’ve actually got some sort of strategic meta going in that you can either aim for the weak areas but get low rewards or try to get a lot of people together to try and deal a serious blow to the enemy and get huge rewards. It is also a system that would incentivize defense of key areas, because no one wants to lose all those high level merchants and quest givers.

      3. stratigo says:

        This is actually already true.

        So, there’s roughly 2 areas (Windsward and EC) in the game that are worth controlling in New world (at least so far. Once most of the population gets to level 60, one of the 60 zones might become THE region to be). They make a TON of money.

        Almost everywhere else? A net drain on the company’s money. You pay scaling taxes (scaling based off the upgrades you have) to hold a territory. It makes money only through player action. Most players do most of their crafting and trading in a handful of areas, these areas make bank, everywhere else is terrible to control

    2. Chris says:

      There was a wargame that had 3 factions. Each had a base in a corner and you had to return to base between each battle. So the more territory you got, the further the frontlines were, and the longer it took to recover between battles. Meanwhile getting and holding territory didnt matter that much.

      1. Ronan says:

        This could be a good solution. Make a game without any kind of fast travel, and require players to return home regularly if they don’t want to lose whatever rewards they gained in battle.

    3. Part of it comes down to “What is the point of this whole system?”

      In a MOBA, one side is supposed to win, and then the game ends. The game lasts 30-60 minutes, and players are locked into their team from the beginning.

      In an MMO, you have a world that’s static at its core, but then you’re trying to simulate a model of warfare where the point is for one side to conquer the other. Since the world must have permanence, one side’s victories can’t, since that would mean that the game can’t be played anymore. Long-term strategy can never be viable, because if an advantage becomes too big and too permanent the game ends.

      So unless you’re going to reset the server whenever one side wins (which could be an interesting experiment- we have games that last for 60 minutes and games that last forever- what about a game that lasts for a month?) your only real choice is to make the PvP more limited in scope. You can continually reset your battlegrounds to force players to fight over them again and you can put in rubber-banding mechanics to help balance the sides, but the result is going to be like WoW, where the PvP is transparently ‘sporty’ rather than an organic open-world war between two factions.

      One interesting idea might be to have a game where the two sides are competing over a procedural generated world where each faction’s home base in some separate dimension, and once each world is conquered they move on to a new one. The old one sticks around for a while, but the resources there are slowly diminished, until it basically just becomes empty land for player housing or something. You could even balance it by having, say, four factions, and having one faction compete for multiple worlds at once if it gets too big. Put in some mechanics that slow down the maximum speed of conquering the world (like having to harvest resources there and build bases with them) and tune them so that each battle over a world lasts 3-6 months.

      1. Bubble181 says:

        There’s been plenty of games lasting for something like a month with automated resets. A LOT of the odler text based MMOs (mostly strateegy) tend to that type of time lines. A lot of Facebook “strategy” games also go in that direction. Think Imperial Conflict, Age of Conflict, Forge of Empires IIRC. Diablo 3 also does, to an extent – seasonal play is one of the core features and resets very 3 months (more or less).
        In IC, it was quite possible to become an absolutely dominant faction, with near the end of a season usually only 10-15 clans/guilds/families (I honestly don’t remember what they were called, it’s been close on 10 years since I’ve played) per server being still in the power game with dozens if not hundreds of planets each. Getting in the top 10 for a server at the end of season was an accomplishment, gave you some bragging rights and some cosmetic stuff for the forums.
        Of course, this is less conductive to a P2W or P2P model – why pay (too much) for resources in a game that’ll reset in a few months?

        1. Thomas says:

          A lot of the recent survival games do this. It seems like an effective solution to me, allowing the conflict to feel real but not letting it get stale.

          Otherwise it’s essentially an impossible question. For massively multiplayer PvP conflict to feel meaningful it has to have long-term consequences. To stop it from being unbalanced you have to remove long-term consequences.

          A GDC talk said some game design problems are essentially impossible, and people keep trying to solve them, but the only answer is to compromise one of your pillars.

          EVE manages something close by just being so large and fluid it’s hard to keep everyone in one faction for long. And even then you get long periods of boring stalemate with a few mega alliances.

    4. Fizban says:

      I’m fairly certain it’s because they simply don’t want to, because they know it will offend their core audience. If you actually made the game systems push back against one faction getting to dominate, the people that want to dominate the world with their mad PvP skills wouldn’t be able to dominate, and would stop playing your totally rigged game. The two-faction system either results in one faction winning (until enough of them get bored and leave maybe), or the two parties viewing each other as the main obstacle to their winning- and thus that they can eventually win, if they fight harder and longer. If the game is rigged so that no one can take over everything and the third faction is always a contender, what’s even the point?

      It’s the same reason people hate auto-balance in TF2 and other shooters. They want the game to be non-self-correcting, because they think (or flat-out know) they can get (or join) the biggest team of the strongest players and that will let them win, and winning is what they actually care about (consciously or not).

      *I* might hail the autobalance, gladly accepting when it yanks me off the winning team as a suitable price and new challenge to meet in exchange for the times when it bails my team out, all in the name of a play experience where you win *some* and lose *some*. Because a game where there’s humans on both sides should never have you win-or lose!, more than a smidge over 50% of the time, and in a large enough team game you can still be satisfied that you played to your best and succeeded at your part even if your team overall failed.

      But I’m not a “PvP player.”

    5. Local password resetter says:

      Another idea is to take a page from real life factions and aimulate internal conflict. So instead of locking people into a nebulous superfaction, let them form their own minifactions within a larger one.
      And then give people/guilds the option to switch sides to another superfaction, or start their own, or to simply pass on fewer resources to the larger faction. Eve already does this to an extent.

  4. John says:

    I’m never been an MMO guy, but when I was in college, back during the early days of the internet, I played a MUD or two. PVP was possible in the MUDs I played–the game didn’t much care whether the stat-block you were stabbing belonged to a mob or another player–but it was not the focus. We were there for the PVE. There probably were some PVP-focused MUDs, but my impression is that they were rare and also not faction-oriented.

    Given all that, it strikes me as funny that faction-oriented PVP is so common in MMORPGs today. I assume that this is due, as with so many things, to the influence of World of Warcraft. It also strikes me as funny that World of Warcraft’s faction-oriented PVP is most likely an accidental byproduct of its setting. Ultima Online had PVP, but it was, as far as I know, almost entirely griefing-oriented. The setting didn’t come with pre-baked factions and so it did not occur to the designers to add a faction component to PVP. But in World of Warcraft of course the Alliance and the Horde are going to fight. They fought in Warcraft, Warcraft II, and Warcraft III. They’re not going to stop just because World of Warcraft is in a different genre.

    1. Chad+Miller says:

      They fought in Warcraft, Warcraft II, and Warcraft III. They’re not going to stop just because World of Warcraft is in a different genre.

      The irony though is that War III in general and the ending in particular actually set them up for the Horde vs. Alliance factionalism to die down or at least turn into something more multipolar. The “Horde and Alliance don’t understand each other’s languages” thing especially clashed with the lore; setting aside that this meant Pandaren players forgot their native language after the tutorial, you had Undead not being able to speak the language they spoke when they were alive, or Blood Elves no longer being able to communicate with Humans despite having been in the same army right up until War III’s expansion.

      1. MelTorefas says:

        Absolutely this. Warcraft III explicitly established peace between the Horde and one of the main branches of the Alliance. WoW basically had to more or less ignore that straight up. As each new expansion introduced threats, the threats obviously needed to threaten both factions. Which incentivized the factions to TEAM UP to defeat their common enemy; in the first expansion, Burning Crusade, the start of the starting zone of the expansion is literally a united task force of Alliance and Horde soldiers defending the Dark Portal from the Burning Legion. Blizzard had to twist the characters into knots in order to keep the “Alliance vs. Horde” war going despite almost every single expansion forcing the factions to work together. It’s completely asinine, and the game would have been a lot better if they had just dropped it (or better yet never started it in the first place).

        Everquest had a much better system. The were a bunch of different factions, usually at least one per major city/culture. Your starting race, class, and religion determined your starting standing with the various factions, and you could gain or lose reputation with almost any faction by killing their enemies/them, doing repeatable turn-ins, etc. And no matter what your faction standings were, you could communicate and group with any other player.

        For PvP, there were several different servers each with a different ruleset; one divided the playerbase by religion/”good vs. evil”, another simply used the base game’s faction standings but made the players enemies if their starting factions were enemies, etc. It was honestly pretty cool and overall made for a much more diverse game.

