WoW Classic: Lets keep it hard

The hype train continues to chug along towards the release of WoW Classic. I’m excited. I created my characters to reserve names, and while doing so, some of that original WoW magic came back, even just in character creation. It’s hard to explain because normally I’m not a big nostalgia guy, but I spent A LOT of hours in WoW during Vanilla and into TBC, and then likely an equal number of hours cursing what WoW has become once WotLK was released here on this blog, so I’m more emotionally invested in this than just about any other game.

Blizzard recently put out this video, which has some of the original developers playing Classic and offering their feedback. Even in the initial 10 seconds, I go from a happy nostalgia spike of seeing the Collectors Edition box (still have that in a closet) to a ping of disgruntlement seeing Arthus, Mr. Death-to-Vanilla.

There is a lot of talk in the video about how WoW in some ways happened by accident (they didn’t really know what they were doing, because back in 2002ish no one knew what they were doing in terms of an MMO), and how it was a true passion project. In some ways I think this is what you MUST HAVE to make a good MMO, and that being a veteran MMO dev is as much a negative as a positive. If you get ‘too good’ at it, the end result lacks that charm and feels too formulaic, too ‘by design’. In some ways an MMO needs to be somewhat of a mess that doesn’t completely come together, because that gives the players a lot of ‘what if’ situations. They don’t always work out for the best (plate armor with +Int in WoW for example), but I don’t think those are the things that actually drive people away.

The section about what characters they want to play, do they play what they originally did or go a different route, hits right at home. I feel like I should roll a warrior to be the main tank, because that’s just what I do in an MMO, but I ultimately rolled a rogue because hey, something new. I’m guessing by the 10th wipe on Onyxia because our tank can’t hold agro I’ll be wishing I had rolled that warrior, but whatever…

That deadmines section of the video? Ooof, right in the nostalgia breadbasket. Same deal with the clip of the first gryphon ride. Same man, same.

All that talk of ‘whatever initially grabbed you, grabs you again’ and how the ‘magic’ is still there? I mean, you think you want that but… yea you do want that huh? Who could have guessed! The conversation around how the world is the main character? They might as well have been saying “time to list the reasons why current WoW is a dumpster fire and why Classic will work”. I’m glad they are saying it, but I also wish they had said it prior to WotLK and not marched WoW down the welfare epics and ‘dumbed down’ state it got to. “Let’s keep it hard” they said. I agree.

Side note: Funny how in 2019 we are calling 2005 WoW ‘hard’, because in 2005 one of the major selling points of WoW was that it was so easy, it was accessible to casuals compared to all other MMOs at that time. WTF does that say about the current state of the MMO genre, and more importantly, when Classic explodes into a huge hit that connects with people well beyond the initial 3-6 month wave of nostalgia, what will THAT mean for the genre going forward? I mean, will we start seeing WoW Classic clones? And do… do I actually want that to happen?

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
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20 Responses to WoW Classic: Lets keep it hard

  1. Marathal says:

    I’m not thrilled with WoWhead putting out pretty much a best in slot gear guide, or the folks that have created a Group Finder add on. I guess some people will always want to find a way to customize the game to how they want it.

    • SynCaine says:

      Gear guide is fine, it existed during Vanilla in one form or another. Group finder is interesting in that it only works if others have it, and even when it just forms the group for you, it doesn’t teleport you into the dungeon. I’ll be curious to see how popular it is, and if it is popular, how much it changes the feel of Classic.

      • Marathal says:

        I started mid Wrath so a lot of things are new to me as to what existed back then.

        As far as that add on goes, it will periodically post in chat for you that you are looking for a group. While that is no different than a person doing it, I think it may backfire if a lot of people are using the add on. Especially when it will broadcast across multiple layers.

        • Jonneh says:

          I am not sure a group finder is quite the red flag people make it out to be. IMO the problem with the dungeon finder in wrath wasn’t that it found you a group and teleported you there, but that the dungeon was face-roll easy as a consequence. It always worked just fine in FFXIV.

  2. Polynices says:

    Help finding and inviting other people but still having to schlep your way to the instance and not instantly getting warped in means it will still be a lot like vanilla and not so much like current WoW, at least IMO.

    One thing that’s amusing about some classic discussions is the people who think addons are a recent innovation and complain about them in classic. I’m pretty sure I had mods even in the original beta and I definitely used a bunch of them from launch day forward. Not sure I had to put up with those dumb UI griffons for more than a few minutes.

  3. zaphod6502 says:

    I predict Classic will be a massive flop. Once people realize how much they will lose from modern WoW they will drop it like hot potatoes.

    • Polynices says:

      People will lose the single-player, nothing matters between patches, endless chores every time you log in experience. Not sure how many will actually miss that stuff.

      Classic is slower and less utterly and mindlessly soloable (though every class can still solo to the level cap) but it’s not really missing anything good.

    • SynCaine says:

      The number of people coming from current WoW (all 3 of them), vs the tens of millions who played Vanilla/TBC, not to mention the tens of millions who only know WoW in its dumpster post WotLK form, isn’t really comparable. I’m sure current-day WoW players will return, but that’s not really who Classic is aiming at anyway.

