MMO-Champion - Cross-Realm Zones Coming to Beta
Update: Clarification about realm grouping, initial zones, and zone splitting added.

Cross-Realm Zones Coming to Beta
Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment
In the World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria beta, we’re introducing a new technology that will enable players to meet up and group with other players in under populated areas of the world such as low level zones or areas that other players may have outleveled or moved on from. This technology will allow players to form a group with other players from within a select pool of realms in order to quest just like they normally would while still allowing the social structures of their home realms to remain intact.

During the initial phase of testing we will be sharing the following zones between the available beta realms: Northern Barrens, Ashenvale, Azshara, Darkshore, Westfall, and Silithus. We are also able to split over-populated zones and will be testing this new technology on the Pandaren starting area (turtle zone).

For beta testing purposes, we will be matching up all realm types whether they are PvP or PvE. This is different than what we plan to do for the live realms, however. For the live realms we will be matching realm types: PvP with PvP, PvE with PvE, RP-PvP with RP-PvP, and RP-PvE with RP-PvE. As always, we plan to keep an eye on constructive feedback while in testing of this new technology.

F.A.Q.

Q. Why cross-realm zones?
For many years now, the significant majority of the player population online at any given time has consisted mostly of characters at or near the level cap. This has resulted in an environment where characters that are leveling up experience a world that has fewer other players to interact with than what the world was designed for. Cross-realm zones give us the capability to ensure that level-up zones retain a population size that feels more like the high level areas of the game, leading to a more fun play experience for characters of all levels.

Q. How do cross-realm zones work?
When you’re in a zone that is set as a ‘cross-realm zone’ you’ll notice that in addition to the players you’d ordinarily see from your realm, you’ll also see (and be able to play with) players from other realms. This will happen seamlessly, and players will be able to group and quest as they normally would with players from their own realm.

Q. How will this work on boats or zeppelins?

Usually transitions will occur on area boundaries (think moving from Darkshore to Ashenvale).

Q. Can I form groups with the people I meet in the zone?
Yes! You can group and talk to others within the cross-server zone normally though trading will be restricted much as it is within raids, dungeons, or battlegrounds.

Q. Will my cross-realm group be disbanded if we move on to an adjacent zone together, like from Goldshire to Westfall or from Thousand Needles to Feralas?
Much like how cross-realm groups currently work, your party won’t be disbanded when you move through different zones, though if you’re not in the same home realm, you won’t be able to see each other if you’re in separate zone instances.

Q. Will I be able to group with my friends?
Yes, you will be able to group with your Real ID friends, provided they are within the same faction. The functionality works the same as it does for cross-realm dungeons, raids, or Battlegrounds.

Q. What level range do my friends and I have to be within in order to group?
There is no restriction on level ranges. You’ll be able to group with anyone you would normally be able to.

Q. Can I go into main capital cities while grouped with others?
Capital cities and areas with regularly high populations will not be set as cross-server areas/zones so you will not be able to enter into the same instance of a city as someone who is from a different realm.

Q. Will I be able to trade with others I meet?
Trading restrictions are in place much the same as they are in cross-realm dungeons, raids, and battlegrounds.

Q. How is group loot handled?
Group looting will function the same as it would with any group you would create through normal play.

Q. Who will I be playing with?
You’ll be able to interact with players from within a select pool of realms which will make it possible to run into a player in Redridge that you already ran into within Westfall.

Q. What areas will be shared?
This can vary from realm to realm and relies on how densely populated (or underpopulated) an area is. Capital cities and areas with regularly high populations will not be eligible for area sharing.

Q. What about resources or gathering nodes, will those be shared too?
Resources and nodes will be available to all parties within the shared area the same as always. We will be keeping a close eye on the impact of area sharing and should an area become too populated, we are capable of adjusting how many realms are able to connect to a shared area.

Q. Does this mean that Auction Houses will be merged?

No, when any player access an Auction House, they will be only able to access their home realm’s Auction House.

Q. What about zones that are already overpopulated, like new race starting zones?

With this technology, we can also flag zones to allow for more than one copy of that zone per realm. Players on that realm will be split among those copies in order to alleviate problems due to overpopulation. Players won’t normally see or interact with those on a different instance of their zone, although joining a party will relocate all party members to a single instance of that zone.

