As part of the Blizzcon opening ceremony, official support for WoW classic servers in the future were announced alongside the Battle for Azeroth expansion. The video was about as low on detail as it could be – just play a mish-mash of different era cinematics backwards to show we’re back in the lands of the launch video. Plenty to draw on veteran heart-strings but not much detail for those wanting to know more.
There are so many good and bad aspects to a potential official server. Certainly I’d much, much rather play an official server than an emulator server. I’m not hugely into playing on progression or other ‘classic experience’ servers, such as those that Daybreak Games have been doing for some years now for Everquest 2 (& 1). I’d much rather be playing the live game and latest content than repeating really old stuff. If anything it would make more sense for me to play EQ2’s progression servers since I wasn’t around at all to experience the older version of the game. With World of Warcraft I was there for the end of Vanilla/launch of Burning Crusade, so I’ve experienced the ‘classic’ gameplay and content that is the presumed target for this announcement.
So why might I want to play on this type of server? I think the principal reasons are the pre-Cataclysm leveling experience in particular the slower XP gain and more balanced character power progression curve. Since the stat squish leveling characters are generally crazy-overpowered compared to the creatures they meet – like one-shotting monsters with a single ability over-powered. Super slow leveling isn’t necessarily that amazing (EQ2!), but outpacing content all the time is also not great either. Since the modern game has no real balance here either, perhaps the classic experience will be better. Not perfect for certain – having to do multiple zones in a level-band to get enough XP to level up isn’t great either but that’s the lesser of two evils.
There are class mechanics I would welcome a taste of once more, Shamans remain a pale shadow of what they once were (tremor totem, cleansing totem, etc) and I’d like to give the Paladin of old another go – I do miss buffs and would like to play more with seal->judgement rotations. Classic WoW is basically a lot more like the EQ2 of today than the modern incarnation of Azeroth: WoW has simplified and a lot of RPG crunch/systems out of the game including weapon skills or skill levels and training. I did deliberately write ‘taste’ above though, whether I’ll prefer playing old WoW to new WoW is not something I’m sure of.
Group friendly content is another aspect of older-WoW that I’d like to at least try again. Having elite monsters that are actually a challenge would be nice to see again, the ogres in Loch Modan for instance. Those and the original dungeons will be great for coop group leveling and dungeon delving – and coop gameplay is my main focus these days.
Other aspects, if returned to vanilla levels of old-school, might be less exciting. No area looting for instance, eating/drinking in-between fights all the time for health and mana regen, being so poor you can’t afford spell upgrades or killing things with a wand auto-attack might be a step too far.
I didn’t raid at all until the last days of the Burning Crusade era so I didn’t ever experience 40-man raiding or many of the other large-group/hard-core experiences that veterans wax-nostalgic over from vanilla. I think my biggest concern over any longevity to spending my time on a classic server is that I’ve done it all before. The old pre-Cataclysm zones will be nice to see once more, but I did play them a lot – I have a lot of alts in WoW. The timing of the launch of classic servers will affect this decision – if they launch well before the next expansion then sure I’ll come take a look, but once the new expansion arrives I’d rather spend what time I have for WoW on my main characters there.