      2. John says:

        I haven’t played anything set set in the Warcraft universe since the Beyond the Dark Portal expansion for Warcraft II, so take this with a grain of salt, but I have never been given any reason to believe that Warcraft’s lore, such as it is, has ever been even slightly relevant to the gameplay. There are orcs and then there are humans. They fight. Yeah, there are a bunch of proper nouns in the mission briefings, but they don’t matter. I played–and beat!–both Warcraft II campaigns without ever knowing or caring what a Lordaeron was. Given what I hear about World of Warcraft players ignoring the quest text, it seems little has changed.

        Actually, come to think of it, didn’t the human campaign of Warcraft II end with the humans driving the orcs back through the portal from whence they came? And wasn’t the Beyond the Dark Portal expansion about the humans pursuing the orcs through the portal to make extra-double sure that the orcs never bothered them again? How did we even get a Warcraft III or a World of Warcraft if that’s the case?

        1. Chad Miller says:

          That makes a lot of sense because I don’t think you’re wrong about the first two games at all; WoW’s inconsistencies with Warcraft mostly come from un-undoing things that War3 had previously undone.

          The very broad strokes version is: according to War3, the reason most of the orcs were evil is because of a blood pact with a demon, which in turn is part of the Burning Legion, a greater collection of demons taking over various worlds. The Orcs were basically their pawns, and the playable orcs in III are a newer goodguy faction taking no part in the demon plot that was secretly behind the first two games. Most of these orcs are in internment camps as the humans did rout them in the last game but stopped just short of complete genocide.

          Meanwhile the undead faction is coming to prominence in the human kingdom as they’re the next demon plot after the failure of the orcs and as a result the primary enemy faction of the game. Meanwhile there’s a shapeshifting prophet involved who knows where the demon invasion will start and spends the entire game trying to rally sympathetic members of each faction to stop said invasion. That last part is really what rankles about the Alliance/Horde conflict; said multifaction alliance ended up with all the heroes from the previous game and so from a certain point of view you could see said faction war as an explicit mandate that the player repeat the mistakes that Thrall and Jaina specifically overcame.

          1. aradinfinity says:

            I’ll add on here that the first game was actually meant to be a Warhammer fangame, but they couldn’t get the license. The lore really didn’t matter at that point.

        2. Warcraft 3 was much more story-focused than Warcraft 1/2. It even had a quasi-RPG element to it, where major characters were in-game “hero” units which were supposed to be the centerpieces for your army. You could even get magic items for them, level them up, etc.

          WoW has a ton of story, and at this point it uses a lot of cinematics (in game and out of game) to tell it. It’s always been a bit pants-on-head though, and Blizzard has an annoying tendency to produce new story content by introducing massive retcons and throwing in more factions/cosmology/giant unstoppable evils/etc. There are at least four different versions of what happened during the original Warcraft at this point, and I’m sure more have been added since I last stopped paying attention.

          1. Mr. Wolf says:

            “There are at least four different versions of what happened during the original Warcraft at this point”

            Yep. When they declared that their oh-so-wonderful film was to be “the official version of what happened in the first war”, I felt like Darth Vader. I played the first game, I was there, I saw what happened, don’t try to bullshit me with your undersized heads and oversized pauldrons.

            1. John says:

              Any truly authentic Warcraft I movie would have to be about seventy five percent wood-chopping and gold-mining.

      3. Fizban says:

        This was one of the reasons I was never interested in WoW- the entire continuation of the conflict is stupid. Warcraft 3 and the expansion were all about how they needed to stop fighting because no shit, there’s demons and undead out there and killing each other benefits no one. But instead, IIRC, they have a bunch of assholes deliberately sabotage diplomatic relations in essentially the prelude to WoW, so they can bring back the endless human/orc war.

        So Warcraft 3 had a great story that made me interested in the world, and your idea of “World” of Warcraft is to shit all over that story, to specifically perpetuate literally the one most important takeaway it had? I’d forgotten ’cause I hadn’t thought about it in so long, but yeah, eff that.

        Hell, you wanna talk unintended social conditioning- gotta wonder how many people subconsciously internalized that no war can ever ever ever actually end from that.

        1. Lino says:

          Yup, when they released WoW back 2004, initially I was excited. But once I saw what they had done to the story, I immediately tuned out. They treated it like the last two games had never happened! But it turned out that I was definitely in the minority on that one. No one else seems to care about consistency with the central pillar of the last game’s plot :/

          1. Zekiel says:

            I was pissed when WoW was announced for precisely the same reason.

            Then I was pissed because it was so successful that we never got Warcraft IV!

            1. Hal says:

              I really wanted a single-player Warcraft RPG. (Ignore the critics who would say that WoW basically gives you that.)

              That will never, ever happen as long as WoW continues to make $Ludicrous every year.

    2. Chris says:

      In the end of WC3ROC the night elves, humans and orcs team up to take down the demons. In WC3TFT the humans in kalimdor allow the orcs to kill jainas father. Theramore not being aligned with the orcs of orgrimmar is just silly. Also are many other alliances. WOW also has plenty of moments where the alliance and horde work together, only to then break apart because of plot contrivances.

  5. Lino says:



    Should be “SOURCES”

    Factions are also the only way to can get

    Should be “you”.

    desire for low-stress play and and get them to

    Extra “and”.

    1. Canthros says:

      Also, two hypothetical Doom factions are presented, but the text mentions a choice of three.

    2. ShasUi says:

      “- work out to be three equally viable routes” only two routes in example

  6. Joshua says:

    Games with both kinds of content rarely treat both as equally valid means of progression. Instead, games seem to be designed so that PvE leads to PvP, even though those are two very different kinds of play and I strongly suspect a lot of players are only interested in one or the other.

    Technically, that’s the same for LOTRO too. Although you have to go to a specific PvP zone that provides little value to PvE players. Of course, you also have complainers about how there’s not enough PvP going on, and occasionally even people who try to push for WoW-style PvP to let them out of the zone to go wherever they want (which will inevitably mean just going to low-level areas to gank newbies).

    1. ShasUi says:

      Looking outside the genre, this often happens with MOBAs or FPS’s, where they’ll have a PvE mode that is “intended” as a tutorial for PvP rather than something suitable for longer-term play itself; no difficulty options, very simple/predictable AI. In some cases, this will exist alongside a PvE mode actually made for “normal” use, usually a wave/horde mode, such as TF2’s MvM.

      1. Fizban says:

        Man vs Machine was so good. It just had that teensy little problem of requiring a well-oiled 6-person team when even getting 3 together before anyone had jobs was barely reliable.

  7. Borer says:

    The Babylon 5 fan in me is pleased to hear that New World PVP seems to have turned into green vs purple.

  8. trevalyan says:

    Shamus, Shamus. You ignorant pleb. Feedback loops that cause the winner to dominate and the loser to give up entirely are not only expected, but they serve as a lesson for real life. And for the winners, they’re quite fun! Okay, time for my scheduled bathroom break!

    Amazon PR

  9. Dreadjaws says:

    I despise PVP in MMOs. To me the entire attractive of the game is having the kind of massive world to explore that a single player game couldn’t possibly hold while ocassionally, if I need help or just feel like it (preferably the latter) I could team up with others to engage into more challenging content.

    But fighting against other players? When I know for a fact that most of them are going to have much more free time than me to learn everything about the game long before I get around to do the starter missions? That’s the opposite of fun for me. Perhaps when I was younger and had more free time I would have found this sort of thing more fun or interesting but these days I only find them frustrating.

    So yeah, when a game tries to force me into it, I’m not happy. Champions Online had these PVP quests in Halloween (which are likely running now, but these days I certainly don’t have the time to engage in the game) that weren’t necessary to complete, but gave you event currency as reward and were one of the fastests ways to get it (at least in the first couple of weeks of the monthly event). Now here’s the thing: no one was really interested in them for the PVP, just for the rewards. So there was a mutual understanding between all players that we’d engage in these fights just enough to get the rewards and we’d move on. No wasting time dragging the fights, we’d all get in, beat each other up, change sides, beat each other up again and we’d be gone. It’s because of this way to play that I joined those quests, because otherwise I would never bothered.

    Speaking of Champions, while joining a guild wasn’t necessary to access any missions, the game gave you a perk for doing it in the shape of an extra costume slot for your character, so people tend to join one just for the slot and then leave, since the slot stays with you. How are things in New World? Can’t you just joing a faction just to unlock all the extra content and then immediately leave or are you forced to stay in one to maintain access?

    1. J Greely says:

      I lost all interest in PvP in the early days of Ultima Online. There is a substantial audience that simply doesn’t want fair, balanced competition; for them, fun is a zero-sum game where they have more by making you have less.


