WoW Classic PTR hints at a “Classic Fresh” on the horizon — and that’s probably for the better
Recently, players noted a new Classic Era PTR dropped for WoW Classic. After logging on and exploring using older characters from a previous PTR cycle that hadn’t been deleted — because character copy had been disabled for the current PTR — it seemed that for whatever reason, the PTR was on a different phase than live Classic Era servers. After some digging, it looked like they were locked to before or during Phase 3, with Blackwing Lair potentially in the game, Battlemasters present but not usable, and Dire Maul fully available but the Yojamba Isle hub for Zul’Gurub seemingly not implemented.
A letter from the developers to the players about updates to WoW all but confirmed Classic Fresh, but didn’t go into any significant detail.
With memories of a June survey from Blizzard fresh in people’s minds, speculation began that we’re looking at a potential fresh start for WoW Classic, perhaps in the form of new servers.
Would fresh start Classic servers be the best way to play WoW Classic? Is it true to think that maybe, this content is only good up until it’s all unlocked and there’s nothing else to do — even if you bring in Burning Crusade Classic or even a further Classic version of some other expansions, you’re just delaying the inevitable. The reason MMOs have expansions is because players always want something new to do, and with WoW Classic, there’s always going to be a finite amount of new.
So putting up new servers and letting players level to 60 all over again, and letting them go through all the Phases again, perhaps even on a more staggered schedule where content releases take longer to come out, might just be the ticket for some WoW Classic players. Because it’s clear that people are not particularly enamored of the game once all the phases are unlocked and there’s not going to be anything else to do unless you’re interested in Burning Crusade Classic.
Would a clean slate WoW Classic server be the right call?
I find myself ruminating on this a lot. I played WoW Classic but not very much — it ended up not really being my jam, and in part that’s because it wasn’t in any way new to me; I’d already done all of this content back when it first came out and my computer was a relative potato. Back when raids took weeks or even months to clear, and instead of six phases we had 12 patches for all our content. That’s not an experience a lot of players had — a great many people have come and gone from World of Warcraft over the years and the majority of them started after 2007, and missed all the original content when it was still new.
But for those players who have since started a level-1 character on a WoW Classic server and cleared all the available content, I do have to wonder, is doing it again going to be compelling? I mean, once you’ve done it, you’ve done it. Is it going to be fun to go back to level 1 fighting Kobolds and waiting for Dire Maul to unlock?
It’s better to let players decide if something is fun for them
The thing is, I no longer doubt that for some players, it absolutely will be fun, because this is exactly what they want out of WoW Classic. This is the experience that they signed up for, and it’s not my job to police or hector people for how they choose to enjoy their games. I mean, I’ve gone back and rerolled multiple characters in various games — I play the Seasons in Diablo 3 with regularity and that’s literally me making the same Barbarian over and over again and grinding up to max level. So there will likely be at least a significant group of players that will reroll on restarted servers and wait for the content to unlock again.
A case could even be made that this is the best mode for WoW Classic– that the game is best when waiting for the next thing to arrive. Perhaps instead of the current six phases, they should be broken up more, and spaced out over longer periods of time? Maybe make 12 phases, with content releases over two years, that more closely resemble the way patches worked in the original release window. I’d certainly be interested to see how long the game could keep people’s interest in that situation. Heck, maybe it would be better to actually try and recreate the original game as of patch 1.0 and then literally patch the game through each iteration?
Ultimately I think a clean slate server would be a great thing for WoW Classic, because it’s the experience players want — they want to keep playing as close to the original game as they can get. Let them.
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