Fight or Kite: Should PvPers return for New World’s Rise of the Angry Earth expansion?


All the talk going on around me about New World and its first paid expansion has caught my attention. There’s been office chat discussing the most recent concurrent player counts, multiple pieces from MOP’s Tyler’s Vitae Aeternum column, and MOP’s Chris’ return in our Choose My Adventure column, and it’s got me ready to don my Peter Pan outfit and join up again too.

I haven’t played New World in any real capacity since around last June… that’s nearly a year and a half ago! I remember exiting it with a significant amount of disdain for the lack of care towards my time as a PvP player specifically. I simply couldn’t believe that I’d put nearly 60 hours into the game at that time without reaching the level cap – and without reaching any point where I could realistically PvP given the existing support systems and playerbase interest.

Of course, that was all before the zone changes and the adjustments to the 1 to 25 leveling curve. I haven’t magically hit the level cap in my time away. But I can’t be the only one who’s been wondering whether now is actually the right time to return. Can New World respect our time as players and provide some meaningful PvP? Is there any chance my old characters can pick up where they left off and make me a regular player again?

Angry Earth’s features aren’t specifically tailored for PvP

Right from the get-go, it’s obvious from the feature list that this expansion had a lot of content and quality-of-life improvements built into it. Notably absent, however, is much focus for the PvP-minded player. We do get to enjoy a number of the benefits, but it’s pretty clear we weren’t the target.

In the weeks leading up to the release, Tyler did a fantastic job digging into each of the features with a two-parter discussing everything players could expect to see. Most of that content just rolls right past me, but some of it is intriguing – namely, the new weapons and the mounts. A new weapon option offers up all kinds of fun stuff for PvPers. Whether I’m build-crafting or just shooting the can, I always have a good time with a new weapon set. And mounts need no explanation for their viability; certainly for open-world PvP faction tasks, they will be a boon to say the least.

Depending on your angle, the separation of PvP and PvE balance can be seen as a good thing too. When weapons are inevitably nerfed because of some conflict in PvE, hopefully it doesn’t negatively impact PvP. And on the tail end of kind-of-related-to-PvP updates is the raised level and gear caps; to me, the progression part of MMOs are usually a nuisance for PvPers, but it’s something that plenty of PvE MMORPG gamers enjoy.

Other than that, though, there isn’t really much to say on the PvP front. We didn’t get any new arenas or arena content with the expansion itself. We didn’t see any new updates or maps for the Outpost Rush. At some point the game added Influence Races, which I wasn’t entirely aware was even a PvP mode. But the expansion itself definitely gave PvP players the impression that they weren’t being catered to, to the point that the devs themselves tried to counter the idea by saying PvP updates are inbound in the future.

The population jump is real

The most important and tangible thing PvP players have gotten out of this expansion is bodies – warm, beautiful bodies. Bodies that have players behind them and will actually give you someone to fight. Just running around the world, going from waypoint to waypoint, you’ll see real players all around you. There were a few servers that I wasn’t able to join because they were full, but even the one I managed to get into said the population was high – and it appears that was the truth of it.

Now, either I never took the time to cull my chat list or it defaulted back to a world chat, but there were players from my faction going on and on about the various battles they were in and where they were starting up fights. This is an extremely good sign if you’re thinking about coming back and wondering whether you’ll have a team to play with. If I were geared up or at the level cap, I would’ve had plenty to do.

In what was the biggest surprise to me in logging back in was that I actually got a 3v3 arena match to pop. I couldn’t believe it. My jaw literally dropped as the map loaded up. It was basically a bloodbath, and I didn’t really enjoy any part of it as I was on the sidelines throughout most of the fighting, but the fact that there were enough players out there queuing with me was a delight.

New World really just needs a fully balanced PvP mode

Unfortunately, all this time in the game brought me to one big realization: New World still isn’t ready for me. I ran through and completed quests for an hour or so. I tried to get my feet wet in the combat and re-learn how to play again. But the amount of content that I just can’t participate in because I’m not at the level cap is pitiful. There’s a lot of good stuff in the game, but you need to be maxed out to really appreciate it, and if the PvE isn’t for you, you’ll never get there.

My 3v3 arena experience furthered this thought. I got stomped, even though my teammates and the opponents weren’t maxed out either; I think they were in their 40s while I’m at 35 or so. And probably my gearing wasn’t really ready for facing off with others, but it just shouldn’t be that way regardless. It shouldn’t matter. When you enter a queued arena, stats and levels should all be normalized and everyone should be fighting on an even playing field. There’s just no good reason not to do it that way in 2023.

That’s the big omission from New World right now, or one of them. But without it, I just can’t be expected to play for some unknown additional hours to reach the max level only to then be able to find out whether I actually enjoy the PvP in the game. It’s a shame because the combat is solid, and I remember having fun in the betas prior to release (when everyone playing was the same level and gear score).

If you give players a balanced place to PvP, then someone like me can run around the PvE world and level up at whatever pace you set between queues. I’ll play through the story mode; I’ll craft on and off. I’ll get immersed in your world. Or, as I’m often known to do, I’ll just PvE to kill time and take a mental break until I’m ready for some real challenges again.

Having this huge barrier to entry for PvP in the game just makes no sense, though. Unless your goal is explicitly to reduce the number of players and keep only the elites, then it’s asinine. At the very least, the expansion should have included a max character booster and set of gear – something akin to the boosts you can get in Guild Wars 2 and I think even WoW when a new expansion is released.

If New World can add at least one of these two features, then I might give it another chance. Until then, though, I just don’t see it as a good place to play if PvP is your primary interest and don’t want to dedicate time to PvE leveling.

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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