There was a fair amount of people who took days off from work for the launch of Warlords of Draenor. Sadly, they didn’t exactly get to spend their “vacation” as planned.
With the launch of an MMO, the idea of requesting time off or using your allotted paid time off is fairly common. It allows gamers to not only have an entire day devoted to experience a new world, but also gives them a bit of a head start from the bulk of players who may be busy with other commitments. The goal is to create an ideal playing experience, ahead of the masses of people who will populate the lower level areas.
The problem here, though, is the fact that the Warlords of Draenor opening weekend was plagued by issues everywhere.
I briefly talked about some of these stability issues in my recap of the game’s first day. Little did I know that it was just the beginning. Two bouts of unscheduled maintenance highlighted a Friday and Saturday filled with wondering whether or not I’d actually get to play without problems. Even after logging in, Garrisons were a hit or miss in terms of whether or not I’d be able to load into them, world servers were still crashing, quests bugged out (I only recently had an issue resolved some four days after putting in a ticket). The experience was less than ideal, but little did I know how good I had it.
See, I play on Azuremyst. It’s a server so small that it merged with Staghelm. If you play on a larger server, then you’re going to be met with queues. Blizzard capped server population in hopes to limit stability issues. While I can’t say firsthand whether or not this worked, I’ve heard the contrary. The most mind-boggling detail about everything, though, is the fact that all of this could have been avoided. Warlords of Draenor has a gigantic flaw: players are congregating in one zone and don’t have any alternatives. The launches of previous expansions saw the release of new races or classes (two races in Burning Crusade, new class in Wrath, two races in Cataclysm, new race and class in Pandaria). This meant that zones weren’t being fully taxed due to the fact that people were spread out across the world.
That’s not a thing with Warlords of Draenor. If you’re Horde, you head off to Frostfire Ridge. Alliance players go to Shadowmoon Valley. That’s it. Period. No exceptions.
This creates a gigantic amount of stress on the game’s servers. Remember the Northrend zone Crystalsong Forest and how empty it was? That’s because its original intention, housing the Argent Tournament, wasn’t possible due to the congestion of players in Dalaran, which resided above the zone. You’d figure that Blizzard would recall their line of thought here to prevent taxation on server hardware, but I guess not. Instead, an enjoyable expansion has become another member of the list of video games released in 2014 with bad launches.
Gameplay notes: Level 100, already running heroics, and desperately trying to upgrade buildings in my Garrison.