      • zaphod6502 says:

        I was a hardcore Vanilla/TBC raider and have no intention of returning. That ship sailed a long time ago. Vanilla/TBC raiding content required highly organised and cohesive 40-man teams and the pool of talented players to draw on was immense back then. It was also something we did in our younger days when we had 4-5 hours per night and 6 days a week to work on strategy and planning and farming mats for the raids.

        The servers may be busy for a month or so but that will be it. People have this dreamy view of how wonderful WoW was back in the early days and think they can recapture that spirit. Most of this was because of the social aspect of guilds and not the actual game content which to be honest was a pain in the ass to deal with in Vanilla especially if you were a raid leader.

        Once people realize that the best parts of Vanilla WoW were the friendships and bonds developed back then and most of these people will move on it will simply become another game with a bunch of randoms running around trying to play what was a very clunky game back in the day.

        • zaphod6502 says:

          I also want to add that I would be surprised if a lot of modern game players try WoW classic and/or stay. Young players of today have a lot less patience and few would tolerate the requirements and time sink Vanilla demanded of its players. The Fortnite generation has a very short attention span and playing Vanilla WoW will be like banging their head against a wall repeatedly.

    • bhagpuss says:

      I can’t imagine anyone under 25 is even going to notice Classic exists. The average age of Classic players is probably going to be ten or fifteen years older than that, at least. On the EQ progression servers the average age is probably 45-50.

      • SynCaine says:

        EQ and WoW are different beasts though. EQ1 capped out at 500k subs, WoW had 11m That’s a much larger social pool of people that can pull other people in, like adults pulling in a child, or someone who is now married pulling in a spouse or other family members.

  4. Bhagpuss says:

    “Funny how in 2019 we are calling 2005 WoW ‘hard’, because in 2005 one of the major selling points of WoW was that it was so easy, it was accessible to casuals compared to all other MMOs at that time.”

    This needs to be repeated, often. I didn’t play WoW until 2009 because I was convinced it was a dumbed-down, kids version of real MMORPG gameplay. In the MMOs I was playing, almost everyone believed that. The only reason Mrs Bhagpuss and I ended up playing at all was that we were in an MMO slump and had literally tried every other game we could think of. WoW was the last on the list and we thought we’d last a week at most.

    In fact we lasted six months. It was mid-WotLK and the gameplay was much, much better than we expected. it was easier than other MMOs, yes, but there was a fully fleshed-out world and leveling was solid, satisfying and fun. That lasted for the whole of the original “vanilla” content but vanished immediately in Burning Crusade, which was tedious and boring. We both quit a few levels into the actual WotLK content, by which time the sense of being a character in a world had been replaced by that of being an avatar in a video game.

    Reading lots of guides at the time, many of which were way out of date, it became very clear to me that WoW had been a much more interesting game a year or two before we decided to play it. That’s why we’re both going to try Classic. I’m not expecting to stay long but I’m expecting to have fun leveling to the cap, probably on couple fo characters, because what really would have seemed very easy indeed to myself as an EQ player in 2005 is going to seem comfortably “hard” compared to what I’ve become used to since.

    • SynCaine says:

      Leveling a few characters to the cap (and then maybe running a few of the lvl 60 5 man dungeons because they are pretty great) will easily take you 6 months+ in Classic. Leveling in 2009 was already faster than Vanilla I believe.

  5. Esteban says:

    I agree that ‘hard’ is a major misnomer. Unfortunately, ‘keep it tedious’ doesn’t sound nearly as good.

    • SynCaine says:

      This goes back to the whole ‘its a grind’ comment. If you keep logging in and playing/paying, the ‘grind’ is the actual content and its fine. If ‘the grind’ causes you to quit, then you aren’t really ‘grinding’ the content, are you?

      Vanilla for me wasn’t tedious in a bad way, it was a grind in a good way. People who currently enjoy what WoW is might find Classic tedious in a bad way, and prefer the current game of teleporting, scaling, and all that instead.

      • Esteban says:

        Same, but that was fifteen years ago, without enough of a basis for comparison.

        That said, Classic vs Live isn’t a binary choice. I can easily imagine people who currently do not enjoy what WoW is, being lured to Classic by the promise of of social cohesion, a more immersive virtual world, better incentive structure, and higher difficulty… then finding it all buried under tedium and rough design edges that they know better than to put up with.

        There’s probably a Brexit metaphor in there somewhere.

        • SynCaine says:

          Very possible.

          But part of why I think it will be successful is that first time around, it was a success for tens of millions of players. I don’t expect THAT many to be right back up for it, but as GoG has shown us for so many titles, good games are still good years later, even if they aren’t on the bleeding edge of graphics anymore (if ever).

          I mean, I love a game like Pathfinder:Kingmaker, which is basically just Baldurs Gate with slightly better graphics, but more or less the same gameplay/design. My “what I like in an MMO” hasn’t changed that much since 2005; I suspect I’ll still like Classic about as much as I liked Vanilla. We will see soon, but that is my prediction.

  6. zaphod6502 says:

    Offtopic since you haven’t mentioned it in a while. I am surprised you haven’t progressed with FFXIV. The Heavensward and Shadowbringers expansions have some of the best content you will ever see in any MMO. I know you were heavily in to the game at one stage.

    • SynCaine says:

      Yea I forget the exact reason I stopped playing it, and have just never gotten the itch to return. Classic isn’t going to help get me back to FFXIV anytime soon either.

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