So while I was away there was this announcement that World of Warcraft Classic will be based on patch 1.12 (Drums of War). This gives a lot of clarity to what this ‘snapshot’ version of the game will look like, as the post mentions Vanilla WoW covered two whole years of content releases and changes to game mechanics, so there was a lot of potential variations for the devs to chose from.
This represents the game in a close, but not identical state, to when I started playing with friends – we started in the Spring of 2007, so just into the Burning Crusade era. I’m sure as and when Classic actually arrives and I get to try it there’ll be many, many recognisable features of that early incarnation of the game – Shamans with a decent selection of totems that stay around, Paladins with seal & judgement combos and the need to manage mana. More importantly for me at least, the old world of Azeroth will be restored – winding back the many zone upheavals of Cataclysm will be very welcome. I’d be up for running a character through Thousand Needles again.
I do wonder whether Blizzard will ever take this idea to the logical next step, as other studios have already (both Everquests, and now Rift), and make it into a ‘progression’ server so that players can relive the highs of each new content release, patches and expansions in turn. There’s something appealing about being there at the opening of new content – the stampeding hordes of players rushing back and forth across crowded zones like a plague of heroic locusts. Classic isn’t this, it’s a snapshot of Vanilla at its “most complete”. Given the amount of bugs dutifully recorded in various patch notes, I am happy at least that Blizzard have chosen the last patch for Vanilla as the starting point for this experiment.
Reading the announcement linked above, it is interesting just how much technical detail they’ve gone into – refitting their current WoW tech to use old data files and art assets is an interesting approach. I can appreciate the intention to provide the ‘modern’ World of Warcraft experience with classic content and gameplay laid onto it – playing a relatively bug-infested and unstable version of the game, however nostalgic, is not something I suspect a majority of players would be willing to suffer in 2018.
I’m still firmly on the fence with Battle for Azeroth, until I see how the expansion develops and the until the story shifts away from petty faction-squabbles, I’ll happily wait. The release of Classic would be another way Blizzard could get me back playing WoW again. I expect that’s still a long way off, and will certainly not appear until the majority of players have had a chance to grow bored of BfA’s new content.