Perfect Ten: What to expect when you play World of Warcraft Classic

    
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Are you ready to play the most anticipated MMORPG from 2004? It turns out that, yes, many of you are. The frenzy over World of Warcraft Classic is probably nowhere near its zenith yet, as the announcement of the server has sparked enormous amounts of conversation among the community.

While we most likely have a while to go before Blizzard’s time travel machine is complete, it is not too soon to start thinking about the logistics and reality that a legacy server will entail. The existing emulator community and a look at the past development and operation of vanilla World of Warcraft can give us an idea of what WoW Classic will be like, although Blizzard’s vision may differ in format, business model, and features.

What will it be like to jump back to the first year or two of World of Warcraft and play that version of the game? It’s going to be a drastic shock to veteran and new players alike, especially those who might have forgotten how MMOs used to operate back in the day. Here are 10 things to expect when you log in to Classic for the first time.

1. Combat will be slow

World of Warcraft is, by no means, a fast-paced action MMO these days, but the current version is lightspeed ahead of vanilla’s combat. Auto-attack will still be the meat-and-potatoes of many encounters, with special skills all sharing the same global cooldown, leading to a stately, measured pace of combat. Time-to-kill was a lot longer back then, and very few classes were pulling packs of mobs to burn them down with AoE in a few seconds flat.

2. Inventory space will be at a premium

Not that players have ever had enough inventory in World of Warcraft to satisfy them, but it was particularly dire at launch. Just about everything had to be thrown into bags, including mounts, pets, keys, and reagents for certain spells. And Arthas help you if you happened to roll a Hunter or Warlock, because your inventory would be taken over by ammo and soul shards out the wazoo.

3. Skills will need to be trained, leveled, and even quested

You know how there are those useless class trainers standing around in the game these days? Once upon a time, they actually had a purpose, which was to serve as a skill vendor. Once they leveled up, players would head back to vendors to buy new skills and additional ranks of existing skills (and you could choose to slot older versions of skills if you so desired). To make things more interesting, there were some skills that you couldn’t buy but had to go through a special quest to obtain. Sounds cool, but usually these were a pain in the polygon behind to do.

4. Some classes will be broken or underpowered

Probably the biggest shock to modern WoW players will happen when they see the earlier incarnations of their classes. By and large, there was no balance here; some classes were definitely OP while others were broken and borderline useless. This was especially noticeable in groups, as Druids (for example) pretty much only existed to Innervate Priests, and Paladins were little more than buff machines.

5. The world will be smaller and more barren

With only two continents making up the launch game, World of Warcraft wasn’t so much “world” as it was “a bunch of zones quilted into a Frankenstein monster.” Many zones on the continents weren’t present yet, and the ones that were had less content (especially the higher in level one went). The upside? Players on Classic will see the pre-Cataclysm versions of these zones and hear the original music. That might cheer some folks up who are still holding a grudge over the changes that Cataclysm brought.

6. Travel will be painstakingly slow

Hope you are the patient sort, because just about everything in World of Warcraft Classic is going to take a lot of time — including getting from point A to B. For forty levels, you’ll be doing nothing more than trotting on foot across the world, occasionally using boats, zeppelins, and hearthstones to facilitate travel. Even when you do cobble together 90 gold for your first mount, it’s not going to be the zippy ride that you enjoy today (heck, even summoning a mount takes seconds longer in vanilla than it currently does!).

7. Quests will be anemic and underwhelming

There’s no question that the questing system was the centerpiece of why World of Warcraft became a smash hit at launch. It refined what was previously a scattered and somewhat obtuse and awkward approach in other MMOs, offering easy-to-understand mechanics, a regular hit of rewards, and a more driven purpose than merely wandering and farming mobs.

Still, the launch quests are not going to be the refined experiences that the game enjoys today. There weren’t enough of them, especially after level 20, and some were far more frustrating than enjoyable to pursue. Ask anyone who spent hours farming goretusk livers or zhevra hooves about the “fun” factor of early WoW quests.

8. Dungeon crawling won’t be as accessible

While there will be several classic dungeons at launch, heading into one will prove to be an adventure in its own right. With no looking-for-group tool, no meeting stone summoning functionality, and elite mobs guarding the often twisty-turny way in, simply getting a group together and to the front door is going to require more coordination and effort. Small price to pay to see the old Deadmines again, right?

9. Talent trees will be a thing again

Remember talent trees? Blizzard brought these over from Diablo II and increased their functionality, giving players more of a say about how their characters were developed. With one point per level and those coveted top-tier abilities waiting for your level 40 character to enjoy, talent trees dominated a lot of the vanilla theorycrafting before Blizzard redid them like fifteen times.

10. Barrens chat will introduce Chuck Norris jokes to a whole new generation

Kids these days have no idea what Barrens chat was like. They’re about to find out. God have mercy on their souls.

