I’m stoked, but Vanilla wasn’t perfect
As a Vanilla World of Warcraft player who has been present during every expansion, I’ve seen the game grow and regress in myriad ways.
World PVP eventually became a shell of its former self, “looking for group” functionality (LFG) was added so people didn’t need to fruitlessly attempt to find 39 other people to play with, quests were streamlined so you didn’t need to access a database to find them — depending on who you ask these features either “ruined” WoW or “made it accessible.”
Here are a few things from Vanilla World of Warcraft that players probably won’t be enjoying so much when the Classic edition arrives.
Clicking each individual flight path
A lot of people probably forgot that in the original version of World of Warcraft, you had to click each flight path individually to get across a continent. Look, I’m fine with the lack of travel options (more on that in a second), but the fact that you have to manually do more busywork just feels more like an oversight than anything. With a game as massive as this, quality of life and assurance type enhancements don’t come cheap or instantly.
Traveling in general is a lot more arduous, which is great when you’re going through the leveling process and are forced to actually journey through the world, but not so great when you have to physically go to a location every time to actually participate in the activity. Get ready to pay a lot of Mages a lot of tips to access their portals.
Oh, and if you had an epic mount, or even a mount, you were a badass.
Group pulls are almost raid-like in difficulty
I hesitated to include this as I personally don’t mind it, but the increased difficulty of world mobs is going to be making or breaking some prospective “I’ll give it a whirl” type players. In Vanilla, nearly every mob was a struggle, even on the world map. You needed to use your full rotation to best some annoying elite mobs in some pesky areas like Dustwallow Marsh — all while dealing with world PVPers ganking you during your quests.
While some would maintain that WoW “wasn’t hard,” I’d I’d ask them to show me a clear video of the unnerfed version of M’uru (from Burning Crusade), or have them describe how easy it was to wrangle up 40 people for Molten Core or Naxxramas. Each expansion has iterated in terms of mechanics, but a lot of the legacy features of WoW itself (both good and bad) are what made endgame content so tough.
Re-speccing is less forgiving
In any given hardcore raid group, you might be asked to respec (re-pick your talents) multiple times. In the current iteration of World of Warcraft, you only need to be located in a rested XP area (or use an item) to respec for free. It’s insanely useful because there’s no artificial gate for experimentation, or in many cases, the necessity of swapping if you’re a key role like a healer or tank.
But in Vanilla respeccing costs gold, a valuable commodity in the original, especially if you aren’t a crafter or gatherer. Initially you pay out one gold to swap, then five, then increases by five up to 50. Then every 30 days it goes back down five gold to a minimum of ten.
There’s an argument for this, which essentially boils down to “you have to choose your build and stick with it,” but again, for raiders that need to swap constantly, it’s a nightmare and just requires farming gold to pay for one aspect of raiding. That’s not even counting all of the other reagents and items needed.
Ah, this old chestnut.
I get what Blizzard was going for with the whole weapon skill concept. It was from an older RPG mentality, like something out of Ultima Online or by proxy, D&D. Your player character, if they wanted to use a new weapon type, needed to actually practice with that type if they wanted to be proficient in it. It’s a design that carries over to a lot of other modern RPGs too, like The Elder Scrolls.
It makes sense, right? Well, what actually ended up happening is that you’d get a cool new piece of gear that would mix up your loadout, but your proficiency with it would be so low that you couldn’t actually use it. Instead, you’d have to go back to older zones and grind out your weapon skill so it was high enough, then go back and level. If you swapped weapons again and needed to level it further, the process repeats.
Even newer games like the original Destiny initially have remnants of this idea (until it was patched), and it can be a rewarding means of working your way up to a new playstyle, but in this case it just felt like an artificial grind. All of it was eliminated in the Cataclysm expansion six years after the launch of Vanilla.
As you can probably tell, I opted to not include “lack of LFG (looking for group).” Blizzard’s own Jeff Kaplan summed it up best recently at BlizzCon — having to actually talk to people to form groups bonds the community together. Rather than queuing in with strangers you’ll forget five seconds after clearing something, you’ll need to meet people, potentially join their guild, and quest together to even attune yourself to high-end content. I recall having to fight into dungeons with a group before spending an hour or more conquering them.
Dungeons will require more effort than just pulling groups of mobs and AOE-ing them (area-of-effect spells) to death. Things like crowd control and other lost arts of World of Warcraft will see a return, which will be a nice option compared to the way dungeons have been since the Wrath of the Lich King expansion.
As long as people come in droves, World of Warcraft: Classic will benefit from an overwhelming sense of community. You’ll start to see people choose “hometowns” like Stormwind instead of players randomly jumping around wherever they want like the current edition. Forming bonds in literal day-long PVP matches in Alterac Valley was an insane experience no other game could offer.
If Classic even comes out, that is. We don’t have a release date right now or detailed plans as to how Blizzard is going to handle it. But for now, we can look back at what made Vanilla WoW so frustratingly great.