Blizzard have responded to criticisms of World of Warcraft Classic’s layering system and revealed plans to prevent exploits.
While Blizzard have been quite strict about keeping WoW Classic in the game’s original state – even deliberately reproducing certain minor bugs in order to give players the game exactly as they remember it – one of the few changes has been the use of a layering system.
In original ‘vanilla’ WoW, every server was a single, self-contained space, meaning that any two players who were in the same location in-game would always be able to see and interact with each other.
Over the years, however, retail WoW introduced systems such as cross-realm play and layering, which improved certain new mechanics, such as group finders and the world evolving as players completed particular quests, but it also cost some of the feel of each server being a distinct world.
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While there is no cross-realm play in WoW Classic, Blizzard have used layering for the game’s launch. Layering separates the server into layers – effectively multiple copies of the world for players to occupy – which the developers felt was necessary for the game’s launch, so that the competition for the limited resources available in each zone for quests and other activities wasn’t too extreme as thousands of players joined simultaneously.
Though most players recognize the necessity for layering in the early days of WoW Classic, some exploits of the system have arisen that some players believe are having an adverse effect on the in-game economy.
To ensure that players aren’t separated from their friends because they’ve been assigned to different layers, joining a party automatically shifts all players to the same layer. However, this means that deliberate “layer-hopping” can be used to gain access to additional resources without having to wait for respawns, allowing for more efficient farming for both experience and rare materials.
Blizzard have now responded to the exploits, with developer Pazorax stating that they’ve been monitoring the use of layering, and are planning to implement extra controls – including adding a delay between layer transfers – in order to prevent exploits.
Pazorax also states, however, that in many cases anecdotes of layer exploiting have been exaggerated, and the issue isn’t actually as significant as some players are suggesting.
“We also want to assure you that the issue is a much smaller problem than some people are claiming. We’ve been closely monitoring the effect layering is having on economies and other aspects of the game, and many of the stories we see posted are wildly inaccurate. We’ve seen screenshots of banks full of rare crafting materials, which we’ve investigated and proved false."
"All realms have a single-digit number of layers. Most of them have a low single-digit number. Rest assured that there are not people running around with banks full of (Thorium) Arcane Crystals or Black Lotus."
Fortunately for players who aren’t fans of layering, Blizzard have stated that they intend to remove the system altogether as soon as they can. Once players are more spread out in the world, rather than being concentrated in the early zones, and perhaps some of the initial hype has died down, it should be possible for servers to exist as a single ‘layer’ without being problematically over-crowded.