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With the Classic beta now out it seems every related article somehow manages to spark the eternal war of "Vanilla was the best WoW sucks now" and "lol nostalgia goggles, Vanilla sucked, enjoy your two weeks of Classic". I have to say, even though I understand the principles behind the battle and the reasons people behave and talk this way... I actually REALLY don't get it on a deeper level.
I've been playing the Classic beta a little (and I do mean a little, the new Diablo season has me in its grips hard) and I can't see what the big fuss is about. It's Vanilla. That's what it is, that's what it was, that's what was expected and that's what we're getting. Sure there are bugs, upgrades some people didn't want and upgrades other people did want but didn't get, but in the greater scheme of things that's such a small part of the whole, it's barely worth talking about. So why are some people so insanely intent on ruining others' fun?
Ok, so read the sentence above and tell me which WoW you think I was talking about?
Because the thing is, that sentence applies to both sides and it drives me crazy. Most comments about either Classic or Battle for Azeroth end up in mud-slinging matches for no real reason other then one side is being negative about the other side's favorite version of WoW. And the funny thing is, there are way, WAY more commonalities than differences in there, after you remove the ego of "my WoW is/was better yours sucks". In the end, no matter what anyone says, they are talking and arguing and fighting about it because they care about WoW.
To get back to Classic for a bit, this is what I think is happening. Players who prefer the old ways (and full disclosure, I'd count myself among them, but to a smaller degree than most) complain/talk about the negative sides of modern WoW and Battle for Azeroth in general. While they do this they also talk about how things were better before and often mention Vanilla as a reference point. People who enjoy BfA now feel attacked by this and so they retaliate. Hence, liking Classic means you either have nostalgia goggles on or have no idea what you're talking about and will hate the same things you say you want 2 weeks after you start playing it. It's an amazing thing, where literally each side is doing to the other what they feel is being (wrongly) done to them. I feel like writing this is the most redundant thing I've ever done, and yet I also feel that it needs to be said, because it seems some people just don't get what they're doing, or at least I hope they don't (some do and are doing it on purpose but there's trolls everywhere so there's no point in even discussing them).
But let's actually talk a bit about Classic, shall we?
I was actually a warrior in Vanilla, but the lure of 2h Windfury is too strong
Logging in for the first time, being welcomed by THAT login screen and THAT music... You can't not be taken back if you've played Vanilla, and especially if you've played 2 years of it non-stop all day every day. I probably stayed 10 minutes in character creation just because of the music alone (and trying to get my character looking exactly as it did back then - although I wasn't a shaman then). The whole intro experience was especially amazing for me since the Tauren starting zone was my first encounter with WoW in the EU beta, and a little bit of that spark did return. But is that all Classic has to offer? A trip back in time when we were wowed by the game for the very first time?
Difficulty or Tedium?
The main topic for Classic at the moment would be whether the game is actually harder or just has more redundant activities you have to do before doing the stuff that's really fun. This is actually a good discussion to have, and not just for WoW, but gaming in general. The main sticking point for now, as most people are on (relatively) low levels is the breaks between killing mobs, especially for mana users. In the beginning it's actually refreshing having to think about what you can and can't pull, not just running into a bunch of mobs and killing them in *insert current optimal time to kill Blizzard determined is the most fun*. The food/drink breaks after a few (or even one) mobs provide time to actually look around the scenery and the mobs you're facing, and while there isn't much strategy involved at these levels, you still at least pretend to plan out how you're going to get to that quest mob without being killed by the 4 random ones surrounding them. Not being able to pull whatever mob you want, and actually having to check what mobs are there when you don't have interrupts yet (casters tend to be a nightmare) is definitely more difficult in a real way than what we have today. As a caster, having to actually think about which spells to use based on mana cost (and perhaps even using lower ranked ones) is definitely more difficult and requires more engagement with your character than we have in modern WoW.
Me after 1 plainstrider
However, after a while the novelty of it wears off and you do start getting a little bored of all the eating and drinking (and wondering why your character isn't getting to Kul Tiran levels of fat), especially if you hop on to BfA for a bit in between. The difference is huge and once you're used to just slamming into 5 mobs and downing them quickly it can get a bit boring to just pull 1 mob at a time and then wait and wait. The really low levels aren't that different between live and Classic in terms of gameplay however, as the small amount of abilities means combat isn't exactly the most exciting thing in either. On live you get past that pretty quickly, but it takes a while longer in Classic (especially if you're playing solo).
