WoW Classic: What we know and what we want
I don’t think it’s a secret that I’m not a big devotee of nostalgia, by and large.
I think we all feel it, but I generally tend to err on the side of “You can’t go home again” with it — every time I’ve given in to the urge for nostalgia, I’ve been disappointed. But I’m not everyone, and we all have different opinions about such subjects as the past, the present and the future.
Now, with the announcement of World of Warcraft: Classic, we’re finally going to have a chance to go back and experience Vanilla WoW as it was. There’s just one problem — Vanilla WoW lasted from late 2004 to early 2007. Which version are we getting? Is it Azeroth as it was on launch day, Azeroth after the Maraudon patch, Azeroth will all the raids up to Naxxramas? What Warcraft will we be getting, exactly?
What has Blizzard said?
There’s no release date for WoW Classic, and it sounds like Blizzard doesn’t actually know what the game will be just yet. In an interview with Senior Game Designer Steven Burke, our own Dan O’Halloran asked about how Classic Servers are going to work out.
While Classic servers sound like great nostalgic fun, the classes were badly unbalanced and it took forever to get simple things accomplished in Vanilla WoW. How do you plan to address those issues?
That is one of those unknowns, it’s too early to tell. I know the spirit of what we’re trying to do is authentically recreate that Vanilla experience with all of its rough edges. Right now we still have a lot of work ahead of us. We’re very conscious of these issues, but it’s too early to talk about how we’re going to address them.
Have you thought about rolling out the expansions over time on the Classic servers?
We have thought about it and thinking about it.
People who have wanted this since Cataclysm will of course be paying attention to what the final shape of World of Warcraft: Classic ends up being. How is it going to work? How far will it go? Will we have Classic as a fixed point in time, unchanging, or will it change and roll out expansions over time the way EverQuest did with its Legacy Servers? J. Allen Brack talked to PC Gamer about these very issues. They’re committed to bringing an authentic classic WoW experience but they haven’t decided exactly what that is yet.
So what does Classic mean? What should be included and what shouldn’t be? My suggestions are as follows.
Stop at Drums of War
The last content patch for Vanilla WoW was patch 1.12.2, a minor bug fix patch for 1.12.0, Drums of War. This is the culmination of World of Warcraft before The Burning Crusade, with the final form of the game’s PVP system, following the Shadow of the Necropolis patch, 1.11.0. These two patches, introducing the final form of PVP and the final raid of classic WoW, are the hard stop point for any classic server in my opinion. They’re the most polished, most comprehensive, least buggy versions of that game. They include all of the content that ever existed in Classic. More importantly, the PVP was probably the best it ever got before the introduction of things like Rated Battlegrounds or Arenas.
Nothing that comes after the Drums of War patch should even be considered for a Classic server. Absolutely none of the raids or content from The Burning Crusade or Wrath of the Lich King or any other expansion should be included. No dungeons, no world bosses, nothing of the sort. Not even the patch 2.0.1 content should be included. This includes bug fixes from that time. If it didn’t happen before Drums of War, it didn’t happen in Classic.
No Death Knights, Monks, or Demon Hunters. And speaking of things that weren’t there yet…
No flying, no heroics
This means that there should be no flying mounts, no heroic dungeons, nothing of the sort. None of the talent changes from TBC. No viable tanks aside from Warriors and occasionally Druids on older content or if you’re desperate. Paladins? Stand there and buff and heal and maybe stand outside the raid and res people if that wasn’t fixed before Drums of War – I honestly can’t remember or not. Raids locked at 20 or 40 man sizes, with mini raids like UBRS at 10 or 15 depending. Again, it’s been a decade since Drums of War, I can’t remember if they’d downsized UBRS from 15 to 10 players by then, but if they did that’s what you go with. Classic should be locked to what I’d argue was the ultimate form of World of Warcraft before its first expansion, and should include absolutely nothing that came after.
Warriors rolling on DPS mail and leather? Get used to it, because it’s back. Every healer rolling on that dress? Yep. Edgemaster’s Handguards will once again be one of the most popular tanking pieces in the game.
You get eight races and you like it
The Horde is Orcs, Tauren, Trolls, and Forsaken. The Alliance is Humans, Dwarves, Night Elves, and Gnomes. And that’s it. There are no Paladins Horde side, no Shamans on the Alliance. Fear Ward is exclusive to Dwarf Priests. Druids can’t push critical hits off the attack table. Bosses get parry haste so you’d better be looking forward to some ridiculous burst damage on your tanks.
Any change to the games mechanics made after Drums of War to improve the game experience? It should not be there. You don’t get a mount until 40, and don’t get your epic until 60. Getting a mount from another race within your faction is an incredible effort. Mounts are items in your bags, as are pets. Ammunition? Yeah, your hunter still needs that. Your Rogue and Warrior, too. Reagents for buffs? Yes, those should be in there. Your Paladin needs to buy all those reagents to buff the whole raid with Wisdom or Might or Kings. But at least the Greater versions existed by Drums of War, right?
Weapon skills and the leveling of same should exist. Expertise should not (it was a Burning Crusade introduction) but Defense absolutely should. However, things like Critical Strike rating should not — in Vanilla, Blackhand’s Breadth just added a flat 2% crit.
Everything gone is back again
However, it’s not all losing improvements (although it absolutely should lose any that came after Drums of War) — all content removed in later expansions and changes made to remaining content should revert back to the way it was. No more Acherus over the Plaguelands — Naxxramas is there in all its 40 man raid glory instead. The Plaguelands are back to being plagued. It should be possible to run all of Stratholme, live and dead side, in one run. Instances that got updated in later expansions like Shadowfang Keep, Scholomance, Scarlet Monastery, or Blackfathom Deeps should be returned to their 1.12 versions. Zul’Gurub should be back with the original bosses and 20 man raid size.
Onyxia should be back and dropping her level 60 helms. Azuregos, Lord Kazzak, and the Dragons of Nightmare should all be back as well. Any content that existed as of Drums of War should be there, waiting out in the world for you to come find it.
In my opinion if this is going to be meaningful, it has to be the game as it was. Not just rolling back the things some folks don’t like and returning the things they do, but giving players as accurate a recreation of what World of Warcraft was as is possible. Nothing that came with any other expansion, but everything that was there during the original two plus years of the game before all that.
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