Q. How will this work for PvP vs. PvE realms? Will these realm types be shared?
No. Realm types will be matched with like realm types. So if you’re on a PvE realm, you’ll only be matched with other PvE realms. The same rules will apply for matching RP realm types and will be restricted to matching RP-PvP with RP-PvP and RP-PvE with RP-PvE. We plan to keep an eye on constructive feedback while testing this new technology.

Q. How will RID groups work? Which realm type would we play on?
If you group up with somebody from a different rule type (via RealID for example) and go into a cross-realm zone you’ll be on the ruleset for that player’s realm type. So, if you’re on a PvP realm and a friend joins your group from a PvE realm and enters a cross-realm zone, the group will be in one of the PvP realm clusters and will use the PvP realm ruleset.

Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment
Q: I really don't see any reason to group with others when everything is so easy to do at the lower levels. All these other people will be doing is killing my mobs and taking my resources.
The game is specifically designed with variable respawns, and huge influxes of players on launches. Having very few people in a zone is actually not what the game is supposed to be.

Q: Will be have to zone to every zone from now on then?
No, it's as seamless as it is today.
This article was originally published in forum thread: Cross-Realm Zones Coming to Beta started by chaud View original post
Comments 597 Comments
  1. Wizler's Avatar
    Excellent! With all the cross-sever technology, you'd think they could do ACCOUNT-wide heirloom transfers which we've wanted forever.
  1. Tinykong's Avatar
    Coming from a long time player, normally I would think this was bad idea and going to have a negative impact on the game, however, I've been leveling a new toon for the last couple of weeks, and I must say, 1-60 content is pretty dead. I never needed to group with anyone to complete any quests, I could que from anywhere in the world for a dungeon or PVP. I leveled a Draenei on Kalimdor going through the human starter questing areas, eventually getting up to level 58 without really running into another player. It wasn't until I hit level 74 that I came across another player from my faction, we grouped up to complete a quest he/she was having trouble with, qued for a few dungeons, and added each other to our friends list in case we should be leveling again at the same time.

    The point I'm trying to make, is that for new players, the game feels very lifeless. Unless you have a massive amount of money, or want to spend your time farming instead of playing, professions are inaccessible to new players. 30-40g per stack of low level herb/ore is completely unobtainable to a fresh player without an 85 to bank roll them. They will make almost zero connections in game, when I first started playing WoW the people who I wound up being guilded with were often the people who I grouped with for harder quests and zones, and eventually found people who I shared a demeanor with and went on to raid with them.

    Anything that promotes more people being out in more parts of the game is a good thing. Make it accessible, populate it well, and get the community to become engaged again and take it back from the trolls!
  1. Spl4sh3r's Avatar
    Wonder how this will work on PvP realms....
  1. Adrena's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by [email protected] View Post
    Pretty much called this in the other thread about the non-existant 10.2 million subscribers. Blizzard are unwilling to admit that the number of subscribers is actually in steep decline in the US & EU.
    And you know that how exactly? Or are you suggesting that Blizzard are deliberately misleading both player and investors of the subscriber numbers in some vain hope that they won't find out?

    Also, whilst slightly off-topic, why do I get the feeling your the exact sort of player who manages to get their account hacked and never know why?
  1. gurv's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by eschatological View Post
    This opens up the game. As long as: 1) spawns are kept variable, 2) named quest mob sharing (ungrouped) is somehow implemented, and 3) they address max level/AH stuff as well, this is a good thing.
    I think 2) is already in game.
    It worked that way when I quested during the overcrowded Cata launch
  1. greyghost's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by eschatological View Post

    This opens up the game. As long as: 1) spawns are kept variable, 2) named quest mob sharing (ungrouped) is somehow implemented, and 3) they address max level/AH stuff as well, this is a good thing.

    A good first step, imo.
    This was a feature implemented with Cataclysm. All overhauled quests in Eastern Kingdoms/Kalimdor + the Cata quest zones had named quest mobs 'untaggable'. For example, the giant Ettin that patrols around Tol Barad could give credit to all who attack it.
  1. Terrafros's Avatar
    So long as they group RP realms together. I do not want to have the zones used for RPing now, to be filled with a bunch of people who think it's funny to interrupt what you're doing with jumping and spamming.
  1. finchna's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Herecius View Post
    I've been saying it forever; Blizzard is going to, over time, slowly break down the boundaries between servers, and they'll keep doing it and modifying how the servers work until those boundaries are almost totally gone.