    2. Joshua says:

      Problem for me is also that RPGs is with leveling mechanics seem to encourage only the bad parts of PvP (griefing) while not playing as strongly to the benefits (a fair playing field where your opponent is actually smart).

    3. houser2112 says:

      “How are things in New World? Can’t you just joing a faction just to unlock all the extra content and then immediately leave or are you forced to stay in one to maintain access?”

      Once you join, I don’t think you can become neutral again, although I believe there is a way to switch. I feel like you do about PVP, and to me your choice of faction is relatively meaningless if you want it to be. Fast travel is more expensive across faction borders, and being able to pull items from your stash in another town is problematic if that stash is in another faction’s territory (I belong to team purple, I was in Windsward (a purple city), and trying to get items out of my stash in Cutlass Keys (a yellow city), and it was disallowed. I’m not sure if that was because the other stash was in a city that didn’t match the current city, or because it didn’t match mine, but I do know that the times I’ve tried it where me, the current city, and the other city are all the same, it works, at a price).

      There are probably more things than this that take your faction into account, but I haven’t noticed. If you’re doing neither the quests nor PVP (which staying factionless locks you out of), then I think the whole game is pointless, other than trying to figure out what the game’s experience is like when you do this, I suppose. :)

  10. Ninety-Three says:

    The mechanics take the rhetorical position that there is something inherently virtuous or desirable about PvP, and that PvE is somehow an inferior or less valid way to play.

    If there aren’t very many people doing PvP on a given day then the people who do want to do PvP will find either a barren world lacking opponents or spend a long time waiting for the arena queue to find enough players. On the other hand, if there aren’t very many people doing PvE all that happens is that the bartender doesn’t get ten bear asses delivered to him. It’s like how most non-MMO PvP games are reluctant to give players 47 different game modes, because if they did the population would disperse between them and each mode would take forever to find enough players to start a match. The rewards are tuned the way they are because attracting Bob to PvP entertains both Bob and opposing player Joe, while attracting Bob to PvE entertains only Bob.

    I think your old article has the right framing: it’s not that PvP is more virtuous, it’s that the devs literally want to get the sandcastle builders into PvP where their existence produces content for the dedicated PvPers.

    1. I think it has more to do with the cost of creating single-player content.

      PvP, for the most part, just keeps players (the ones who like it, at least) engaged longer. Players will play the same handful of multiplayer CoD maps for years because playing against other people is a more inherently dynamic experience. PvE players burn through all of your content in a month and start complaining about having nothing to do. You can keep some of them occupied a little longer with “hard mode” dungeons, but they’re overall much harder to keep satisfied.

      The idea of getting your PvE players into PvP becomes very tempting as a way to keep them playing between expansions. It’s the same reason why EA went through a “Every AAA game has to have multiplayer” phase. Even if you’re not charging monthly fees, you still want people playing longer so that you can sell cosmetics/DLC/etc.

      1. Kylroy says:

        Exactly. PvE content has a strictly limited shelf life – players are eventually going to get sick of seeing the exact same gameplay, no matter how well made. (Part of FF14s brilliance is how it has managed to recycle it’s PvE content so effectively.)

        PvP, on the other hand, because it involves the variable input of other humans as content, can last much longer before it becomes predictable and stale.

        This is why designers are constantly trying to shove PvErs into PvP – PvP turns *players themselves* into content, whereas PvE is just a never-full maw the designers have to keep feeding.

  11. Matt says:

    Those factions seem positively toothless. I remember when I first heard about this game, I thought it was somewhat bold to make a game with an Age of Sail setting in the current year, what with its themes of colonization, slavery, and forced religious conversion. I suppose I should have expected they would end up being watered down and bland, but this seems to go so far that it would be offensive.

    1. Liessa says:

      If you want a game with a similar setting that actually tackles those themes in detail, try GreedFall. It’s the closest thing I’ve seen in recent years to an old-style BioWare RPG.

      1. Zekiel says:

        Or indeed Pillars of Eternity 2 Deadfire, which also tackles these colonialism in detail. (And the first one tackles forced conversion iirc)

      2. Olivier FAURE says:

        Counterpoin: Greedfall’s storytelling past the intro is terrible.

        There’s almost no moral dilemmas, most situations have a clear good guy and bad guy, you never have to male choices between two factions, and picking the morally superior option never has any negative consequences.

        When I saw the pitch for Greedfall, I thought you’d be put in situations like “I really don’t want to help faction X because they’re doing slavery, but I need their help against faction Y, but companion Z is going to be mad if I ally with them because faction X enslaved her parents”. Instead it’s just a grindfest.

        1. Liessa says:

          There’s almost no moral dilemmas, most situations have a clear good guy and bad guy, you never have to male choices between two factions, and picking the morally superior option never has any negative consequences.

          So… an old-style BioWare RPG, basically. :P This doesn’t actually bother me in the slightest; I’m fed up of games where all your ‘choices’ are between people who are equally loathsome and terrible, and whatever you do will just end up making things worse. I’m not saying there’s no room for that sort of storytelling in video games, but for me personally, at some point I just stop caring and switch off the game.

        2. stratigo says:

          “It isn’t realistic unless picking the morally superior choice makes you suffer” Is a bad take. It’s a take rooted in christian martyr theology. A better choice doesn’t mean you have to suffer for it. Suffering doesn’t make a choice better by the cleansing virtue of suffering.

          Greedfall is, roughly, a game about environmentalism and global resource exploitation (or ‘modern’ colinialism if you want to go that far). People over harvest magic maguffin, the world starts dying, they go to new place to harvest magic maguffin there and slowly corrupts it. It’s a not so subtle metaphor for global warming. And, well, despite what people who are against doing anything about climate change will tell you, there is not actually much sacrifice you need to make to change it. Unless you’re a fossil fuel exec. There is nothing you do as an individual that actually makes a meaningful difference, and no changes that would require you to change your lifestyle.

    2. Dalisclock says:

      IIRC, earlier there was going to be the theme of Europeans colonizing and subjectgating the natives and then Amazon realizing that might come across as “Controversial” so they reworked it a lot.

      Kinda like how Ubisoft makes games about the French Revolution and Victorian London and somehow figures out to how avoid talking about stuff like Colonialism, Capitalism, Imperialism, Slavery, Communism because the internet might get mad at them for even bringing it up.

      So it’s back to “Templars Vs. Assassins” playing yet another round of Spy vs. Spy in a different setting.

      1. Liessa says:

        From what little we’ve seen of Ubisoft’s attempts to tackle Big Social Issues in their games, I’m very glad they don’t try to do it more often. There may well be a developer that could handle those themes in a mature, realistic and non-cringeworthy way, while telling a story about magical apples and millennia-old secret societies battling to control the world. Ubisoft is not that developer.

    3. Sartharina says:

      I’m really glad they didn’t go that way. New World is supposed to be a game where colonization and conquest are fun,, with a focus on the very out-of-character player-driven factions and their antics. Expecting a serious, probably-sanctimonious look into slavery and colonialism in the game is like expecting a Patriots vs Raiders football game to focus on the themes of the challenges of a newly-liberated nation-state that had just thrown off the authority of an empire dealing with freeloaders on the ocean that do and take as they will in defiance of any nation’s authority.

      1. Chris P says:

        I think the only way it could be done well would be with willingness to fully engage the topic and to allow the player a chance to have a nuanced experience with it. It is possible to make an enjoyable game about conquest in the same manner that my dark side playthroughs in SWTOR/KOTOR or renegade Shepard runs or evil Dragon Age playthroughs were fun: the game not only didn’t punish me for acting evil. It rewarded me with interesting story options.

        Conquering and exerting one’s will are very compelling experiences in games, though we’re expected to pretend that it is not so. Those playthroughs offered me experiences that I’ve never had in real life. I had insights into my self. Bioware evil playthroughs were where I developed and embraced the notion that a person’s thoughts matter less than how they choose to act, and from there the notion that a person does not have to be defined by their thoughts but can, instead, evolve their philosophy in an attempt to be better. From there, a willingness to be a much more forgiving and less judgmental person. Paradoxically, evil playthroughs made me a better person by allowing me to engage with the topic in a way that media and school tend to be much too afraid to allow. If those games did not exist, and if I pretended that I did not have dark desires, I’d be a less forgiving, less confident, and more aggressive person than I am.

