Flaw or Feature?

It's barely been two weeks since WoW Classic was announced, and already the forum wars are raging about how exactly it should work. There is an official WoW Classic forum now after all! I've also had a lot of videos on the subject pop up on my YouTube feed.

Personally I firmly fall into the camp of wanting to see as little change as possible. It's not that I couldn't imagine some changes that would make the game a little nicer for me personally, but as I once wrote in a previous blog post, Vanilla WoW appealed to different groups of people for very different reasons. There were people who enjoyed the levelling and the world and cared little about endgame, and there were those for whom endgame was all that mattered. If you asked either group how the game could have been improved, they probably would have told you to do away with all the stuff that was just dragging them down... but which was someone else's main reason to play in the first place. So while it will be impossible to re-create the experience we had back then 100%, trying to stick as close to it as possible should definitely be the goal. Any sort of changes would just cause the pendulum to swing in a bad direction for one target audience or the other.

I think a lot of this sort of discussion comes from people still not understanding the appeal of Vanilla WoW. It was just an entirely different game. I saw one YouTuber compare it to a survival game, which I thought was really interesting... no, you weren't going to die from not eating or drinking enough within a certain amount of time, but the world was dangerous and you could find yourself in all kinds of unpleasant situations if you just strolled out into the wilderness unprepared.

Let's take hunter arrows for example. Blizzard eventually took the approach of considering the act of buying and restocking ammo pointless busywork that might as well be removed. And if you only ever log in to raid and test yourself against mighty big bosses, there is some truth to that! However, for the newly minted hunter who is only just learning how to survive in the world, you essentially just took away a part of their game. It's like looking at a survival game and going: "Gosh, all this collecting wood and stuff before you can build anything is just pointless busywork! People should be allowed to just have unlimited resources and build whatever they want." Building whatever you want is a valid activity to have in a game, but then you're not creating a survival game anymore.

Vanilla WoW was also much more about roleplaying than gaming in the modern sense. Sure, things like imbalanced classes and expensive respecs may have been issues from a gaming point of view, but they also helped define your character's role. What meaning does it have to "be" a holy priest if they are something that effectively only exists inside of instances because in the open world everyone respecs to shadow? Most classes and specs were better in some situations than in others and this was something that you just accepted as part of the character you chose. You could choose to be someone who had to rely on others a lot, someone who went at it alone most of the time, or a jack-of-all-trades who was flexible and could do multiple things but wasn't as good at any of them.

You can disagree with that, and maybe even consider it a bit inane to prioritise roleplaying over having a smooth dps rotation or a viable tanking spec. However, the point is that there is already a version of the game that has its priorities the other way round. I'm still amazed that Blizzard is finally acknowledging that players who don't prefer that way of doing things actually exist and might even be worth catering to. Right now it looks like it might actually be the player base for whom it will take some time to sink in that not everyone likes the same things and that other ways of playing the game might be valid too.


  1. Picking where in Vanilla to freeze the game will be interestig too. AQ gates open? Which UBRS dungeon? Which patchesa dn bug fixes are applied, or do they leave the patch level as is and sell the odd bug as a feature of "you asked for it"? Perhaps it starts as v1.0 with all the insability and issues and slowly progresses through classoc for a few years and then the server resets back to v1.0.

    1. Yeah, those are the real issues for which people should be discussing the pros and cons, instead of asking for pet battles in Vanilla and stuff like that. We all know that won't happen.

      I definitely like the progression idea (because my own progression will be slow anyway, and this way the world around me would be slowed down at least a little bit), but I'm less convinced by the idea of having a reset. There is definitely a certain appeal to starting over, as the success of EQ's progression servers has shown. WoW's private server community is also always on board with jumping on pretty much any new server just because it's new. On the other hand I don't like the idea of putting pressure on people to "finish in time" or risk losing their progress.

  2. Pretty much thinking the same way. Every "quality of life" change seemed to me to be a "nerf" to the game. Training? You went all the way back to your trainer. Weapons? You had to practice! I remember going out of my way to get 'rested' so that when I logged in next, I'd be earning "rested XP". I think that's still a thing, but the current game is so darned easy, it doesn't matter.

    I don't know if I'd call it a survival game, but it WAS a lot more challenging just to get things done. Gotta admit, I kinda liked it.

  3. I'd be perfectly fine if they did something like wha Typhoonandrew suggested above and started with 1.0, but I suspect that some of the initial patches would be part of that starting codebase for Vanilla WoW. The concept of weather was one of the quality of life patches that came early on, for example, but it's pretty much a given today.

    Now, where to start the raid patches... That's a more interesting problem. Given the reality that leveling will take waaaay too much time compared to current WoW (or even Wrath Era WoW, which is what I started with), Blizz actually has some time to work on this. I'd suggest that Typhoonandrew's idea of adding the raid patches --spaced out over a couple of years-- as a good idea to begin.

    However, here's a concept that could work: have the "original" WoW Classic servers then move to BC, and then create "new" WoW Classic servers. Hmmm.... The more I think about it, it's not a bad idea, but maybe they should just freeze WoW Classic after the Gates of AQ.

    1. Several private servers slowly released dungeons and raids over time and it seemed to be well-received. Nostalrius did eventually want to progress to TBC as well. However, I'm not sure that even a wildly successful WoW Classic would make Blizzard want to maintain even more different versions of their game. Plus then there would be the question of whether moving on to the next expansion should be voluntary or enforced.