So, after all, lot of players thinking about where they should go. Then most of the beginner ones just simply find one with google or some junk l2 topsite and gets into a crappy server that makes no sense to play on.
I made this for those who would like to play on a server where she/he can enjoy and to avoid the frustrations and 2months-life servers.
To start with, the most important the rates are.
-extreme lowrate [1-3x]
-instant maxlvl servers[1000-....x]
Mostly played and good servers are lowrate and midrate. Most players you'll find there. Dwarves are needed, parties as well, farming ofc and you can participate in mostly everything that a normal server has.
Extreme lowrate is not rly played, because even keeping up farming is a hard work. You don't have always money for SS, potions and such stuff and leveling will be very slow. Reaching serious levels like 76+ with a full new start will be about a month or two if you play a lot. Hardcores can reach it even in 1,5-2weeks.
Highrate l2 server is mainly for pvp, there you don't have to be afraid of lvling, farming and the higher grade equipment is mostly buyable from custom shops. These servers don't have too many players, but some of them do and if you have only a few hours here and there to play and you would like to get a 3rd class character in a month atleast, you might choose this type of server.
lineage 2 Extreme highrate servers is something that not rly anyone plays, some players use it to just simply try out the characters and equipments, it is based only on pvp and has extremely lot of custom stuff. You can have a max lvl char in about...half a day? If you are a pvpmaniac and enjoy just PVP and you hate farming, lvling, questing, you might choose this one.
Instant maxlvl servers are similar to extreme highrate ones, they are full custom and only for l2 pvp as well.
Note: Freya Update
The weaker attribute effects are nice, but there are some very disguisting changes with this update, probably the most horrible one so far.
This includes players making huge amount of chars to take advantage of the recommendation system, then conquarable CH/HQs sell high/top grade lifestones of lvl 70-76 etc...etc...if it comes to freya ask about these things b4 going to the server. It's bad enough that u can only get craft stamps from castles, now low-grade enchants, lifestones and later more will be inaccessible giving a hand to the already stronger players.............
Note: from this point those who wanna play on 200x+ l2 server, useless information ahead.
Now when you finally chose what rates you wanna play, you have to know that what is the server configuration.
Like, what is the server machine's quality and especially it has to have a great connection. 100mbit is used by small servers, can keep up about 200active players w/o lag. After that, it might be a nightmare full-o-lag.
Big servers mostly have 1000mbit+ connection, that makes a future for them and you can play on it for a while for sure w/o the fear that when you're about to get well, the server keeps lagging or even more: about to shut-down.
The next thing will be the custom stuff.
Server donations. Yep, money is needed to keep up the server, most big server have donations too, but there's 4kind of donations.
1. cheap and gets great advantage to the donator to own you, totally not fairplay.
2. kinda expensive donations, but still for stuffs that can give the donator advantages in-game.
3. Fair donations with almost useless stuff, for unique appearance, scrolls, money, stuffs that can be bought for AA, d/c-grade items, pets and such stuff.
4. No donation.
The best is the 3 (l2 server fair donations) . Why? Because a server w/o any donation mostly can't keep up with money, if there's no donation, then there might be a higher chance for the server to shut-up.
So be sure to ask the admins or look for infos which let u know how they solve financial problems.
Secondly, the custom stuffs.
Buying equipment that can be generally crafting or non-existent is kinda big problem. For example MPpotions makes EEs and SE-s halfway useless and overpower those chars that uses a lot of mp, like overlord/gladiator/bladedancer/swordsinger etc....
Custom buffers suck too, they make all support chars - except bishop and SE - totally useless.
Buyable d/c/b/a/s soul and spiritshots makes mostly the economy useless and this is a very important part, because giran is a place that must be full of merchants, those attract more players.
After all this, the activity, age of server and GMs.
It is important as well to know, how old is the server. Because you might just get into a huge server where there are alrdy about 20-50ppl with full or even overenchanted S-grade equipment and if you are w/o a lot of friends or a huge clan that support you, then you are doomed, you will be continuously a target for pks and you'll mostly thinking of where to go where there aren't too many players that can kill you with their hyperequipment.
Either way, you can join simply a huge ally/clan and they gonna defend you.
Never forget that most players will play on the latest version of l2, so don't choose very old chronicle, players don't rly go there.
GM must be active, to avoid the cheaters, like lineage 2 cheats hlapexers, hingamers, l2net etc....there is a GM in need and a good protection system.
Note that there are !NO! servers that has a 100% protection, for a 99%protection at least, u need active GMs who manually take care of the cookiemonsters
To solve your problems/get help when you got into a bug or you would like to ask something about the server, a GM is in need.
Having active GMs are not always a very good thing. Because they can be corrupted. Yes, most corrupted GMs help their real life friends or clans that has the same nationality what is again: cheat.
At this part avoid non-international servers, they tend to have corrupted GMs.
The rumors about l2j, l2dc and l2off lineage servers. Well, there is a difference ofc. l2j is a server that can be made extremely easily, but you have to deal with a lot of bugs and even more lags, but nowadays l2j improved a lot and that can't be a big problem, ofc l2off will be always better.
L2DC is basically java with well developed files, the Dragon Claw team fix things regulary and goes for fresh updates as fast and as stable as possible. This would be probably the bost choice of the three.
You can easily check a server that is l2j or not. To play on most l2j server you need to change your hostsfile in windows with adding a new IP address. Some just have a simple patch and no hostsfile change is in need. Some DC servers however got patches much like off, even then, if the server has patches that means some activity regarding the server owners.
The lineage dual-boxing. This means that you can run more l2clients and log in with more characters in the same time, allows you to keep a buffer of yours with your main one to farm better or be set for pvps. Also allows you to have more chars to set shops in giran/aden.
When it comes to dual-boxing, it sets out a huge number for the overall population of the server too, having no dual-boxing allowed on a new/fresh small server is not a good idea. While it sounds great u'll lack of supports or as a support u'll lack of DDs. It also makes the server have 40% less ppl, so the server seems even less populated.
Voting and advertising.
Yes, that keeps players coming, you'll find servers on toplists and the more votes it has the more chance there is to bump in to a quite good server. However, apart from few sites (like YourGamingDude l2 server list) there are almost no other good voting sites that have not been hacked or selling votes, be aware of that. So if you finally found a server that suits you, you enjoy playin' on it, recommend it. Vote daily and help yourself to have more players around you and help those who are looking for a server!