Thousands of World of Warcraft Classic players last night descended upon a single server to get a fresh levelling experience - and it was absolute chaos.
Last week, I reported on how over one thousand World of Warcraft players had banded together to create a "fresh" experience in the Classic version of the famous MMO.
In the absence of incoming fresh servers with the launch of Burning Crusade Classic, those who only now fancy playing the famous MMO as it was in 2004 face starting on realms filled with maximum level players and botting.
In response, players came together en masse to "reboot" the vanilla experience on one of the least populated servers.
When I reported on it last weekend, The Fresh Crusade was a community project whose Discord was 1300 players strong. Last night, on 5th March, when the server that would be home to this massive re-roll event was announced, the Discord had over 10,000 members.
The original idea was to offer a fresh levelling experience akin to what was on offer when World of Warcraft Classic - and indeed the original World of Warcraft it simulates - first launched.
But The Fresh Crusade ended up too popular for its own good. The server in question, Dragonfang [EU], immediately rose from being a low population realm to a medium population realm. Caszhar, the player who started The Fresh Crusade, told me over Discord that they couldn't say exactly how many players joined the launch, but estimated it at 30 per cent of the Discord's member number - that would mean 3000 players descended upon Dragonfang all at the same time. At launch, there were over 20 guilds formed and ready to go, each with hundreds of players as members.
"I think everyone knew what we were in for," Caszhar told me tonight. "The launch was different to the launch of Classic in 2019. Then there was layering, putting players into instances to reduce overflow, but here everyone was in one space. The experience was chaos but it was amazing, so many people in one place was phenomenal and though it took around three to four hours for people to spread out, everyone had a lot of fun. Many people claimed that this launch was bigger, more chaotic and enjoyable than the Classic launch due to its craziness."
The Twitch video below, from World of Warcraft streamer MetaGoblin, shows what it was like in The Valley of Trials, the Orcs and Trolls starting area in southern Durotar. Spoilers: it was busy!
Caszhar's re-roll experience was similar to that of others, it seems:
"I started with five people from my guild and we tried to do some quests but it was hard to even kill anything so we ran ahead to higher level areas and just killed as many mobs as possible.
"It was far from a traditional leveling experience and quite overwhelming to have so many people around you at all times but still something unique that I have never experienced in an MMORPG."
Here are some screenshots of the action across Dragonfang last night, provided by Caszhar (to explain the images showing players standing in a queue, some quests require you to kill a particular NPC that respawns on a timer. Dragonfang was so busy at the launch of The Fresh Crusade that some players patiently waited in-line for their turn to kill these NPCs):
Now though, a day after launch, things have calmed down somewhat.
"... today we have been playing further and lots of people have spread out and it has been less competitive to level," Caszhar said. "There are tons of groups around doing their own thing and it's felt like this WoW Classic server has been revitalised and filled with life from players being everywhere once again."
One of the reasons for The Fresh Crusade's existence is to combat the botting and economy inflation that afflicts World of Warcraft Classic.
The Fresh Crusade targeted a low population server in a bid to provide players with the chance to get the best "fresh" experience they could despite this botting problem.
Unfortunately, botting exists even on dead servers, and Dragonfang was no exception. "Even if Blizzard released fresh realms then it would only be a month tops before it would probably reach the same levels of high population servers," Caszhar said.
"The people part of this project have had their concerns and they are perfectly valid. The botting wont be so much of a problem for players as they level through the game together and promote the positive mindset we have tried to instil reaching endgame, but it will always be a big inconvenience and there's nothing players can do about that, besides report bots."
While Caszhar is delighted with how popular The Fresh Crusade has turned out, it sounds like organising the thing and keeping on top of the bulging Discord has been pretty stressful.
After The Fresh Crusade hit the headlines, some people tried to disrupt the project - an effort that has continued post-launch.
These people tried to "pre-level" by trying to guess the server The Fresh Crusade would be played on and level there beforehand. This upset some within the community who wanted to start on a level playing field.
And then there's the predictable toxic behaviour from some that emerged as The Fresh Crusade grew in popularity throughout the week.
Despite this, Caszhar is in good spirits: "Now that it's cooled down a bit and I've been able to immerse myself in the world with all the other people and take a step back from managing it all, I have been having an amazing time with all the players that are a part of this."
Caszhar and co now plan to host server wide events to keep players interested, as well as another re-roll event to bring more people into the server for the pre-patch of Burning Crusade Classic. Caszhar expects Burning Crusade Classic to bring in even more players than Classic.