Server populations are always a concern in MMOG’s, but one thing that has affected the more social questing that Guild Wars 2 brings is a necessity to have players populate all zones, all of the time. Without people and lots of them, events become impossible for an individual and make levelling an alternative character incredibly difficult. As it currently stands and having recently revisited low level zones on my mesmer to obtain 100% world completion, it’s frightening how quiet they are.
The same problem occurred in Warhammer Online but Mythic were too late in responding to it, to prevent lasting damage. If an MMOG is to continue encouraging new players into the fold, it has to support them from the very beginning. Having no other players around will turn off those venturing into Tyria for the first time. Inevitably, no one wants to play by themselves.
ArenaNet need to swiftly shift the balance of play away from the highest level zones and encourage a spread of activity across all zones. “Downleveling” is a brilliant idea, but this desperately needs to be expanded upon to accurately include loot tables. As a level 80 player, I should be able to obtain level 80 loot even in Queensdale (of an equal quality to Orr) when downleveled.
Without encouragement to move on from higher level zones, back to previous locations, players participating in them will continue to dry up, leaving new players even worse off than they are now. Is there any wonder so many people take to crafting when leveling alternative characters?
Without me writing suggestion after suggestion to remedy this issue (I have plenty: repeatedable Hearts or unique enemies in low level zones which have a chance of dropping precursors) I’d really like to hear your thoughts on how best to fix the problem. If interested, there is also an excellent thread on the issue here over on the official forums, with some excellent ideas.