Chaos Theory: TSW's new PvP -- how do you like them Big Apples?

Chaos Theory  TSW's new PvP  how you like them Big Apples
Back when you all sent me into The Secret World for Choose My Adventure, little did you know that someday I'd be in the driver's seat of Chaos Theory. Yet here I am! It was quite the stroke of luck (to say nothing of the behind-the-scenes plotting and the occasional subtle manipulations) that landed me here. I promise, I didn't break too many fingers wresting the keys away from Jef, so you'll continue to see him all over Massively. I am pretty sure he can type with a cast...

Anyway, let's get down to business because there is so much that can be said about The Secret World and not nearly enough time to say it! So what's my debut column going to be? Well, truthfully, I was going to delve into a few points of the new Big Trouble in the Big Apple update. But once I started, the sheer magnitude of all the stuff just filled page after page after page. So instead, I relegated one aspect to a different column (be sure to check out Some Assembly Required on December 7th!) and retooled my focus here to just the new PvP experience.

You've heard about what the changes are and how excited some players are for them, but how do they play out in day-to-day PvP life in TSW? Keep reading to see.

The Secret World screenshot
In theory
Whether you got the gist of the changes through Massively or you read through the entire dev blog yourself, you already know that a slew of PvP changes blew in with Issue #4. From cross-dimensional Fusang to new rewards to an underdog buff, the idea was to not only make the PvP experience easier to access but give players a reason to actually engage the enemy once there.

Allowing folks from multiple dimensions to queue for Fusang together creates larger pool of potential PvPers available to jump in. Although the queues are not all-inclusive (the battlegroups are divided into three, with Cerberus, Arcadia, and Leviathan being one, Drac and Kobold the second, and Daemon, Grim, and Huldra comprising the third), there should be more folks wandering the streets at any given time looking for a fight. Add to that the new incentives to spread out and defend points -- instead of the previous circular zerging -- and you see the emphasis is on engaging in PvP instead of objective-swapping.

More PvPers! More PvP! It sounds great. But do these goals hold up once put into practice?

In practice
To test out the new PvP and see how well it met its goals, I did what any scientifically minded person would: I screamed in maniacal glee and threw myself into the very bowels of war with rifle blazing. Er, that is, I experimented. Now this is not to say that this is every person's experience or the all-out truth, but this is what I discovered while utilizing the new system over the past week.

The Secret World screenshots
1. The map is a lie.

This one actually threw me off completely. When you open the PvP map to queue and take a look at Fusang, you might note that one faction has 100% (or close enough to it) of the zone, discouraging your participation. At first, I saw that the Illuminati ruled Fusang, so I was hesitant to jump in there as a Templar, wondering whether I would be soloing against a sea of gas masks. I kept an eye on it, but the map never changed. Once I finally decided to kamikaze the zone, I grit my teeth, queued, and... found a completely different map once I loaded in. That's right, Templars actually ruled 100% of the zone, not the Lumies.

I left and re-queued multiple times on multiple days and actually found the same exact thing each time: The queue map indicated the Lumies owned Fusang, but in reality, it was the Templars all the way. During these experiments I did learn an interesting trick to help bypass the inaccuracy of the map: When you queue for Fusang, if it pops instantly, your faction is severely underrepresented and you are most likely the underdog with few -- if any -- objectives. However, if you have to wait two to five minutes, your faction controls the zone.

Once inside, I also noted that the internal zone map would not necessarily show my compatriots and where they were. I knew they were there because I saw objectives being taken, but not a single icon showed up for quite a while. I worry about the inaccurate maps dissuading people from jumping in. But honestly, the maps are only one component of the experience. So how is the action once you get inside? That's my second point...

The Secret World screenshot2. The circular zerg is gone, but so is PvP.

True to intention, the days of factions running circles around Fusang trading objectives is gone, except now they don't seem to change at all, and the zerg just changed into a swarm. In my time so far in Fusang, I have seen only a couple of anima wells change hands, and never a facility. Since White Marks of Venice are awarded according to how many objectives you kept control of, folks really are spread out all over the map making sure the objectives remain in Templar hands. I say Templar specifically because whenever I log in, there are always so many Templars that the map looks like an ant farm, but there is never even a full party of other factions. In fact, I have logged in one faction to find myself the only one, but when I move to Temps, I drown in groups.

Sadly, instead of encouraging more PvP, this implementation seems to have driven out the other two faction members, who no longer have a chance to secure any objectives. Thanks to the constant spread-out zerg of one faction, there isn't even any PvP because there are no other factions to fight!

Wait, why don't the other factions just load in and go fight the Templars, especially when they have access to the underdog buff, granting them control of a guardian?

3. Bullies are lonely.

Well, that would be because they can't even get into Fusang. No, seriously. I was so excited at one point to see some PvP spring up on the map that I ran over to it to try to get in on the action. What I found was one faction (mine) camping the entry point of another. The other faction couldn't even step into Fusang more than a foot before being slaughtered. I turned around and left in disgust.
PvP folks, that's pretty counterproductive. How many people are going to keep coming into the zone under that scenario? Few to none, as evidenced by the complete lack of two factions in Fusang. This ended up not only discouraging PvP but also giving one group a chance to earn easy PvP tokens for doing next to nothing.

Chaos Theory  TSW's new PvP  how you like them Big Apples
4. A free ride.

The new system also encourages an even lazier collection of PvP tokens -- for one faction, at least. Basically Templars can load in and sit in the zone all day just soaking up the tokens every three minutes without doing anything other than be outside of the starting area. I was shocked to see myself gaining tokens while grabbing screenshots. At least before, I had to run between objectives!

In effect, we went from one style of PvP token farming to another style of PvP token farming without adding more PvP. And in this scenario, only one faction gets the tokens instead of all three. I am glad that the devs will be monitoring how things go and tweaking; I hope that a huge tweak is in the works for Fusang, which has potential that is still unrealized.

The Secret World screenshot
Wait, what do you mean it is time to go already? But, but, but... there is still so much more to cover! We could discuss Stonehenge and El Dorado, the new reticle combat, the upgradable PvP gear, and plenty of new missions... oh fine. I guess we have to leave something for next time. So until then, may all your paranoia be unfounded!

Conspiracies, paranoia, secrets, and chaos -- the breakfast of champions! Feast on a bowl full with MJ every other Monday as she infiltrates The Secret World to bring you the latest word on the streets of Gaia in Chaos Theory. Heard some juicy whispers or have a few leads you want followed? Send them to and she'ill jump on the case!
This article was originally published on Massively.