Over one thousand World of Warcraft players are banding together to create a "fresh" experience in the Classic version of the game.
In the absence of incoming fresh servers - that is, brand new, starting from phase one vanilla servers for World of Warcraft Classic - those who only now fancy playing the famous MMO as it was in 2004 face playing on realms filled with maximum level players and botting.
In response, players came together en masse to "reboot" the vanilla experience on one of the least populated servers.
The Fresh Crusade is the result, a community project currently 1300 players strong and set to launch on Friday, 5th March with a massive re-roll event. Seven guilds are involved, with players from across the globe ready to create new characters on a low population PvP server, with the express goal of creating a fresh experience for all.
Caszhar, the player who started The Fresh Crusade, told me over Discord there are a lot of players who want to start Classic again in a server that has a "fresh" launch feeling to it, one that offers the levelling and community experience people can't find easily on existing servers.
"Blizzard announced Burning Crusade Classic with no fresh servers and no mention of what will happen to the existing low population / dead servers, except hinting there could be the possible creation of new servers post-Burning Crusade Classic launch," Caszhar said.
One of the big issues as Caszhar sees it is that due to botting and economy inflation, players feel they will be left behind when Burning Crusade Classic launches later in 2021.
"This makes sense especially in the current state where most servers don't have a levelling scene with players very much soloing their way from 1-60 with issues finding groups for dungeons/group quests, which is an integral part of the WoW Classic journey," Caszhar said.
Botting leads to real money transactions (RMT), such as the selling of in-game gold for real money. In turn, botting pushes legitimate players out of the economy, affecting crafting and money-making in the game.
For example, players who try to make money through gathering professions are pushed out of the market because they're competing with AI-controlled players who hoover up all the resources.
Those who try to make money through crafting professions and need a rare resource that is commonly botted can find it harder to afford that rare resource from the auction house due to economic inflation caused by botting. The vicious cycle is then complete when frustrated players find it harder to gather the resources needed to make the money required to afford these high auction house prices.
Raids can also fuel this issue. GDKPs - a type of raid in which players bid on coveted raid items with gold instead of rolling a dice to see who gets the loot - can see huge amounts of RMT gold spent on items. Then, at the end of the raid, the non-buyer participants get all the gold that was bid split between them. This gold then goes into the virtual economy, resulting in inflation and prices rising further.
Unfortunately, bots are prevalent on all WoW Classic servers, even the lowest population ones. But lower population servers usually do not have hugely inflated economies because players are not buying gold on them, and they're not buying gold on them because there aren't many players around.
The Fresh Crusade will target a low population server in a bid to provide players with the chance to get the best "fresh" experience they can despite this botting problem.
"With all of us starting together, the economy will be more of an even playing ground compared to the higher/mid-size population servers," Caszhar said.
Looking towards Classic Burning Crusade's launch, Caszhar is optimistic the "pre-patch" period will be of huge benefit to those looking to start WoW Classic from scratch.
Pre-patch is the patch that puts the new Burning Crusade races (the blood elves and the draenei) into the game, and is expected around two weeks before Classic Burning Crusade launches proper.
It is expected pre-patch will spark an influx of players returning to the game and levelling from scratch as the new races. Theoretically, this will make for a healthy levelling experience during the two-week period.
"There's enough time for TBC release to be announced and for people participating in The Fresh Crusade to experience the game's content, take part in raids and form their friend groups and communities," Caszhar said.
Caszhar is hopeful that The Fresh Crusade can hit over 2000 players by launch on 5th March. "The support from people joining has been heart-warming to see," Caszhar said. "People are really excited to start on the Friday, so there's definitely a hype train here. People understand that right now Blizzard only entertained the ideas of new servers, post-Burning Crusade launch, so joining this project they expressed it as 'the next best thing'."
If you fancy getting involved, The Fresh Crusade has a community hub on Discord.