Although Blizzard rolled out World of Warcraft Classic in a way that pretty perfectly captured the first two years of the iconic MMO, there is some modern technology being used to help optimize the game's server structure and make for better player experiences. One of the tricks used to help with overcrowding in starting zones and popular questing areas, server layering, has caused quite a bit of drama in the last week.
Server layering is used in World of Warcraft to free up space in certain zones. The basic idea is that players will load into different players of a zone, so that not everyone in World of Warcraft is lining up to kill the same quest mobs and slowing things down. In general, this is a great feature for the first few weeks of the game and then players will disperse more as they hit different levels and head off into bigger zones.
So, what's the problem? To make sure players can still group with their friends, Blizzard made it so that joining a group will "layer hop" grouped players onto the same layer. So, that means each time you join a different group (regardless of where in Azeroth the other players are) you can technical bounce to another layer of the server. This is great for grouping, but can easily be exploited.
Players use the layer hopping to force faster respawns of resource nodes or mobs that they are trying to kill. For example, a miner can head to an area with a bunch of minerals, mine them all, and (instead of waiting for the natural respawn time) join a group with a friend to hop to another server layer where they may not have been mined at all yet. That process can be repeated over and over again to load up on resources way faster than should be possible.
As you might expect, this is not the intended user experience and the community is very upset about it. When questioned about layer hopping, Blizzard originally acknowledged the possible exploit, but claimed it was a very small issue. In the following days, Blizz seemed to decide it was worth a hot fix and rolled out a change to combat the cheat.
Now, each time a player moves to a new layer, there will be an increasing amount of time before that player can move to another layer. If a player moves between layers multiple times over a short timeframe, the cooldown can increase to a duration of several minutes (or longer) before they can change layers again. The cooldown will then decrease over time for players who don’t change layers.
In short, players are still able to force layer hopping like they always could, but now there is a cooldown to make the process less appealing. This should deter players from taking advantage of the system and hopefully the drama surrounding layer hopping is soon just a distant memory of the game's growing pains.
As WoW Classic ages and grows, it will be very interesting to see what other issues the game's developers need to solve. The problem of 3004-2006 era experience in a modern infrastructure is a unique challenge, but so far the team seems to be nailing it. Some players were disappointed that guilds have already taken down Onyxia and Ragnaros, but that has more to do with years of precise theorycrafting than with nerfs to original boss fights.
Be sure to check back for more WoW Classic strategy guides, news, and updates in the coming days. Until then, For The Horde!
World of Warcraft Classic is available now on PC. World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth is available now on PC.