The year is 2019, and I currently find myself eagerly awaiting the release of a fifteen-year-old game. In most circumstances, that sentence wouldn't make any sense, but World of Warcraft: Classic releases on August 27, and it's giving fans the chance to play the game in its original, unaltered form as it was back in 2004. It's a strange feeling to be overwhelmed with excitement over a game that is this old, and I sometimes had the feeling that my enthusiasm solely stemmed from nostalgia and that coming back to Azeroth after seven years wouldn't feel the same as I remembered it. Fortunately, I had the chance to play the beta version during Blizzard's public stress test today, and all of those doubts were quickly set aside. WoW: Classic is World of Warcraft in its true, organic form, and serves as a clear reminder of why this game defined the MMO genre so may years ago.
Why WoW: Classic Is Better Than WoW 2019
It didn't take me very long to realize that I was going to love WoW: Classic. The moment I started the game, I was greeted with a wonderful sight that I hadn't seen in years: other people playing in the game's starting zones. If you've played a recent iteration of WoW, you've noticed that most of the questing zones are completely abandoned, and rarely ever visited. This is mostly due to Blizzard's decision to streamline the game over the years, slowly making it a more accessible, action-packed experience. You no longer had to go on a bunch of long, tedious quests, and instead you could just queue up the dungeon finder and run through one dungeon after another, collecting plenty of experience and making those old questing zones virtually obsolete. While making the game more accessible sounds like a great idea in theory, it subtracted the key element of World of Warcraft that so many people loved it for: the necessity to make friends.
One core element of World of Warcraft that allowed it to work so well was its ability to create an environment where social encounters were encouraged, and sometimes even necessary. In order to run a dungeon, you were required to find a group of people that was willing to travel to the dungeon, meet up at a set time, and spend X amount of hours defeating the dungeon's bosses and completing its quests. And if the item you really wanted didn't drop? You'd have to do it again. It was certainly a grind, but it provided a rewarding experience and gave you an opportunity to build real friendships with people. This feature was all but eliminated when Blizzard decided to introduce the dungeon finder, which automatically matched you up with a random group, and teleported you to the dungeon. Gameplay became overly casual, and there was significantly less of a reason to interact with your teammates.
The elimination of the game's social nuances led to many players, like myself, leaving it with no intention to return, until now. Even after only playing the game for a few hours, I had a full on conversation with another player and it felt like I was back in 2004 all over again. The guy that I met to told me that he hadn't played the game since 2012, but had taken eleven vacation days from work in order to play Classic once it releases. So it's safe to say, people are really excited about this.
Far From A Walk In The Park
Now, even though I'm in love with World of Warcraft: Classic, it doesn't mean that everyone is going to feel the same sensation. Blizzard made changes to the game for a reason, as the original version was an incredible grind. In Classic, leveling can be unbelievably time consuming, and you need to clock a ton of hours into the game in order to reach the cap level of 60. One player calculated that if you were to play WoW: Classic for 40 hours a week, it would take you around six weeks to reach level 60. That's around 240 hours of gameplay... which is a lot of gameplay. Many quests require a group effort, meaning you need to find some friends otherwise you're not going to complete it. Dungeons and raids can be particularly time consuming, because everyone participating is responsible for traveling to the entrance, which can truly be a project on its own. If you're used to action-packed multiplayer games like Fortnite, or Apex Legends, you might find World of Warcraft: Classic to be flat out boring. For some of us, that slow burn is what allows it to flourish though.
Why This 15-Year-Old Game Is Important
Playing a time consuming grind like World of Warcraft: Classic, as you forge through its difficult objectives with a group of players who face the same challenges, gives you an opportunity to share in an experience that you can't find anywhere else in gaming. The sense of community, accomplishment, and entertainment that the game brings genuinely makes those hours fly by without you even noticing it. It's so refreshing to play a game that naturally encourages player interaction, allowing you to organically form friendships and share a sense of accomplishment with people that you may have never met in the real world before. Not only is World of Warcraft: Classic a trip in nostalgia, but it's also an exciting gaming experience that has been missing from the world for quite some time now. I enjoyed the hell out of the few hours I spent playing today's stress test, and I absolutely can't wait to once again abandon my social life for the world of Azeroth on August 27.