It is very likely that sometime this year, WoW fans will get to achieve their long-awaited dream: going back to the beginning. For a long while, a lot of fans that got into the game later on wanted to have that Vanilla experience that they missed when they were making fun of their friends for playing the game. There was still plenty of content by then for people to enjoy. I enjoyed my time in MC and Naxx, though the AQs were more difficult to get into as everyone had played them out so much by the time I got into the game. I didn’t get to experience the opening of the Gates, an event that I’m told was equal parts frustrating and exciting. (It was certainly more exciting for those who weren’t booted from the servers so that they could experience the moment.)
Nostalgia really is often times more amazing than the experience itself was. People can get clouded by remembering something was greater than it was. How many times did people lag out because of bugs in the game during important fights? Or remember when you finally killed Rag but you were Alliance and all shaman loot dropped? Sure, your guild bank got enchanting materials but you want something for your time. These bugs did give the game character, but it was more frustrating than it was worth sometimes.
The thing is, while the content was amazing and fresh in Vanilla, that wasn’t what I missed most about it. I liked how hard it was. There were only a few add-ons that you needed, but you could’ve gotten by successfully without them. You just managed to do your job. But there was a unique social aspect to it that really drew people in. You needed to be in a guild to see content. You couldn’t just LFR it like you can now. Sure, I like that I no longer have to dedicate so much of my time for raiding. But I miss the friendships that you could make with people across not just the country, but sometimes the globe. One of our tanks was this hilarious guy from Egypt. There was this shadow priest from Australia. You could connect with people while working together to complete these pixelated goals that meant so much to people.
With the newer expansions, the emphasis grew to making the game better for casuals who didn’t have the time to raid but still wanted that experience. But in the process, the game lost something that made it so special to begin with. You really cannot form these kinds of friendships and bonds with people anymore. I still talk to people, albeit sparingly, that I played with nearly a decade ago. (Probably a decade ago now) We mourned when a friend of ours died. We mourned a person that we had never met in person but yet had such a profound impact on (at least in my case) our lives. The Vanilla server could be a good thing if it was able to bring back that same level of comradery that drew so many people into the game to begin with.