In a surprise announcement during this recent Blizzcon, Blizzard unveiled that they are currently working on bringing back Vanilla WoW in a big way. Soon, we will be able to revisit the lands of old, where many players started their first adventure through Azeroth and roam what was the uncharted lands of Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms. No Legion, no Lich King, and no Illidan, just simply – World of Warcraft. There are areas of skepticism and many questions surrounding the project, but it doesn’t deter for the pure excitement for World of Warcraft: Classic.
While fans are surely excited about returning to the classic adventure, not much is known about the project. It will surely mask the same experience that millions of players fondly enjoyed over the years, but let’s not forget ourselves that Vanilla was a completely different game than what World of Warcraft is today. The lack of focus of the classic 2004 MMO was a product of its time and while it is argued that the social aspect of the game was far greater than it is now, it still struggled in giving players with any sense of direction to an end goal.
The actual grind of the classic World of Warcraft is something that I will remember as it brought much joy and many friends together over the years, but it is easy to see this appeal wear off quite quickly, especially with newcomers who never experienced the original game. Zones aren’t to be trucking along through in mere hours and power-leveling was impossible to do by simply re-queuing for dungeons. Just thinking about the horrors of the Wailing Caverns and trying to find a group in chat for hours only to fall apart last minute was one of the most painful drawbacks of the MMO at the time and going back to that instantly loses its appeal.
Now think about that and expand it while coordinating 20-40 man raids through the Molten Core or even in the unforgiving Naxxramas. Imagine your endless search for a specific class (Priest or Druid) in Orgrimmar or Stormwind and after hours of trial and error on one boss to have it, all come undone. These frustrations are mitigated in today’s game and while some of the social aspects of WoW maybe lost to this, you cannot fault anyone for implementing it through recent expansions and bettering the end-game as a whole.
It’s sad to say, but nobody nowadays is able to spend countless hours invested on WoW, and while a much younger self may want to disagree with that statement, it is the reality for the aging game. My friends and I would plan weekends, summer vacations around dungeons, raids, material farming, but all of this has been “fixed” for a much faster and appropriate game for its time. If WoW never changed and stayed the course as it did with Vanilla, we would be talking about how and what needed to be changed to save the long-running MMO, but the game adapted, for better or for worse and is ultimately able to live on.
It’s not to say that I do not want to have a Vanilla like experience through World of Warcraft: Classic as once again, the grind and social aspect of the original MMO was what drew me to it in the first place, but having said that, it is easy to see that Blizzard would most likely like to try and revamp a few features just to ensure that the game would be playable for returning and newcomers alike on a technical and social aspect. Things such as a modified dungeon finder as to how it was first introduced for both dungeons and raids would as well as a modern questing experience would greatly benefit the overall game without sacrificing too much of what many of us remember from Vanilla.
There are certain things that should remain in World of Warcraft: Classic to make it feel authentic to the past game such as its slowed down leveling system, the harder to find epic items and the structure of the in-game currency should remain all intact. The pace of the overall game shouldn’t change, but learning and the end-game should be much more of a welcoming challenge rather than an uphill battle that only a few are able to achieve. While once again, to be denounced by many, these few changes would benefit World of Warcraft: Classic and ensure that it isn’t simply a nostalgic run that would die out after just a few months.
Would World of Warcraft: Classic be a hit at launch if it was the exact same game all those years ago? Yes. Would it have long-term success? No. While the idea of returning back time 13 years ago and playing the same game we once remembered would be amazing, it is in the best interest that Blizzard introduces new gameplay elements to ensure the longevity to its take on Vanilla WoW. World of Warcraft: Classic will surely be a fun adventure to return to after all this time, but we just hope that it is more than a simple port from the 13-year-old MMO.