In Classic, playing different classes actually feels different in more ways than just their abilities, at least if you think about it a little. Playing a priest, you really want to find a group because that's what the class was designed for, which is both good and bad - you're stuck very slowly leveling if you're solo, emphasizing the frustration of the slow pulling, but having different classes require different gameplay can be good. If you want to play a priest you're going to have to be more social by default, just whisper the guy you see killing stuff next to you and go level together, you'll immediately have a better time of it (this part is particularly exacerbated in the beta, as there are fewer players).
In the end, while it may be a huge cop-out, it really does come down to personal preference. Some people will simply not be able to handle the huge downtime between pulls, not being able to buy a new skill rank because you spent all your money on food and drinks (mages were popular for a reason back then), the very slow pace of leveling, and a whole lot more frustrations and not user-friendly features. On the other hand, the experience really is significantly different enough from modern WoW that it does feel enough like a "new" game, or at least a new and different expansion. An expansion that has many more differences than the last 3 or so, something that's both new and old and familiar. And, yes, it also offers massive quantities of nostalgia for those of us that played Vanilla, but what's so wrong about that?
After the first 2, I actually forgot to take more screenshots, so here's Stan barely being able to afford skills because of his nasty water addiction.
A simple truth
The simple truth behind all of this bickering and squabbling is that there really isn't a bad way to enjoy a game. You like the feeling of Classic taking you back to your young(er) days and that rush of falling in love with WoW for the first time? You like the slower pace of both combat and leveling? You like that the social aspects of the game take a front seat? Good, enjoy it! You prefer modern WoW and BfA with it's tons of improvements, smoother design and more player-friendly features? Great, enjoy it! It doesn't matter whether you prefer modern WoW or Classic or WotLK or whichever your personal high-point was (it was Burning Crusade and Legion for me), you're not wrong. You literally can't be. No matter what anyone says in all these heated discussions, they care about WoW, in whatever form they prefer it. So why can't this be enough of a commonality for us to have a civil discourse?
I wanted to talk more about Classic here and my experience with it, especially relating to my Vanilla days, but somehow I kept writing about this rift that's forming in the WoW community. I can't seem to shake it, and for all the many, MANY times WoW was diagnosed as "dying" (and never did/never will), this one actually worries me. Some people have worried that Classic servers will split the community because BfA and Classic can't play together and few people will have the time to play both, but I'm worried it will REALLY split the community on a more philosophical level. At the moment WoW is back to being the most watched game on Twitch, beating out Fortnite and the rest, so shouldn't this be a happy moment for all of us that care about the game? Regardless of whether you enjoy BfA, or are holding on for the next expansion to fix things, or can't wait for Classic, can we at least TRY to keep things civil? We can disagree all day long, and I'm the first to put my opinions out there, but just don't accuse people of being... whatever it is you think they are. Argue facts, discuss calmly (or well, at least try to), and if you see the other person isn't doing the same, just politely stop talking to them. It's that simple.
Next time I'll hopefully be talking more about the game itself than the narrative around it, but until then: enjoy what you enjoy and don't get sucked in to discussions about how you're wrong to do so.
What is Classic really like and why is it causing such a rift in the WoW community?
Venturebeat interviewed J. Allen Brack and he talked about Classic WoW, Diablo Immortal, and Blizzard games in general.
You can read the full interview here.
Brack played every Blizzard game, but World of Warcraft will always be closest to his heart. World of Warcraft changed Blizzard. When the game launched back in 2004, the company had 300 employees. Currently, they have 4,300 employees. They've got more games that they're working on now than at any other time in the history of Blizzard. Not every game released by Blizzard needs to cater to everyone. It's fine if you don't like a certain game. Mobile is a platform on its own, similar to consoles or PC. The games they're developing for mobile are going to provide an authentic experience, but mobile titles aren't trying to replicate PC experience. Nintendo has been a great partner and they are happy with how the Diablo III panned out. Switch has some unique properties that consoles don't have. From a player perspective, Brack's proud of his guild downing Ragnaros back in Vanilla. Kael'thas was also a hard boss during the Burning Crusade, so defeating him was also considered a feat for the President of Blizzard. Doing the Argus patch in Legion was quite the challenge. Mists of Pandaria was the most misunderstood expansion. They've been experimenting for 15 years with content schedule for the game and figured out that the two-year expansion cycle with 3 major patches is the right thing. They were thinking about making Argus an entire expansion, but ended up not doing so.
