Yesterday was a pretty exciting day in Guild Wars 2 fandom. The beta client went out for players to download the 12 gb or so before this Friday. ArenaNet also put up a blog post explaining how to choose and transfer to and from servers. It’s pretty simple.
Players choose a home-world. Their account (and all characters) are linked to that home-world. Players can transfer to another home-world for 1,800 gems once every 7 days. Players can also go play on other worlds as guests (not available this beta weekend), but they lose some of the rights of citizenship (such as World v. World access).
Peter at Dragonchasers does not like this set up. He writes that it is making him choose among many circles of friends:
BUT… Guild Wars 2 winds up being one of the worst MMOs I’ve played in terms of picking a world. Why? Because you can be on only 1 world. Once you pick a world, ALL your characters will be on that world. So if half your friends are on World A and half are on World B, it’s time to choose which of these groups are your BFFs and which are the wannabes. You’re going to have to ditch someone.
At the end Peter glosses over guesting.
Let me start by saying that while I don’t agree with Peter, my crystal ball is rather hazy as to the outcome of ArenaNet’s decision. I know why they made the decision, which I will expound below, but ArenaNet also tried something similar in the original Guild Wars. It might have worked too except for the system being based on real-world nationality instead of fictional home-worlds. I am pretty sure that ArenaNet will change things up if the Guild Wars 2 system will not work.
So, there is always talk of server community. People fondly remember the days where a player chose one server for a character, and that was that. The player could make characters on every server, much like World of Warcraft or Lord of the Rings Online, currently, but each time they would have to create new connections. People stick to one or two servers usually wherein a community is created. Then systems like random cross-server grouping appears, and people claim that this destroys server community.
Guild Wars 2 has a whole gameplay type built to reinforce server community: World v. World. There 3 worlds are pitted against each other in a control point PvP game. I fight for my world. You fight for yours. Each world gets boons based on how well their operatives are doing in WvW. Yet, this system could not work in a server-less MMO, and if people were just creating characters on any server they wanted, there would be no one to care about rooting for the home team. So ArenaNet restricts players citizenship to one world.
They do acknowledge that people like Peter, me, and countless others could never hope to herd all their friends in to one world. Before launch Guild Wars 2 will have guesting (again, not in this beta weekend). Unlike world transfer, guesting will be free. Guesting will also have restrictions, which will likely be based around WvW for the most part. On top of that arena-style PvP is going to basically be serverless. Except for conceivably partying up before heading in to PvP, it will not matter which world players come from.
Realistically the only restriction that a home-world imparts is things related to WvW, including possibly the WvW boons in PvE. People should be able to PvE and non-WvW PvP to their hearts delight with friends from any world.
Will this bring back some server community to the alleged destruction wrought by things like random cross-server groupings, and the like? I don’t know. It just doesn’t seem like I am making Sophie’s Choice , like Peter seems to suggest. Sure, I have to choose which friends I plan on WvW’ing with, but that’s about it. It will be interesting to see how I do juggle friends and guilds from different worlds.