The Fresh Vanilla Initiative

One thing I've learned from WoW over the last few years is that people apparently love starting over on a new server. I do get the appeal to some degree, because there's definitely a special kind of energy in the air whenever a new server is opened - it's a bit like an expansion launch, only without the new content. On the other hand though, it still surprises me sometimes just how popular this concept is, simply because being able to keep your progress is a big part of an MMO's appeal in my opinion.

Personally, I'm definitely over getting too excited about that kind of thing at this point. I'm the cliché of that person who has no time for MMOs anymore because she's just too busy nowadays... except for me it's not three jobs and a bunch of kids; it's the fact that I'm already playing multiple MMOs that I'm emotionally invested in, so I just don't have the time or energy to go no-life for a new launch, whether it's a new game or just a new server. And no-lifing definitely seems to be the order of the day on these occasions, or else you just end up being left behind. Me, I just want to be able to drop in once or twice a week to have a bit of fun, which is why a more static and less frantic environment like the era servers are much more up my alley.

Nonetheless, it's undeniable that there is a considerable audience that is always clamouring for the next new thing... or for a new round of the old thing as it might be. In the case of Classic WoW, I'm pretty sure there were people interested in fresh Vanilla servers at least from the moment Classic Burning Crusade was announced, but at the time, they were a very tiny minority. Five years later though, with the Classic train having moved forward three expansions, to the point where some people don't even consider it Classic anymore... the cries for a repeat of the Vanilla launch experience are definitely growing louder. I actually think that this was a big part of Season of Discovery's initial appeal, the promise of "Vanilla again, but with a twist". It quickly turned into something quite different though, so the search for that "fresh Vanilla experience" continues.

The other day I learned that some players have decided to take things into their own hands since then, by launching their own "fresh" community experience, similar to what people did with hardcore one and a half years ago. Since there are enough servers/clusters on era that are just kind of empty, picking one and having lots of people start over there together is effectively like starting on a new server. Sure, someone might still have an old Naxx-geared character lying around somewhere, but they are unlikely to have much of an impact on the new starters, especially in PvE.

Unfortunately the server of choice for this project was not a PvE realm though, but rather the old RP-PvP servers, which are Deviate Delight on US and Zandalar Tribe on EU, respectively. Curious to see the situation for myself, I created a night elf on Zandalar Tribe, spawned into Teldrassil and killed a few mobs while my census add-on ran. It didn't take long to complete its scan though, only detecting a little over a hundred characters online - this was on a Friday at lunch time though. I checked in again later in the evening, by which point the character count was close to two hundred.

I would have liked to check in on the Horde as well, but I forgot that era still has the old restriction that prevents you from creating characters of the other faction on a PvP server, and since Zandalar Tribe isn't connected to any other realms, there's no way to circumvent that limitation. So as for the question of how the Horde is doing, I can only shrug.

I'm not sure how much success this project will see, because while two hundred concurrent players per faction is not bad, it's a far cry from the kinds of crowds I saw on Hydraxian Waterlords when it was the unofficial hardcore server... then again, things started small there as well, so DD and ZT certainly have room to grow.

I guess their biggest problem is going to be that there is so much else going on in WoW right now. Classic Cataclysm launched only a few weeks ago, and Season of Discovery players can look forward to phase four raising the level cap to 60 soon. Meanwhile in retail, there are two months left in Pandaria: Remix, and then the game will segue straight into the next expansion. Unless you're an absolute Vanilla purist, chances are that some other mode of WoW may be vying for your attention already or soon.

Still, I'm a big fan of community projects like this, which is why I wanted to post about it at least. I'm not going to pretend that I have a huge reach, but every little bit to spread the word should help I suppose. I was honestly quite surprised when I first learned about this project and realised that it had been going for a month without me ever becoming aware of its existence. I do think more people should know about it at least so they can make their own decisions about whether it's interesting to them or not. Here are some other resources for you to read/watch if you want to learn more about the project:

1 comment:

  1. Raymond France22 June 2024 at 18:17

    i just become aware of the existence of the MMOs project. 👍Thanks for the head up.