Back in the text chat era #WoWClassic

It’s a little strange when playing World of Warcraft Classic just how much slower some aspects of the game are. Yes, the combat is fundamentally similar to World of Warcraft (retail), but the pace is noticeably slower. Characters have fewer abilities and develop a rotation fixed around end-game at level 60; for much of levelling some classes/specs are missing key abilities. Others have a community theory-crafting recommended spec that is beyond simplistic (e.g. Frost Mage or Balance Druid).

Frost bolt, frost bolt, frost bolt…

As we level, end-game ability concerns seem rather distant; we’re still only just into the 30s presently on this static group. That’s the levelling pace we can manage time-wise at least at the moment. It’s nice though as I’m not that interested in pulling all-day sessions ‘to get to 60 already’ – some guildies for context have several level 60s already. We also have allowed time for alts to mix up a different group. As I predicted some time ago some classes lack appeal as you level, so we have switched a few classes around in this time, and have a ‘B’ team around level 24 as a more flexible group for 3 or 4 person dungeon runs.

That’s the broader levelling arc perspective. The inspiration for this post though is just how the moment to moment gameplay is rather slower-paced. To the point where your character auto-attacking can be a valid choice. I can’t remember the last time in retail that my Balance Druid needed to hit things with his staff, or my Holy Priest got to sit and wand attack something.

Wand away

Mana management and regen is such a big issue for levelling characters in WoW Classic, not least because different classes get their mana recovery mechanisms at different points. Mages get Evocation at level 20, my Holy Paladin gets Seal of Wisdom at level 58! With the ‘5 second rule’ in this version of the game, it’s normal to stop doing anything other than a basic melee attack (or standing inactive for some casters) to get the standard mana regen to kick in for a bit.

It’s such a different experience from retail where mana regen is rarely an issue outside of boss fights if poorly geared. In the modern game rotations keep you actively pressing ability buttons every global cooldown more or less. My casters never lack something to be doing, the only character I feel a more ‘Classic moment’ now and then with is my Beastmaster Hunter who inevitably runs out of energy at some point in longer fights and is stuck with auto-attacking with his bow and directing his pet.

Take in the surroundings

The good side of the Classic pace of combat is evident. You can take in the surroundings: both from a touristic perspective (oh nice screenshot angle!) and from the alertness (oh, watch out for that patrol coming!). It’s easier for healers to not just be ‘turrets’ in the Classic game, unless we are really pushing content near to our max level of challenge, I can usually get some seal+judge combos in to buff or debuff the group or our enemies and the odd melee hit if I’m regening mana.

Up close and personal

The downside is that dungeon runs can feel like a slog. If we’re trying to push content but lack the damage output then progress will be slow, yet my healer will lack any time for dps or utility game-play. On my Hunter this kind of challenge should be a chance to shine but she lacks the abilities that would make her more of an asset. With no trap launcher in Classic, and traps only being usable out of combat, there’s not much she can do to help control a pull that is going out of control. Perhaps Feign Death will help with this when she gets to level 30. The traps she does have are too short-duration to be useful, and can only be deployed in advance.

Frost trap rank 1 is pretty useless

Both versions of the game are pretty relaxed compared to a more action-oriented MMORPG like Neverwinter or Tera. But even in the tab-target sub-genre there are differences in pace and WoW Classic is noticably slower. Trying to coordinate pugs in Neverwinter by text chat was always an added layer of stress. The auto-attack as filler also makes communication by text chat within combat doable – something that is easy to forget about in the era of omni-present and reliable voice chat. For years we only coordinated group play in World of Warcraft by text chat. That seems inefficient and slow nowadays as we’re inevitably on voice chat with guild mates if we group, even in Classic.

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5 Responses to Back in the text chat era #WoWClassic

  1. bhagpuss says:

    I think the thing that often gets missed about voice chat vs text is that different people receive and process information in significantly different ways and at very different levels of efficiency. I tend to pick up on the import of text faster and more accurately than I do speech. That applies in games and out of them. The immediacy of voice chat is less valuable if you’re playing with someone like me who is likely to ask for things to repeated because they didn’t quite take in everything they needed to on first hearing.

    That said, at the pace of WoW Classic or old school EverQuest, you could probably could communicate by carrier pigeon and still get the job done.

  2. Sylow says:

    “That seems inefficient and slow nowadays as we’re inevitably on voice chat with guild mates if we group, even in Classic.”

    I find that quite interesting. Mostly as your guild in ESO actually about 1 1/2 years ago went exactly the other way. We had Discord, but we got rid of it again.

    The reason for that was that a rift was forming in the guild. Part of the veterans in the guild were living on Discord and kept everything of significance there. But our guild is open for beginners, we advertise as beginner friendly and helping people to learn the game. Many of the beginners turned up in Discord once, but didn’t do so repeatedly. Which means they missed out on whatever was happening there.

    Of course, getting rid of Discord cost us a dozen of our most hardcore players at that time. But it helped immensely in unifying the guild. It’s now im better shape than ever before. So at least my personal experience is that sticking to the in-game chat for most of the gameplay (and only switching to voice communication for trials, the games equivalent to raids in other games) turned out to be a great move.

    According to my experience things like TS or Discord are great for a group of friends or an established guild with little to no recruiting going on. But for a guild with strong growth and some fluctuation (experienced players often migrate to more focused brother guilds) the in-game chat seems to actually be the best thing to use. 🙂

    • Sylow says:

      Wild typo in there. Not your guild, our guild.. shame on me.

      • Telwyn says:

        No worries, I guessed you meant that. We’ve had mixed experiences with voice chat – some guild mates steadfastly refuse to use it, so it does cause some division. But the core group I play with does now use it regularly.

  3. I love that wow classic brings back the classic game play. If your looking for nostalgia it’s great.

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