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Shadow Wars are a massive PvP battle that pits two teams against one another for control over different locations. The wars take place in the same map you're already used to, so the more familiar you are with the terrain the better off you will be.

Entering Shadow Wars is simple. All you have to do is go into the options listing and choose Matchmaking → Shadow War Quick Match. From here you will be added to the queue, regardless of your location. Once it is ready, you will automatically be teleported into the match (you will actually be given a timer first, so you can finish off grabbing an item, marking your location for reference, or whatever else you may wish to do, but you can jump in straight away if you wish as well).

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The Goal

The only goal in the wars is to hold the different points (labeled with letters, starting with A). Kills will grant you personal contribution points, but in regards to winning the match they have no benefit. As a result, you will want to focus more on the objectives at hand and less on chasing down other players to take them out. They will re spawn soon after dying, so there is no real benefit unless you are near a point that you are either trying to capture or defend.

When you first start out, there will be three capturable objectives. It appears that more spawn as more players enter the match, so it is important to watch the objective listing at the top of your screen to ensure you are always up to date on how many there are. Also, keep in mind that your team will always be blue, and the enemy team is always red. This never changes, so you will not have to worry about thinking you are on the other team when you are not.

Capturing the objectives is as simple as running up to them and standing by them. If enemies are there as well, they will be contested (not going towards either team), so you need to clear out the area around them before capturing, or ensure you are standing on the objective if you already own it. If you can get your enemies to move away from one of their points, you can capture it even while you are fighting them. All it takes is for one of your allies to be standing near the point while you work on luring the enemies away. This can also be used against you, though, so be sure that you are always attentive as to what is going on.

As long as objectives are held, they will continue ticking 10 points each towards your team's total score. You can see this at the top of the screen, and it will also have a progress bar so you can see how close the match is to ending. The match ends when either a progress bar is filled or the 20 minute timer ends, whichever is soonest. The number of players also seems to impact the total score needed to win, scaling with the number of objectives. As a result, you may see that you are half way done with a match, and then a few minutes later it is only a third of the way or so done. This does not mean that you have lost any points, but rather that the match has scaled up some more. This happens in real time, so you can actually see the switch if you happen to be watching the score when it happens.

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The Zones

The zone you're in determines which Shadow War you are queued up for. For example, being in San Fransisco will put you in one there, while being in Madera will put you in one there. If you are queued up and it is taking a long time, you can move over to a new zone and queue there to see if it is faster. This also grants the benefit of being able to choose zones you feel more comfortable with, whether it is due to the enemies found in the area or the terrain itself. Furthermore, you can join the Shadow War matches at any of the towns, so there are many to choose from.

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Some Notes

Because the battles take place out in the open world, you will run across mobs and unaffiliated players. The mobs will still attack you and kill you, so you may need to clear some of them out from time to time. Players that are not taking part in the war will still show up, but they will not show a health bar, will not be able to attack you and you will not be able to attack them. This causes a lot of confusion during fights when you are killing someone and another player runs up as well, so just keep that in mind. All enemies will have health and shield bars above their names, so if you do not see this, just keep moving on.

It is also worth noting that you will not be returned to where you started after the match ends. You will be left wherever you are at the ending. Because of this, there is no reason to get to a good “safe area” before joining. Just join up from wherever you are.

Get used to the terrain! It is best to keep practicing on a specific zone so you can get used to its layout. Explore what is near each capture objective and you will greatly boost your effectiveness out on the field. Near each objective are areas to hide and otherwise use to your advantage against your enemies. The more you get used to using these things, the better off you will be and the more kills you will score. While you are out exploring, be sure to pay special attention to areas the enemy can use to their advantage as well. The more you know about their possible plans, the easier it will be to counter them.

The Rewards

Shadow War rewards are somewhat lacking at the moment. You get credit towards different “goals,” or achievements, which is helpful to those that are interested in completing all aspects of the game. For those that do not, there are experience and Keycode rewards as well, although neither of them amount to a lot. If you really like to do PvP, though, this will allow you to level through just Shadow Wars, although it will take a while to do so. At lower levels the experience comes very fast, but as you continue up the level grind it will start slowing down to a point where the Shadow Wars are no longer profitable as a form of experience.

Personal contribution also does not seem to impact rewards, so work towards helping your team, rather than going off on your own in an attempt to score as many points as possible. You can rank higher on the leader board like that, but at the risk of losing the match with no added benefit. There is nothing the leaderboards benefit you by doing (other than boosting your own ego – not to be confused by EGO) so just ignore it altogether and you will do much better. When it really comes down to it, you can relate the leaderboards in Defiance as being like those you see after Rift's warfronts; they really do more harm than good and just promote bad play styles.

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Conclusion

Shadow Wars are great for players that want to take part in large scale combat both defending and attacking objectives out on the battlefield. Because the individual scores are not as important as the team ones, the focus is put more on winning the match than caring about your own contribution (which is often counter productive). You can also level up using the wars, although they are better left to be used as filler levels (meaning you do not use them as a sole means for leveling, although it is possible to do so).

When you do the Shadow Wars, be sure to ignore the leaderboards. It will create more problems than it is worth, and you really want to focus on helping your team than trying to win what is really just an imaginary contest.

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