        Unfortunately you are probably correct that IF a company were to engage with colonialism that they would scuff it in fear of social or political retribution. Any attempt to make it enjoyable would be met with such a social outcry that the people involved would probably be deplatformed/cancelled, and so in the crafting it must either become a clumsy allegory like Greedfall or a fantasy New World that doesn’t earnestly engage with the topic.

  12. Abnaxis says:

    I always thought the way Guild Wars 2 does PvP worked really well, and I’m always surprised when companies don’t do it that way.

    1. Alectai says:

      Look, gonna be real with you.

      GW2’s WvWvW is a great idea, but as with most games, it tends to devolve into “Two more populated factions dominate and the third gets reduced to spoiler at best”.

      In theory, a well coordinated force should be able to overcome a numerical disadvantage to achieve some limited victories and carve out their own niche. In practice, the very fact that good play provides only a modest advantage–that isn’t actually enough to overcome all but the most razor-thin numerical difference because the margin for error is set so much higher in MMO land and any strategy that can overcome great odds is rapidly reported and treated as a bug–or if it’s not, it gets copied by the other parties and the previous status-quo is reasserted.

      Real conflict isn’t balanced, MMOs have to be or they can’t do business. Hence, you get the current situation where in any open world PvP setup, the side with fewer people always is the suppressed party who don’t get to have fun. Two-Axis can maintain at least the illusion of equilibrium for a time, but even then, once the balance shifts too decisively towards one faction or another, the other one has to simply opt out or accept getting suppressed.

      1. Abnaxis says:

        I wasn’t so much talking about “creating a balanced map” so much as “creating a PvP system where the people who want to play PvP don’t have to grind and the people who play PvE don’t have to be arsed about it.” Like, I don’t know why every game doesn’t auto- level all the PvP players to max, let them join PvP immediately after charade creation and auto-level their gear to match, then keep the PvP in its own zone outside of PvE.

        It’s like “wait, you grind for PvP? Why? Haven’t we solved this already? “

  13. Stone Ocean says:

    I’ve never been interested in PVP or factions. I was that person who would dick around in New Vegas doing enough quests for each quest line until they became mutually exclusive and then would immediately back off. I find Red vs Blue or Nords vs Imperials really limiting. I want to be a vacuum, slowly sucking up all the XP and quest rewards until such time as I get bored and start over.

  14. Sabrdance says:

    My no doubt nostalgia gauzed memory is that Star Wars Galaxies allowed for neutral play, and also made it quite possible to do exciting cooperative PvE as part of a faction (without needing to go PvP). Alas, I also remember things like the commando raids slowly going away over time -but there was a period of time where I quite enjoyed being a space grain farmer on Tatooine.

    In regards to New World -I have heard rumors that early versions of the game leaned into the conquistador/colonial theme -and then they decided this was a bad idea and removed it. I wonder if the three factions might have made more sense in an older design. I could easily see the three factions being:
    1.) Marauders encourage button-mashy direct combat
    2.) Syndicate uses technology or extracted resources to produce really hard hitting weapons.
    3.) Covenant converts the NPC population and can use them to fight back against the others, using numbers to overcome their other disadvantages.

    No idea -but I’d be curious to know how the developers actually thought the three way fighting would work. (Or if they were just cosmetic why they thought these descriptions mattered any more than just giving national descriptions -this is fantasy Spain, this is fantasy France, this is fantasy England, or whatever.)

  15. RamblePak64 says:

    Funny thing is, I think the way you’re playing works as a barebones evaluation for a PvE focused neutral faction. Basically, a faction that specializes in crafting and selling products to the warring factions to profit and fund further expeditions into the world to mine for resources and craft new and better items to then sell to the warring factions and so on and so forth. So rather than being a warring faction, you’re taking advantage, and all the combat content can be dedicated to clearing out zones of monsters or whatnot to enable the crafting.

    Granted, I’ve no clue if this could work with the setting material, and who knows if people would take umbrage with a clan of war profiteers. Nonetheless, seems like a simple solution.

    But I also feel you on the “funneling everyone into PvP” front. Destiny 2 is in a slightly different spot now, I think, but for the longest time it felt like every major update was all about the PvP loot you could win and how many PvP events were coming in which you could skyrocket your light level and yatta yatta, and I just wanted good, challenging PvE content again that didn’t require me to grind the same easy strikes I’d already been doing. The original Destiny had a better balance of playing the regular content, leveling up, and then tackling harder difficulties and eventually Nightfall, but Destiny 2 seems like they began to lean harder into insanity to the point where you were either playing super easy content or struggling to finish the harder content in the hopes of getting maybe a drop that would boost your light level by one. Now PvP is effectively broken by the new Stasis powers they threw in, Gambit went from best mode (according to the players I guess) to garbage somehow, and the story seems to be all about subtley suggesting who is banging who because fans found a lore piece about Shax and Mara getting intimate after a reciting of The Tempest from memory exploded among the community. It’s just so… bleh right now.

    It makes me wonder if there’s just so much emphasis on not only certain playstyles, but manipulative efforts of audience retention that the very basics of good game design aren’t even tossed out the window, they’re just left in a corner gathering dust, forgotten, with more and more stacks of paper and notebooks being piled on until no one even knows where they went.

  16. King Marth says:

    Warframe has the direct opposite – the game is near-exclusively PvE, with a small PvP mode that is desolate and exclusively populated by the small handful of people who instakill each other (isolated off from anyone just joining the mode, which then means that anyone joining the mode has to wait a long time to get matched). There’s a lot of grumbling whenever a PvP-only reward is added, even though they’re all cosmetic. Every so often there’s a PvP event, but that gets an isolated category of its own which flattens stats and rewards mostly based on participation rather than victory, so everyone plays that for a little and it’s actually reasonably fun (last one was a snowball fight, reskinning throwing knives as snowballs). There’s also a PvP lacrosse game.

    For a while, there was a PvP system where a clan could build a Solar Rail and take ownership of the Dark Sector node in a given system, which is a mission with a ~20% boost in rewards compared to others; with ownership, you can charge a tax on all rewards in that node. When the system is contested by another clan’s Solar Rail, each clan can post battle pay (charged from the clan’s cash bank) which pays out to players who join their side, with all fights going into 4v4 instances; if the attacker wins enough battles before time runs out, then the attacker assumes ownership. These battles started as PvE with AI defenders, switched to PvP asymmetric for a while, and then the entire system was retired. The system was dominated by a group of trolls which charged high tax on everything, and used shell clans to attack themselves to ensure that they’d maintain ownership (since there was only one attacker allowed at a time); there were occasional clans that fought back, and then the trolls would attack and post ridiculously high battle pay with only enough backing to pay the first person to play, relying on netting a bunch of attackers before the first one won the mission and depleted the prize. The devs basically gave up on trying to make it fun at that point.

    There’s a couple of Warframes and a bunch of weapons locked behind Clan access, which the Clan needs to research to unlock. Research costs scale with max player count, so it’s a fairly common personal (and attainable) goal to fund everything solo, though it’s also trivial to jump into an existing clan, copy everything, and leave. Improved consumable blueprints are also Clan research, though you can get even better consumable blueprints from the Syndicates, which are your standard factions (with ally-enemy setup, so getting credit with one drains your credit with their enemy, so you can basically only maintain half the syndicates and it’s costly to switch sides). There’s still so much content in the game that you could play for quite a while without taking any sort of side, and not sabotage your high-end performance at all.

    1. stratigo says:

      There’s a lot of MMOs that have taken this approach of “We’re a PvE game, but the suits expect PvP to exist, so here’s a poopy arena mode or something to get them off our back”. I mean, see FF14, probably the best MMO on the market ATM.

  17. Bo says:

    >And yes, I know I could join a faction and then just never enable the PvP flag, which would allow me access to a bunch more PvE content without really doing any PvP.

    >games are still trying to get PvE players to build sandcastles so that the PvP players will have sandcastles to knock down

    Which is it? Sounds like you can have the best of both worlds.

    1. Fizban says:

      Law of large numbers: if you force all the people that don’t actually want to PvP to join a faction, eventually some number of them will flag-up, if only for a moment. Some of them will actually get into it and stay there. New players who don’t know how MMOs go will hit the button and give someone the thrill of ganking a noob until the noob realizes they shouldn’t have clicked that button.

      And either way, you can keep turning up the pressure with PvP “rewards” that become less and less “reward” and more “required for high level play anywhere even in PvE.”

    2. stratigo says:

      Almost no one flags up really. World PvP happens rarely. Last time I flagged up (to do the easy but dangerous if other faction is doing them faction quest as apposed to the tedious but safe faction quest) I got ruined in PvP. I don’t even know what the heck happened, dud just healed up after i took him down to 1/3 and I lost the war of attrition. So, yeah, PvP is a crapshoot if you are only flagging up if the game demands it.

