Blizzard for months and months have held the position that there would be no return to vanilla World of Warcraft (vanilla is in reference to World of Warcraft before any expansions); with Blizzcon 2017, that all changed. After years and years of saying no, Blizzard has finally said yes and announced World of Warcraft Classic. A return to the World of Warcraft that many—including myself—sharpened our raiding teeth on. While the idea certainly satisfies the proverbial nostalgia sweet-tooth, it is doomed to fail if it stops there.
Let’s Not Forget
Nostalgia is great, but the dosage is key. Vanilla World of Warcraft was certainly a revolution in its day, bucking the trends of Everquest and other popular MMO’s. But comparing the game to today’s standard…well…things get overlooked or forgotten. Vanilla World of Warcraft contained many quirks and design decision that simply don’t hold up, especially when it comes to the value of them.
Weapon skill was one of these old mechanics that existed. For those who don’t remember, weapon skill was simply the skill you had regarding a specific weapon type that would level up the more you used said weapon. If your weapon skill was too low vs an enemy they would dodge and parry your attacks. The problem with leveling weapon skill was that it became a chore to max out when you were level 60 due to the random nature that it took to level up.
Another mechanic that existed in vanilla World of Warcraft that was equally annoying, was the act of acquiring gear. As part of the endgame in World of Warcraft, each class had a set of gear that it needed to acquire to progress further into the end game. The issue arose when it came to actually earning that gear. Many endgame dungeons would drop only one piece of gear, out of a potential 9 classes (even though each faction only had 8 classes at the time), making gearing up an arduous task. This issue continued into raiding, where bosses would have loot tables that left no room for potentially having a different class makeup, resulting in many many many useless drops from bosses.
Of course, this is not to say vanilla World of Warcraft doesn’t have positives or there aren’t more negatives associated with it. But rather a simple reminder that things aren’t always the way that we remember it, and its this lack of memory that leads to much of this nostalgic want. However, once we are faced with the reminder of how something was, we quickly change our tunes and realize it perhaps should be updated or left in the past. Afterall, this is why remakes are such a huge hit in the game’s industry, it both touches on the nostalgia we wish to revisit while also modernizing mechanics to our current pallet.
Expansions Exist For A Reason
World of Warcraft Classic is looking to take us back to those original World of Warcraft days. While the original certainly held an appeal, that appeal isn’t eternal. There is a reason that we had expansions following vanilla World of Warcraft, and we are going to need them for the same exact reasons; people simply get bored.
Classic contains a lot of content, there is the extremely drawn out dungeon and raiding aspects that can provide content for literal days if not weeks. There is, of course, leveling alts, crafting, making money, and just exploring the old World of Warcraft that it once was. At some point though, everyone is going to catch up and finish, and there will be nothing left because its forever stuck in classic. For World of Warcraft Classic to truly survive it can’t remain stuck in vanilla, it will need a way for players to advance to content that has been added past vanilla. This can be accomplished through two ways:
- Creating World of Warcraft Burning Crusade Servers
- Making World of Warcraft Classic a reset to the game, not stuck in time
Both provide ways of keeping the theme of World of Warcraft Classic but also realizing that vanilla World of Warcraft can’t last forever. The mass majority of players won’t want to stick around in the past forever, they will want to move on and chase the next nostalgia high.
While vanilla World of Warcraft had far more aspects than any other time in World of Warcraft history that helped build communities, going back to classic isn’t going to bring back the same communities. When I played during vanilla and eventually Burning Crusade, I met a great many people. Some of them I teamed up with, some of them I actually met, and some of them I am still friends with today after nearly 8 years. Those bonds were forged in an environment where grouping was required, everyone was learning, and a challenge was present.
When going back to a game you already know, there is no learning and the challenge is greatly diminished. You know what you need to do to progress, you know what each boss does, and you know best how to accomplish all of those things. Why? Because its happened and the information is out there. There is no discovery and no wonder for you and your group to find out, its just going through the paces. Without a new environment, combined with a challenge, and a need to group, those bonds, those communities that I built and was apart of earlier, never truly come again. With an MMO the social aspect is important, but building that social aspects require a few key ingredients. Simply going back to a version of World of Warcraft where communities thrived simply won’t be enough to bring that aspect back.
World of Warcraft Classic is a great idea on many levels, but many are going to find disappointment once it finally comes around and the rose-colored glasses come off.