When it comes to Classic, Blizzard's goal is to provide an authentic Vanilla experience, but they also needed to come up with technology to handle many players at launch, which is similar to sharding. While the use of this technology will be limited to the first month following launch, many players are questioning this decision and wouldn't like to see layering in the game at all.
Before we talk about layering, it's important to talk about the sharding technology used in modern-day World of Warcraft. When a zone in the game becomes overpopulated, players will be seamlessly moved onto a different shard, which is essentially another instance of the same zone. It is important to note that you will still be able to play with your friends, because you are moved to the same shard when you create a party.
Sharding should not be confused with phasing, where a zone gets substantially altered due to in-game changes (think talking to Zidormi to visit various zones before and prior to these kind of changes), like Tirisfal Glades or Darkshore.
Advantages of Sharding
Sharding eliminates server load and realm stability. Cross-realm sharding is here so that players are evenly distributed across realms and helps combat underpopulation. Sharding at launch is vital to ensure a stable launch of an expansion. Starting zones would be filled with millions of people and that would turn even accepting a quest into a nightmare. Disadvantages of Sharding
Sharding causes a lot of problems, especially in Battle for Azeroth with War Mode on and when players join parties to take down world bosses. There are multiple reports of entire raids sharding away. Blizzard's Stance on Sharding in Classic WOW
Community Manager Lore talked about sharding in the Classic Demo back at last year's BlizzCon, where they believe some form of sharding may be helpful at launch.
As you've noticed, the Classic Demo does have realm sharding. This is to let as many people as possible experience it without technical issues such as server capacity or spawn density getting in the way.
Longer term, we know how crucial it is to the Classic experience for you to see your friends when you walk into Stormwind or when you’re helping them on a quest you’ve already completed. And there should only ever be one Kazzak on a realm, no matter how many people are waiting for him to spawn.
We’re still looking at how we can best deliver an authentic Classic experience at launch, and in the weeks and months that follow - both in terms of gameplay and community. You won’t see phasing (which is tied to specific quests that don't exist in Classic) or cross-realm zones (which combine multiple realms together) in Classic. However, realm sharding is one of the best tools we have to keep realms stable when hundreds of players are swarming the same initial few zones and killing the same few mobs (like they will be at the launch of Classic). To that end, we do believe that some form of sharding may be helpful, especially in those early days. But we recognize that a cohesive world is critical to WoW Classic and are committed to bringing that to you. Layering in Classic WoW
Recently, Game Director Ion Hazzikostas talked about layering in Classic WoW. This is a limited form of sharding, invented specifically for the launch of Classic.
Instead of sharding the zones, their plan is to shard the entire continent at launch. In Classic WoW, there are no dynamic spawns and questing in starting zones would quickly become annoying, so it's understandable that the game is all but fun when there are no mobs to kill, but layering will also cause you to see new players, every time you sign in to the game, which is a clear downside of the tech.
There will be multiple layers of the same continent at Classic WoW launch, but Ion said the technology is going to collapse few weeks after launch, eventually merging all layers into a single unibody realm.
Layering for How Long?
The technology is there only for launch and will fade away in about a month, albeit it's still hard to determine if this is true, but it should definitely be gone before Phase 2 and world bosses become available in Classic.
Advantages of Layering
As mentioned before, Vanilla had no dynamic spawns, so people would need to wait for mobs to respawn at Classic launch, which could lead to frustration and an overall unpleasant gameplay experience. Layering will be gone in a few weeks after launch, merging all layers of the same continents into a single realm. Disadvantages of Layering
You will be assigned a layer at random upon logging in to the game, so before the tech is gone, chances are you won't be able to see the opposing faction's guild which ganked your guildie. It's too early to predict, but we don't know what effect layering is going to have on Classic economy. Sharding Versus Layering
Redditor Salvage_di_macaroni came up with an image, where he highlighted the differences between sharding and layering.
What do you think about layering? Do you not mind at all or would you rather not see it in Classic, because you think it strays away from the authentic Vanilla experience?
Layering is limited scope sharding invented for Classic WoW. Read on for more details!
Keys to the Model W is a new mount coming in Patch, rewarded from the Mechagon meta achievement (Mecha-Done).
This tme around, the achievement shouldn't be too hard to complete, because Mechagon is enabled for flying and Blizzard is adding Broken Isles Pathfinder, Part Two in Rise of Azshara.
Mechacycle Model W
The rapid technological evolution of the descendents of Mimiron began with the introduction of a new gear, leading to such wonders as the tragically under-produced Model W.
Animations (Run / Mount Special)
Do you like the mount?