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. susaku's Avatar
    While this does seem alright and quite fun actually and I hate to be the spoilsport/pessimist. But what impact will this have on Roleplaying servers? People sometimes roleplay in these quieter zones. Won't this be kind of ruining that by having people from other realms running about?
    Else I am completely fine with this idea, it sounds very fun.

    Edit: and what about PvE and PvP servers? You can't really say anymore "PvP on a PvP server", when you are in a PvE server that has zoned together with a PvP zone.
  1. Syridian's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Sarahstrasza View Post
    i'd rather they took off level caps on dungeon requirements.. So when i'm bored at 90 and want to cycle through old dungeons, I can queue and help 4 lower levels through without them getting a penalty.
    I don't queue for instances while levelling to be boosted by a level 85 stranger. If I want boosting, that's what I ask for. Please don't break a perfectly good system with this sort of short sighted suggestion.
  1. Zoneseek's Avatar
    oh nice maybe some actual world pvp will happen in lowbie zones again
  1. Drakoes's Avatar
    This will definitely make lvl'ing up more enjoyable, rather than a "deserted" experience.
  1. Lucette's Avatar
    Now let me team up with friends cross-realm for arenas.
  1. Slowpoke is a Gamer's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Thustra View Post
    My prediction: in a year we'll just chose PVP - PVE - RP - RP-PVP and there are no actual servers anymore.
    Some people may call this a joke, but I actually think this is possible. Right now there are actually zones that have no server. It's a free-for-all. I could easily see this expanded along those lines.

    Not to mention cross-realm guilds, grouping, the idea of server will become just a way of catagorizing players, not an actually used mechanic.
  1. Merawen's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by susaku View Post
    While this does seem alright and quite fun actually and I hate to be the spoilsport/pessimist. But what impact will this have on Roleplaying servers? People sometimes roleplay in these quieter zones. Won't this be kind of ruining that by having people from other realms running about?
    Else I am completely fine with this idea, it sounds very fun.
    Maybe only the zones of the same Servers Types are shard?
    At least the PvPs and PvE must be seperated.

    With this system the can even auto balancing the Factions on PvP servers with it!
  1. Stankymcgee's Avatar
    This sounds like a pretty neat idea. I like the fact that it will make zones seem more alive, which I know alot of players on low pop servers have been asking for.
  1. Atomisk's Avatar
    This just kept me subbed for another few years lol
  1. nimryas's Avatar
    This is freaking amazing, tempted to keep playing wow :O
  1. rickhunterr's Avatar
    Sounds like a server merge without merging servers. I like it.
  1. Azgraal's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Nerraw View Post
    This could be one of the greatest technological advances they're making this expansion. O.o
    This. The first thing i thought when i read this articles was "what a freaking coding nightmare this must have been!"
  1. Nerraw's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Dakario View Post
    Also, what about Moonguard and goldshire if Elwynn forest gets Cross realm zoned :O
    Poor battlegroup.
  1. Snorri's Avatar
    And this is why WoW still is the best MMORPG there is.
  1. zwiggy's Avatar
    the barrens chat....... But ALL OVER!!!!
  1. Synche's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Tilie View Post
    This gives so much potential for world PvP it's ridiculous.
    Pretty much this.

    I hope that the selection of servers will be large (say the same as a battleground group) so that there is a decent population to pull from.

    Soon enough I hope we move away from Home Servers and that everything is just instanced (although could cause issues as well but less so) as nothing sucks more than a dead server.
  1. Moorden's Avatar
    This will go well with the battle tag friend system.
  1. Slowpoke is a Gamer's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Sarahstrasza View Post
    i'd rather they took off level caps on dungeon requirements.. So when i'm bored at 90 and want to cycle through old dungeons, I can queue and help 4 lower levels through without them getting a penalty.
    No. Because then you just solo everything.

    I'd rather dungeons were made a tad harder, so players learn real skills for level 90.
  1. taylor20k's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Hoef View Post
    This then makes leveling extremely boring when we have a 90 boosting us through dungeons ;s takes all the fun away.
    well with challenge mode dungeons we know that they can scale us down to certain ilevels would be cool if they scaled a lvl 90 down to lvl 18 stats or whatever and then we could run just as if we were 18. our action bars would just have lvl 18 and below spells and everything.
  1. Draenox's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Dakario View Post
    Also, what about Moonguard and goldshire if Elwynn forest gets Cross realm zoned :O
    Moonguards Elwynn Forest wont ever be marked as low-pop with that community around

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