I spent the last couple of hours dinking around in-game, writing down thoughts on this morning's Connected Realms announcement, and browsing Twitter. I looked over the official release and what piqued my interest the most was two-fold. Firstly, the language suggests Connected Realms are currently intended for lower-pop zones:
By allowing players from two or more lower-pop realms to play together, we hope to give more players more opportunities to participate in group-oriented activities, helping to foster a more vibrant in-game community.Secondly, Connected Realms doesn't seem to be a feature that will be rolled out to all lower-pop realms when they finally release it. Which, by the way, could feasibly come in the midst of patch 5.4---not necessarily when the patch drops.
We haven't decided yet which realms will be made part of a Connected Realm...And then later:
We haven't yet determined when we'll be creating the first Connected Realms...Seems like these virtual mergers will not be done along Battlegroups like some were speculating. There's been a wide range of reactions to the news, but it seems players on lower-pop realms are the feature's true targets.
I feel this is an interesting development, since many players who play on low-pop servers report doing so because of the type of gaming experience it affords then: essentially uninterrupted solo-play with the option to easily jump into group content if they so desire while experiencing little to no competition for resources when out in the open world. As I see it, this isn't a good development for this type of player. And judging by the reaction to similar consequences as a result of CRZs, there are a lot of players who prefer to play this way.
Some argue that the single-player attitude needs to be taken out of the equation because of its self-flagellating tendencies: any interruption unplanned or independent of a player's own action can be perceived as an inconvenience and a time-waste, for desiring to be ever-alone means that getting ganked, jostling for quest items or fighting over nodes and rare spawns are all sources of very real despair (view the forum search results for "Cross Realm Zone" if you don't believe me). Could this be Blizzard deliberately trying to break people free from the perception that World of Warcraft is mostly a single-player game with optional multi-player content---not the other way around? Or is this simply Blizzard reinforcing the game's "MMO-ness," as they've essentially said themselves?
While I wouldn't have minded a larger pool to choose from for PvE purposes on Emerald Dream, it appears that's not going to happen. What I take away from this is that whether there are 7 million players, 11 million players, or 2 million players, it's clear we're intended to be playing this game together.
What do you think?
View the official release