written by Alastrom
Today I’ll be discussing Bioware’s masterwork achievement known as Anthem. After I’ll ride my rocket powered unicorn to magic island where I’ll spend the week drinking fine champagne and… who are we kidding? Neither of those things represent reality. Anthem is a hot mess and unicorns are dead, just like our hopes and dreams for anything good coming out of the “AAA” market these days. I could talk about Anthem but I think I’ll get about three paragraphs in before I break out the whiskey and this whole thing devolves into a jumbled manifesto that my psychiatrist wouldn’t approve of. Let’s talk about the past instead. Yeah, today I’ll be discussing World of Warcraft Classic!
“WoW Classic” or as some are calling it “I can’t believe we’re actually doing this again,” is Blizzard’s attempt to revive the early days of nostalgia brought on by their megalithic MMO monster known as World of Warcraft. It wasn’t always selfie cameras and Goldshire sluts peddling their erotic role playing. There was a time in WoW’s history where the game demanded you spend every waking hour grinding dungeons in desperate hope that you could get enough fire resist gear to raid alongside thirty nine other people. It was a simpler time when men were men, women were men and children had the good sense not to shout ethnic slurs at you between “LFG” queues. WoW Classic wasn’t for the faint of heart. Players would spend weeks, if not months trying to reach max level and once they were there the real challenge began. I’ve been critical of World of Warcraft in the past for “dumbing down” the MMO genre to make it accessible to a wider audience and thankfully, I’m not alone. A legion of private servers that run emulated versions of “classic” have dotted the digital landscape in recent years and it seems Blizzard has finally taken notice.
I assure you, I’m quite excited to play classic again. I joined in on the World of Warcraft hype when I was still young and foolish. Now, I’m no longer young and the opportunity to experience Azeroth without all the bells and whistles feels like the gaming equivalent of yelling “Get off my lawn.” But WoW Classic is a strange move, considering that World of Warcraft current (read also: retail version) is still releasing content for a fairly wide player-base. When the announcement came, many of us wondered if it would split the audience between current players and classic players and that’s a dangerous proposition for any online game. I grew up with Blizzard games. While I’ve been critical of some of their recent decisions involving Battle for Azeroth and the nature of their player-base owning phones, I still love the company and the vision they’ve put forward in their games. Classic might seem like a regression for some, but I believe it’ll be a primary factor for continuing WoW current in years to come.
If you’re lucky enough to have fond memories of raiding in classic or some of the PvP shenanigans that occurred out in the open world, that’s likely what you’re looking to recapture if you plan on returning. Given that your current subscription will cover entry to Classic, one has to wonder if this isn’t just an elaborate scheme by the company to convince people to come back to Warcraft current. It’s no secret that Battle for Azeroth, the most recent expansion, has had a rocky start. This lead to the game hemorrhaging subscriptions faster than a mage getting jumped by a group of rogues. Some players swore off WoW entirely while others turned to classic emulated servers instead. I have little doubt that many of these players will return for Classic and some will realize that they miss the bells and whistles that Current offers. While Reforged Gaming was discussing our own foray into Classic, we realized that the game didn’t initially offer a guild bank. Which caused each of us to remember a story about the guild enchanter who always seemed to have more money than everyone else shortly after raid time. Classic wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. In fact, compared to the current release, it’s a hard core experience that most players simply won’t tolerate in this day and age.
I strongly suspect Classic will dramatically boost the number of players we see in the current version of the game. The hard truth is, revisiting the past means you already know the future. Eventually, content will run dry and Blizzard will need to make a decision to leave Classic players with the same set of raids or push into The Burning Crusade, the games first expansion. If that occurs, the cycle will need to continue until Classic eventually matches Current. You’d then have players inevitably asking for every version of the game to have its own independent server set up (except for Cataclysm because… let’s be honest here.) The best option would be to follow Diablo III’s Seasonal system, with servers starting fresh every year and at the end of the expansion releases, players would be given the option to transfer their character to the current version of the game. It makes sense, given that this content is already developed but it’s basically shelved in order to promote the most recent expansion.
Regardless of the grand strategy, World of Warcraft Classic is an exciting approach for the nearly fifteen year old game. I’m personally looking forward to experiencing the coordination of forty man raids and the absolute chaos of open world PvP. I have no doubt that I’ll spend a couple of months in classic and end up in the current version of the game again and I think I’m OK with that. With any luck, Blizzard will take a few design hints on what attracted players to the game in the first place and perhaps that’ll be reflected in future content updates moving forward. If you never had an opportunity to play World of Warcraft in its early days, I encourage you to try it out for a month or so. Even if you don’t make it to end game, you’ll certainly appreciate how far the game has come since its inception. If it’s not your cup of tea…
“We’ll always have Goldshire.”