Playing some more World of Warcraft Classic dungeon-running I have somewhat mixed feelings about this version of the game. I can see clear disadvantages from a gameplay perspective and also advantages. This dive into nostalgic gaming is a case of mixed blessings for me.
There are plenty of obvious things I could bring up, things that depending on the individual player could be said to be the negatives or the benefit of playing Classic over retail WoW: like all the endless running around (a k a making the world matter once more) or gold being super-scarce while levelling (a k a having a more balanced in-game economy). Much of this is down to personal opinion and what each of us considers to be the ideals of MMORPG design.
But for me the more telling comparison is the micro one, so the perspective of playing a Holy Paladin main in WoW Classic versus having played a Holy Paladin as a first or second alt through all the expansions of WoW.
The biggest downer of Classic is the amount of busywork, the five minute blessing buffs for instance. I do love buff spells, and really like in Classic to “drive-by-buff” random characters while travelling around. Having a wide variety of buffs as choices to make is good gameplay to me, these form part of the much stronger class variety and identity that Classic has over retail. But having to renew buffs on each individual character every five minutes of the much longer dungeon run times in the game isn’t something I’m as keen on. I guess I should be thankful I don’t play Warrior with their 2-minute duration shouts…
Buffs aren’t the only thing that is busywork: mana management is a pain for most casters, including Holy Paladins. Lay on Hands draining all my character’s mana is pretty brutal as well – there are a number of abilities like this with much less utility or much more situational usage because of their more restrictive nature versus retail.
For all the negatives there are some strong positives, of course. Focusing on Paladins still, the breadth of spells in Classic is something I’m like. Buffs I’ve talked about above, but also the active combat abilities are more numerous and nuanced. The seal + judgement system as a core rotation mechanic I find rather fun. In more challenging dungeons I need to conserve my mana and focus on healing only; but in lower dungeons that we are repeating for loot drops or quest items, I can step up to deal damage as well and having something more than just two or three abilities is great.
So Classic represents quite a mixed experience for me personally. There are good aspects and bad aspects, just as there are to retail, leaving it representing a different play experience from retail, but not necessarily a better one.