Update (October 29): Amazon issued a fix in the latest patch which should remove "several known causes of players being invulnerable."
"This issue is a top priority for our team," says the studio, "and we are continuing to track down fixes for additional causes of this issue."
New World players have discovered an apparent invincibility exploit that's easy to perform: You just have to switch to windowed mode and drag the game window around. While repositioning the New World window, players enter a state of suspended animation, and as the above video from Kona shows, can't be killed.
When the player releases the window and their character returns to the server's reality, their invulnerability ends and the accumulated damage hits them like the finale of a Fist of the North Star pressure point attack. As Kona points out, though, that doesn't make the exploit useless, because it can theoretically be used to become an unkillable presence on a capture point during PvP wars.
Two of PC Gamer's New World players tested the trick and confirmed that it works, at least to some degree. From the perspective of the attacking player, damage is being dealt to the player using the exploit, but once they reach zero health they don't die, standing in place until they let go of the window. One of our testers was also able to use the trick to jump off a cliff and then freeze in midair from the perspective of the other player. (Roleplaying as a dinosaur, if you recall a certain mid-2000s Trevor Moore skit.)
Now that the exploit has been discovered by the community, many are calling on Amazon to either squash it or put a freeze on in-game wars. Otherwise, companies might use the exploit in battle to win territory and gain a significant advantage. Because wars cost gold to fight and the victor gets a serious economic boost, there's a lot riding on them.
The window moving exploit may be a weird, one-off bug; it doesn't necessarily indicate a deep flaw in New World's client-server relationship. It's possible there are contexts where it makes sense to make the player invulnerable while the client isn't responding. In this case, though, the ease with which players can seemingly manipulate the client to their advantage is surprising. Exploits usually involve performing weird in-game patterns, not everyday Windows UI actions.
We've asked Amazon for an explanation of what's going on behind-the-scenes here. (It hasn't commented on the issue yet.) In some past cases, game publishers have shown no mercy to exploit users, banning them for cheating even though they were using a bug that everyone could use, and not external cheating software. I have no idea what Amazon will do in this case, but better safe than sorry. (Also, it's not cool to cheat, but I figure that's a given.)