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Connected Realms (also called "Virtual Realms") is a new feature that will be implemented for Patch 5.4, but not activated until some time after the patch launches. Connected realms are essentially several fairly low population servers merged into one, they will be able to interact with the other players as though they were on the same realm. Unlike Cross-realm zones the player's server name will not appear alongside their name in the game world, but only in chat.
Q. Why are you implementing Connected Realms?
- A. As WoW has evolved, we’ve seen players naturally gravitate toward a subset of very active realms, leaving behind lower-populated realms. Due to the massively multiplayer nature of World of Warcraft, certain kinds of gameplay experiences simply aren’t well-suited to a low-pop realm. 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.
- Connected Realms also allow us to link populations in a way that’s not disruptive to players, and that doesn’t negatively impact players’ sense of identity and character. Other alternatives such as merging realms would require us to force character name changes if there were conflicts, and could lead to confusion for returning players who’d log in to find their realm missing from the realm list. Some players also feel strong ties to their realm’s name or history, and we don’t want to erase that.
Q. Why implement this now?
- A. Our cross-realm technology has continued to evolve since it was first developed for joining players in dungeons. It’s now at a point where we can create seamless worlds made up of multiple individual realms, and we think there are some really positive benefits to that.
Q. How can I tell if someone is on my Connected Realm, but from a different realm?
- A. We want the experience to feel seamless so we won’t be indicating player’s home realms in the game world. In certain places, such as chat, players' home realms will be displayed next to their name.
Q. Which realms will be connected as Connected Realms?
- A. We haven’t decided yet which realms will be made part of a Connected Realm, or which other realms they’ll be connected to, though realms will only be connected to other realms of the same type (e.g. PvE to PvE, PvP to PvP, RP to RP). In the end, we’re considering a number of factors, including Battlegroup, population, and faction balance.
Q. How many realms will make up a Connected Realm?
- A. We don’t know how many realms will make up a Connected Realm yet, and it’s likely to differ from Connected Realm to Connected Realm. Our goal is to create a vibrant and fun online experience where you can join guilds, access an active Auction House, and band together to take on group content.
Q. Will Connected Realms have any limitations?
- A. There should be no limitations. We want the experience to be seamless, and we expect it work as if you’re suddenly part of a much more active realm.
Q. When will Connected Realms be available?
- A. We haven’t yet determined when we’ll be creating the first Connected Realms, but we expect it will be some time after the launch of Patch 5.4.
This was the original name for Connected Realms and was slated to be a part of Patch 5.4, but now has apparently been renamed and delayed until some time after the launch of the patch.
From the PTR patch notes:
- Virtual Realms are sets of realms that are fused together, and will behave exactly as if they were one cohesive realm. Players on the same Virtual Realm will be able to join guilds, access a single Auction House, join arena teams and raids, as well run dungeons or group up to complete quests.
- Players belonging to the same Virtual Realm will have a (#) symbol next to their name.
- ^ Adam Holisky 2013-08-05. Blizzard releases more information on Connected Realms. WoW Insider.
- ^ a b Blizzard Entertainment 2013-08-05. Patch 5.4 Feature Preview: Connected Realms. World of Warcraft Official Game Site (US).
Patch 5.4 Feature Preview: Connected Realms. World of Warcraft Official Game Site (EU) (2013-08-05).
- ^ PTR patch notes section of Patch 5.4.0.