No, you aren’t going to burn through content too quickly in Classic WoW
In a recent video, content creator Bellular stated players would burn through Classic World of Warcraft content. It even caused him to consider if Blizzard would need to create additional content for the Classic servers. To be upfront: I love Bellular’s videos. He’s smart and brings a fresh perspective.
But in this particular case, he’s also wrong.
Bellular’s premise is players are much better at the game now than when Classic originally released. This is undeniably true. Players have years of experience under their belts. Even the easiest raid fights in Battle for Azeroth are orders of magnitude more complicated than anything players will face on the Classic servers. None of this is in dispute. Yet, when it comes to burning through raid content on Classic servers, none of it matters.
Bellular played MMOs during the period of vanilla WoW, but by his own admission he only dabbled in WoW itself. From logistics to loot to attunement to preparation, Classic provides its own challenges. Class mechanics weren’t hard, instead gear optimization and world buffs made one player stand out. Most of them had more to do with time played than player skill.
Any guild or raid leader well understands how difficult recruitment can be. The first challenge any Classic raiding guild faces is finding enough warm bodies — twice as many as needed for today’s Mythic raids — who can show up online at the same time to fill the raid. Flexible raid sizes didn’t exist in Classic. Raids were balanced around the assumption you had 40 people. In most raids, you 25 strong players carrying the other 15 — but even if those 15 didn’t do as much DPS, they still did more than 0.
We don’t have any idea how popular Classic WoW will be. I’m sure some will make Classic their main activity, but for most, Classic will be a side project while they continue in the latest expansion. The lack of a viable raiding scene in the now defunct Wildstar could foreshadow how difficult organizing 40-man raids will be. There are smaller, 20-man raids in Classic. Those will be easier to fill, but they composed only a small part of the Classic endgame. They will serve the same purpose as they did in vanilla WoW: providing a stepping stone to the 40-man raids. It’s still going to be a challenge to recruit and build up a roster.
Class balance (or lack thereof)
It’s not even finding 40 random people that presents the biggest hurdle. You also need a wide variety of classes. Each class brought different buffs and debuffs. The current iteration of WoW is closer to this design than Legion or Warlords of Draenor, but it’s still no where close to Classic.
You needed a Marksman Hunter for the Trueshot Aura buff, which was far more powerful than its current iteration. You needed several Paladins to coordinate all the various buffs they gave, assuming you were Alliance. If you were Horde, you had Shaman and Bloodlust. Tanks were Warriors only by design, with Feral Druids maybe doing some off-tanking. If you could heal, the expectation was you healed. By the last raid, all the Tier gear for Paladins, Druids, Priests, and Shamans was healing gear.
Even if you found someone of the class you needed with a compatible schedule, they still might not be able to zone into the raid if they hadn’t done their attunements. All raids — and even some dungeons — required attunement. Unlike the modern requirements, these were long, involved quest chains often with group-content steps. The logistical hurdles of recruitment, class balance, and attunement mean we won’t be burning through endgame content on the Classic server nearly as fast as we expect.
Even after a guild rounds up 40 attuned people, there’s the issue of loot — which came far slower in Classic than it does today. Tokens didn’t exist. When a tier piece dropped, it dropped for one class. You might not see a tier piece drop for your class for weeks. Even when it did drop, you’d have competition from the others of your class in the raid.
For non-tier pieces, classes often wanted armor outside their usual type, like the leather-wearing Warrior, or cloth-wearing Paladin. Shock of shocks, sometimes, players wanted gear to make them better in PVP. PVP templates didn’t exist. Getting raid gear could make you much more powerful in battlegrounds. Weapon skill existed. You might not be able to equip your shiny new epic mace until after the raid when you had time to go to the Blasted Lands and grind out the skill needed to not miss every time.
Most raids required some form of resistance gear. The latter bosses of Molten Core needed Fire Resistance gear. Lore was not kidding about tanks needing to farm for Nature Resist gear to function against certain bosses. Everyone in your raid needed a crafted cloak in order to survive Nefarian. To learn the pattern, your guild had to kill Onyxia — a famously difficult 40-man boss in her own right — and give the head to your leatherworker.
There was no weekly chest to open with a chance for raid-quality gear. The only place to get the gear was raids themselves, competing with several other players of your same class. Players invented systems like loot councils and DKP out of pure necessity. Gear optimization played a big role in your DPS/HPS/TPS. Even if we ignore the logistical issues, the gear grind alone would ensure players won’t be burning through content.
In today’s raids, you flask, eat your food, and pop a rune. An enterprising player can handle everything but the rune for the entire raid. Not so much in Classic. Feasts and cauldrons didn’t exist, nor did guild banks. Someone had to hand out food and flasks. Most of the time, the expectation was each player provided their own. Enchanting Scrolls didn’t exist. Any enchants had to be done player to player. You had to find an Enchanter with the recipe, maybe exchange mats, and have them enchant your gear.
Most classes needed consumable reagents to cast their buffs or even some of their spells. Many a raid night some poor Paladin needed to bum Symbols of Kings off another Paladin. Hunters had to make or buy ammunition. If they ran out — as a guild mate of mine famously did on the Kel’Thuzad — they couldn’t shoot anymore, and their DPS plummeted. Warlocks would have to leave mid-raid to go outside and farm mobs to get them to drop Soul Shards.
It wasn’t as simple as showing up on raid night and killing bosses. None of it was hard. All of it was time consuming. Even ignoring the logistical and loot issues, the outside-of-raid preparation could prevent players from burning through the content.
Even ignoring all the ways the developers designed Classic to slow players down, even Bellular’s central premise of players being better at the game needs further examination. Classic was a much different game than what we’re playing today. Running out of mana was a real concern — not only for healers, but for DPS. Sometimes, the raid leader would ask for a Paladin to debuff to the boss with Judgement of Wisdom and instruct the mana users to wand the boss to restore mana.
Active Mitigation didn’t exist. The challenge for tanks was making sure they were “uncrushable” and staying ahead of DPS on the threat meter. I know many players don’t like the way threat works in Battle for Azeroth — it’s still world’s ahead of Classic. DPS couldn’t even touch the boss until the tank cast Sunder Armor multiple times. Threat per second (TPS) was as important to tanks as DPS was to the Mages or Rogues.
Healing was the most different. Today, all healers have a fast, expensive heal and a slow, efficient heal. In Classic, spells had ranks and healers would have several ranks of their healing spells on their bars. The game was less about executing the dance of the mechanics and more about picking the right rank of the right spell at the right moment. There wasn’t a rotation. You had to read and react to the damage your tanks and raid took. Each pull was a little different. Perhaps an addon could be written to help, but again, we have no idea what the rules for addons will be on the Classic server. It’s plausible only Classic-era addons will be allowed. Trash in most raids respawned far faster than it does now. You only got so many pulls in before you had to waste time clearing trash, some of which could be as brutal as the bosses themselves.
I’m looking forward to playing Classic. I can’t wait to get my hands on the demo through the Virtual Ticket. I may even make it to endgame and try to kill some bosses, but in no way do I have the expectation players will burn through the content. Remember, all predictions wrong or your money back — but I can’t see Blizzard needing to add content to the Classic servers for some time.
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