Everyone likes a good list, and we are no different! Perfect Ten takes an MMO topic and divvies it up into 10 delicious, entertaining, and often informative segments for your snacking pleasure. Got a good idea for a list? Email us at justin@massivelyop.com or eliot@massivelyop.com with the subject line “Perfect Ten.”
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Grim? Darhk

you old timers saying slow boring combat takes “Skill” and is more “difficult.” Amuse the ever living hell out of me. Bloody neck beards in your forties thinking things are more pure and make you an elite gamer. Ha. Fucking. Ha. Slow combat is not better. Not even a little. Nothing is good about waiting for ten seconds to use a single judgement, nothing. (or you know, a minute back in Vanilla, oh yeah those were the good fucking days.)

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Alex Malone

Its all about combat depth, which I’ve heard vanilla WoW had.

Slow can indeed be boring, but I’d much rather play a slow combat game where each skill use required a meaningful decision, compared to a modern action spam fest where it doesn’t make much difference what skill you use, just keep spamming! So, a skill with a 1m cooldown, you actually have to think about whether to use it or not.

A game with a lot of combat depth actually allows for player skill to shine through. You become a better player by learning more about the mechanics and becoming better at thinking through decisions, rather than an action combat game where you become better simply by spending more time in game to increase your muscle memory.

It isn’t a style of combat suited to everyone, some people love mindless spamming of buttons. But for those of us who enjoy actual player skill and depth, this server is a good thing.

unojc
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unojc

Does this mean I can drag the Butcher to Goldshire again?

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Oleg Chebeneev

As a veteran vanilla player I disagree with many of these points.
1. Combat isnt much slower then current WoW. In both versions skills are still limited by global cooldown. The biggest notable difference will be that particle effects and animations in vanilla are much worse. Also there are much more skills available in vanilla then now.

4. There werent weak, underpowered or broken classes. Druid that you mention as useless class could be amazing in right hands with right gear. Every single class in vanilla could be great in the hands of skilled and geared player.

5. While world indeed was smaller, vanilla world never felt small and definetly never felt barren. In fact its exact opposite. World will feel much more alive and less barren then it is now where you barely even meet other players. Play popular vanilla private servers. There is something going on EVERYWHERE and some zones are bloodbath.

6. Definetly slower then now, but travelling never been a big issue after you get your first mount.

9. If there ever was theorycrafting about vanilla talents, it was in the very early days of vanilla. Then all builds were copypasted and there was almost zero room for experiments cuz many talents were just useless compared to others. With how much less talents there are now, they provide more freedom and choice then lengthy talent trees in vanilla.

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johnwillo

But will my old mods work again? (Rhetorical, I know that we don’t know.) I miss Benecast…

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Utakata

“4. Some classes will be broken or underpowered:”

I am pretty sure Blizz will make sure there will be some class balance when they release this beast, as they spent several patches back-in-the-day rectifying a lot of those issues. It is something they will unlikely want to address again. However, I am pretty sure everything thing else on Mr. Justin’s list and then some will be in there.

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Cinaminson

Yep. I’m looking forward to it.

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Crowe

90 gold for a mount? I must have started later than I thought. I recall 20 gold but we didn’t have that much even when trying to save up by the time we hit level 40.

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thalendor

And if you wanted a mount that wasn’t your race’s default, you needed to work at getting reputation with the other faction. And I’m not saying that as a bad thing. I remember one of my goals for a while was to get one of the Night Elf mounts (as a Human) so I was one of the relatively few Human characters riding around on something other than horse. It really actually felt like an accomplishment.

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Crowe

Oh yeah, I totally remember the faction grind. It was just the 90/20 thing that threw me. :)

cryinglightning39
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cryinglightning39

A lot of it sounds like FFXIV. I’m interested in trying mostly for the PvP.

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Carebear

yeap, thats exactly, stay out folks. You are not gonna like it… (/sarcasm)

1) Rotation are not a guitar hero play, push the correct button as fast as possible… is strategic and resource management and slow. Besides, you are not only there to do DPS but to support your group, and use the environment to your advantage.

2) Yea traveling is a thing. It makes the world feel bigger. I used to have a play session just to go and open some flight paths and took me some hours. No problem, I like travelling and chatting with my guild on the way.

3) Dungeons wont be easily accessible as the article say, so if you happen to find a run, be nice and helpful, cause if you get kicked you cant magically push a button again and find 4 NPCs *couch* I mean players to do the next dungeon.

4) Some specs are better than others, some classes are better at one role. Fine. Classes are not homogenized.. every class play unique and have strengths and weaknesses. Thats RPG …

5) Quests will not be super linear and hold your hand for a “on rails” experience for brain dead monkeys. They are scattered around the world. But they are challenging and you will find many elite quests with great rewards and also you will find some epic questlines that are no longer ingame for some reason.

and no, world will not be smaller… first time in your life you will actually feel you are part of a world.. you will immerse in it and you will remember every inch of it. But even the best adventurers sometimes want to cut corners, so be nice and friendly to mages.

My advice is TRY it… dont let negative articles affect you.. Vanilla is not convenient, but is RPG and a great adventure.

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Mark

11. Fighting, leveling, and completing quests will take more time and actually have some challenge, so you may experience slight feelings of accomplishment and enjoyment while playing the game. If this happens, my recommendation is to stop playing Classic and log onto a lower-level character on Live to remove those bothersome feelings.