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World of Warcraft Classic: Thoughts so Far

Editor’s Note: The video footage is from a recent livestream, over on our Youtube channel. 

I never thought I’d say this, but as a journalist, I have to be honest: I have enjoyed World of Warcraft Classic. I’m not someone who clings on to my “Vanilla Memories”, except for the people I met during that time. If it weren’t for playing with one of my close real-life friends, I probably would have dropped in the first week. My old friends all grouped up together on a PVP server, but that’s not for me. I spent too much time on retail PVP servers to just want to do it again. Now, for a variety of reasons, WoW Classic isn’t the same as Vanilla World of Warcraft. Some of this is in-game, where I feel many of the serious bugs are probably gone. This also leads to Add-Ons. I’m fairly certain we had Add-Ons during the course of Vanilla, but they weren’t on the level of what we have now. Technology has advanced so much, giving way to far better Add-Ons. Now, there are people who argue against them are silly. If it doesn’t affect your gameplay in the least, why should you get a say-so in the experience of another player?

But there’s a lot of good to talk about here, I think. One of the things that made World of Warcraft such a powerful game is the community. People came together like never before, far before the serious advent of major social media. Retail World of Warcraft feels soulless, empty. You can click a button or two and find a party for PVP and PVE, with people that probably aren’t even on your server. You don’t really have to interact either since the PVE content is incredibly easy in most situations. Want to farm old dungeons? It could not possibly be easier. Money? It flows like wine. In WoW Classic, progression feels like it really matters. You don’t just learn every single skill upgrade when it shows up. Why? You want to get a mount at 40, don’t you? That ~90g isn’t going to just show up unless your guild and friends really like you. I received my mount at 44, instead of the 52 of my Vanilla experience. This does lead me to one minor complaint about the game.

Knowledge. On one hand, I love having all of this information at my fingertips, because my time is at a premium. However, none of the game feels new or interesting, because, well, it’s not. There are people I’ve partied with, who this is their first time in the “Vanilla” experience, and I’m glad for them. This isn’t really a knock on the game itself, but how much access we have to information and knowledge. Nothing in the game is really a challenge since you can just slap an add-on in to tell you where every quest item is. WoW Classic does not auto-track quests, and it certainly doesn’t show you where quest objectives are. You had to genuinely talk to people, and read your quest log. That is unless you’re like me and spent hundreds, if not thousands of hours into the original experience. Even without that, people are grouping together, helping each other, and that’s a wonderful thing. If you played the original game and remember it, or simply head to a quest guide, it’s going to take a lot of the challenge that Vanilla originally provided. The biggest change is definitely knowledge though. People can no longer hoard secrets and information from other guilds. Everyone has access to the same content and knowledge. It all boils down to dedication and skill now.

Another thing I’m torn on is “Looking for Group”. LFG is a channel where players conveniently enough, look for a party for quests, dungeons, et cetera. Great idea, right? Since you can’t auto-queue for things, having Looking for Group could not be more important. How is this possibly a bad thing? Because the WoW Community is still here. It’s riddled with shitty jackasses, yelling about Trump, or racial slurs, talking people down, criticizing and badgering people for “playing dps instead of rolling a tank”, or something else generally awful. Since I left Retail WoW behind, my day-to-day interactions in games have been much better. Final Fantasy XIV‘s general discourse is a more positive one (though not 100%, nothing is ever 100% positive). Having to deal with those general chat Trolls again is disappointing in a way that I cannot quite put into words. The channel? Great. The people in it? Less great. While people have worked together in great ways, the same old jackasses are here.

Visually, it does still have the option to make it look as clunky and cruddy as the original did, but personally I wanted the higher graphics. It doesn’t look like Retail, but it does look slightly better than it did. The only way anything would feel different for me, is if I had played Alliance. But my friends who reached out first are Horde, so I went to a familiar experience. Maybe I’ll roll an Alliance character, and see how I feel, and experience the Alliance Classic Experience (TM). It definitely felt like I was going back in time though. I’m not a fan of the decisions Blizzard has made over the past few years, and I’m very much torn on if I’m going to continue playing after this month’s sub is over. I’m enjoying playing with my friends, but at some point, things are going to stagnate. There are no plans for any further content outside of Vanilla, so people are probably going to get bored before too long. I know I will. But while it’s here, and it’s relevant, it’s been a pretty positive experience.

Final Verdict: It may not be perfect, but it has been a fun experience. It hasn’t blown me away or changed my life, but it has provided me some fun nostalgia, for which I am grateful. I wonder if Blizzard thinks that it will bring people to the Retail product. Knowing them, they probably don’t care, because subs are up in vast amounts. I’d be curious to see the number of logins between the two games though. Right now, my Mage is 45 and in Swamp of Sorrows on Pagle. I will probably write again once I’ve hit 60, or if I decide to roll Alliance somewhere.

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