Last week Blizzard ran a stress test for WoW Classic, inviting thousands of players to try and log in to see how their new server architecture would stand up to the kind of loads expected.
And while lots of people pounded the server, and problems were found… which is why you do a test… those problems meant that not everything they wanted to test got covered, so they announced another test, which started yesterday.
We have just wrapped up the first stress test for WoW Classic and while we understand the concerns that a number of you have mentioned, it helped us in many ways. Testing the login process is certainly an aspect that is very important for us to explore and we did gather some valuable data yesterday, so we appreciate everybody who logged in or even attempted to do so during the testing window – you have helped us prepare WoW Classic for release.
That said, because of some of the issues that were encountered, we were not able to test other aspects that we’d planned for. As a result, we will be doing another stress test on Wednesday, May 29 from 2-4pm PDT. The stress test realm will become available at 2pm PDT and the level cap will be increased to 10. For access, we will be including everybody who was invited to the test on May 22. Similar to last time, the stress test realm will continue to be available until 4pm PDT on Thursday, May 30 so there is additional time to check out the starting experiences.
Please keep in mind that while more issues could impact the play experience, it is very important to perform these tests so we can learn about and fix as many of them as possible before the release on August 27. We thank you for your continued support and we’ll see you back on the WoW Classic stress test realm very soon.
Last week the test kicked off at 4pm Pacific, which is just about when I get home from work most days, so I was able to jump right in as it started. Yesterday the test had been going for nearly two hours before I was able to join. But clearly I wasn’t late, they held a queue for me to test.
I gather from reports I saw later that things did not start off very well, but they had settled down by the time I got there.
The queue started big, but kept on counting down. I let it sit while I got myself a snack and did a few other things. It took 24 minutes, or about half the estimated time, before I landed on the character select screen. I don’t know how things were going for the first two hours, but that didn’t seem like an unreasonable performance.
However, in trying to select my character from the last test to join the game I was given the error that the world server was down.
I exited the client, deciding to go through the queue again, thinking that I might at least help test that again, but the queue was gone. I went straight to the character select screen. I was there so fast I thought something was wrong so I quit the client completely, relaunched, and logged in again. Still no queue. I guess the queue was done.
Back at the character select screen I saw the “World server is down” message on the first couple of attempts to get on the server, but then it let me in and I was back to running around the night elf starter area.
Running is the operative word. The experience, as you have probably heard, and no doubt expect, is very different from WoW today. It definitely moves at a slower pace and a lot of what now helps you along with quests is absent. I had to remember how to get quests to even show up in the on-screen tracker (shift-click) so I knew what I had going. However, it isn’t as slow as it feels at first. You will notice that you are moving along.
Getting to quests requires to to read the quest text and figure out where you might need to go… and some of the descriptions are a bit vague. I largely worked on distant, foggy memories of where I recalled going back in the day.
And, of course, it was crowded. The new layering system limits the total people you are competing with on quests, but it still (rightly) allows a lot of people to show up around you.
This has strange effects. For kill quests you can group up and share the credit. For quests that need drops you can group up, but only one person can get a drop per kill, so that is sort of break-even. But if you need to go collect something on the far side of a bunch of hostile mobs you don’t have to worry about having to cut your way through, the path will likely be clear.
As mentioned over at Blessing of Kings, the first rule or WoW Classic seems to be that you can only talk about WoW Classic. Thee general channels were full of people gushing about WoW Classic or complaining about the state of the live WoW game and so on. This does get tiresome and I ended up leaving most of the general channels just to avoid it.
But in the groups I joined the talk, while also on the topic of WoW Classic, was more interesting. I ended up at one point with somebody who had not played since classic, somebody who quit at Cataclysm, somebody who only started during The Burning Crusade, and another who started during Wrath of the Lich King. The latter two were especially keen to be able to experience something they felt they had missed. I was the only one who had played all the expansions.
I am certain my grouping is not a statistically significant sample size, but it does seem that WoW Classic isn’t going to simply strip people from the live servers.
I got through the quests in the first area and moved along to Dolanaar. There I found the crowd ahead of me, as well as the expected set of quests. They did just dump quest givers on you at random back in the day. In live they have that honed down to just a few quests that guide you along.
I wasn’t sure I wanted to just play through the whole started zone to level 10, so I ran on to Darnassus to see that. There I decided I would try the traditional run through the wetlands to see if I could make it to Ironforge, then take the tram to Stormwind. That was probably where the real crowd was.
I was only level 5 at that point, and couldn’t remember when that run used to be viable, but I figured I would give it a shot. I went through the portal thingy and down to the dock to wait for the boat. I was joined by a group of three naked night elves. I had forgotten the “get undressed so your gear won’t take damage if you die” part of the run. Oh well.
Standing at the very end of the dock I managed to end up inside the boat model and fell off the end of the pier and had to swim back to land. My naked friends at the end of the dock encouraged me by yelling, “Get Rekt Alioto!” but I made it back to the boat in time.
One of them also offered to sell me gold, 100G for just $5, which I promptly reported.
It looks like we’re going to get all of the aspects of the old days in WoW Classic.
The first boat takes you to Darkshore, where you have to grab the boat for Menethil Harbor. It was even there waiting for us.
However, it was just a tease. It sailed off before we could get to it. But I am glad it was there when we arrived if only to remind me where it docks. And it doesn’t take much time for a round trip. The first boat takes longer as it doesn’t zone for most of the trip.
Soon enough I we were on the boat to Menethil Harbor and I was running into the Wetlands.
I did not get very far before I got caught.
But dying right away wasn’t all that bad. That puts you at a revive point that is well down the path to your destination. If you’re willing to take the 25% hit to gear durability, you can carry on from way down the road, well past those raptors and such.
However, I attracted the attention of mobs past that point as well. I was so much lower level than the mobs that they didn’t display their level, just a skull. That meant that my aggro radius was huge… another WoW thing, aggro radius based on the difference between your level and the mobs level.
I was starting to think that maybe level 5 was too low of a level to attempt the run. Maybe it was a level 10 thing. Still, I did move the ball forward a bit. I just had to get back to my corpse as wisp and could start from there.
Another run and another death and I figured I might be better served trying something else lest my gear go red before I made it to Ironforge. I only had 2 silver in my pocket. So I went back to the night elf starter area and tinkered around there for a bit.
Given a taste of WoW Classic, I am still eager for its official launch in late August. It is, as I said, a different game in many ways, and much slower and more deliberate. We shall see if Blizzard can handle the load, though I expect that we’ll see another stress test before launch.
Addendum – A follow up message from Blizz:
We have now completed the WoW Classic Stress Test that began yesterday at 2:00 p.m. PDT. We’re very pleased with the amount of participation we saw, and we’re happy to report that we got a great deal of highly useful data, as well as new issues that were uncovered by your efforts to log in and play.