      Also the repairs part is super dumb.

  18. The Big Brzezinski says:

    I remember way back in the day when WoW started. My friends insisted we play Alliance on a pvp server. My brother and I didn’t care about pvp, so we made a druid and a rogue, i.e. the two stealth classes. When dungeon time came, we’d sneak up to the entrance and wait an hour for everyone else to show up. We ended up playing that game long than the rest. After the others quit, my bro and I started again on a pve server. Horde pve.

    Long before that, we played Dark Age of Camelot. We joined Midgard, because vikings. We soon learn that most people don’t want to play as ugly rock trolls, dinky dwarves, or or strange blue kobalds. They want to have a beautiful, elegant character with beautiful, elegant movements and a beautiful, elegant ass they can stare at as they play. So most people joined Albion in their plate armored glory, with a few left over to play various subdivisions of elf in Hibernia. Still, we got lucky. Kay server was relatively population balanced. The secret sauce that DAoC seems to have had was segregation of pvp and pve. You had your home realm where you leveled and had your basic level resource grind. Out in the frontier was where the pvp is. It also had some pretty good camps to grind, so it was worth heading out there when things were slow.

    In between was Warhammer: Age or Reckoning. Their solution was to just give you pve rewards for pvp. My friends and I never left the battlegrounds. We had an absolute blast until we caught up with the meta and half our Order classes proved to be straight up inferior to their Chaos equivalents

    I think Wildstar came the closest to having balanced cool points between both its player factions. Their names escape me, but I do recall wanting to play both. Things went downhill fast after I found out this MMO with the ultra-customizable housing systems and colorful proto-Fortnite art style was actually meant to be a hardcore raiding MMO for hardcore raider types, not casuals who like interior decorating and low-expectation dungeon runs with randos. But at least one side didn’t get dog piled!

    So I guess what I’m saying is, welcome once again to fourteen years ago. Things have not improved since your last visit.

    1. Daimbert says:

      I liked Dark Age of Camelot, and liked the CONCEPT of the PvP but really focused on PvE. I also loved all three of the realms, and so that game really started my altitis since I kept getting to a point where the PvE was getting trickier and then deciding that I wanted to play as a different class in a different realm. I thus never engaged in the Realm vs Realm stuff and so only played PvE. If the game was less like Everquest and so less grindy, I probably would have stuck with that game pretty much permanently.

      At the risk of becoming a broken record, for PvE experience The Old Republic might have it best. The PvE experience is the stories and the PvP is essentially the war stuff around that. PvP players might find it underwhelming, but if you just want a PvE experience TOR has more than enough available to keep you busy for a long time.

  19. Nixorbo says:

    games are still trying to get PvE players to build sandcastles so that the PvP players will have sandcastles to knock down.

    And now I have the perfect way of describing Sea of Thieves. If there’s a Reaper ship on the map I don’t even bother playing.

  20. Dev Null says:

    I did the same thing, and avoided joining a faction for a bit. Then I got bored and joined purple, and then I got _really_ bored and turned it off.

  21. Michael says:

    An Englishman fighting in the Nine Years’ War isn’t going to switch to the French team because the French have been winning this week.

    It’s been known to happen. It seems worth noting here that the Manchus, a semi-tribal people with a pitifully small population, conquered the Chinese empire, not either of those things, in the 17th century on the strength of the Chinese generals who kept defecting to their side.

    1. Note: This has a lot to do with people overestimating how historically common modern nation-states were. For most of history, people had little concept of belonging to a unified “nation” beyond what a strong-man emperor could hold together by force. China, until very recently, wasn’t China. It was a bunch of different peoples, who may or may not have been ruled by the same person at the time.

      1. Michael says:

        For most of history, people had little concept of belonging to a unified “nation” beyond what a strong-man emperor could hold together by force. China, until very recently, wasn’t China. It was a bunch of different peoples, who may or may not have been ruled by the same person at the time.

        This very much does not apply to the Ming Dynasty, which is the one that was overrun by the Manchus.

        China was self-consciously Chinese even in the Warring States Period (~500-221 BC). There were times of unification and times of division, and Ming China was highly unified.

        1. stratigo says:


          So pre modern people have a concept of ethnicity, but not a concept of nation-state, which is connecting the ethnicity to a state (fun fact, a lot of polysci and historians argue that the USA isn’t a nation state, because it isn’t defined by an ethnicity. Which I find a bit of wishfulfillment on their part considering our actual history, but our ideals and rhetoric do emphasize a state of all peoples, not just a state for the French, or the Germans, or whatever constructed ethnic group that forms the basis of the nation-state).

          There’s a reason modern China defines its nation on the 5 races under one union, something no imperial dynasty really had to care about. The imperial state was literally limited only by the imperial court’s ability to project power, largely by proxy, and it mattered only a little what lands they conquered. The idea that a region is inherently a region of a racial population and that population should rule itself is a modern one. It’s linked also to the idea that legitimacy derives from a people and not a divine source too, which, despite however you may feel about the CCP, is how it defines is legitimacy (prosperity of the people).

  22. Mye says:

    Maybe somewhat off topic but I started playing Genshin impact and its kinda interesting because I though it was a pseudo mmo but its almost exclusively single player (and literally no PvP) and its printing money. I think for the longest time company though they needed to emphasize PvP because it keeps thing fresh (or maybe dynamic is a better word) even if they’re not making new contents. But instead Genshin does pretty minimal amount of effort toward new content and instead stop the player from being able to complete too much of the PvE content at once (you’re given a certain number of resource everyday and it’s needed for the main ways to get most of the material needed to level up and strengthen your character). Of course it’s a gacha F2P, but I wonder if we could see more traditional mmo taking a page out of it and just giving up on PvP and instead focusing on feeding content on PvE player in way that emphasize playing a little bit over long period of time.

    1. trevalyan says:

      Show me someone doing commissions AND emptying their resin AND getting Battle Pass rewards AND completing special world events, and I’ll show you someone losing way too much of their life to Genshin Impact.

      It’s absolutely great and I feel bad for people who didn’t get 30+ wishes worth of rewards and primogen for the anniversary.

    2. Karma The Alligator says:

      Dunno, I think the way Genshin Impact does it is the worst of both worlds: required grinding (for materials, artifacts and gold) but with limited tries every day. It’s annoying because due to the world level increasing, you need to grind to keep up, but the immediate effect is that the grind takes longer now that enemies are stronger, you’re not guaranteed to get the drops you need (even from dungeons) and it still takes a shit load of gold to do anything… all limited by the resin (or whatever it is) needed to run said dungeons. That makes no sense for a single player game.

  23. This is what the map looks like on the server where I play: EU Central – Petermannland

    New World Disorder Map

    I don’t know if this server is an outlier, but it’s interesting, nonetheless.

    1. Amstrad says:

      For another outlier, take a look at the NA East server Royllo

      New World Royllo NA East

      The Covenant faction has a strong alliance of companies working together from day one and locked down those core regions. The only real competition is the rival alliance of Marauder companies, while the Syndicate lost a couple regions they captured at launch and seem overall less organized.

      RE this:

      Shamus said:
      Factions are also the only way you can get a “rune of holding”, which you need in order to make bags to increase your carrying capacity.

      While the faction vendor is the usual way to get a Rune of Holding, it certainly isn’t the only way, Just visit your local Trading Post and I’m sure any number of them will be listed at a reasonable price. On my server I’m seeing them for around 350g compared to the 1k Faction Rep and 250g from the vendor.


      Shamus said:
      That quest is a necessary step in the overall quest chain where the game awards you the tools to fight the corruption.

      While you don’t have an Azoth Staff yourself, having one of those isn’t really required by everyone fighting Corruption portals, there just needs to be someone present with one to close the portal. It’s a similar situation with the Dungeons which require a key to enter. In this case you normally get a key (or three!) free from the quest-lines leading up to the dungeons, there’s absolutely nothing stopping you from joining a group that already has a key and just getting the loot and xp that comes from running it without an attached quest. What’s more you can craft those keys youself!

      I’m not saying playing without a Faction is as easy as playing with one, but some of the things you might think you’re missing out on aren’t actually being barred from you.

      1. Shamus says:

        It’s interesting how divergent the economies are here. I’ve been watching, and on my 2 main servers I’d never seen any runes for sale. I just checked again, and now I see a few have appeared in the last few days. However, even a minor rune of holding is going for 2,500g.

