Casually Classic: Eight legacy MMOs to satisfy that old school craving


It was just five years ago in 2018 that MassivelyOP formally recognized an interesting and heartening trend in the MMO space: the rise of legacy MMOs and progression servers. Oh sure, they’d always existed, but we were rightly excited to see a huge uptick of studios work to deliver players a classic experience that rewound the clock to a time — and version — that might hold more appeal.

And while we haven’t been snowed under with so many legacy MMOs, there are several still on the market today that serve as de facto time machines. Boot one up, and you’re jumping right into the past to experience an MMO as it used to be… more or less. Today we’re going to round up eight MMOs that still offer a throwback version.

WoW Classic Era

It’s utterly bizarre to consider that Blizzard is now operating not one, not two, but three different playable versions of World of Warcraft. This one, the Classic Era servers, were the unhappy compromise between the studio and players that allowed for the WoW Classic experiment to push into expansions while still allowing a space for retro gamers to stay in vanilla.

Everyone assumed that this version would quickly become the most neglected, but thanks to a rise in the popularity of Hardcore Classic runs through vanilla, the population on those servers has been hopping for months now. It’s a good excuse to head back to the addictive fun of no-frills basic WoW — and it’s been one of the experiences that I’ve been most enthusiastic about this year.

WoW Wrath Classic

As for the “other” WoW Classic, it’s become a progression server that’s gone through the first two expansions: The Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King. Currently, the population is fighting its way through Northrend as Blizzard drip-feeds the expansion content to players.

For those that consider Wrath to be the best WoW expansion to date, it’s a welcome option to return to that stomping ground, level up through the old tech trees, and even revisit the Death Knight’s earliest days. Of course, there’s no guarantee — and no official word — what will happen to this server next, although most assume that a Cataclysm is on its way…

Aion Classic

Back in 2021, Aion briefly rose to prominence again as it launched a legacy version of the MMORPG. Aion Classic, as it was dubbed, was a recreation of the 2009 state of the game with a level 50 cap, a subscription-only model, and just four classes. It gradually expanded over time (not always to great acclaim) and was positioned to be a promotional tool to get people to play the regular version of Aion.

Europe will soon enjoy its own edition of Aion Classic, as Gameforge is supposed to be launching its version this week. This will make the third iteration of Classic after the NA and Korean versions.

Old School RuneScape

And how can we have any discussion of legacy MMOs without mentioning one of the top dogs in the field? Old School RuneScape came out in 2007 as a response to the community’s dismay that the frequently updated MMO was losing touch with its roots. This proved to be a tremendously successful move on Jagex’s part, with the throwback MMO actually eclipsing regular RuneScape in sheer population.

Old School RuneScape hasn’t stayed in a state of arrested development, nor has it become a progression server. Rather, the studio developed it in a different direction than it did last time, keeping the old school vibes while adding new skills, quests, and content to keep its population engaged.

Dofus Retro

Few MMORPG players are aware of Ankama’s Dofus and probably fewer have ever played it, but for those who have, a very unique world awaits. It was this world that got tossed back in time on the game’s 15th anniversary, with the studio releasing a classic version called Dofus Retro.

This version took players back to the 1.29 branch of the game’s development with a much heavier emphasis on grouping and challenging content. “Playing Dofus Retro will transport you to a time when video games required players to rack their brains and nobody got a free ride… n00b,” the studio said. And yes, you can still play it.

Lineage II Classic

I have a hard time understanding the nostalgic appeal for the sheer grindfest that was Lineage II’s O.G. version, but it’s hard to deny that it has its fans. Those fans came out in force to support the several editions of Lineage II Classic that have released over the years, including the North American shard back in 2018.

Classic brings you back to the beginning with 31 classes, five races, and a “nostalgic hardcore level grind” to get to the point where you can participate in clan wars.

EverQuest’s Agnarr server

The closest that you’ll be able to return to 1999 on an official EverQuest shard is making a character on its 2017 Agnarr server. This unique ruleset offered the usual expansion progression — up to a point. Once it got to Planes of Power, Agnarr stopped moving forward and thus remained in an era that is fondly remembered by many.

Ultima Online’s New Legacy

We’ve been waiting for years for Broadsword’s Ultima Online experiment to arrive — and the wait might still be a while to come yet. I’m talking about New Legacy, a version of the game that will return to the core concept in an attempt to “rekindle the magic” of the original experience for modern audiences. It’s both a throwback and a new, streamlined version.

I’ll let the studio explain it in its own words: “We have completely rethought, reworked, and redesigned several core gameplay experiences with the goal of rekindling the classic feel of Ultima Online – focused on keeping true to the roots of Ultima as an RPG!”

Stepping back into the MMO time machine of WoW Classic, Justin Olivetti offers up observations and ground-level analysis as a Gnome with a view. Casually Classic is a more laid-back look at this legacy ruleset for those of us who’ve never stepped into a raid or seen more than 200 gold to our names.
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