It’s strange. Whenever I walk away from Azeroth, for however long, it’s always around this time that I return. Last time it made sense, what with the launch of Legion. Other instances, not so much. Even now. I don’t know if it’s a subconscious thought process as BlizzCon approaches…but it’s always the end of summer and into the fall. It’s as innocent as reading a blog post or catching a video on YouTube (usually lore related). Normally it’s no big deal but then this seasonal change comes along and it all changes.
To be honest, I came back to the game at the end of August when my holidays were winding down. I went two or three weeks in that window without playing and in the past that has been the reason that I stopped subbing and playing all together. Not this time. This time is different. Why?
Two words: Private Server.
Depending how you feel about that, know that I say those two words without the slightest hint of guilt or shame. I have supported Blizzard up to, and including, the current expansion. I’m sure the money I’ve given them is legitimately measured by thousands between merch, books, TCG, and video games. But I’m not trying to defend myself in this instance. As I said, no guilt.
I gave it a lot of thought before installing the game again. After all, I have a Guild Wars 2 account and that game is free. I was quite fond of it as well. However, I’ve said before that I find GW2 hard to connect with on a story/lore level. It’ll never absorb me like World of Warcraft does. But the problem is, my life doesn’t always afford me the opportunity to play the game like I have in the past and in the way I’m most productive. Not to mention I still honestly don’t feel like the game delivers enough for almost 25 dollars (CDN) a month. That, however, is a thought for a different day.
So after weighing my options, I decided I would try a private server and see how it was. I researched a few, which was surprisingly easier than I expected. I knew I wanted something with Legion content because I thoroughly enjoyed the experience before I unsubscribed. If that didn’t work, I probably would have considered a Wrath or even (dare I say) Mists. Yeah, words I never thought I’d utter.
In the end, I found a server that seemed to offer what I was looking for. It was 7.1.5 (I think) and I was fine with that. I didn’t need the absolute newest content. I’m not that type of player. I’ve never measured myself in Tiers (and no offense to those that do, I applaud your skill and dedication). Back to the thought at hand, I signed myself up and installed the game once more. I hit launch with baited breath.
And nothing happened.
Amid disappointment I figured there had to be something simple and there was. The first time you launch the game it does some updating and it only runs in the background. So I let it be overnight and sure enough the next day all was good. So I’ve been playing on it for a little while now and felt I could share my thoughts thus far, both good and bad.
- This particular server has an experience rate of 12x. What that means is, you get twelve times the usual experience for everything you do. If you’re looking to get to Legion fast, you certainly can. I got to 100 in less than 18 hours and that included farting around with things like transmog and mining and such. If you appreciate the story and experience, this will not be to your liking until you hit 100 because of Legion’s level scaling. Before that, you’re going to burn through content very quickly and that’s without stepping foot in any dungeons or using a Rapid Elixir of the Mind (I can’t believe that’s a thing on 12x). As someone who knows most of the stories in the game, I don’t mind it. And I’m content to go back later and check out the stuff I’m not completely familiar with.
- Stuff is broken. It’s a private server, so that’s to be expected. Legion content is the focus on this server and that’s where the strength of it lies. Though there are still some hiccups (you get your Artifact from a Titan looking fellow at the Dalaran flight path…and I accessed the Emerald Dream as a Paladin), for the most part it seems to deliver and those involved behind the scenes seem to make a solid effort to fix things as they pop up. Pre-Legion, is another story completely. I lost track of how many broken quests I had to drop, be it because the mob wasn’t where it should be, clicking on the item didn’t trigger it as completed…various reasons. Even some of the raids and dungeons are buggy or not even scripted. But you have to remember a couple of things. One, the developers focus on 7.0+ content first. Also, it’s not costing anything. With those things in mind, it’s easy to get past. Even more so when you realize how fast you level anyway.
- I have zero lag. Seriously. I’ve played WoW on at least 5 different computers and have always experienced something of a delay. Do you know how much that confuses someone when before I would click on cooldowns before they were up because I knew that’s when they would activate? It’s weird. But that’s because it’s not as taxing on my system due to content and lower population.
- The population is low and centralized. Not only is it a private server, but there’s also no cross-realm or connected realms. So certain places are very quiet (hi Ironforge!). Also, the lack of knowing anyone kills the social side of the game I’m used to thanks to you and many others. That’s not so great.
- The developers are relatively free to do whatever they want. Now, I’m thankful that there are only the normal race and class combinations (something part of my initial search after all) compared to some of the other nonsense that’s out there. And, relatively speaking the game feels and does what it’s supposed to. Exceptions are definitely the Worgen and Goblins and Pandaren as well I believe. Instead of lengthy start zones (which are good, particularly the first time around), you start in Northshire or Durotar respectively. Not having to do those long zones is a blessing once you’ve been through them. It certainly threw me off when I made my Worgen. Also, there’s a vanity shop where you can pay real money for mounts and pets. I presume this supports the server, and as such I may at some point. The idea of dropping 20-25 dollars and getting a couple of pets/mounts for it is certainly reasonable.
I haven’t completely immersed myself yet to talk about things any further. I did a little transmogging, and I haven’t even gotten the initial pet-battling quest…though I do have four pets now from the weekly “get a pet” Facebook click. I’m sure as I go along I will also find more issues. Sometimes it is indeed frustrating because it’s something I really want to check out. But I remind myself that I’m not paying a monthly subscription fee and as such have no right to complain or get upset. If it was to bother me that much, then it’s either quit or pony back up to retail.
I can guarantee you when the next expansion comes out, I will buy the Collector’s Edition like I always do. What my schedule is like will determine whether I can come back to those I am most familiar with. I’m just not worrying about it though. I said before if WoW closed its doors I would probably find a private server to keep playing. I still stand by that. Only, I didn’t wait until the doors closed. I waited until my circumstances changed. The Amateur Army sits in wait if I do return. In the meantime, there’s a new cast of characters stepping out and carving their own stories. And they’re doing it in a narrative style that suits me right now. No matter how anyone else feels, I’m happy about it.