        That’s almost ten times what I have right now, but that’s a different problem. :)

        Also these maps with more than one yellow region are blowing my mind. Is my experience the norm, or have I just randomly chosen servers where yellow is unusually weak?

        1. Amstrad says:

          I honestly think your experience is closer to the norm. Coming out of open beta and going into the launch the Covenant were considered a joke and the vast majority of well organized groups and streamers were all going either Marauder or Syndicate. The group I play with however specifically rolled Covenant, the argument being it would be the underdog position and result in more PvP opportunities. The irony of course is the Covenant factions on our server just happened to be more organized than the other factions and are basically co-dominating with the Marauders.

          As for the runes, it’s interesting that they’re so pricey. I’d double check you’ve selected the option to look at all the Trading Post locations, maybe they’re going cheaper in the 30+ areas. Failing that I’d look at completed bag prices and see if those are more favorable than the runes. I also have to wonder if the server you play on is less populous than Royllo, as I can imagine having less people will result in a more expensive economy overall.

        2. From what I’ve seen, yeah, yellow usually bites it. My server has 2 yellow areas only because one of the yellow companies is made up of players who looted their own purple guild and switched factions after being purple for like 3

          SO much drama in faction chat.

          1. Amstrad says:

            If you want drama: The company I’m playing with gathered the funds necessary to purchase a region within several hours on launch day. This was of course accomplished via donations of funds from individual company members. Several days later some less than pleasant facts about the company leader come to light. The majority of people in the company didn’t agree with this guy and demand he step down and transfer leadership. He refuses and instead goes on a ranting tirade and then quits the game. But not before giving control of the company to the leaders of the primary Covenant faction on our server who then kick all the old members of the company, rename it and fill it with their own people.

            1. Ouch! Yeah, we had a similar thing happen on our server where the primary big Syndicate faction leader who took control of Everfall on day 1 took the entire company treasury (like 200k) and his officer corp, switched factions to the Covenant, and declared war on his own previous company and took their territory away.

              People were whining about it for DAYS.

              And then there was even more drama when the only good PvP Syndicate guild on the server said they wouldn’t help re-take the territory unless they got to be the ones to declare war (which meant they owned the territory when the war was over).

              So much whining over what amounts to Monopoly properties.

              We lost ours last night. I’m kinda sad, it was a little fun having a territory, but it’s really not a huge deal and since it was pretty much the busiest city on the server we made out like bandits off the taxes. Our guild treasury went from around 15k to over 250k in only a few days without us having to make any more donations.

              I want to try to convince the guild leader to give up on territory owning (our guild doesn’t have the mass of high-level pvp players to sustain it, we’re a bunch of PvE shlubs and crafters) and just distribute the cash among the guild in some way.

              1. stratigo says:

                Everfall is one of the two territories worth owning. The others tend to drain your company coffers

          2. stratigo says:

            Oooh ooh, what server?

      2. Syal says:

        I have to ask, what’s going on with the three unclaimed lands at the top? It’s got to be impossible to claim them if they’re unclaimed across three different servers.

        1. Amstrad says:

          Yes, those are unclaimable regions, they don’t have proper settlements or forts, just a pair of outposts. They’re more or less intended to be the highest level PvE regions. Mechanically, besides the fact they don’t have full fledged settlements I don’t really know why they’ve been singled out this way, but that’s how they are.

          1. Because those are the territories dominated by the Corrupted army and the Angry Earth, the PvE enemy factions. That’s where all the REALLY HARD endgame PvE content is.

  24. Since I just hit 60 and I’m nominally at the endgame, I see this VERY differently. Yeah, there’s a territory control game, but, honestly, it doesn’t really matter all that much who controls the territory. And you don’t really need great gear for PvP, either. You can get perfectly functional PvP gear just by running faction missions to get tokens and buying the highest level of faction gear. Then you either pick up a Life Staff, Greataxe, Hammer, Ice Gauntlet or Fire Staff and voila, you’re PvP ready.

    That map is not wall-to-wall wars the way it looks, because Invasions and Wars are different things. Wars are PvP attempts to take over a territory. Invasions are PvE events for level 50 characters where they defend their city against a TON of invading Corrupted enemies. And, here’s the thing, if you DON’T defeat them, all your town amenities get downgraded. And no matter HOW much cash you have, you can only do ONE upgrade per day. So, a town that changes hands a lot or gets invaded a lot and loses is going to be a crappy town with only tier 2 crafting stations, and no one will hang out there. Meaning that nobody will care about trying to take it over, either, because it’s not earning.

    The real competition here is to make your city the best city for doing STUFF in . . . to get cash that’s really only good for . . . keeping your city upgraded.

    In other words, PvP is a pointless treadmill that goes nowhere and mostly just exists to keep the penis-wavers busy.

    The endgame PvE content is OMG SO HARD. The dungeons (which is where you ACTUALLY get the really good gear, and you NEED IT) are OMG SO HARD. The first time you do them you just wipe and wipe and wipe on the bosses because they have WoW-style mechanics, only sped up to the much faster action-game speed of New World. And you HAVE TO COMPLETE EVERY DUNGEON IN THE GAME to finish the main quest.

    Heck, just today I did a quest up in Edengrove to flag for one of the dungeons, and the end part of the quest line was to kill an UNBELIEVABLY strong monster in a cave. We got a 5-person group together and JUST DIED. In the end we had to get like 10-15 people, most of them standing on a rock ledge that the boss couldn’t reach, and slowly plink it to death with ranged weapons. It took us 20 minutes to kill this boss. And it WASN’T A DUNGEON BOSS. This is a FLAGGING QUEST. And you need like 10 people to do it. It’s awful.

    So, yeah, this is a horrifically difficult PvE game DISGUISED as a PvP game. PvP brings in all the streamers and yahoos and plumps up the population and makes the game popular. But the PvE game is no joke.

    From the sounds of what I’ve been hearing in faction chat, the eSports-style PvP players are already getting bored with the game and making plans to switch servers or otherwise bail out, abandoning their territories.

    1. BlueHorus says:

      So, kind of unrelated…but did something happen to D&D Online? Haven’t heard you mention it recently…

      1. Nothing happened, in fact they released a code for all the current adventure packs again, so you can play the vast bulk of the game for free! It’s DDOQUESTS2021.

        I’m just taking a break from DDO to play Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous and New World and anything else that strikes my fancy. They’re working on a massive update to the Epic Destiny system that’s going to radically change how I play all of my characters at endgame, and I’m too impatient to play until that comes out. :)

    2. stratigo says:

      I mean one of the biggest problems is the endgame is busted AF.

      You need keys to get into the dungeons.

      The keys are bind on pickup, and have to be crafted, and the endgame deungeons require close to max stonecutting (Something that only matters for this and jewelcrafting). The materials drop from corruption that you usually get like 20 to 50 people to all run at. But the corruption portals are broken and can’t be closed. So you can’t even get the mats to craft the keys that require intense grinding to get the skills to craft the keys

      And it’s been this way since launch. I’ll have to check if the most recent patch fixed this, I am taking a break for a couple days. But, wow, is this a mess.

  25. WWWebb says:

    I’ve got to ask…
    1) What are the player incentives? You’ve mentioned money (various kinds), XP, and influence. Is there also leaderboards? Are there social incentives to let other players know HOW much better you are? Because that’s the kind of thing that fuels a PvP feedback loop.

    2) What are the developer incentives? What will Amazon take your real $$ for? What kind of players are likely to become whales?

    1. stratigo says:

      1) having your faction name on the map, and in a couple places, earning lotsa money. Otherwise, not much. The biggest benefit for pvp is it levels your weapon skills pretty fast to kill other players (weapons level independently from your character, but you can level any or all of them as you care to)

      2) Game’s not old enough for the whale systems. They’re dodging reviewers taking them to task for shitty monetization by having very little. This, we all know, will not last of course.

  26. Philadelphus says:

    Clever Disciples who fight with Cunning for the sake of Truth and Progress.

    Ah yes, “cunning” is the exact word that comes to mind when describing people fighting for the sake of truth.

    In the real world, factions are supported by real-world ideologies, cultures, races, and religions.

    Well, in the real world they’re also not required to be balanced, so the New World team seems to have nailed the verisimilitude there!

    1. The factions are weird, because they initially DESCRIBED them all as being this sort of underhand nasty thing, with the Marauders being violent, the Syndicate being underhanded, and the Covenant being fanatical . . .

      And then you get in game and find that the Marauders are focused on self-improvement, the Syndicate are all SCIENCE!!! WHERE’S MY BEAR PEE?!?! and the Covenant are all super-nice and laid-back and helpful and their religion is some Peace and Love hippie stuff. Even the ANGRY EARTH you actually get to talk to are pretty pleasant and only mildly grumpy.

