When Blizzard announced that it would build classic servers in World of Warcraft, there were a lot of questions about how the company would roll that content out to players. Now, the company has answered them — and the resulting announcement looks very strong if you want to experience classic WoW in all its glory.
World of Warcraft has evolved continuously since it debuted, but there’s a difference between how WoW evolved before the release of its first expansion and the way it has evolved ever since. With The Burning Crusade (TBC), Blizzard settled into a pattern of making major changes to core class mechanics with each expansion, then tweaking and adjusting those changes over time to polish each class. Between the original vanilla launch of WoW and the launch of TBC, Blizzard performed that process on the live game. Between November 2004 and January 2007, each class was extensively overhauled. Itemization was adjusted. An entirely new set of gear, known as Tier 0.5, was added to the game. Major new quest lines, new raids, and prominent world events all debuted across those first years.
And Blizzard is bringing all of it back, in a staggered series of rollouts. There will be six phases of content rolling out on classic servers. Molten Core, Onyxia, and Mauradon will all debut in Phase 1, followed by Dire Maul and the world encounters for Kazzak and Azuregos (Phase 2), Blackwing Lair, Darkmoon Faire, and Darkmoon deck drops (Phase 3), Zul’Gurub and the four Dragons of Nightmare (Phase 4), the Ahn’Quiraj War Effort and Tier 0.5 dungeon drops (Phase 5), and finally Naxxramas and God help me, the Scourge Invasion (Phase 6).
Have I mentioned that the Scourge Invasion was one of my all-time favorite events in WoW, more-or-less ever? Or that I still have Blessed Wizard Oil sitting in my inventory from an event that completed in-game 12 years ago?
Not everything has been decided yet. PvP content is still being worked on. The timing of each phase is still up in the air. But this is a remarkably solid content progression, if what you want is to experience or re-experience World of Warcraft. This will replicate, to a large extent, how it felt to play through the game in the first place.
And honestly? I’m conflicted. I’m vastly more attracted to the idea of firing up the original game than I ever would have expected to be. I’m not even sure why. Some of it is genuine nostalgia — but just because the game world would be the same as it was doesn’t mean the players I played with would come back. It is, as they say, impossible to step into the same river twice. And I’ve sat and joked with friends who actually played WoW back then about just how big the culture shock will be for anyone who plays the current version and tries to step back to the original.
In Which I Get Personal and Really, Really Nerdy
I don’t want to go back to the days when playing a Paladin meant being treated as a healer, first, foremost, and only. I remember killing raid bosses every week in exchange for randomized drops. Back then, since Shammies and Horde were both restricted to one faction, you could kill a boss and get two pieces of loot for a class you couldn’t even play. Tons of fun.
It’s not hard to come up with reasons Classic WoW is inferior to Modern WoW. One of the questions for Blizzard is how many quality of life improvements from the modern game it’ll actually take back to the original. The ability to find groups via automatic match-making services, for example, was something players regularly asked for until Blizzard finally implemented it. Should that be treated as a feature that gamers should have had from Day 1, or should it be jettisoned in favor of preserving the experience of spamming trade chat? Good question. I don’t know which way the team will go with it.
You might think, then, that deciding whether to play is a simple matter of saying “No.” It isn’t.
I loved 45-minute Baron runs. Even though Paladins in Classic were downright poor tanks compared with warriors, there were specialized instances in which they worked. I loved being a Paladin in WoW Classic; I just hated the way all of the hybrid classes were essentially forced into healing roles in the endgame. Part of me wants to experience being a Paladin for the first time all over again. Part of me says “Been there, done that. Roll a trinket mage, Prot warrior, or a hunter.”
I don’t know what I’ll actually do. But I’m watching how things develop.
- WoW Classic Will Launch Summer 2019, With Unique Strategy to Capture Players
- World of Warcraft No Longer Requires Game Purchase, Just Active Subscription
- Blizzard Unveils an Official World of Warcraft Classic Server, and We’ve Got Questions