WoW Classic: Do we need this?

In roughly a week a swathe of 30-40 somethings are going to relive and re-start a habit in a bid to re-misspend a misspent youth.


There is a swell of hype in niche pockets of the Internet as people get more and more excited for the launch of World of Warcraft Classic. But why? Why is there the familiar toot-toot of the hype-train on the horizon for a product that is over a decade old, has a newer shinier iteration currently out and available to play, and a product that held marmite-like, positive and negative criticism when it was out.

Just to clear things up I have bought my ticket (ed: and a train drivers hat, matching t-shirt, undies and socks and the special edition coke cans) and I am on the hype train! I am genuinely looking forward to Classic, but my goals and approach are going to be massively different to it, as will it be for much of the community. So I'm gonna play a little bit of devils advocate here...

Upon launch many, many people will just be diving in for the pure nostalgia of the game, and very few of us will (ed: should) spend the amount of time and effort that we previously had done in the original WoW. Especially since because of our demographic, most of us are now grownups* with grownup commitments.

Being an adult aside, and just comparing current WoW and Classic WoW, part of what I have seen about why Classic has such a following, it that current WoW (retail) sees a bit of backlash in regard to how it plays nowadays, it is considered "dumbed down", the game has streamlined, homogenised, and refined itself to large degree making interaction minimal, levelling, dungeoning and raiding are all infinitely more accessible, and faster. The game has become easier, where, in classic, you would have to learn an individual enemy boars moves so you know how to kill him before he killed you, now you kill several boars, and don't even have time to read what moves it did on you. Where you used to chat to your guildmates or just general chat and group together and adventure your way to a dungeon, it has now been replaced by a couple of button presses followed by a teleport to the dungeon entrance. In short the game has become more of an action fantasy RPG, than an MMORPG.

This is in part Echoed by my friend and fellow WoW classic returnee Joldrath:


That being said, as we are all grownups* with grown up commitments, is Retail actually just the game we need for our hectic lives?! Is it WoW for adults? The game is so refined that it now sectioned off up into bitesize chunks, rather than the infamous 16-hour junk food stuffing, poop-socking sessions.

As with most things on the Internets nowadays, hype lives in a bubble, and a select few loud voices are the ones that get heard. Does Classic exist just for these voices? Does this only exist for private server people? Is it just for streamers?

The private server community and the streamers go hand in hand and the tin foil hat theory is that Blizzard just wanna cash in on this... Private servers have been running for years, and streamers sit on their ad revenue, when Blizz ain't even getting a subscription. Will Classic just be a way to regulate private servers will it be World of Warcraft: public private server edition. Probably. The thing is the WoW from 2004 did not have the influencer/content-creator machine to work with, but it did have a lot more eccentricities, character builds and fun to be had in that fashion, that in all honestly it is going to be a great place for content creation! 15 minute bites of "Look at this build kill this thing" or "10 Paladins take down Ragnaros".  But is that the reason the folks diving into nostalgia want to play it again? Probably not.

For me, part of the nostalgia was that this game was emerging, new builds were coming out, people discussed strategies and new patches brought all sorts of shenanigans with them. WoW was a sandbox playground allowing for meta-gaming of all kinds and involving everyone in the community. With WoW Classic we are getting the final patch of WoW, we are getting  "phases" where content is opening up but nothing more, and I think that may be a drop off point for a lot of people, "what's next" is very much a thing in WoW hence the plethora of patches, content and expansions that's essentially kept WoW going and with a few other games created the Games as a Service Hellscape we now live in. What we are getting is a little slice of life, a snapshot of WoW as it existed for maybe a few months (?) and a few things will cycle around it. Yeah, don't worry,  I hear myself "Finally, WoW Classic, what's next?", but that is definitely a thing, and I'm sure it's not just me, I wonder what the hook will be to keep people on if there is nothing around the corner... or is there?

One hot topic is, what will happen after the phases? simply a reset and start the phases again? there is debate that based on it's success will Blizz just dive into The Burning Crusade and so on... Or it is also speculated that there could be some horizontal development continuing development but keeping the lvl 60 WoW classic experience, Could we see Death knights join us at lvl 60 or could we see Paladins on the horde side? Maybe some pandas could join the fight? Could we see tweaking to see viable Ret-lol DPS?!?? There was also a suggestion that WoW Classic could potentially enter seasonal play, akin to that of Diablo 3 with buffs and effects and such at lvl 60, changing up gameplay. Personally I would love to lift a couple of the non-gameplay elements from modern WoW, Specifically the overhaul to the character models to make them prettier, and hand-in-hand, I heart my transmogging and would love to allow collecting those looks at lvl 60 be made viable (without the masses and stacks of bank room being used up by mats you need to just go to a dungeon in Classic). In any case I do hope there are plans post final phase, given the world we live in for the effort/time we have made with our lvl 60 this time round, it would be nice to have new challenges and change-ups to actually look forward to.

