Here’s the thing about having a classic server for a lot of MMORPGs: It doesn’t actually do much. In order for a classic server to really make a lot of sense, you need to have a game that’s been through substantial enough changes that the current game in someway does not resemble the original version in some substantial fashion. Even disregarding the obvious problems with it no longer being officially live, City of Heroes on a classic server would just be City of Heroes with less content.
That’s not to say there are no games that could benefit from classic servers, of course. There are absolutely MMOs that have been through substantial changes, and while those changes may have been positive ones, there’s still a functionally different version of the game that’s no longer available or approachable on the current servers. So let’s take a look at games that could genuinely make some use of a classic server… whether or not you’d want to play on that server.
1. Final Fantasy XIV
Folks, I played the original version of Final Fantasy XIV, and it was bad. It had its charms, it had some unique aspects that I enjoyed, and there are various reasons that I’m glad I played it. A lot of those reasons, though, have more to do with the fact that it led me to play the game that exists now, a game that’s so much better that it’s not even funny. But… not everyone did get to experience 1.0, and I think there’s some merit to the idea that with the game undergoing a huge bump in popularity, maybe people would like to see the origins again.
To be fair, when asked about this, Naoki Yoshida has laughed and said that it’s a terrible idea, and I don’t exactly blame him for that. No one is clamoring for this on the basis of the first version being a better game, just a game that a lot of people didn’t get to see. It seems unlikely in the extreme. But I can understand what the benefit to all that curiosity would actually be.
2. No Man’s Sky
I don’t know if the original version of No Man’s Sky was a game I actually would enjoy playing; I never played it because it sure didn’t seem like it. I didn’t need a game to help me feel alone and isolated for much the same reason that I don’t need a game to simulate the experience of drinking seltzer. But it’s indisputable that the version of the game that exists now is very different from the more isolated experience that existed when the game launched, and I know for a fact that there were people who found that first version interesting.
Much as with the previous example, there’s a certain irony that the game is now popular enough that people might enjoy playing the version that the current game literally evolved to replace. But that doesn’t mean there’s no merit to people wanting it.
3. Star Wars: The Old Republic
I have a lot of mixed feelings about Star Wars: The Old Republic. At one point I wrote a whole article about how it won me over with its more solo-focused endgame, and that remains true at the time. At the same time, well… there were problems then and there are problems now, helped not one whit by the fact that it replaced mechanics over time that collectively made the game less interesting rather than more. And it doesn’t help that every so often the game seems to change its mind about what the ideal way to play is supposed to be, which makes the whole process more exhausting.
Frankly, I’d be happy if we just got a roleplaying server back, if you want me to be totally honest. That’s a bit part of what axed my enjoyment of the title.
4. The Secret World
What’s that you say? These servers exist? What’s that you say? This was the version of the game people actually wanted, not the Secret World Legends version that was at best a sidegrade and at worse a downgrade without really fixing the main problems that the game? Really? Well, then, I guess we’re done here, aren’t we?
Take my opinion on RIFT with the requisite grains of salt, as I’ve never been a huge fan of the game, but I honestly found it more interesting when the game was a little bit more esoteric. While the title has definitely expanded and improved over the years and hasn’t featured broad wholesale changes to its core conceits, there’s something to be said about the more incoherent and less balanced version that existed at launch.
Unfortunately, while I think there might be some genuine interest here based on RIFT Prime, it seems clear that the current owners of the game have no interest in trying this experiment again due in no small part to… you know, shutting exactly that thing down. So that’s disappointing. Or maybe you forgot that RIFT Prime was a thing, which might say something.
6. Star Wars Galaxies
While this is a title I don’t personally care for or care about, the NGE is kind of like the marquee entry in the giant catalog of major game changes that utterly distorted the experience to the point of creating a clear dividing line between the new version and the old. Our editor-in-chief has pointed out many times that a lot of the best features of the game did come around after the NGE was implemented, but I don’t think that makes the NGE a good plan. Just one that did eventually led to some good stuff.
Fortunately for fans, in this era of rogue servers for the game you do actually have options if you want to play the old version, the newer version, or the older version adding in content from the new version and just cautiously circling around the stuff that no one wants. Viva variety, indeed.
Can this be the version of WildStar without its “hardcore” obsession? No? Well, then, this is just my way of simping for wanting the game back in some capacity. This one I do actually care about.
8. Dungeons & Dragons Online
I know that a lot of these have been silly, but this one is just a straightforward notation that the game has changed a lot over the years and some form of the game as it was originally conceived being available would be interesting. This is especially true if we’re talking about a version that came before the free-to-play conversion, which was what attracted a lot of people to the title for the first time; it’d be really interesting to see if that popularity translated to a subscription “classic” server.
Look, I don’t think a classic version of Alganon is something that most people actually want. I don’t think any version of Alganon is something that most people actually want. But given that the game’s operating philosophy seems to have always been copying World of Warcraft as much as it’s possible, wouldn’t this be a prime opportunity for a new version of copying?
Honestly, though, I suspect most gamers who care about Alganon would just be happy if it were playable at all; it’s been offline for years, and as of April, the owner was still promising to get it back online eventually.
10. Lineage II
Oh, wait, this one actually happened. Well, good for them! Who wants to go out for pizza later?