Fight or Kite: Crowfall’s latest release brings RvR and ‘pop-up PvP’ to the forefront


It’s been about a month since the release of Crowfall, and the team at ArtCraft hasn’t let off the gas yet. This past week we saw the completion of the first post-launch campaign and an update called The Shadow. The Shadow brought with it a new campaign refocusing players attention on some traditional RvR style combat by pitting the three factions against one another.

I want to dig into what we’re are getting out of The Shadows and its timing, but before that, let’s talk again about the state of the game from a normal player’s ground-level view.

One month after release and population still feels good

Almost immediately after release, gamers were already predicting doom for Crowfall – primarily thanks to the reported total player numbers extracted by a popular Discord bot. Now, I noted even in my last piece that even if those numbers were true, what actually matters is how populated the world feels when you’re actually in game.

Well, we’re a month into release, and I still find the population in the game feels good. The main temple in the first worlds, Gods Reach, remains populated with players. Even in my final few leveling quests that led into PvP, I found that I was often completing the quests alongside other players. Admittedly, we’re not seeing absolute droves of players running around as in the first week, but it wasn’t a quiet, private experience either.

That is to be expected, though. After players have leveled up a character, they’ll leave the Gods Reach worlds, possibly to never return. After leveling up, you’ll go on to compete in the campaigns. That’s just the way the vessel and leveling system is designed: Even if you leveled up another vessel, you’d likely just sacrifice vendor trash to level up rather than repeating the tutorial quests.

This is still in stark contrast to how isolated leveling and playing often felt in the alpha and betas. Running around in an uncontested zone can be pretty quiet, but as long as you are in a zone with some forts and land to compete over, you’ll find plenty of bodies to fight with and against.

The tutorial actually completes the leveling experience well

Speaking of the tutorial, I know I can’t really do justice to the depths that Andrew recently did, but I would like to expand a little on some of my previous coverage of it. Earlier this year, I had an interview with Crowfall’s Creative Director J. Todd Coleman and several others at ArtCraft discussing their new tutorial and leveling experience. At that time, it didn’t appear that a set of quests to guide players through the conquest system was in the cards.

Even as recently as a couple of months before release, I thought that I had played through everything the tutorial was going to have to offer. Back then it did explain all the main points of territory conquest, but there weren’t actually any quests that showed players how to kill a tree (keep capturing mechanic) or how to use the siege equipment.

However, the current tutorial does all that and more. It really does meet the expectations I had for the final chapter of the tutorial. It also provides a few more quests that flesh out the game’s lore in more detail without expecting the player to go read a webpage. While they may seem like “filler” if you don’t care at all about the lore, it’s a nice inclusion and I’m happy to see it in the game. But most importantly it provides the details and lets you actually get hands-on play through some forms of the siege mechanics.

The Shadow campaign shifts player attention back to faction PvP

As for the most recent update, Crowfall enabled a new campaign that focuses on the faction war. This is one of the highlights of Crowfall for me. Even if you aren’t especially into the guild vs. guild mode known as The Dregs, there are often other servers you can join with different rulesets employed.

The Shadow campaign is more akin to your traditional RvR format. During the tutorial players are instructed to choose a faction. The factions themselves don’t really have a distinct personality of their own, but there is a little bit of lore that might guide you to choosing one over another. Of course, if you’re in a guild, then you’ll simply fly under the guild’s faction banner. While the choice is important, it isn’t permanent. So if you find that you don’t like the faction you chose at the onset, you will be able to change it later.

The campaign itself has essentially all the same activities that you experienced if you played through a Dregs campaign, but now you can stomp your foes with players outside your guild. It’s actually pretty similar to the Infected zones that were released back during the beta periods. However, it does feel more like a proper campaign than the Infected zones ever did. While the Infected pit your faction against the others, it didn’t really have the same impact. It was more of a zone for some decent gathering and pop-up PvP, but there wasn’t really a carrot at the end of that stick. The Shadows actually does offer a real campaign where you can compete with others for forts and land, but you don’t have to coordinate as tightly with a guild to be helpful to the overall team.

This is one thing about Crowfall’s unique campaign systems that I really love. You have different choices about what you want to do and when you want to do it. Most of the past month, I was extremely busy and didn’t have a lot of time to invest in the initial Dregs campaign that began after release. However, I had a bit more time these past couple weeks, and I was able to jump into the Shadow campaign without feeling as if I’d lost a lot of time or that I shouldn’t play since I was late to join. It’s something that not a lot of other MMOs have offered.

I’m also pretty curious as to whether any of you have been playing Crowfall. We’re a month into release, and the campaigns are still going strong. With a few other PvP focused games on the horizon (cough New World cough), does Crowfall hold your attention, or do you see yourself looking over the fence to see just how green the grass is over yonder?

Every other week, Massively OP’s Sam Kash delivers Fight or Kite, our trip through the state of PvP across the MMORPG industry. Whether he’s sitting in a queue or rolling with the zerg, Sam’s all about the adrenaline rush of a good battle. Because when you boil it down, the whole reason we PvP (other than to pwn noobs) is to have fun fighting a new and unpredictable enemy!

