There has been exciting news evolving around the upcoming April Feature Pack to Guild Wars 2. The most excitement seems to stir from the renewed trait system along with new grandmaster traits, a new wardrobe system and balance updates. All of these are definitely seen as a welcome shiny coat of paint to the game.
Today's released news is certainly mega though! ArenaNet coined their new system of merging map populations together as megaservers. Instead of being separated into each of our own maps based on our home server, servers of the same region will be brought together resulting in a more populated map. The new system will place gamers together on a map based on their party, guild, language, home world, and other factors.
Sounds familiar? Even though many of our friends have been separated by home servers, there have been times when we could meet up (within the same region) on an overflow without having to guest to other's home server. Essentially Guild Wars 2 has always retained the district system we loved in the original Guild Wars, but you could say that it was well disguised. In Guild Wars 1, multiple districts (or instances) of towns and outposts in Guild Wars would dynamically open to accommodate the population going there. Districts would often feel busy, especially for major towns where players would tend to switch up to the first few districts to be exposed to more people than lower districts.
Guild Wars 2 has not provided a method for players to distinguish one instance of an overflow from another, other than joining on party members to be reunited in a common instance. It sounds like megaservers will make this even more true since there won't be a home server version of an area anymore. Essentially every map (apart from town maps I believe) will be an overflow.
One could argue that this is a smart way for ArenaNet to merge servers without actually saying the word 'merge'. Server mergers of MMORPGs are often a sign for the nature of the game population. We'll never truly know how many times a map has divided itself into other instances. Ignoring the fact that the MMORPG market is very competitive, the emptiness we see in low level maps is largely due to the nature of how the game progresses. End game areas (as we know it now) have been more profitable to play in, not to forget dungeons runs which isolate a party from the rest of the world. Players only occasionally take toons to lower level areas to aid friends or gather low tier materials. If ArenaNet were to release an expansion to Tyria, those maps would ideally see a nicer population spread along with existing end game areas, due to the level 80 cap.
The introduction of megaservers will no doubt raise concerns regarding habits that players are currently accustomed to. In the future, how will we track boss spawn times, open dungeons, uncontested temples, harvest nodes and more? All of these things were previously based on distinguishing between home servers. Uness if megaservers instances are distinguishable, I for one welcome the returning need for exploration and map communication to accomplish goals. Much of the "living" nature of Guild Wars 2 has been lost to tracking tools. Can we finally stop telling newcomers to rely on 3rd party websites for hand holding?
Argue with me as you will. I want an immersive game, yet not a totally immersive game. Megaservers will additionally fade the lines between home servers and we'll have less of an idea of which server to align to. Gone will be the days of servers claiming the first victory on tough living story content, gone are the days of PvE politics (if such a thing ever existed). Your server pride will be limited to the experience in World vs World. Tyrians will be united more than ever. Oh wait I almost forgot, lets defeat Mordremoth before those europeans!
There is even more to come when ArenaNet reveals their plans to further facilitate friendly play in the coming two days. Things are really shaping up to be a complete package!