Two years ago, developer Blizzard Entertainment announced that they would re-release their biggest success story, World of Warcraft. This to the delight of many fans, because for some of them the world is no longer what it used to be, including yours truly. And now, 15 years after the launch of the original, we can once again get to work exploring the beautiful world of Azeroth.
Why do they want to go back to 'Classic'?
At the time of the launch of the original game, the game was praised for the interaction between the players. Players of WoW had to choose whether they wanted to belong to the Alliance or the Horde. Leveling, defeating dungeon bosses and fighting with the other side was far from easy, which quickly created a close bond between players.
All of Blizzard's expansions to World of Warcraft over the years have watered down the original experience. Battle for Azeroth, the latest expansion released for World of Warcraft, actually plays as a completely different game than the original without extensions. For many, the charm of this beautiful world is completely lost.
Classic, but not Vanilla
You'd think re-releasing the same game would be a piece of cake, but that wasn't the case with WoW Classic. It took two years to bring the game into modern times. Blizzard transferred the contents of the old game to the latest version. This gives the game all the modern features, such as integration with Battle.net and support for modern PCs.
The content is the same as in 2004, including all the beauty flaws that were in it at the time. This was the result of long discussions between the developers and the community, which provided input on which version of that original game was best to adopt now. So there's no need for purists to worry. And the imminent release of Classic shows that this approach has been successful.
Time to enter Azeroth!
Even before the servers are live, I'm queuing up with my Gnome Mage, the character I created for World of Warcraft Classic. Due to the enormous crowds, a queue has arisen on every realm, but that shouldn't spoil the fun. Soon enough I'm walking around Dun Morogh and doing several quests.
The first thing that stands out is the pace of the game. Where in most of today's MMPORG's you sprint, fly and teleport, hand in quests and defeat monsters, in World of Warcraft Classic things go a lot slower. A whole lot calmer even.
The monsters are a lot stronger compared to other contemporary games. Without help you can't easily handle more than one at a time. And after fighting you often have to eat and drink to replenish your health and mana.
Also, traveling around the world is not trivial: Only at level 40 you can access your mount (an animal that can ride your character, such as a horse or a wolf), which means that most players will have to make do with the leg cart for the first few weeks or even months. This gives you the feeling that the game world is (and actually is) immense.
Playing together with other people is also different. Whereas in modern games you can often automatically form a group with other players who have the same goal as you, in Classic you'll have to do that all by yourself. Only by asking in the chat window if someone would like to play with you and then inviting an interested person, can you form groups for dungeons, raids or other activities.
This may sound cumbersome, but the social interaction with other players is one of the features that made the original World of Warcraft so incredibly cool. You have to communicate with each other to complete many activities, and the resulting interactions often create memorable memories. This is in contrast to newer games, where often no one talks to each other, and one just wants to complete the activity as quickly as possible.
Play together, share together
A quest in the Grizzled Den turns out to be more difficult than I thought, and I bump into two other players in the same situation. Almost immediately I get a party invite and together we fight the Wendigo's (a type of monster) for the items we need. Every now and then I hand out some food and drinks (as a Mage I can conjure this out of nowhere) for which people are very grateful, and they help me in their way again.
Sharing information is also very important. Because your game doesn't tell you where to be in quests, it's often a good search before you know where to be (or you look it up on Google, but that spoils your fun!). If you really can't figure it out, you can just ask in the chat. In no time someone will help you.
World of Warcraft is still as good as it used to be. The over two million players agree on that, apparently. And still every night I'm queuing up to log in. That doesn't stop people from wanting to play WoW Classic. Whether the game is equally fun for people who missed the early years of World of Warcraft, I don't know. But I myself will certainly be rediscovering Azeroth in the next few months. Are you going to (re)experience the adventure as well?
Positive & negative points
- Very authentic, including the bugs
- As much fun as ever
- Lots of other players to play with
- Updates, without compromising authenticity, such as ultrawide screen support
- Waiting times at login (although this will disappear over time)
Denzo Dundle Score: 9/10
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