A few days ago I hit 60 on my human rogue, which officially closes the book on the leveling game of Classic for at least that character. It was, as expected, an enjoyable run and a reminder of what Blizzard once was. Also a reminder of what the MMO genre once was; a place you could invest a significant amount of time in, both solo and with others, and be rewarded not with the game ‘ending’ for you, but by a new phase that is both similar and different from what you just did.
The end-game of Classic is, of course, the same end-game that Vanilla had. You run 5 man dungeons to gear up, you raid to further gear up, and you PvP via Battlegrounds to also gear up. You can also continue to quest, and while you get more gold, you no longer gain XP and unlock new levels and skills.
Perhaps the most important factor is that at the cap, progression slows down, but does continue. The various 5 man dungeons contain a wide variety of upgrades for all classes, some of which remain the best option deep into raiding. Other drops might not be the best, but if you are still wearing greens or older blues, they are an upgrade. Once you progress more towards raiding, even on a raid where you didn’t gain a drop, your guild collected multiple. Assuming you and others stay with that guild, you are making progress. It’s slower, yes, but it happens, and that progression is what keeps people interested.
Now of course Classic is fast approaching its natural end-point. BWL was just released, leaving only AQ40 and Nax40 to go until the last and hardest content is out. Beyond that, Blizzard either has to move towards the Burning Crusade expansion, or into uncharted territory of creating original content. Back when Classic was freshly released I wanted original content, but seeing New Blizzard in action, be it Blitz Chung or WC3 Reforged, I’m now very confident the new content would be a disaster. At the same time, I can’t say I’m really looking forward to TBC. I never loved that expansion, and WoW nostalgia for me is firmly rooted in ONLY Vanilla.
But that is a problem for down the road. For now I’m enjoying life at 60. The 5 man dungeons (Strath, Scholo, DM, Black Rock Spire) are excellent, and raiding Molten Core is a giant wave of nostalgia. I want to see and farm Onyxia, BWL, and so on. The ride will come to an end, New Blizzard is who they are today, but not just yet.
Fun side story: First time back in MC, and we reach Baron Geddon, the boss that makes one member of the raid a bomb. First bomb target on the first pull was me, and I blew up the raid, as the bomb was placed at the same time as his first wave where melee needs to run back. Good times.