Perfect Ten: 10 reasons WoW Classic is still fun in 2020

    
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Perfect Ten: 10 reasons WoW Classic is still fun in 2020

WoW Classic just celebrated its first year of operation, and what a year it’s been! Back in the summer of 2019, I was rediscovering all sorts of old school features and details from the game while being strangely entranced by it.

Since the crazy busy launch and explosion of servers, WoW Classic has settled down into what appears to be a respectable population that has enjoyed the quirks and settings of the stuck-in-time MMO. It didn’t break the internet or anything, but it didn’t die out, either. In fact, it seems like WoW Classic’s really benefited from being an alternative to World of Warcraft retail when folks are bored waiting for the Next Big Thing to drop.

Today, I wanted to share some observations that I’ve made playing WoW Classic more or less regularly this summer. It’s still a whole lot of fun even in 2020 — and here’s why!

A tighter community

My experience with MMOs is that unusual situations or servers can bring out a greater sense of community in players, and this has certainly proved true in WoW Classic. People seem to have this “we’re in this together!” mentality and adjust their behavior accordingly. The other day I bumped into a player who asked if we could group up to do some tougher quests, and I ended up having a great time and making a new friend in the process.

Loot matters

I hardly ever examine my day-to-day loot in retail WoW because we all know that the good stuff is at the end of specific reward chains or locked in dungeons. But in WoW Classic, it feels like drops actually matter. Greens can be a goldmine, either to wear as an upgrade or to sell for much-needed cash on the auction house. I covet healing potions if I get them, knowing that they might actually save my life in the future. It’s hard to explain why the looting system feels more significant here, except to say that it just does — even if the loot is objectively far worse than on retail.

Talent trees are still amazing

I know I talked about this in my previous top 10 list, but I think it bears repeating — talent trees in Classic are a bedrock of character progression and one of my favorite rediscoveries. Even though we’ve theory-crafted the “best” builds long ago, I still love getting to make choices with each new level and planning out my character’s progression using this visual aid. I kind of wish Blizzard never gave them up.

There’s a timeless design to it

Yes, Classic has all the sharper angles and the less expressive character models, but I continue to be really amazed at how well the game has aged visually. The cartoony design is one of the best decisions that Blizzard ever made for the game, because it takes relatively low polygon objects and infuses them with personality and charm. As a result, I like being in this world rather than repulsed by it.

Gaming at a slower pace

Playing WoW Classic is like downshifting a car and just cruising at a low but comfortable speed. Everything about it is slower and more deliberate, from combat to travel to leveling, but I find that my mind adjusts to that quite easily. I get into this zen state where I just pick one thing I want to do — even if it’s just farming — and then slowly go about doing it. It’s a really nice change of pace from MMOs where you measure accomplishments by how much stuff you get done in an hour.

Outgaming the game

One of the biggest changes from vanilla is our overall experience and knowledge as a community, and as a result, an interesting meta has arisen where players are attempting to outgame the game. Raids full of nothing but Druids attempt to down all the bosses, for instance, or modern goldmaking techniques are transplanted back into this version to see if they work here. It’s kinda cool to see people messing with the format in creative ways.

Danger lurks everywhere

I love me some retail WoW, but unless I’m throwing myself into Mythic+ dungeons, I’m not usually coming up against anything that I can’t handle. Classic, on the other hand, relishes being a stodgy, more difficult relic of an MMO era gone by, and there’s an appeal to that. It does feel more dangerous and doesn’t hold your hand as much, and that’s another nice change of pace from the norm.

The rise of hardcore gaming

While there is no way I’d ever participate in it, I absolutely love that there’s a hardcore sub-community in Classic. These crazy men and women have decided that the game isn’t hard or dangerous enough, and so the only way to play it is to adopt a self-imposed one-life rule. Either make it to level 60 on a single life, or accept permadeath and start over again. It’s a perfect setting for this type of iron man challenge.

Every step of my character’s progression feels significant

Between talent trees, skill ranks, gearing up, leveling up professions, and gold acquisition, building up a character in Classic has many steps, all of which take a lot of time and effort to accomplish. Every new ability I cherish and play around with, and major milestones — actually getting a mount, for instance — is something to celebrate.

Class quests are the real class fantasy

Remember a few years ago when Blizzard was thrashing about trying to inject “class fantasy” into each build? The ironic thing is that the studio already had, and then lost, a perfect way to do this with the quests that it tailored for each class. People still talk about the challenge of getting Druids’ shapeshifting forms or Shamans’ totems from this era, and I do think that the quests help cement your connection with the identity of this class.

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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Ald

Loot matters when it’s rare. Who’d a thunk it?!

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Oleg Chebeneev

Speaking of classic talents, there is almost no choice (for some specs there is zero choice), only cookie cutter builds. And majority of talents in classic WoW are pure garbage, never being taken by anyone. Even those that are taken or considered essential are for the most part boring flat stat increases.

