Official Hardcore Launch Night on Stitches - EU

So as I've said many times by now, I'm not really interested in playing hardcore personally, but I'm interested in the new hardcore servers as a concept and community event, because in an MMO where you're no longer getting new content, the ebb and flow of the community is what shapes the game's narrative.

With that in mind, I was looking forward to checking out the hardcore server launch last night. I thought that the go-live time was midnight in my time zone, but I was apparently off by an hour... which meant that I arrived to the party an hour late. This probably wasn't entirely a bad thing as it meant that I only faced a queue of six minutes when I tried to get into the Stitches server around midnight my time. Both it and Nek'rosh were showing as full.

On character creation, I found it a bit annoying that you have to agree to a pop-up that explains what hardcore is (and most importantly, that there are no appeals if you die) - or rather, that this pop-up appears before the server has confirmed that your chosen name is actually available. So I had to hit "agree" half a dozen times just to be presented with a "name not available" error each time. However, eventually I found something that was available and off I went.

I created a human mage and unsurprisingly, Northshire was absolutely packed. There were so many new characters spawning in at the same time that the name over my head disappeared in a giant purple blob. Even an hour in, the area was heaving, to the point that I found it impossible to kill anything. Someone commented in general chat that at least this way, they were in no danger of dying, though I found a human corpse in the hills anyway - pretty impressive to die in an area with nothing but neutral mobs.

I ran around for five minutes, having a look around and trying to tag a kobold or wolf here and there, but I simply stood no chance. In the precious seconds my mage needed to wind up a fireball, one or more melee characters would've already tagged anything I tried to attack.

I decided to log off and have a look at how things were going Horde side. I opted for the undead starting zone there, and made a warrior in order to have a better shot at tagging mobs. Things were still very busy there as well, though slightly less so I think, and being a melee character definitely helped a lot with getting the first hit in. Often "my" mob would be hit by someone else's spell a mere second after and I thought, "yep, been there, done that". I made it about halfway through the first quest before I started to question my life choices (why was I fighting people for mobs like this on a server I had no plans to stay on anyway) and decided to log off again.

For a change of pace I logged into my low-level hunter on Hydraxian Waterlords, the RP server that had previously been designated as the unofficial hardcore server. My census addon only saw a total of 30 characters online on Alliance side, though that's still more than there used to be before this whole hardcore thing took off. We'll see whether anyone decides to stay or whether the place will go back to being completely abandoned in short order, now that the hardcore players have an official home. As for me personally, I enjoyed the peace and actually did a quest on my character there before calling it a night.

The next morning I decided to have another look at the situation on Stitches. I got in without a queue and was pleasantly surprised that the human starter zone was actually playable. It was still very busy of course, but no longer in a "ten players for every mob spawn point" kind of way. When I got to the quests to kill the Defias in the vineyards, it definitely felt different knowing that an accidental overpull could kill my character for good. I thought it was very noticeable that everyone around me moved much more carefully and deliberately - none of the reckless "just barrelling through to get to my quest objective" that you sometimes see on regular servers.

General chat also continued to be relatively entertaining, with conversations such as how people thought that finding a certain colour of bag first was a sign of good or bad luck. One level one chimed in to say that their last character hadn't even made it to level ten before dying to murlocs. My own mage made it to Goldshire before I decided to log off again.

When I checked back once more later in the afternoon, there was a 40-minute queue. When I checked again in the evening, queue times had increased to two hours. Needless to say, my curiosity wasn't strong enough to warrant waiting in line for that long. We'll see what the new mode's staying power is like. On the unofficial servers people seemed to be happy to re-roll endlessly for months so I expect sustained interest here as well, but I'll be very surprised if we still have queues in a week or two.

Other people writing about the launch:


  1. 90 thousand deaths and counting!

    I don't know why, but I'm amused by the McDonald's-like announcement by Blizz about the deaths on hardcore servers like that.

    1. I like how in the heat map that accompanied that announcement, you can see a line of deaths where people attempted the Wetlands run...

    2. Yeah, foolish in the extreme, if you ask me.