Blizzard tests new World of Warcraft cross-realm battlegrounds

Posted by Humphrey Cheung

World of Warcraft fans can now backstab, bash, fireball, face-melt and frost-shock their cross-server foes. Players can log into test servers that have been configured with an upcoming patch - an update that allows battles against other servers. Traditionally, players have battled other players only within the same server. However, when the new patch comes out, players will be able to fight on up to 10 different servers.

WoW currently has more than six million active accounts spread all over the world. Those accounts are split into more than 100 different servers (in WoW-speak "Realms") in the United States, Asia and Europe. When the patch finishes testing and becomes available, servers will be grouped into "battle groups" of up to 16 servers. Players can battle others in the same battle group in the battlefields of Arathi Basin, Alterac Valley and Warsong Gulch.

Players can clone up to four of their existing characters to test servers. Experience, gold and gear earned during the test don't transfer to the real character, but this hardly bothers testers and Blizzard routinely has no problem recruiting thousands of players as free beta testers for upcoming patches.

And yes It is possible to fight your "evil twin" in a cross server battleground. Player names are controlled on the server level so that no two characters have the same name, but someone on another server could have the same name. In another interesting scenario, servers that concentrate on player versus player (PvP) battles, are being paired up against servers that focus on questing or Player versus Environment (PvE).

Blizzard promises that the larger pool of players will lessen the amount of time people wait for battleground games to start. Currently, players queue up and a minimum number of players must join before the game starts. On some servers, the wait could be several hours for a game that could potentially last less than five minutes. A larger pool may provide a constant supply of interested players.

Blizzard did not say when it expects testing to be completed.