      All the jerks apparently became Lost or Corrupted by the time you arrived.

      From the sound of things, they initially were going to do some kind of bog-standard Dark Fantasy stuff and then they changed directions HARD because they realized they didn’t actually want to make a game about colonialism and people being assholes. So it’s a bit surreal, and if you read the quests you spend a weirdly large of time doing stuff that wouldn’t be out-of-place in a game like Animal Crossing. Heck, one of the major (and longest) quest chains just involves catching fish for various people.

      Fortunately, no one actually pays attention to the quest text, because they’re all busy flexing about how badass they are.

  27. Mr. Wolf says:

    What exactly are the factions fighting for? They don’t seem ideologically opposed and if this is a “new world” then there should be a rush to claim unoccupied land, not fight over what they already have.

    1. Amstrad says:

      Well the big problem is there are a bunch of bad guy type things going on with like pirate undead and corrupted pirate undead, and ancient undead and sentient tree people. The Corrupted ones are actively trying to destroy what settlements do exist and for all that this is a ‘New World’ it’s only a largish island rather than a continent. So the Factions are just fighting to control the Settlements that haven’t been destroyed by one or another baddy group and the main questline is about getting them to work together to fight off the Corrupted.

      Note: Everyone on the island is also technically some sort of undead/immortal now so there are always plenty of people to fight in wars.

      1. stratigo says:

        I want to note that the angry earth are the native people too. And, like, sometimes that makes me go “eeeeeeh” when I get a quest to go kill 20 tree people wot lived here before we came and are only angry cause people like us keep going nuts and becoming black ooze filled monsters.

  28. Mephane says:

    From reading all this and the comments here, I am so glad I did not touch this game. I generally like this kind of action combat, but an MMO is more than just the immediate combat mechanics, and so far the game seems to go out of its way to be as unappealing and frustrating as possible in all other regards.

    1. stratigo says:

      It plays fun.

      The questing is repetitive AF.

      A lot is broken.

      A lot of what is broken is core design pillars like, well, the whole economy system.

      Because so much is broken, it incentivized people to abuse broken things making it so the people most willing to abuse are the ones who win the most (there was until recently, a bug that if enough people cast an AoE on a spot, the game would freeze up and the people who were standing in the capture point for a war would win cause no one could do anything but stand there), and this has created an intensely toxic community

  29. GoStu says:

    I always wince a little when I see MMORPG PvE content sacrificed on the altar of “More PvP!”.

    Maybe I’m some outlier, but I think the PvP in these games inevitably sucks. It’s so very different from the core PvE loops that *actually* make up the start of the game (hello, here’s your tutorial, here’s your skills, there’s your first boar to skin, etc.) and the fundamental nature of ‘level up, gain skills, acquire better loot’ means that fights are hardly ever fair. It’s a great system for having people 10 levels higher and in ultra-powerful exotic trousers of people-slaying repeatedly grind newbies into the dirt.

    That, not “vast battlegrounds of evenly-matched players” is the fundamental MMO PvP experience. One player has an advantage in levels, gear, or class vs other class (or let’s not kid ourselves: at least 2 out of 3) and resoundingly stomps the other player, frequently via surprise attack. Herding enough cats to make the inter-faction whatevers takes work. Having one person squish a vastly inferior foe just happens. Not every player into PvP is a jackass, but every jackass is VERY into random-world PvP.

    Of all the multiplayer online games I’ve played, this experience repeats:

    – World of Warcraft: Unless you play on a server where PvP combat isn’t possible in the wild, this happens all the goddamn time. Various Battlegrounds fill up regularly because the stakes are low and the rewards are good, but out in the open world it’s mostly just ‘oh, that rogue is camping my corpse. Guess I’m in for about 30 minutes of trying to escape him, or begging my guild to bail me out, or bringing my higher-level account to shoo him away’.

    – Runescape: PvP is only enabled in one part of the world, and that part is widely ignored by a lot of players because the rewards just aren’t worth the hassle.

    – Age of Conan: I think open world PvP was the *point* of this one, and the game failed pretty quick in the era of “WoW murders your VC-funded stupid knockoff MMO”.

    – Elite: Dangerous: this one gets a pass because players can choose to play alone where no-one can bother them and only emerge into the wider world once they feel competitive… but measures still had to be taken to protect the “newbie area”. The size of the galaxy works against the wannabe griefer too, there’s thousands of places people could be, so they generally just bully a few popular systems.

    1. People talk a lot about the PvP because the map colors are very apparent, but you truly can ignore it 100%, and there’s a solid PvE game there, particularly if you like crafting and trying out different weapon combos. And the dungeons are pretty fun (and VERY hard).

      From what I can see, 90% of the playerbase is straight PvE and really does treat the factions like the insignificant colors that they are. I expect the PvP people will get bored and mostly quit the game within 6 months, if not sooner. There’s no PvP PROGRESSION of any kind, no leaderboards, no rewards outside of having a territory, and if your city isn’t super-busy (most of the high level characters hang around in the low-level regions, so the high-level areas tend to be pretty empty of anyone who isn’t doing quests or dungeons–and you don’t get taxes off people questing) the upkeep on the territory gets real expensive real fast. Which means you can’t keep your amenities upgraded. Which means even fewer people come to your city to do anything that will generate taxes.

      Basically, unless you own a preferred low-level area where lots of people hang out (the proverbial Goldshire), controlling a territory means you bought a white elephant.

      Now, this MAY change as more people get to 60, but it may not. Also, if you look closely at the map, you can see that there are more territories beyond the Shattered Mountain waiting to be introduced as new content.

      My prediction is that within 6 months all the eSports people will be gone and the only thing left will be a bunch of PvE folks having silly, fun, casual wars and doing the PvE content.

      1. I don’t know if it was a design mistake or a deliberate choice, but the higher-tier crafting ingredients are all available in the lowest-level areas, and in order to make higher-tier ingredients you need MASSIVE amounts of the lowest tier ingredients still (it takes Iron Ingots to create Steel Ingots, you need a massive amount of Steel Ingots to make Starmetal Ingots, you need yet more Starmetal Ingots to make Orichalcum Ingots, etc. This is true for ALL of the crafting types.)

        So, due to this design, there is NEVER a point where you move on from low-tier ingredients, in fact, due to the progressive reduction in quantities as you go up the tiers, someone crafting with Orichalcum needs WAY WAY MORE Iron than someone crafting with Iron! Just to PROCESS one piece of Orichalcum you need 16 bits of Iron ore (4 bits of Iron become 1 iron ingot, 4 iron ingots plus charcoal and flux become 1 steel ingot, 1 steel ingot + 4 bits of starmetal ore + flux become 1 starmetal ingot, 1 starmetal ingot + 4 bits of orichalcum ore + flux become, FINALLY, 1 orichalcum ingot). And you need MASSES of orichalcum ingots before you can actually get to the point where you’re crafting something that’s worth using.

        The only craft where this doesn’t pertain is Alchemy and Cooking, where the upper levels use their own ingredients, you don’t make the upper-level ingredients out of lower-level ingredients.

        And when you’re gathering, you want to put on all of your bonus gather gear instead of your best war gear. You don’t want to be fighting some level 60 wolf every 10 feet. Meaning that all the crafters stick to the low-level areas for gathering and only venture forth when they need something that just doesn’t drop in low-level areas, like the hides of high-level critters.

      2. Also, they’re enabling server transfers today and everyone gets a free one, so all the big PvP players on my server got a massive case of grass is always greener and they’re transferring to a “better” server with people they want to fight.

        I suspect that what’s going to happen is this:

        The big PvP companies will transfer en masse to one or two servers.

        The faction with the largest population of high-level players (the Marauders on my server, I expect) will take over the entire map.

        90% of the playerbase will embrace the inevitable and switch factions.

        Basically all PvP except on the one or two major eSports servers will cease except for the occasional skirmish when a guild that can’t compete effectively on the mega PvP servers transfers over, realizes they can’t compete HERE, either, because 90% of the server belongs to one faction, and quit playing to go play something else.

      3. stratigo says:

        PvP is often the objective itself. All you need is a measure of who wins, which is in the territory system, so even with so many territories being an albatross, there’s enough people who will want them for PvP to continue.

        PvP won’t go anywhere unless they fail to fix what is broken with it.

  30. Fred Starks says:

    Going for neutrality/ going against the grain in MMOs is one thing I find particularly fun, though I haven’t felt like I’ve had the time for MMOs in years.