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Ben Stone

Crowfall has a lot of issues and annoyances, most other games I would have just walked away already, but the core PvP gameplay is *really* good. The combat and builds are just fun. Which I struggle to find in games like ESO and GW2, despite liking their worlds and features.

I get that they want character building to be a long term investment, but it feels like such a slog to get to that viable crafting point where your disciplines are blue and you can focus on the campaign worlds. They also really need to find some way to deter mega-zerg gameplay being the only valid tactic.

Currently if you hold the majority of keeps you dont even need to play outside of crafting. They need to encourage constant defence and engagement – like not holding the outposts around your keeps dramatically lowers their point generation.

I really hope they keep polishing this game and don’t just fold, I think the core gameplay really is worth saving. Been having more fun in this game than pretty much any other MMO I have played in a few years.

Kickstarter Donor

I think this article is too “optimistic”.

> The shadows should have come out till beginning. Or the beginning should have waited for the Shadows. Players without guild hadn’t anything to do and they quit.

> how do they want to keep people playing if they open a Worlwide(=American) Dreg? You have to defend or siege at 4.30 am. Good luck with maintaining population.

> the tutorial explains a little part of how things work. Then you are on your own without more explanations or guides.

> “This is one thing about Crowfall’s unique campaign systems that I really love. You have different choices about what you want to do and when you want to do it.”
NO, you have not. I would agree if we get more options, but nowadays you can only go to your island, go to faction vs faction 1 option only or go to worldwide dreg 1 option only. You can’t choose between different campaigns with different lengths and rules.

I’ve been playing Crowfall inside a guild since the beginning. we have lost half of our player base due to the end of the dreg. You can have a lot of PVP fun in Crowfall and it is not as bad as other people have said(more than 50 players fighting each other flawless); but it is better to have the feet on the ground.

Should Crowfall change to free to play/gamepass system to assure the influx of players?


I don’t think F2P would really fix anything for Crowfall. The issue isn’t really population but long term population and F2P will attract more temporarily players than long term ones.

Reality is they should really heads down for the next year, ride out whatever funding they’ve gotten and then go for a Steam Release and a price reduction down to $20 or whatever.

Bruno Brito

F2P is absolutely a detriment for this game. The more people play it, the more they’ll complain about a game that is really not made for them. Crowfall has a specific subset of players in mind, and it’s not the majority. I think it should be more accessible for sure, but the F2P floodgates would only damage the game.


You guys are really obsessed with majority and minority audiences. It’s not really the factor you guys think it is because players rarely work as 100% for or 100% against something. Like the people who only play 100% PvP titles and people who only play 100% PvE titles are extreme ends of a wide spectrum of MMO population.

The reason people will complain is because the game is pretty “meh” right now. The UI is unwelcoming and makes you struggle against it. No one communicates because the chat is borderline unusable (kinda a bad thing for a social MMO game). Game has layers of complexity class wise but on the surface seems simple and not intuitive about how to do better.

In essence it’s mediocre and the market won’t suffer a mediocre product when there’s so many good products out there. Someone who would play a PvP game like Crowfall and not be turned off by it’s PvP nature will still be turned off by it being “meh.”

Bruno Brito

Are you telling me that if people played Crowfall and left because it was a “incomplete MMO” because it’s not a game forged for those open world players, it wouldn’t damage the game?

We disagree then.

P Jones

I think the article is missing a few important things related to the low population. Sure, if the one Dregs Campaign Worldwide or the one Shadows campaign that is running in your region is the setup you want, then that is great for you. But for the Crowfall concept to really fly it needs an order of magnitude more players. It’s built on the concept that you have all these Campaigns to choose from. Some would be for a week, some a day, some for months. Some would be full loot, some partial loot. Some you could import all your items, others you start naked, and others somewhere between the two. Right now, there is nothing to choose from really. You finish the tutorial and have a choice of joining the one worldwide Dregs campaign or the one Shadows campaign in your region. That’s it. So to say that the population feels good, is kind of ignoring that the current population severely restricts them from delivering on the multitude of campaign worlds which were pitched. These other rule types can certainly come, but with the current population I can’t see there being lots to pick from at a time.

As for the Faction campaigns, well they currently have a massive flaw in that you can simply switch to the winning side. In a game that has a set ending, and rewards that go to the winning side, this is a real head scratcher.

Crowfall in my opinion is a game that just has too many missing pieces. It seems like they are just making up the roadmap as they go. For instance, one day you have Gordon saying that Australia just doesn’t have enough players to get their own Dregs server, then the very next day they launch one. Then just a few hours before those campaigns ended, they found that players were abusing the system so they changes the win conditions. After the players had an uproar, they set them back. And the most grievous in my estimation is that they launched without a Shadow campaign. So for a month, all the new players that came into the game had nowhere to go after they finished the tutorial except into the Dregs which pretty much meant they had to join a zerg guild or quit. May quit which is why the population dwindled. Will those players give it another look now that the Shadow campaigns are underway? I think many will, but I also think a large portion won’t. And that just a sadly missed opportunity.

