Layering is Blizzard Entertainment’s answer to overpopulation in World of Warcraft Classic.
It’s a system that creates multiple versions of the same realm, helping to prevent lag and balance population. In heavily-contested zones, it also allows players to quest at a faster pace and not have to fight tooth and nail for mobs.
“[Layering] kind of allows us to spin up World of Warcraft continents, wholesale.” WoW developer Omar Gonzalez said in an interview.
“We’ll be able to have, if we need to, more than one of those continuous worlds in order to, kind of, soft absorb an impact of a tremendous amount of players trying to log in initially,” Gonzalez said. “This is important because under this paradigm… you are going to be seeing an entire realm’s population worth of characters… all competing for the same spawn.”
Why is layering controversial?
Some players, particularly in the private server community, are heavily against the idea of layering. It’s perceived as being unfaithful to the original game, taking away from the vanilla experience.
The Alliance and Horde capital cities were meant to be bustling at launch, for example. But due to layering, this wasn’t the case.
There’s also been plenty of debate about layering and exploitation. Some fans believe it tarnishes the leveling process, giving players unfair advantages.
How can layering be abused?
One of the biggest problems with layering is its capacity to be exploited. Players can simply join a friend’s group before instantaneously switching layers.
This is open for abuse when combined with mob farming or when fleeing from an impending gank.
A player would normally have to wait a considerable amount of time for quest mobs and take the fight-or-flight response with world PvP, but switching layers avoids this altogether.
In addition to altering world PvP and the leveling process, layering can potentially be used to farm sought=after materials, like ore, herbs, and skin. After mining, herbing, or skinning a node, a player can easily change layers and repeat the process.
This could be a problem for realm economy, messing around with average pricing and changing the course of the auction house.
Blizzard has responded to this, though, saying abuse has been blown out of proportion.
“Rest assured that there are no people running around with banks full of (Thorium) Arcane Crystals or Black Lotus,” WoW developer Pazorax said in a Blue Post.
Will layering be a permanent feature?
Layering won’t be around for much longer, however.
The specific date for the removal of layering has yet to be revealed, but it’s expected to be disabled once server populations reach a steadier rate.
If players continue to play the game at high volume, though, layering is planned to be completely disabled in time for phase two. This is because the next phase will introduce the World Boss Kazzak, as well as the Green Dragons in future phases.
The time frame for each of the phases still hasn’t been made public, but phase two and the end of layering could easily arrive as early as next month. A more reasonable estimate would be early November, though.