    This is a good thing, by the way.
    so instead of 10s or 100s getting started on an expansion, trying to do quests, etc. you can have 1000s or 10000s or more trying for the same quest resources, etc. world's weren't set up to run with millions, so, no, bad idea.
  1. greyghost's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by kays View Post
    oh god terrible idea is terrible, this should be called you'll never finish a kill quest again!
    Wow, I know right? I'd hate for you to try out playing an MMORPG, I don't think you'd ever cut it having to play around other players.
  1. Baracuda's Avatar


    0:04-0:07 = My reaction
  1. Randytravis's Avatar
    I think this is a absolutely immense feature. For those who are thinking they won't be able to complete quests any more because of over population or won't be able to farm nodes, don't be retards. It's not going to be crammed full...... A bit of of competition over nodes is right anyway. The game is designed that way from economy to re spawn rates etc. That's how it should be. As Tinykong said above great addition for new players.
  1. James Black's Avatar
    They might as well merge all servers together and divide people to different phases when an area reaches x amounts of players.
  1. zugzug's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by kays View Post
    oh god terrible idea is terrible, this should be called you'll never finish a kill quest again!
    What about gathering those 15 bear meats from a bear population that 3/4 of them are meatless. Now there wont be even meatless bears.
  1. Kumashy's Avatar
    And just when you think Blizzard ran out of cool ideas, they come and hit you with a bat. The potential of this is simply amazing, in all aspects of the game.

    Kudos blizzard.

    ---------- Post added 2012-05-10 at 06:11 PM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by Emophia View Post
    This doesn't help those of use who are already max level on dead servers at all.

    I can't even buy landslide on the AH one my server, that's how bad it is right now.

    I sincerely hope this isn't all you have planned to help deal with low Pop servers.
    Transfer to a high-pop server perhaps? You DO have the option, you know?
  1. Frozenbeef's Avatar
    goldshire will be fun....merge them all! MUAHAHAHAH
  1. kays's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by greyghost View Post
    Wow, I know right? I'd hate for you to try out playing an MMORPG, I don't think you'd ever cut it having to play around other players.
    i can cut it playing with other people but adding more people for no reason? i dont ever see someone while trying to get to 80-85 and say wow i wanna pay with you! no i just wanna get to 85 as fast as possible alone or with somebody i know or just do dungeon finder and if i find someone cool on there then ill quest with them but this is like throwing 30 lions in a cage with 1 gazelle in it do you honestly think people are going to be all happy cheery about it no we just want to level and get to level cap because face it after the first time leveling story doesnt mean anything and you could care less about anything but getting to max i dont mind other people but adding more people to make it feel like a high pop place and hope everyone is friendly is just asking for trolls and unhappy people like me
  1. Herecius's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by finchna View Post
    so instead of 10s or 100s getting started on an expansion, trying to do quests, etc. you can have 1000s or 10000s or more trying for the same quest resources, etc. world's weren't set up to run with millions, so, no, bad idea.
    No... they can cap the number of people that would show up in a Cross-Realm zone pretty easily. This is hardly implying that there will be thousands of people all in one zones.

    The idea is that there would be multiple instances of the same zone with people from different realms, as many instances as there needs to be for the questing experience to not be degraded by the number of people in the zone. It's a great concept. The tech is already there to join the instance of somebody from another server, so you'd be able to play with friends regardless of what server they're on.

    I imagine this is only another step in a long line of planned developments to continually break down the boundaries between servers.
  1. Kolz's Avatar
    Very very cool to see blizzard doing this. Leveling won't feel like such a ghost town experience now hopefully... heck, maybe world pvp might actually happen!
  1. Frozenbeef's Avatar
    what about ganking? 0o instead of 1 level 85 corpse camping you...you get 5! <3
  1. Herecius's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Frozenbeef View Post
    what about ganking? 0o instead of 1 level 85 corpse camping you...you get 5! <3
    Remember it would go both ways, though; there might be more of an opposite faction in a zone, but there will also be more of your faction.

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