Update 4: A day later and everything looks smooth now. Good luck out there!
Update 3: Blizzard confirmed that the authentication server issues it tweeted about earlier are what's preventing people from entering the Dragon Isles. "These issues are actively being worked on by the World of Warcraft team, and we'll share updates once resolved," it wrote.
Update 2: A few of us at PC Gamer have been able to get in via the portal instead of the zeppelin and boats. Blizzard hasn't made any official comment on the issues yet, and it still looks like a ton of people are unable to get to the new zone.
Update: Blizzard wrote on Twitter that it's "currently investigating an issue" that's preventing players from being able to log into the game. Still no word about the world server and boat issues though.
The boat and zeppelin memes have already started.
Original story: As any MMO player knows, the first challenge of any expansion is the struggle to get into the game. World of Warcraft: Dragonflight's servers are disconnecting players as they race to get into the new Dragon Isles zone. And, strangely enough, the earliest hurdle has been catching the in-game boats to get there—or the zeppelins for Horde players.
Both factions can take a trip on either a zeppelin or a boat from their main cities to reach the Dragon Isles. For whatever reason, the boats and zeppelins arrive late and, when you finally catch one, you run the risk of getting booted out of the game. Once you're out, it can be tough to get back in with the game spitting back a "World server is down" message and locking players to loading screens.
The optional portal that can teleport you to the Waking Shores, the initial zone of the expansion, sends you to a loading screen and then back out on the dock. Players that have been able to reach The Waking Shores, however, are still getting disconnected from the game.
Queue times are the worst for anyone that plays on a highly-populated server. You can always see the current population by logging into the game and viewing the realm list or by visiting the realm status page. If you hit the queue wall, the best you can do is play on a server with fewer people until the congestion clears up.
WoW expansions have had a history of turbulent launches. In 2020, the influx of players trying to get into Shadowlands had Blizzard scrambling to keep the servers stable. Players experienced lag and disconnects as they tried to finish quests in the opening sections of the expansion. I remember when Cataclysm launched and my character would get stuck bending down to pick up loot before I got kicked back to the login screen. Spells don't cast and quests don't complete. Lag is the ultimate nightmare for MMO players and long-time WoW players have had to brace for it with each new expansion.