When Classic is inspiring and when it is not… #WoWClassic

Playing through the original Darkshore this week I’ve been struck by the contrasts from moment to moment about my levels of enjoyment and frustration with this emulated classic version of the game.

There is much to admire in the zone when it comes to looks and atmosphere. Seriously, it’s a hauntingly beautiful forest zone that has something not quite right about it. The forest is deep and shadowy, filled with rather aggressive wild animals and other less natural critters.

The shoreline is beautiful despite the older graphics. Teldrassil looms to the north-west, and playing in the zone as the sun sets over the ocean is magical. I do love a good shoreline in my MMORPGs.

What’s less magical is the actual questing itself. There are some highlights, particularly the sad stories of some of Auberdine’s inhabitants – Night Elf society is beset by troubles, not least the ghosts of elves in the ruins that litter the coastline. The sins of their Highborne ancestors have stayed around to haunt their present.

But so many of the quests are super basic kill animals and bring back their bits. The drop rate on these are often pretty low and, unlike in the modern game, not shared pickups. So for all four of us in our leveling static to get those six crab legs, we have to kill a minimum of 24 (because each crab has only one leg!), but in actuality it’s more like 70+ as the drop rate is below 33%… This wasn’t the only quest like this at all, all of the animal culling quests are the same. I’d dare anyone to suggest that this is better content design compared to modern World of Warcraft, especially when it comes to encouraging (or discouraging) people from playing with their friends outside of dungeons.

Nothing adds to a grind like having to swim between spaced out mobs…

There is real challenge to be found in the open world content. It is very easy to get in over your head among rapidly re-spawning monsters if you’re not in a group. Even when in a group there have been several desperate races to save someone who got separated by even a small distance and who suddenly found themselves being mobbed by four or five creatures at once.

So the Classic experience after one week of casual play is one of two halves: on the one hand it is good to feel that group challenge again in normal questing areas. On the other hand the content is rather outdated and group-unfriendly that punishes as much as it pleases.


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5 Responses to When Classic is inspiring and when it is not… #WoWClassic

  1. bhagpuss says:

    I have a post planned that includes this very subject. I had to kill about 40 bears to get 3 drops in Loch Modan. Less than 10% drop rate. I’d say if you’re getting 33% on some of these quests you’re lucky.

    However, I have a very good argument in favor of low drop rates: it teaches you not to focus on quests but to hunt, explore and live through your character in the game. Pick up all the available quests, don’t put them on tracker, roam the countryside and kill as you please. All the regular “Kill 14” or “collect 6” quests will fill themselves without you needing to pay attention to them.

    When you pass a questgiver with a yellow circle under him, do the hand in. Eventually, when you’re ready to move on or seem to have stopped getting updates, check your journal and then go to work on those specific quests that require odd locations or mobs you don’t generally run into.

    On the group thing, it’s very clear which quests are intended to be grouped and which soloed. The quest description usually warns you if you’re going to need assistance and the Elite quests always need a group at level. It was clearly never the intention that people should gropup for the regular, solo quests, although it can be very efficient to do so for the “Kill” ones.

    One of WoW’s big USPs at launch was its vastly improved soloability over almost al the MMORPGs that preceded it. Making all the open world quests work as well for groups as for solo players could arguably undermine that, although it’s not an argument I’d make. If people insist on grouping for solo content there’s no particular reason not to make it wasy for them to do so, as did indeed happen. It does make everything go that much faster, though, which is not what I personally would want to see. A small step on the road to perdition, perhaps, but a step all the same.

    I may well cannibalize this comment for the post – fair warning!

    (Third attempt to get this comment to post)

  2. SynCaine says:

    Argument for the old way of doing “collect X” quests; Not knowing how many kills you need exactly lessens the feeling of the grind. If you knew you had to kill exactly 20 of something every time, there is suddenly no difference between “collect X” and “kill X” quests in functionality. Also with a 100% drop rate, you don’t feel good when you get a nice string of drops, because you know each kill is a drop. Imagine if instead of dungeon bosses dropping loot, they dropped tokens; now heading into a dungeon you know this is run 4 of 7 until you get your reward, rather than the chance that this run is going to get you your loot. Some prefer the known, but most only THINK they do. You don’t really want that.

    About grouping specifically for those quest. One, you kill more mobs, so you increase the chances of seeing a random drop green or better. Also if the mob is dropping crafting components, more of those. Second, once someone in the group has all they need, the others in the group can loot that corpse for the quest drop after that person loots it for normal loot, which makes the whole quest go faster and faster as more group members finish. Third, there is safety in numbers, so you don’t need to be as cautions about your pulls, which is a nice change of pace from solo leveling in Classic.

    • Telwyn says:

      The point about group loot is a good one – though at points we set to free for all because we were spaced out (having to run criss-cross to loot was annoying) but then weird looting issues started occuring where mobs would show loot yet when looted nothing was taken. Very annoying so we went back to group loot and stuck together more. As for the less than 100% drop rate it has led to so many “you’re still not done?” moments or “oh I’m done but you haven’t got a single item yet?” moments. Too much blatant RNG isn’t my thing though.

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