Was WoW Classic the Home We Were Promised?

Prior to this weekend at Blizzcon, we knew that there would be a playable demo that digital ticket holders would receive. When the demo was first unlocked, there was a time limit to play. Now there isn’t. I played about 2 hours of the demo, a little on each side. I’ll continue to play to enjoy the demo while I still have it. But the question that we all were wondering was “Could we really go home again?”

The first toon I created was a Human priest, the OG Leighanneore. I did have a couple toons that I created before settling on her. One was an Undead rogue, but that got boring quickly. I went to the Alliance side to those cool looking elves, trying out the druid. Again, I wasn’t quite feeling it. I was starting to think that maybe this game wasn’t for me when I first got the game. I was ready to give up. I decided to try a Human priest. I wasn’t quite sure what made me go that route, but my gut told me to. Since that time, over a decade ago, I have remained loyal to my Human priest though the Void Elf makes it really hard to stick to. But if nothing else, I’m loyal.

Naturally when trying out the demo, my first character was a Human priest. After creating (recreating?) Leighanneore, who looks much different back then (maybe it’s all the war and saving the world that has made her younger and prettier), I was boosted to level 15 and dropped down into Westfall. I groaned. I really hated Westfall. Those gnolls and murlocs have a way of never stopping their chase after you and aggroing entire camps of them even if you’re not even close. At first, I took the same approach that I did leveling her as holy. I slowly grabbed one mob at a time and slowly holy’ed them to death. Until I remembered that I had Mind Blast at that level, which made things go a lot quicker. I would dot something to pull it only to remember that back then, dots didn’t matter. My mobs would get stolen left and right and no one would group with me to help. They didn’t care. It was just like Vanilla.

Then there were the people who you could instantly tell never played Vanilla in its true form. They were mass pulling entire camps as hunters, only to die because this is Vanilla not BFA. It was all fun and games until the hunter would feign death and the innocent bystander killing gnolls in my own little corner would die because of their stupidity. They didn’t learn; they continued to do it. Those guys are never going to last when Classic does come out. It’s going to be great.

I did die a lot. It felt like home. There was something comforting in the frustration that I had to actually read quests now. Mostly because back in those days, we didn’t have the quests pop up on the map to tell us where to go. We just had to read to figure it out and when we couldn’t, there was this really awesome site called “thottbot” where we would stalk to figure it out. Or, the classic dungeon guides and books. Yes, we had to read back then. It was awesome.

Then I realized that it was exactly what I had hoped it would be. In the live game, I can mindlessly grind without any real effort being put into the game. You can see that from how quickly I level my characters up. People didn’t have 20 alts in Vanilla. You barely had time for the 1 that you had. You couldn’t hit 20 levels in a day. You couldn’t just spam dungeons in the LFG. You actually had to go to an LFG channel in chat to look for groups. You actually had to zone into a dungeon, which sometimes meant killing elites to get into them. You couldn’t just pull every mob in the area, even with a group especially at lower levels. It was hard. You had to farm and farm to get money, not just have 1000 drop from completing world quests. It was exactly what I wanted.

I was scared that they were going to give us something half-assed; something that would appease the people who only heard of Vanilla in stories. I desperately wanted them to give us that experience that made fans fall in love with the game. Where you formed friendships and bonds with people from all over. Where you need to work together for goals. Being an introvert, I like being able to do my own thing on my own terms with people I just like hanging out with. Back then, I was forced out of my comfort zone to complete “end-game content”. It was great for me because I had to communicate with others to complete goals. I created friends in the later part of Vanilla/early BC, some of which I still talk to all of the time.

They didn’t. They stayed true to the spirit of Vanilla with WoW: Classic and as a long-time fan of the series, I’m so excited. I could play the demo all day and not get bored. I like being frustrated every time a mob kills me out of nowhere. I like that I can’t just keep dotting everything until they die. I’d like to thank the team for being so passionate about doing this for fans. I’d like to thank them for reminding some of us veterans of the game why we love it. Even when we hate it.

In case you’re wondering, I’ll probably be streaming a little bit more of the demo while it’s still around. Right now the first stream is archived on Twitch but it will be uploaded to YouTube by tomorrow.

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Do We Really Want WoW Vanilla Back?

I was at the grocery store recently and I noticed that they had Count Chocula in stores. (And Boo Berry… and Franken Berry…) I was excited to have a taste of my childhood, though I was always a bigger fan of Honey Nut Cheerios. Those other cereals were way too sweet for me and even today I tend to avoid overly sweet treats, since I feel so nauseated and lightheaded after eating them. Naturally, I bought them for nostalgia factor. I sat down while knitting and decided I wanted to try them to see if they were exactly how I remembered them. After a quick, small handful, I decided that they were exactly how I remembered them. Which was sad to me because they were completely disgusting to me now. I actually spit it out. The kids loved it. Maybe I had just outgrown this treat that became extinct in my childhood or built it up to be something better in my memories than it actually was.

I may have gotten into the World of Warcraft game late, but I did manage to get in before the game had any expansions. After trying a few characters, I settled on a Human Priest. I struggled through quests as a holy priest, making a lot of friends along the way because everyone loved a pocket healer that could actually heal. Eventually, I made it into a top guild on the server as a healer and got to experience the magic of end-game content at a competitive level. It was intense. The content was hard. I missed the “Opening of the Gates”, but I spent countless hours wiping on raids even clearing the original Naxx. I can reminisce with the sentiment of “I remember when content was really hard”. That’s not to say that the Burning Crusade content wasn’t difficult, but when compared to the original game it wasn’t really that bad.

As the game went on and after a couple of less than stellar expansions, people began lamenting for the “good ol’ days” of Vanilla. Vanilla servers popped up, giving people the ability to relive the time before the game was tarnished by “casuals”. These were short-lived as Blizzard quickly shut them down. Then Blizzard listened to the masses: they promised us Vanilla servers! The veterans of the game rejoiced, excited to relive the game. Everyone who played the original was excited to relive the glory days. New players were excited to see why people kept saying “I miss vanilla”.

But is this what we really want? We’ve grown from those days. I’m certainly not the same person I was 10 (::cough:: or so) years ago. Will I be as disappointed reliving this experience as I was when I took that bite of Count Chocula? Or will it be as natural and entertaining as it can be watching classic 90s cartoons like Rugrats? In about a month, we’ll find out. People who are at Blizzcon, or who purchased a digital ticket, get to try out the demo of WoW: Classic when Blizzcon starts. Yes, I will be streaming the experience. I’m afraid to go back because I don’t want my memories of the original game to be destroyed. But, what if it really is as good as I remember?