So do we need WoW Classic? Based on my grumpy contrarian ramblings above: all we are getting is a non-updated game intended for private server veterans and content creators that due to its time sink qualities will mostly be inaccessible to the commitment-laden nostalgia crowd that actually want to wallow about there!

What is the pull to bring people back and, and then stay back? I am fully a part of the mid-life-crisis-got-commitments-nostalgia crowd, I got shit I need to do! I actually spend my evenings with loved ones rather than skulking in "my mom's basement". I cook food rather than picking away at luke-warm kebab on a Molten Core run etc etc. So why should I look forward to a game known to be a time-sink when I can a similar dopamine hit from Retail or even just any other game.

Jesus fucking hell, Richie Who's a Debbie Downer!

Ha, well unfortunately much of the above is true and quite honestly when this was announced, I immediately thought and realised this was going to be hyped behind a lot of rose-tinted glasses and to echo my parting statement from this post after the announcement, I was always going to play it, just to dip my toe-in at the very least. WoW was arduous, it was not an easy game. And I had to ask myself a few hard questions like:
Why do I want to play that grind again?
Can I find the time to play again?
Do I even want a faithful recreation of that game from 15 years ago?
What do I want from another WoW experience!?

And Boom! that was the question that re-ignited my passion to play!

Personally I love the Paladin class, I played my Blood Elf Paladin at from the first expansion onwards, but in WoW I (badly) played a Mage. I think what I want from WoW Classic is...
Drum roll...
...wait for it...
...
"Redemption"
...
...
... geddit? Cuz redemption is the name of a paladin spell?...
...Fine whatever, geez...

I want to experience the original paladin or play WoW Paladin: Classic Flavour. I wanna do the Paladin Horsey quests (at least the alliance version), I want to do the multitude of Paladin-ish quests in the game, the Scarlet Monasteries and the Scarlet Crusade through Hearthglen, and on to getting Exhalted with the Argent Dawn. And so I realised that I have almost set myself a Goal, a path to go through the game with My goal will simply be lvl 60 hitting the iconic Paladin quests along the way.


As much as I have had a grumble about what WoW classic is and if we need it, but it cannot be denied that when WoW came out it was so impactful on everything (media, games, etc), and perhaps this resurgence of Classic can rekindle some of what sparked that zeitgeist.

Wow is old, and that cant be denied, just have a look at her face, her non existent nose, and the world is the same, jagged polygonal models, scenery with seams etc etc. However most of the time it can be very beautiful, Each zone has a different flavour, musical theme, and atmosphere, and its hard to any parallels that rival this even today. And it's Huge, yes you can argue that today its huger, with all of the additional zones being added in, but in all actuality because of the addition of flying mounts the world is just so much smaller.

Recently I had a chat with Thatguyer, Doppelganger, discussing about how that leap from 16-bit to 3D was so impressive and awe-inspiring, but nowadays you can almost feel like you are just playing an N64/PS1 game, just with smoother graphics. What is the next leap in games? Where do we go from here? logically it should have been VR/AR, but is too much of an ask for the consumer, despite it being forced into our eyesockets. I would argue that mainstream MMO machine of WoW was a leap at that time, moving to online play but at the same time generating community spirit was a massive turning point for games. The traction it gained led the way for the online console experiences and ultimately the community based games we see dominating the Twitch-osphere. Is there more that revisiting this monolith can change/teach the new generation of people who think playing computer games is a job?

As the hype-train has been getting ever closer to its destination, I have had to change my news-getting methods, where I used to haunt/feature on WoW Insider, it is now a shadow of it's former self. I have been looking to Podcasts, Reddit and even joined Discord. In particular I wanna give a shout out to countdowntoclassic.com and a big shout out to the shows host Josh on @count2classic who has kept the hype train running with interviews with Class leaders, the original designers and generally great WoW Classic content! It has been a bit part of what is making me excited about Classic!

Anyways right, I guess see you in Azeroth?

Love and Seal, Judge, Rave, Repeat.
Richie X

*Grownups absolutely use the word grownups, we're definitely not three cats in a trench coat, fake nose, glasses and a hat. No sir.

Comments

  1. Brilliantly written as always my man, and well on point. Is WoW Classic gonna give us the twinkle back? Is it gonna give us 'The fizz' as James May describes it, when he rides his favorite car?

    Well my friend, let us join the Doc and Marty, let's get on the Delorian, set the dial to 2004 something, something, and find out.

    Joldrath

    ReplyDelete

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