Housing in MMORPGs can be anything from Fashion to Function. Some games utilize housing to give players a side distraction to make an instanced space their own, while other games give the player tangible benefits for the housing they maintain. The housing system in Ashes of Creation is going to be a robust system because many systems, including Citizenship, are tied to housing.
As I have said before, to understand Ashes of Creation you must understand the Node System. The entire housing system is dependent on the Node System, as in-node housing and Freeholds do not become available in Nodes in until Stage 3 (Village) and Instanced Apartments do not become available until Stage 4 (Town) and they only become accessible if the Mayor chooses to dedicate space to build them.
Property ownership is the path to citizenship in a particular Node. Citizenship is important because it is your highest social relationship, in fact your citizenship is more important than your guild membership.
In order to reap the benefits of a prosperous Node, you must be a citizen of that node, and to be a citizen you must first have property.
NOTE: There has been a discussion on "Citizen Tickets" that would allow someone to be a citizen of a Node without having the prerequisite housing. While these are an item, we do not have any more details on them.
As a quick reminder on Citizenship, all of your alts are citizens of the same Node. While your alts can be members of different guilds, they all share citizenship to the same Node. Additionally, the hard rules for housing ownership is that every player can have a maximum of one apartment and one in-Node house on any server they play on, but they can only own one Freehold per account. This is something you will have to keep in mind if you plan on playing multiple characters on multiple servers.
There are three types of housing in Ashes of Creation
Inside of the geographical footprint of the Nodes are a finite number of Houses. For sake of nomenclature I will refer to these as In-Node Houses because it is possible to put a House on your Freehold and I do not want there to be confusion between the two. You may have one In-Node House per account per server, but all of your alts have access to your houses.
Freeholds are half-acre plots of land out in the world that the players can design to their own specifications. Maybe you want a farm and a stable, maybe you want a house and a tavern, maybe you want a shrine and a forge. Whatever your desires are for your property, you can make them happen with your Freehold. You may have 1 Freehold per account period. No matter how many different servers you play on, you will only ever have one Freehold.
Apartments are instanced housing options that appear in Nodes at Stage 4 if the local government permits it. One key thing about apartments is they get more expensive the more apartments that are sold, so while there is no hard cap on the number of citizens in a Node, there is a soft cap by the Number of Houses plus the number of Freehold spots added together plus the reasonable rent on the Apartments. Granted, if someone really wants to live in a Node and they have an obscene amount of money, they can always buy into the Apartment at high price.
The answer to this is yes and no.
Yes, everyone should be able to secure some form of housing somewhere in the world.
This doesn't mean that everyone will be able to get housing in the node they want. This doesn't mean that everyone will be able to get a Mansion in a Metropolis as they are limited. It doesn't mean that everyone will have an awesome little spot in the world that they like, however with a 480 sq km world and 100 sq km of Underream, with the plots all being half an acre, there should be more than enough freeholds to go around.
In-node housing can be destroyed if a Node is sieged and the siege is successful. If your house is destroyed, you won't lose any of the furniture that you put in the house, all that will be returned to you.
We are currently waiting to find out what happens to the things in storage at the house when it is destroyed during a siege. Right now the understanding is that the gatherables that are in storage would be lootable, but all the gear would be returned. Also we are not sure if houses can be specifically targeted and destroyed during sieges.
Freeholds are vulnerable to attack for 1-2 hours after a successful siege. If the Freehold is properly defended in will enter a grace period of seven days while the ZOI’s in the nearby area work themselves out. If during the course of the grace period the Freehold finds itself inside the ZOI of a Stage 3 or higher Node, the freehold will remain in place. If not, then the freehold gets rolled up as a blueprint and returned to the player. They will need to secure a new deed and place their freehold back in the world.
Instanced apartments can be specifically targeted during a siege and destroyed. What happens to the contents of the Apartment when this happens is unknown.