Cross-Realm Zones

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.

  • I think this feature has the potential to vastly improve the MMO experience. Think a game like RIFT: at first, the experience is working pretty much as intended, and all these zones have robust populations working through the various events together and it’s a blast. There’s always a worry at the back of your mind, though: sure, on the surface this is a fun system, but will it work once things settle into their equilibrium and 80% of these zones are essentially empty? Does the system have the potential to thrive in the long term?

    For a game like GW2, that’s an even more important question, because it has such a social questing system. It’s a questing system that’s often harsh for the lone player. It’s mind-blowing how elegantly a cross-realm zone feature could fit into GW2’s design.

  • Guild Wars 2 does this also.. its called “guesting” lets you visit another home server to do pve content with people.

  • Simple and at the same time brilliant idea. And people wonder how WoW has managed to stay ahead of the pack for so long.

  • @Bartillo: Guesting is an opt-in system, whereas Cross-Realm Zones happen seamlessly without you even knowing it; Or so they say.

  • @bartillo

    GW2 doesn’t do this. “Guesting” is more or less a free server transfer feature — it does nothing to solve the problem of underpopulated zones.

  • While it may sound nice.
    There is a downside to it.

    What about making friends? playing with someone and then you are unable to meet them again, because they are on another server.

    It makes no sense to me.

    This sounds like as much of a fail as when WOW went from server located battlegrounds to cross server battlegrounds.
    (There was a time where the top realm pvpers knew each other as well as the opposition even if you could not communicate with them you knew and respected them.
    If you did well and where a team player you got noticed and invited to preteams.)

    A double sided blade if you ask me.

  • I don’t think that this is better than GW2 IF GW2 fixes overflow from breaking groups. If GW2 fixes that, then I would still choose GW2’s version over this.

    I don’t want 50 people on my friends list that I may never team up or even talk to much again. Doesn’t serve any real purpose in the end.

  • I think you’re failing to see the point. Without this system, some players may go days without even seeing another player or have no one to play the game with get help on quests. This is a system to help an old game with a dying low-level population.

    Like Damage Inc said, it’s like server merges without actually merging servers. GW2’s system is only players from your own server. The whole reason Cross-Realms exist is because there isn’t enough people on your own realm to play with.

  • In a sense this is a solution to a Blizzard-made problem though. They’ve trivialised leveling to such an extent that alting is very boring now, plus they even removed all the group quests as people whined that they couldn’t solo them.

    So other than seeing ‘player-guided NPCs’ walking around competing for mining nodes etc what is the point of this? The Dungeon Finder has removed any need to enter the world for instance runs of course and there aren’t many decent group quests or open-world elite mobs to kill anymore…

    If this system is the first step in restoring some challenging open world PVE group activities then sure I’ll applaud but at the moment I can’t see it being that useful.

  • @Telwyn: You’re absolutely right about it being a solution to a problem they created. The world is linear and there is little need to return once you’ve progressed beyond a zone, and leveling is so quick and trivial that it happens in a matter of hours.

  • I think it’s a good idea, with a few additions. You should be able to opt out of the Cross-Realm zone or, if you are above the zone’s recommended levels you should be unable to go Cross-Realm in that zone.

  • There are zero quests in the revamped cata 1-60 levelling experience that require help from other players though. If anything, the increased focus on “click this item in the world” quests actually makes other players detrimental, and the whole thing is so streamlined and linear that you have little choice in avoiding some of these log-jams.

    I was told of an anecdote from the MOP beta about a quest that required every single Pandaren character to click a gong in order to progress – yet only one person could click on it at at time, forcing people to queue up.

    If MMOs want people to be social and not view other players as impediments to progress they need to stop creating these sorts of quests. It’s what I quite liked about GW2s heart system, there seems to be much less competition with other people involved – though there is still “pick up” objectives you’re not forced to do them, and often an event could pop up, making you welcome the other people being there.

  • Are there really any group quests left in low level WOW that would benefit from this?

    This system would be good if Blizz was going to introduce public quests at some point, since I remember in Warhammer public quests become pointless when there was no one in the zone.

  • Great idea by blizzard.

    So now my friends and I wil still be on a dead server with an empty auction house.

    We all have a milion alts to farm stuff because you can never buy it. And now when I venture out of the city I will have to compete for the resources with people from other servers that will never ever put it up for sale on our dead auction house?

    Way to make dead servers deader.