Crowfall has potential, but it’s had that potential for years. It’s hard for me to think that they will be able to reach that potential based on the first month of release and the very poor reception the game has generally received. We will see though, I have my VIP status paid until 2024/2025 so I certainly hope they can get more players and address the bigger issues.

Dug From The Earth

I think there is a bit more to the “population feels healthy” bit.

Its like if you went to play Bingo every friday night at the local community center, and there were a solid 100 people there. The same people that were there the friday before, and the friday before that (and so on).

There is always around 100 people playing Bingo, which gives the impression that a decent amount of people are playing, but its always the SAME people.

In many online games, the element that makes the population healthy isnt just that there are 100 of the same people playing, but that there are different people playing. Feeling like you arent just going head to head with the same group of people.

For Crowfall, It has a core group of people playing. Regularly. That makes the game feel populated. But it feels like its all the same people. So while all the game mechanics work because there are players, its missing that element of having enough players to make your interaction with the players feel different and dynamic compared to other mmorpgs.

I used to play Battlefield 2 on a custom server, and it was always the same 50 or so people playing. I made some great friendships, but after awhile, you learned everyones strategy, knew who to group with, who to stay away from, what parts of the map to avoid, who not to get in a sniper war with, etc etc. For me personally, despite the players, made me yearn for more people to play with. Ultimately, I switched to different servers to get that fresh experience of being around new people.

Crowfall may have enough players to make the game mechanics work, but that is only part of, IMO, what makes a “healthy” playerbase.


As you also point out however with your Battlefield experiences this is true of most PvP environments. It’s honestly just another reason the whole “Wolves vs Sheep” argument is so bad because most of these environments are just the same groups of PvP players who are all PvPing against each other and have been for decades in many cases across multiple games. I’ve been fighting PRX – The Professionals now since 1998 when they were under LLTS on Ultima Online Atlantic and here we are fighting again in Crowfall. The sheep have long since left the equation.

However it isn’t really a problem until you reach a stage where players stop interacting with mechanics. Like in EVE where you had the “big blue donut” scenario where everyone stopped fighting/engaging. At that point the devs need to step in and stir the pot. Part of the “magic” of open world mechanics is you never know what is going to happen. On Saturday when we went out we had nothing but huge forces of 20+ people roaming around on forts and our group of 12 would get run over. Last night we had a lot of great 6v6 or 6v8 style fights on the same forts. The experience can radically change because anything can happen in an open world environment (even if you can usually count on people just bringing more numbers).

The other big mix up is that campaigns end. Last Dregs the Acolytes Alliance was Acolytes, Hax, Dabb, and YBR. This campaign Acolytes left and joined under Diss where as FOE came in from the Western campaign and subbed under Hax. Next campaign what other alliance changes will we see? Maybe Death breaks up? Maybe PRX decides to go out on their own? The players are the same but the politics can shift. The players will be the same like the Mithril Warhammers are likely still going to be all dwarves with dwarven comps (God bless those roleplaying PvPers) but big shifts can and usually do end up happening (especially with game balance).

What’s really unfortunate is games where it can’t happen. Games where you pick a faction and oh well you ended up rolling the minority faction and are overpopped 10:1 odds on that server and no one can switch so you’re just screwed. This happened to our guild in WAR and it was just a miserable time always being overrun.


A month into release on a second Dregs campaign and it’s still okay as far as games and experiences go.

The population feels healthy on the main Dregs campaign and every night’s Fort -> Keep -> Fort windows feel extremely active in most zones (still reaching 250 pop caps in some cases). Middle of the day and there’s tons of people roaming around, ganking each other, mining resources and farming gold. We haven’t had a night yet where we go out roaming looking for people and don’t find someone to fight and that feels good.

That said I strongly doubt it will last. There’s a lot of core issues with the game that they completely missed with their first big patch and seem entirely unlikely they will address with their second one. When people go looking for content eventually someone is going to lose and with the state of the game it’s really easy to just walk away entirely than stick it out and hope for solutions. One of the big streamers for the game had two massive zergs come just fuck with them when their keep went live and his reaction was basically to never want to go back to Dregs ever again.

New World holds virtually zero interest for me. It’ll be a funzy title to play when they port it to console and I scoop it up for Xbox Game Pass for free or whatever. On the PC there’s just too many other better options than what the game offers. There’s better PvE options abundantly available. Even old PvP games like GW2 or ESO offer better PvP experiences. That doesn’t mean I wish it does badly or anything and hope the people who do enjoy it the best of times. It’s just doesn’t offer anything compelling to me.


My biggest gripe is how Earth is steamrolling by pure numbers.

But the FvF campaign is the thing I was waiting for. If they had a way to balance the numbers it’d be near perfect.


This is basically the swan song of every faction vs faction system.

P Jones

The problem is that you can just switch to the Faction that is winning. This just creates a snowball effect. They really needed to make it so your Faction choice was locked in for the duration of the campaign.