    One of the fun things in WoW was to play Ironman characters, where you eschew all gear that isn’t grey or white vendor trash (of which you struggle to afford), and play as solo as possible. Each fight becomes incredibly dangerous, you have to travel across the world on foot quite often, and you really have to approach every PvE encounter with a clear head. Of course, the Ironman part also implies that you had to delete your character if they ever died- in practice very frustrating, but also undeniably a greater factor of tension and adrenaline applied to fights.

    Where I’m getting at with this is that they had an alternate ruleset for being Pacifist under these restrictions as well. You had to level purely from non-combat quests (which are very rare) and from just gathering things. Even though I only ever played it that way once, it may have been the best experience I’ve ever had with WoW across all the years I’d spent with it. Having to watch out for enemies and carefully inch my way around the environment, I interacted with a lot of content and parts of the map in a new light, almost like for the first time.

    Pacifist most particularly felt like I was defying what the game was designed to do and not interacting with the majority of mechanics somehow became incredibly fun for me. While part of this may have been my growing exhaustion with the game itself, I really enjoyed rebelling against the system in this case.

    Anyways, this is a long rambling post to explain that if I was to play New World, I’d definitely go for the neutral experience these days. I’d considered doing some of this kind of stuff with FFXIV (and I kinda have in the past), but these days I just feel like I can’t get into MMOs anymore no matter how much it feels like I really want to go back. Either my other projects are taking up too much time, or some materialistic side of me values time spent with MMOs less.

  31. raifield says:

    So, with all the resources of AWS at its back, Amazon Games came out with…a generic fantasy PvP MMO? I would’ve welcomed ‘EVE Online 2’ with open arms at this point, but no one seems interested in a space MMO.

    I don’t consider Elite: Dangerous to be a MMO. It’s more like a single-player game I’m sharing with other people. I’ve been playing for three years and I think I’ve seen two other players. Sure, space is big and all, but there’s nearly no socialization in the game whatsoever. It’s a lonely space life.

    1. GoStu says:

      Elite’s a weird one.

      You can absolutely choose to play on your own. Pick a random cluster of systems and bop around and there’s a good chance you’ll never see anyone unless you happened to have picked one of a couple dozen busy systems. If you REALLY don’t want to see anyone, you can even launch Solo Play and you won’t see others (barring some kind oddball glitch).

      However, if you want to get into the minor factions or the Powerplay side of the game, it’s absolutely a team effort and gets competitive fast.

      Being “neutral” in Elite is easy. Trivial, even. The game will never force you there or even hassle you about “maybe consider caring about these factions?” beyond unlocking a few ships, only some of which are any good, and permit access to a select few systems. You have to go out of your way to get involved in the communities. I think it’s worth it to engage, but it’s not in any way required.

    2. BlueHorus says:

      I would’ve welcomed ‘EVE Online 2’ with open arms at this point, but no one seems interested in a space MMO.

      Come on man, what about Star Citizen? Don’t you know it’s gonna be the best thing since self-slicing bread was invented?

  32. Blastinburn says:

    I’ve worked on some online games and one of the reasons PvP gets pushed so much is that it can act as “evergreen content”, ie. it’s always fresh. Players will adapt to the PvP meta, find counters to the dominant strategy, thus the dominant strategy changes and the meta shifts. There is always something new to do, a new challenge to complete or height to reach in terms of game skill, without any additional development cost after initial implementation. This can help tide players over between content updates and keep them engaged during slow periods. On the other hand PvE content has to be crafted, created using development resources and is often consumable, potentially becoming boring or stale after enough repeats.

    Think of how Call of Duty kept players around for a full year between installments without significant content updates, at least before everything became a live service, while the PvE campaign usually got played once then discarded by most of it’s players. Contrast this with PvE focused online games like Warframe or Genshin Impact where players frequently complain about a lack of some vague “endgame content.”

    Personally though as a player I hate PvP.

  33. Gautsu says:

    Shamus I am just going to ask this here, since it’s now two weeks since I sent this into the Diecast: how can we go about getting an autographed physical copy of Mess Effect? It’s the perfect gift for my ME addicted 65 year old mother, and shipping is getting close to when I don’t want to be screwing around for Christmas gifts

    1. Shamus says:

      Okay, I was hoping some other people would put a hand up and ask for books so I could do a batch of them. No such luck.

      I’m ordering a few books today. Let me see what the turnaround time is and I’ll get back to you.

      1. Gautsu says:

        Thank you, sorry to derail from New World

      2. Benjamin Paul Hilton says:

        I think the problem here is timing. If you had offered autographed copies when the book launched I certainly would’ve gone for it. But now those of us who wanted the dead tree book format already have it.

  34. Rariow says:

    I’ve actually always found the idea of playing as a non-warrior class in a combat-based game interesting, but that may be because I’m a sucker for seeing how the devs go about adapting those mechanics. Half the reason I picked up Octopath Traveller is that a bunch of the characters who join your party aren’t fighters – there’s a Dancer, a Scholar and a Merchant. For whatever reason I can’t for the life of me remember other examples, but it’s a relatively common thing in JRPGs to have one class that’s not really a combatant – something like letting you chose from Mage, Fighter or Chef (I think this is a real one, but I can’t for the life of me remember from what game). Of course, that’s not quite the situation in the article, because the way JRPGs handle it is by essentially just making the non-combat class just a regular character archetype but with slightly different ability names – the Dancer in Octopath is pretty much just what Final Fantasy would call a Red Mage (a buff/debuff specialist), and the Merchant plays a lot like a Thief. Even then, it’s refreshing using “Invigorating Dance” or whatever instead of “Haste”. One of my favorite examples is Wakka from Final Fantasy X, whose class isn’t “Blitzballer” pretty much just because that game doesn’t have a class system. I still think it’s a cool thing that games don’t explore enough.

    1. Syal says:

      Pretty sure the Chef is from Salt and Sanctuary.

      Ophelia is a Cleric, which is standard RPG stuff but still not a fighter per se.
      Al…phonse? Al is an Alchemist, training to be a medicine man.

      Then the other three are standard fightboys; Therion’s a Thief, Hraanit’s a Hunter, and… Other O Name is a straight swordmaster.

      (It irritates me I can’t remember these names, even after finding out they spell out OCTOPATH.)

    2. Dude Guyman says:

      This comment is a few months old so there’s next to no chance you’ll read this, which is a shame, because ‘Dungeons of Dredmore’ is pretty much perfect for you. It has an extremely wide variety of skill trees to choose from, including the standards like ‘swords’, ‘axes’, ‘alchemist’ and ‘asassin’, but they quickly descend into things like ‘piracy’, ‘banker’, ‘tourist’, ‘communist’, ‘killer vegan’, and ‘archaeologist’. But the real rub is that you pick 5 skill trees to define your character, not 1, so you could be, say, an axe wielding killer vegan pirate communist banker.

  35. ObsidianNebula says:

    Yeah, I noticed when it came time to choose a faction that Syndicate has the most descriptive flavor text (which I expect is why it has the greatest numbers, since it’s scientific nature will attract the nerds who are so populous among the gamers), the Marauders have the vague gold and glory thing that will attract the meathead-type gamers (why I suspect they usually have an edge in PvP, an issue I recently brought up in our faction Discord- I’m Syn) and Covenant, who are vaguely religious in a way that will put most people off. It’s not specific enough for anyone to latch on to, beyond “praise the Sun” memes, but it’s just religious enough to make a lot of people uncomfortable with signing on to it.

    And while we’re on the subject of New World, can we talk about how goddamn annoying it is trying to clear corruption? The small portals spawn every 30 minutes and the large ones every 60, but every time you clear one another one spawns nearby. Clearing them doesn’t prevent the big fuckoff invasion that nobody on the server has even beaten yet. The only reason to do them is azoth. It’s terrible.

  36. Benjamin Paul Hilton says:

    I wonder if the lack of balancing was an attempt to create a sort of Eve online type game. It’s not the biggest game but it’s players are loyal and some of the stories that have come out of it’s free form nature are legend. So maybe instead of trying to fight the big names they attempted to capture some of Eve’s magic.

    1. stratigo says:

      I think this was the original goal that a bunch of amazon suits came down and went “You want to what? No, put all the pve content in right now or you’re fired.”

  37. parkenf says:

    Shamus there’s an interesting article on Kotaku about problems with the economy on New World – don’t know if you’ve seen it: New World’s Economy Is So Busted, Players Are Bartering For Items.

    You don’t go into detail about guild extorting you for property taxes, so I assume you’ve not got a house.

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