Blizzard is introducing a feature into the Mists of Pandaria beta called Cross-Realm Zones. This system works the opposite of Guild Wars 2′s Overflow Server. Instead of making new zones when the one you want to go to is full, Cross-Realm Zones bring players from zones on other realms together. This combats the opposite problem a game just launched faces; When a title has reached the eight year mark and players are no longer flooding the lowbie zones it can be a lonely experience for someone leveling an alt or even a rare new player. (Edit: I want to add in that it also handles Overflow like GW2.)
Overall, I like the idea. I play MMORPG’s to play with other people. I want to see others around me experiencing the same thing. I’m one of those weird people that has more fun when I know I’m sharing an experience with someone else. When I come across a quest I can’t complete alone, the whole point of playing a MMO is to find someone else to help. If no one else is available, my enjoyment plummets.
The key to Cross-Realm Zones is they’re coming at a time when the game is older. If this system was introduced earlier in WoW’s life, or didn’t work only on the realms suffering from population deficiency, then I would be worried about server identity issues and the community being disjointed. The reality facing a game like WoW is that there isn’t much of a community for the lowbies to participate in while playing in empty zones.
Graev and I were talking about this and the only real downside we could think of was a ganking issue, or if I actually don’t want anyone else around me while leveling up. If a level 85 wants to roam around zones for low-level prey, now it will be easier to find zones populated with poor defenseless lowbies. Exploiting this system is something Blizzard will have to watch.
In my opinion, this system would actually help breathe new life into WoW for many players. In fact, I hope SWTOR, Rift, and other games struggling with population issues in lower level (and higher level) zones adopt Cross-Realm Zones.