I will try to make a little server classification here. I will point the pros and cons of every single one so it will be up to you to pick which one to play on.
All servers can be divided into:
These are well-known to you Europe/US West/US East/Asia. These are official servers. Ya need to buy a CD-Key to play here for two games: D2 и D2: LoD. Each costs about 15$, 30$ total.
Reset: at the end of May and end of October.
PvM: due to tons of bots that give you BO, Enchant and even lvl up themselves PvM is kinda boring, but it's up to you to decide whether to use bots or not. Lately, there was a ban-wave so a lot of guys quit using them.
UPDATE (Dec 2017): Recently there was a ban wave. Now there are literally no bots. Items now have value they never had before. Say, Ber costs 2k fg at the season start.
PvP: High-lvl-pvp takes place in NL. Thanks to huge online players skill vary from total newbies to world's tier 1 players. by using bots you can make a duelable character in a pretty short time. Could take a couple months but it would be free. It's also possible to make a char by using real money on d2jsp (takes ~30$).
If you will have ping issues - you can install Battle Ping to reduce ping to playable values.
Trade: in-game or on d2jsp. Simple things like shako/mara can be purchased in 2-3 minutes.
Pros: huge online, easy trade, good PvP skill level on NL.
Cons: bots; requiring payment.
It is all the remaining servers. They, in their turn, are divided into those, who need a mod to be installed (new items/skills/locations) and ones that don't, official-like (no mod needs to be installed).
Probably only 3 servers here that I know:
It's a monopolist among all Russian servers - Playground.ru. About 90% of all Russian players hang out here.
Reset: once in 2-3 years.
PvM: really low drop rate ( v 1.11), so making a character takes years, and runes above Sur is a privilege. There is also a monopoly on Annihiluses.
PvP: very poor conditions cause 1.11 drop
Trade: poor. either in-game or on the forum or in VK group
Cons: everything else :D lots of invisible changes that you need to you need to guess on your own. Also no 50% dr cap, enchanted MA, multiple windows drop after a certain amount of time. In fact, this server can be assigned to mod one. It isn't there just technically.
It's a Hungarian server with 1.14 patch, EU's analog. The difference is that there is hardly ever any online here. But if you want to find a small friendly company - you are welcome.
Its a Russian free PvP-realm with hosts in Moscow and London. Any item with perfect affixes can be transmuted in cube via Cube recipes or taken from in-game accounts. Making a character of your dream takes like 10-15 minutes. Ping is ok for the most part of Europe.
Host: Moscow, London
It's servers that need their own mod being installed to play on them. Usually has new items/skills/locations.
Long story short: New items, new skills, new locations. List of all changes here.
Reset: once in 1-2 years
Long story short: new items, new skills, new locations. There is a separate PvP realm (D2PK).List of all changes here.
Reset: once in 1-2 years
Host: America (maybe Cannada)
Long story short: 10x runes drop rate, 10x until 93 level, some additions to original items, increased stash, and inventory. Maphack allowed.
Reset: iirc once in 2 years
Path Of Diablo
Long story short: mod from Path Of Exile developers. New items, new skills, new locations.
Reset: iirc once half a year
Host: Lots of host around the world including Russia
These are well-known add-ons, totally changed games, dissimilar to LoD.
- Eastern Sun
- Median XL
- Grapes of Wrath
also lots of others fan-made.
There is also an option to play via IP address through Hamachi or Gameranger.
The choice is yours.
Good Luck and Have Fun!
Wish you good luck in all your endeavors!