My wild weekend sieging New World forts made me love its PVP

New World screenshot
(Image credit: Amazon)

The moment I spied a horde of enemy players swarming through the trees flanking Keep Brightwood, I knew we were in trouble. All along the fort's parapets were New World players like me—purple-clad enlistees who had responded to a call to arms in the form of all-caps messages spammed into our faction chat begging every Syndicate player to drop what they were doing and head to Brightwood. Like any good soldier, I answered the call.

Our mission was simple: Raise so much hell that we destabilized the whole zone and then issue a formal declaration of war against its current owners, a Marauder company known as GRIT. First we'd capture Keep Brightwood, and then groups of high-level players belonging to my faction, the Syndicate, would begin grinding nearby PVP missions until we hit the threshold required to trigger a proper war and potentially flip the zone to our control. While that was happening, low-level scrubs like me were stuck on guard duty making sure no one retook the fort. It seemed easy at first. Now it looked like a death sentence.

I popped open my chat and fired off a single message to the rest of the Syndicate before musket shots began whizzing past my head: "Marauders are retaking the fort. Send help!"

Note: All the gifs in this article have sound, and New World sounds good!

Hold the line 

Amazon's New World is likely the biggest MMO launch in history—even though most players have been stuck in egregiously long server queues for some of it. I, fortunately, like to play games in the early morning before servers fill up and spent most of my first 20 levels exploring and grinding faction quests in exchange for cool bits of purple Syndicate armor. But over the weekend, I couldn't help noticing an alarming amount of chatter in the Syndicate chat channel as players sounded the horn to invade Brightwood.

Having only PVPed once so far (my enemy was AFK in the woods and I murdered them gleefully), I decided it was time to finally see what all the fuss was about. After all, New World's endgame largely revolves around big faction battles for control over 11 zones. I'd be silly to not participate in a spot of war. I just didn't expect that I'd fall so deeply in love with it.

The system is pretty simple. Eleven of New World's 13 zones can be captured by the three main factions players join early in the game. Owning a zone comes with a ton of benefits for the guild that controls it, like being able to collect tax from players using that zone's amenities like crafting stations or market boards. The whole faction benefits too, with reduced fees across the board, bonuses to gathering, and even being able to remotely access items stored in other controlled zones. Basically, you want your faction to own all the zones. 

It's beautiful, player-driven chaos.

Doing that isn't easy, though. To pry a zone from another faction's fingers, players have to capture its fort and complete PVP missions in the area to fill up a meter. Meanwhile, defending players can do their own special PVP missions to stop that meter from filling. If the meter fills, a company from the invading faction can then pay a fee and declare war. About a day later, 100 players from the attacking and defending company will fight in an instanced siege to decide who gets to keep the zone.

While PVP sieges sound amazing, getting into one is difficult unless you're close with the attacking company. Players can sign up to fight, but the company ultimately gets to choose who it wants to fight alongside with, meaning hardcore PVPers who are already nearing New World's level cap inevitably get first dibs. That sucks, but I'm fine with it because I love the thrill of New World's open-world PVP where battles aren't scheduled but often unexpected, thrillingly violent clashes.

Against the wolves, skeletons, and whatever other mundane creatures populate the island of Aeturnum, New World's combat seems a bit hum-drum. You spam a few attacks, use special weapon skill or two, block an enemy attack, rinse, repeat. But in the chaos of a 40-player skirmish it feels like a completely different game. Fireballs land with the concussive force of a mortar, magical blizzards materialize, creating gaps in the frontline as players panic and flee the damaging ice amid the sharp crack of musket fire from both sides. It's beautiful, player-driven chaos.

After nearly 30 minutes of defending Keep Brightwood, things were starting to get a little boring. A few enemy Marauders had obviously noticed the fort was no longer under their control and came to investigate only to get sent packing by a volley of gunshots and magic spells. I was beginning to wonder if the Marauders just didn't have the will to fight. Little did I know the real army was on its way. 

Fire at will 

As the Marauders flowed out of the forest, I began recklessly firing my musket into the crowd. One thing I really like about New World's combat is that even players dozens of levels higher than you will take a decent chunk of damage from attacks. In World of Warcraft, you have no chance against someone a few levels higher, but New World's combat isn't so rigorously bound by math. It emphasizes careful dodges and smart use of skills to avoid enemy attacks while whittling their HP down. So even as the gates of Keep Brightwood flooded with enemy players, me and the other low-level scrubs were actually doing a decent chunk of damage to those we managed to hit.

As the fight raged on, the Marauders managed to get inside the keep's gates and begin pushing toward the capture point they'd need to sit on for about a minute to retake the fort. Meanwhile, my chat window was blowing up with messages from Syndicate PVP groups calling for everyone to converge on the fort and save us. But given the size of the attacking force—some of whom were now rushing up the stairs to the parapets where I and a few others were shooting down into the fray—I didn't think there'd be much left to save in a minute or two.

Fortunately a musket isn't my only weapon. I also opted to use a spear because, along with my flowing leather duster, I imagined my character being some kind of dragoon (only without the horse because New World has some silly reason why there are none on Aeternum). The good thing about spears is that, aside from looking badass, they're also exceptional at keeping enemies at a distance. I manage to only take a few nicks as the Marauders push us back to the other side of the fort. Trapped on the wall with nowhere to go, our only option was to jump off and abandon the interior of Keep Brightwood to the Marauders, tails between our legs. Luckily, it didn't have to come to that. 

When fights do erupt, those moments become a wild contrast to New World's plodding grind.

Just as I hit the ground on the outside of the wall, I saw a wave of purple icons emerge from the forests around the keep. The Syndicate players who had been grinding PVP missions all across Brightwood had arrived just in time to save the day.

What happened next was a sprawling series of intense skirmishes that made the hour seem like minutes. We expelled the Marauders from the fort, but reinforcements soon arrived and we fought a pitched battle among the trees just beyond the walls. Every time it seemed like we routed one party, we'd turn to see another converging from our rear and charge to meet them. At one point, we even abandoned the fort altogether to focus on one particularly contested PVP mission that Marauders weren't letting us complete, leading to a scrap in a graveyard that ended disastrously when our frontline folded in on itself and we ended up surrounded, making a vicious last stand atop a boulder.

I just wish PVP was a steadier source of the experience points I desperately need to level up. At level 22, I'm more of a meatshield than Captain Aeternum. Killing players does net some rewards, but it's weirdly inconsistent (I swear I hit that guy) and doesn't account for long stretches when you're defending territory or waiting for a battle to break out.

Still, when fights do erupt, those moments become a wild contrast to New World's plodding grind. Until now, I'd spent most of my time wandering the countryside, gathering materials, completing repetitive quests, and doing some crafting. But now its PVP has its claws in me and I'm itching for these big fights. Fortunately, so is everyone else on my server. We never did manage to destabilize Brightwood enough to declare war on it, and I ended up spending most of my weekend with random Syndicate allies locked in skirmishes against staunch Marauder defenders. It's been the highlight of my time with New World so far.

Steven Messner

With over 7 years of experience with in-depth feature reporting, Steven's mission is to chronicle the fascinating ways that games intersect our lives. Whether it's colossal in-game wars in an MMO, or long-haul truckers who turn to games to protect them from the loneliness of the open road, Steven tries to unearth PC gaming's greatest untold stories. His love of PC gaming started extremely early. Without money to spend, he spent an entire day watching the progress bar on a 25mb download of the Heroes of Might and Magic 2 demo that he then played for at least a hundred hours. It was a good demo.