All of the reasons you should (and shouldn’t) play WoW Classic
Update: This post was originally published for our supporters, but now it’s available for everyone. Enjoy!
Obviously, only you can answer the question of whether or not you want to play WoW Classic. With the possibility of a WoW Classic beta test dropping soon ™, it feels like a decent time to sit down and discuss why you may or may not want to play the original version of World of Warcraft. I’ve been playing since those days, and I have a fairly jaundiced view of the whole idea, but I strive to be fair and so I’ll be going into this post trying to give you as even-handed a view of those days as I possibly can.
It should be admitted from the start that a lot of what will make you decide you do or don’t want to play WoW Classic is based on subjective factors. For some people, no flying will be an utter deal breaker, while for others, it will be a solid reason to play. Whether or not you’ll enjoy playing in a Classic environment comes down to your tastes, but let’s discuss some differences between WoW today, and the way it was back then.
Azeroth was smaller, but it felt bigger
WoW Classic is going to be the World of Warcraft as we saw it before any expansions. Zones like Gilneas, the Twilight Highlands, Hyjal, all of Northrend and Pandaria and Outland… they will not exist. No Ghostlands or Quel’Thalas or the Exodar. There won’t be any flying, and fewer ways to get around the world, so it’ll feel a lot bigger. Getting to Silithus to raid Ahn’Qiraj when it comes out will be an undertaking, and you should budget time to get to the raid or get comfortable with badgering Warlocks to summon you there. Also, as an aside, they hate that. They always have and they always will.
In some ways, the feeling of scale to the world in Classic is going to be a big draw for some players, and I can understand why — I remember being awed the first time I ran south from Ashenvale all the way to Feralas on a normal 60% mount, dodging monsters (and fighting them when I couldn’t dodge them) just to get to Dire Maul for my first time tanking it. This was standard practice, and if you didn’t have any flight points in a zone it was often your only option the first time you went to a dungeon. Getting to Maraudon or Dire Maul or Scholomance was often half of the experience and it’s something WoW has lost in an age of flying mounts and mounts starting at level 20.
But in WoW Classic, you won’t get your first mount until level 40, so you’ll be running around the world on foot for 39 levels — making trips on foot into zones like Stranglethorn Vale, Tanaris (just ask any Horde player about making the run down through Thousand Needles for the first time), or the Eastern Plaguelands. I remember my first Scarlet Monastery run — I was level 32, and I had to fly up to Southshore, then run all the way north to Chillwind Camp (dodging Horde who were attacking Southshore) to get the flight point, then running into Tirisfal Glades, a Horde zone. And all on foot. It’s indisputable that the world felt bigger and scarier in Classic than it feels today, with so many quality of life changes that are aimed at making leveling to 120 easier. Today, it’s very unlikely you could do something as stupid as I did when I ran into Azuregos when I was level 49 and decided to find out if I could take him.
Fewer features, but more community
Things that I can think of off the top of my head that you won’t have in WoW Classic include, but are not limited to:
- Any sort of Group Finder, Dungeon Finder, or Raid Finder
- Linked Auction Houses
- The ability to sell Enchants on scrolls in the Auction House
- Jewelcrafting and Inscription
- Sockets on gear
- The mount tab (all mounts will be in your bags as items you click on to summon said mount)
- Void Storage
- Portable mail boxes
- Paladins Horde side
- Shaman Alliance Side
- Death Knights, Monks, or Demon Hunters
- Arenas of any kind
- The Dungeon Journal
Back in Classic days, if we wanted to know what a raid boss could do, we wiped on it a few hundred times because nobody was putting up videos of their raid strats, much less live streaming entire races to World First — you figured it out or you died until you did.
In a way, it was simpler, and for a lot of players I’m pretty sure the idea of running a dungeon by sitting in a city and watching the chat channels and/or posting to them yourself is going to be appealing. No more Real ID or Battletags — your friends will be players on the same server as you, or they won’t and you won’t be able to play with them. Tanks who actually know what they’re doing become highly prized commodities, added to friend lists and constantly hit up to tank any and every dungeon and even a few raids. I ended up joining two raid guilds entirely because I ran a PUG with someone who then talked me up to their guild.
I mean, it sounds a little paradoxical, but while Classic felt bigger, it also felt smaller because you ended up knowing pretty much everyone on your server, or at least their guilds. The lack of all of those conveniences I listed above created a sort of small town feeling, especially on lower population servers. And to a degree this is something we won’t know about until WoW Classic is out — if every player is effectively on the same server, it’ll be too big to replicate that feeling. So if that’s something you’re looking for, you may or may not get it.
Groups were larger but mechanics were easier
Look, I’ll just come out and say it — fights in Classic were a lot easier with fewer moving parts. Tank and spank fights were plentiful. Even the raid bosses that had more complicated mechanics, like Nefarian or Vaelastraz, paled in comparison to modern raid encounters. People wiped on them in part because there weren’t any easy to find strats and in part because raiding had so many people to deal with — you needed so much DPS from so many people to kill the boss before it would enrage and losing people would mean you’d eventually hit a point where it was mathematically impossible to do that much damage before a wipe.
Often the trash in Blackwing Lair or Ahn’Qiraj was harder and required more planning and forethought than the bosses. We killed Princess Huhuran after a days’ worth of attempts, and then wiped for a week straight on the trash between her and the Twin Emperors. We killed them after about two weeks, and then spent another week just trying to get past the trash after them to even get a look at C’thun. If you’re looking for raid and dungeon fights that challenge you, force you to use your toolkit to the best of your ability? Classic isn’t that.
Look, the fact is, as the years have passed WoW’s fight design has really gotten a lot better, and so has the average player. We’ve spent years being trained by ever-increasing complexity in dungeons and raids. The game is a lot more robust now than it was in Classic, when fights like Garr could be stymied simply by banishing four mobs.
But then again, you’ll also be dealing with classes that are still trying to figure out what jobs they can do. Druids and Paladins weren’t considered valid tanks in Classic, and Warriors lacked AOE threat tools to the point where they had to stance dance just to cast Thunder Clap and debuff bosses so they didn’t take too much damage. Fights couldn’t be too complicated because players simply didn’t have the tools to deal with interesting fight design. If you’re looking for long, trash-filled five-player dungeons with pretty simple boss mechanics and raids with up to forty people running around like a small army doing fights that are more about just not screwing up than actually executing? Classic is that experience.
Yes or no?
Ultimately, WoW Classic is the game before we all played the game a lot. It’s the game that made us the people that played it, if that tautology makes sense. Everything it doesn’t have is something we wanted it to have because it didn’t have it, yet once it put those things into play the game changed and we started missing it the way it used to be.
Should you play it? That depends, but I think it comes down to a lot of factors. Are you tired of the game as it is now? Then going back might actually be a forward move for you. Have you always wanted to see how the game was before you started playing? You can. Do you miss the quests and zones as they were before Cataclysm, or have always wanted to see them because you started playing after they came out? A world that’s simultaneously larger and smaller than the game we have now is waiting for you.
Ultimately, I’d recommend playing it. I know I’ll probably fire it up once in a while. It won’t replace the WoW we have now, but I think getting to experience the way it used to be again will supplement the game as it is now.
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