So what is so amazing about old talent trees, Justin? I mean I understand that people like being reward with talent point point every level contrary to how it is now. But this doesnt mean that talents themselves are well designed.

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teppic

Unlike modern MMOs and later WoW expansions, a lot of the game is about levelling, not just end game dailies (of which there are none) and raids. It’s a great game to play with friends and you can take it at any pace you like, there’s no massive rush.

The sad side is that most players play it like a modern game and so want to rush to level cap as quickly as possible, hence most PvP servers especially are now deserted in the world and full of people boosting lower levels through dungeons.

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Rndomuser

Why is this “sad”? Different people enjoy different things, many do not enjoy the boring quests and they already know the location for everything so they just want to level in most efficient way so they can start enjoying other things like PvP using max level characters.

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Rndomuser

I disagree about Classic being more “dangerous” or difficult, every PvE content in it was trivial for me when done with people who possess at least a bit of common sense and know how to play MMORPGs. Unless you meant open world PvP, which does make it more dangerous and exciting at the same time when playing on PvP servers. Which is, unsurprisingly, why majority of WoW Classic players still play it, as evidenced by server population:

wow.PNG
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warroth weill

The game is generally more difficult. On modern wow there is mythic+ rest is cakewalk

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2Ton Gamer

Never played any WoW. So what’s going to be the way forward? Will the game be moving on past the point is at now? It’s not going to be a LOTRO thing will it, where they eventually catch up or will they possibly keep it at this point and then maybe open up another server to allow you to move forward if you want to? Sorry if these questions seem dumb.

Also, any decent crafting in Classic?

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teppic

Crafting offers a lot of useful levelling gear (great for alts, as levelling is so slow compared to modern games), but it’s much more of a thing in TBC.

Blizzard is definitely releasing TBC, but they’ve hinted that they intend to keep vanilla servers up, so I expect they’ll just merge the vanilla ones down once TBC is up and most people leave for that. There were ideas that they would continue developing content for classic beyond vanilla’s but I doubt that.

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Minimalistway

The class quests is something i wish they bring back, i wrote to them about it, gaining abilities by magic of leveling is not satisfying.

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Bruno Brito

I’ll always say this, for every MMO: Talent trees shouldn’t ever be given up, but instead, always refined and improved. Blizzard showed from Wrath, an already full grown contempt for the talent system because they hate having to speculate upon freedom. Most of Blizzard games, you rarely play how you want, it’s mostly how Blizzard wants you to play.

It’s true for OW, it’s true for HOTS, it’s true for Retail WoW.

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Ozzie

Character progression feeling significant is/was a great part of Classic and Vanilla. There’s a sense of permanence there that WoW design left behind with their “borrowed power” designs. When I learn to ride a mount, I unlock it for good. It’s not like the flip-flopping of flying mounts. When I get a Classic item drop, it’s not going to be replaced in a new expansion (yet). Each talent point felt like a permanent power increase.

Just brainstorming here, but I think retail WoW should have kept some kind of permanence to your character each expansion. Like a log book or a journal, where each page is an expansion that summarizes your experience and grants you permanent unlocks or buffs. Keep it lowkey or sidegrades, or even cosmetics so new characters can choose to experience old expansions or not. Maybe doing the Legion expansion grants you your artifact ability permanently. Burning Crusade unlocks flying for you, etc. This would help keep older content relevant and grant a significance and permanence to character progression like Classic has.

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Ironwu

10/10 for this survey. I find each of these points matches how I feel about WoW Classic as well. WoW Classic is currently my ‘unwind’ MMO. :)

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Matthew Yetter

It’s hard to explain why the looting system feels more significant here, except to say that it just does — even if the loot is objectively far worse than on retail.

I would say it is specifically because the loot is so much worse. If something decent drops every few kills then everything decent becomes “meh” and you only care about what’s exceptional. But if something decent only drops on one kill in a hundred, then everything decent becomes “wow!” and anything exceptional becomes a case of “holy #(@%!” Expectations are lowered, so it becomes a momentous occasion when the RNG gods favor you.

It’s funny because I still remember my first blue drop in WoW. I was in my high 40’s when it happened. The item was useless to me. But I was absolutely gobsmacked and couldn’t wait to list it on the auction house.

Regarding your “rise of hardcore gaming” point, I was enticed to try the permadeath league. The problem was that you have to have recordings of your entire journey so that they can verify that you never cheated. I tried it, the first session didn’t record, and I decided it wasn’t worth the hassle. It was going to be hard enough just making the journey; I wasn’t willing to add in the complexity of getting it all recorded properly and risking a situation where three weeks I’d get disqualified for simply messing up a recording. No thanks.

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styopa

I like it a lot despite not really having the time to commit to it BECAUSE it (albeit artificially) forces players to more-realistically value the various abilities classes bring to the game. Healing and esp “get out of combat” abilities suddenly are FAR more valuable – as they would actually be – outweighing doing that extra 3% dps over the next-most-optimal dps’er.