Why World of Warcraft "Classic" (and Burning Crusade) Don't "Do It" in 2021.
This past week, Blizzard held an online version of their annual Blizzcon event to make up for the Coronavirus pandemic cancelling the live event which is traditionally held every November. Although the belle of the ball this year was the Blizzard’s Diablo franchise (getting both Diablo IV and a remastered version of Diablo II), some things were announced regarding World of Warcraft as well including the next patch for the current content (Shadowlands), and the addition of Classic Servers to accommodate World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade.
I’ve been trying my hand at streaming World of Warcraft: Shadowlands on our channel over at dlive.tv/cancelthispodcast (go register and subscribe by the way) – I don’t use Twitch or Facebook anymore because I find that they only push established creators to begin with, and everything we say is a cancelable offense to these Big Tech Oligarchs – and someone told me “you’d probably gain viewers and subscribers if you stopped playing that trash and decided to stream Classic.” It compelled me to write a full-fledged article as to why there is no hype from me towards Classic nor towards the announcement of the Burning Crusade that was unveiled at Blizzcon and detailing the exact reasons Classic and BC aren’t the best idea.
WoW, By Nature Can't Be Replayed Since It is Already Repetitive
For starters, there are some games you can play over and over again for nostalgia and not really get bored of, but these games have an inherent beginning and an inherent end. Games like Final Fantasy IV and VI, Red Dead Redemption 2, Telltale’s The Walking Dead franchise are all games I’ve revisited on more than one occasion, and that’s easier to do with games have a definitive beginning and end. In the case of Final Fantasy, sometimes there are extra features or graphical improvements depending on what system you’re playing it on.
With World of Warcraft there isn’t a beginning nor end because the cycle is continuous. It doesn’t have the same feel. WoW in its own nature is already very repetitive. You run the same dungeon over and over to try to get loot with a small drop rate. You have the same three (four in Burning Crusade) battlegrounds you run over and over. You level a character and do quests, then you level another character and do pretty much the same quests. By nature, WoW in any form is already repetitive to begin with so going back just doesn’t seem practical if you’ve already lived it once in 2004, 2006, whenever. I think for many the appeal isn’t for the game itself but how they felt when they played it back then and that sensation is never coming back. I hate to be the deliverer of the black pill, but that’s just the truth. You can’t lose your virginity twice. Hell, some WoW players can’t lose their virginity once – but I don’t exactly pity them either. We make our choices.
Some Changes Were Made for the Sake of Convenience
MMORPGs are constantly evolving games. Therefore, they do eventually change things to make it more convenient for long-time players by trying to reduce annoyance. These are called “quality of life” improvements. In Classic, certain spells had a reagent cost and without the items in inventory you just couldn’t use the spell. This could get rather annoying. It didn’t make the game that much more difficult, just tedious. It took longer to travel to locations in the Classic World of Warcraft and while that worked in 2004, I personally also had more time to waste in 2004. The older you get the less patience you have for shit like this. A lot of the changes to the game were made with the intention of reducing the time spent dealing with redundancies so you can spend more time playing the game itself. Nostalgia may sound cool until you remember Warlocks used to have to carry 20-30 soul stones in their bags just to be useful, or that crafting items only stacked in lots of 20 instead of lots of 200. Or that you had to constantly carry meat to feed hunter pets or they’d abandon you. These things were cool in a world where the player base had less responsibility. Most of the player base of WoW is in their 40s and older now. We don’t have time for shit, let alone not having faction-wide tagging of enemy units.
Not Everyone Wants to Rely on a Group
Speaking of not having time for anything, World of Warcraft didn’t have a whole lot of competition in its market when it first came out. It was an innovator for its time, so it had a massive player-base and it was relatively easy to find groups to do the content. MMORPGs are supposed to be “Massively Multiplayer” so obviously early WoW had a lot of group content, but again as the base got older and people had more things to do and less time to play, a lot of content became solo-able. Blizzard also added the “Looking for group” and “raid finder” options for people who wanted to enjoy that content but without the challenge (and reduced rewards). But it made it easier for people to find a group instead of waiting all day for their friends to log on. I solo almost anything that I can in World of Warcraft and seldom ever group up unless I’m forced to. Art imitates life, I guess. Still I’d rather do that than wait for an hour for someone else aside from myself to kill Hogger in order to be able to do it.
Sorry Hogger. I GOT SHIT TO DO.
It Looks Like Shit
Unlike Warcraft III or Diablo II, they didn’t bother to give an option to play Classic with visually upgraded assets so it’s a straight visual port of the game in 2004, which means the game is kind of, well, ugly. And that’s not to say that modern World of Warcraft is the most visually impressive game but still there is a quality jump from 2004 to 2021 that can’t be denied. For some games graphics isn’t all that important, but unfortunately playing World of Warcraft in “ugly mode” just seems kind of sad, if you ask me. In 2004 this was innovation but in 2021 it’s an eyesore.
Nothing You Earn In Classic Carries Over to Retail Anyway
And finally, there’s the simple fact you are achieving NOTHING. On retail World of Warcraft (currently Shadowlands), all the gold, mounts, items that drop, I can share among the characters on my account. Whatever gold I earn can be used to buy WoW Tokens for game time, saving me the $15/month subscription fee. In fact, since the WoW Token was introduced as currency, I haven’t paid cash money for any game time, nor for expansion content, since you can convert the tokens into Blizzard Store credit to buy expansions and other Blizzard games. In that sense retail World of Warcraft has its own economic ecosystem and the saddest part is that the money in World of Warcraft is worth more than the Venezuelan bolivar. (how’s that socialism working out for you, Venezuela?) It’s harder to gain gold on WoW Classic, you can’t buy game time, your mounts are limited to per-character, and what this means is your accomplishments in Classic don’t really count for shit. At least retail is continuous progress all throughout, whether you like it better or not.
Overall and ultimately, it’s your time and money. You choose what you play, how you play, what you’re going to play, and what you’re going to watch other people play. But for me personally? I already waste a lot of time on WoW, and it feels like going back to Classic World of Warcraft would be like stepping in a pile of dog shit I’ve already accidentally stepped in. I’m sure some people will enjoy it, but for me personally, the nostalgia is just a niche. That’s all nostalgia really is, anyway, a temporary rush of dopamine that quickly subsides when you come back to reality, otherwise if it actually lasted we would all leave modern social media to use SpaceHey, the classic Myspace clone.
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