With the arrival of WoW Classic, we’re thinking back on what we miss (and what we don’t miss) from vanilla
There’s a lot of nostalgia for World of Warcraft as it once was. Even for people like me, who think the game is pretty good as it is now, miss things about that classic experience.
But we don’t miss everything. While vanilla WoW had some high points — and left us all with some great memories — there are some things about the game that none of us miss. Since WoW Classic has just launched, I asked the team what they missed and what they didn’t miss from the original version of World of Warcraft, and this is what they came up with.
Don’t Miss: Bring the class, not the player
To get things done — particularly raiding — you needed certain classes. It didn’t matter if you had to bench a really good player or take a really bad player — you needed the right classes to succeed.
Matticus really summed up the problem for us:
Miss: Class specific abilities guaranteeing you a spot in raid. (I’m looking at you, Fear Ward.)
Don’t miss: Bad raiders guaranteed a spot in raid solely because of class-specific abilities.
Players were also pigeonholed into certain roles. If, for example, you were a Dwarf Priest with Fear Ward, you bet you were going to heal. And if you were a Druid, Shaman, Paladin, or Priest (of any kind), you were also going to heal. It didn’t matter if you could DPS or tank: you had a healing spec, so you were a healer. Ted points out that this was reinforced by gear: tier sets for these classes had healing stats and healing bonuses.
When it launched, WoW didn’t give players and groups much flexibility — so be aware of that when you pick your class.
Don’t Miss: Carrying around consumables
In the olden days, WoW loved consumables. Practically every class carried around random reagents by the bagful, just so they wouldn’t run out during a crucial moment. As a Warlock, I was particularly bitter: each individual soul shard took an inventory slot, and it cost a soul shard to do lots of things. Want a summon? That will be a soul shard. Healthstones? Soul shard. I would farm and fill up every spare inventory slot before raid night, and if we were wiping a lot I would run out and have to leave the instance to do more farming.
Hunters seem especially bitter, too: they had to carry bullets or arrows for their weapons, and every attack took one. Fortunately they stacked, but you still needed bags of them to successfully play. And don’t forget that your pets need to be fed regularly, too, so you had to carry around a stack of their favorite food to keep them contented.
No one was safe from the burden of consumables, and you could expect to spend either a fair amount of time farming for them or a fair amount of gold buying them. Neither was much fun, which is probably why pretty much everyone on staff mentioned consumables as their least favorite aspect of vanilla WoW.
Don’t Miss: All the spell resistance
Frankly, I’d forgotten about spell resistance until Mitch and Nico brought it up, but now that I think back, spell resistance could be a real nightmare for casters. If you were fighting a mob — particularly a boss — that had resistance the type of spells you were casting, they might repeatedly take no damage at all from your spells. Mitch really said it best: “Sweet Yogg is it annoying.”
Imagine fighting Ragnaros as a Fire Mage. The guy is made of fire and hitting him with a Pyroblast probably doesn’t do more than lightly tickle. While I grant that it makes sense, when you had entire raids of nothing but fire-resistant mobs… ugh.
That’s all I have to say. Ugh.
Miss: The people and places of vanilla
This is one the whole team agrees on. Even if you don’t have a single fond memory of the gameplay, WoW Classic is full of people and places that are long gone from the world. Rossi wants to go back to the original Naxxramas. Debra had a habit of logging out on the dam in Loch Modan. Cory misses his first time encountering things from Warcraft 3: “Nothing compares to the first Ghoul, Abomination, or Ziggurat.”
And it’s no surprise that Anne misses the thrill of exploring:
I uh…I may have had more than my fair share of poking around in places I probably shouldn’t have been in back in vanilla. But man, did I ever get some crazy screenshots out of the experience!
Even though the old world was smaller — much smaller — than the game today, it felt larger. It took time to get around, and Matticus commented that navigating without flight really put the world into perspective.
The Cataclysm zones have now been WoW’s reality for longer than the vanilla zones — and I think everyone who played back in the day has at least some nostalgia for the world that was.
Miss: World-spanning quest chains
I want to do the Alliance Onyxia quest again. Nico has fond memories of the weird, world-spanning quest to ring the Ahn’qiraj gong. Joe misses the epic quest for the the game’s best (at the time) Hunter bow and quiver. There were quests to get Benediction, Sulfuras, and — yes — Thunderfury. Paladins and Warlocks quested to get their mounts.
While today’s quests have more storytelling (and super rad cinematics), nothing quite replicates the vanilla-era quests that sent you literally everywhere on an epic hunt for… well, something.
Mixed Feelings: Original talent trees
I miss old school talent trees. Sure, they turned into thoughtless cookie-cutter builds, but I’ve always felt like it allowed more customization than the current talent tiers. (I was particularly fond of my not-very-practical Holy/Prot Paladin build, and similar gameplay is long gone.)
Scott agrees with me, Rossi doesn’t, and no one else thought on classic talent trees enough to even mention them. Tragic, I say. Tragic.
Mixed Feelings: The difficulty level
Ted, in particular, had a lot to say on this one, so I won’t even try to paraphrase him:
Every fight in the open world became part of your ongoing adventure. Pulling a group meant devising a strategy: maybe using a little CC, a little kiting, and your cooldowns. Yes, eating and drinking every pull could get monotonous, but I’ve found blasting through the leveling game as an unstoppable killing machine is also a bit monotonous. I didn’t put a single Heirloom on my Zandalari Druid and he still kills everything in about 2 to 3 globals. I can only imaging how I’d be one-shotting mobs with Heirlooms. The danger of the open world also encouraged grouping which lead to friendships and even a some marriages.
Dan also commented how the game’s difficulty encouraged community. You needed other players to complete goals (and sometimes to complete even the most basic quests). You grouped more and if you met a helpful player, a reliable tank, or a good healer you added them to your friends list so you could ask them for help later.
But there are downsides to that difficulty, too. I particularly remember the grueling process of leveling a Priest in vanilla — a process I repeated in the beta and will do again when WoW Classic goes live. Cloth armor makes Priests exceptionally fragile, taking any melee hits can interrupt your casts, spells were terribly expensive so you would be stuck wanding (or, Matticus points out, waiting for the 5-second rule to kick in), and as we mentioned above, mobs could resist your spells. It was hard, but it was awful. It’s no wonder you saw so few healers in vanilla: they were difficult to level, respec costs discouraged you from switching specs to farm or solo, and at least 70% of tanks didn’t care if you pulled healing aggro. (At least not until you died, and then they yelled at you for not healing them.)
…why am I rolling a Priest again? It’s hard to say.
Anne also remembers the pain of grinding, which was a fact of life when leveling (and also when collecting those much-needed consumables):
I don’t miss hitting level 42-ish and realizing the only way forward is to go grind some stuff in Tanaris or Desolace for hours or days until I’m a high enough level to actually go out in the world and find a substantial amount of quests again. Oh, and Devilsaurs, aka the original suspiciously quiet Fel Reavers.
And then there’s the fact that the difficulty made everything time-consuming, which meant it was hard to play casually. While Dan’s on record enjoying how the game’s difficulty fostered community, he’s also on record saying the game could be neigh-impossible to play if you had limited time.
For better or worse, the game was tough.
WoW Classic arrives on Monday!
And for better or worse, it will all be back on Monday. We’ll see you in new/old Azeroth, friends.
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