The long-awaited release of World of Warcraft Classic finally occurred. Players from all over the world eagerly anticipated this event.
The nostalgic appeal of the original World of Warcraft is difficult to explain to people who never played it. To this date, WoW is still one of the biggest MMOs on the market. Despite its monthly subscription and lackluster latest expansion, the game remains ever popular. With the launch of WoW Classic, that situation should only improve.
Day 1 Frustrations
As was expected from launch day, things did not go according to plan. In the US and Europe, numerous players suffered from a range of problems. World servers appeared to be down for some, whereas others couldn't even log in to their respective server.
It is safe to say Activision Blizzard vastly underestimated the appeal of World of Warcraft Classic. Despite a lot of hype and excitement, very few servers were available at launch. This caused the login queues and general frustration among players, particularly in Europe.
Having to wait in a queue for 2 hours or longer to play a subscription-based game is far from ideal. Particularly the PvP servers prove incredibly popular. All of these servers have been operating near or at full capacity since they became available. It does appear things are improving slightly, albeit login queues are still present for most users. The company issued the following statement:
From the start of planning for this launch, we’ve tried to prioritize the long-term health of our realm communities, recognizing that if we undershot the mark in terms of launch servers, we could move quickly to add additional realms in the opening hours. But if we went out with too many servers, weeks or months down the line we’d have a much tougher problem to solve. While we have tools like free character transfers available as a long-term solution to underpopulated realms, everything about that process would be tremendously disruptive to realm communities, and so it’s something we want to avoid as much as possible.
Thus, we took the path of launching with few enough realms to still thrive in the event that our most conservative estimates ended up proving accurate, while having enough servers ready to activate at a moment’s notice if needed. And clearly they were, and are, needed.
We’ve released over 20 new realms worldwide so far since launch, and we’ll be up around the clock continuing to do so until everyone who wants to experience Classic is able to. But even still, as we bring new realms online in a given region, we wait for them to fill before opening new ones, because we want to make sure that each and every realm has a healthy population in the long term.
Activision Blizzard is attempting to remedy the situation. Several new servers have been made available to choose from. Additionally, it would appear the servers with the longest queues are now letting more players in. It is unclear if the capacity of these servers will be upgraded even further.
Guilds and groups of players who want to play on the same server won't have any benefit from this option. Since some players managed to start on a full server and others didn't, there will be some tough decisions to make moving forward. It is far from an ideal situation, but things should return to normal eventually.
Day 2 Excitement
Personally, I wasn't able to log in to Shzzrah in Europe all day. The queues simply kept growing larger, thus I eventually turned my attention to other games. Thankfully, things are looking up on day two. Servers are a lot more responsive and logging in took under 40 minutes, compared to a 3.5+ hour queue yesterday.
After playing for a bit, the nostalgia hits hard. This is the original World of Warcraft people feel in love with. It is punishing when it needs to be. Making one wrong move will get your character killed easily. This applies especially to pulling the wrong mob, as one or more buddies may decide to join the fight.
The most joy comes from manually visiting Class Trainers to rank up skills and spells. In modern World of Warcraft, everything is given to players automatically. While convenient, it also removes any need for exploration. That latter aspect is what makes MMOs successful and rewarding to their player base. So far, WoW Classic seems to check the right boxes, at least during these early stages.
Another interesting aspect comes in the form of grouping up for quests and content. On retail - in Battle for Azeroth - players can use various tools and services to find a party. In WoW Classic, things are very different.
There is no Looking for Group option compared to what people have grown used to. Finding a party actually requires talking to players and inviting them manually. This can only be done with players from one's own server. No cross-real compatibility exists, nor is it needed.
When attempting dungeons, there is actual travel time involved. Summoning stones exist but require at least two people to physically go to the dungeon's entrance. Again, this is how MMOs should be played. Making players lazy and providing too much convenience will ultimately lead to growing disinterest. So far, Activision Blizzard is doing a decent job in this regard. One can only hope things remain as they are in this regard.