Returning to World of Warcraft’s original state is a humbling experience. With thousands of hours spent in Azeroth, I’ve defeated intergalactic demon armies and thwarted orc hordes from alternate timelines all while amassing the most powerful gear the universe has ever known. But Classic makes braving a cave filled with level 12 troggs feel like a massive achievement. It’s not so much a nostalgia trip as it is a nostalgia fall into a pit of rusty razor blades. And you know what? I kind of like it that way.
Classic is a full recreation of World of Warcraft as it was at launch, or not long after – a sort of digital time machine that lives alongside the modern version. It’s a gruelling and often frustrating experience, but it’s also helped me rediscover why I loved Warcraft in the first place. For better and worse, this is WOW exactly as I remember playing it well over a decade ago – before expansions, like 2010’s Cataclysm, streamlined entire game systems and forever changed Azeroth.
Rose-tinted nostalgia can often be deceiving, but Classic proves that people are right to spend so much time fawning over that pivotal era of WoW’s early years.
Experienced today, Classic’s uncompromised vision feels endearing and rewarding, thanks largely to challenging combat that necessitates social cooperation and flavourful RPG systems that make each class feel distinct.
That’s a stark contrast to the latest expansion, Battle for Azeroth, where I’m so powerful that I can accomplish almost everything alone except dungeons and raids that mandate I play with a group. Even then, I’m provided with tools to automatically match me with a group of strangers who usually hail from other servers. Natural opportunities to make friends have become few and far between in that version of Azeroth, but they’re everywhere in Classic.
The trade-off is that Classic is an enormous investment of time with no guaranteed reward. I can spend an hour searching for a group to run a dungeon, only to have everything fall apart if our team can’t coordinate properly. But I actually prefer just how intimidating this Classic version of Azeroth feels. There’s a renewed sense of danger and adventure to zones that I’ve already spent hundreds of hours exploring, and it requires that I pay attention to my surroundings at all times unless I want to become dinner to a family of panthers. It makes Azeroth feel new again. I rarely feel like I’m on autopilot while I’m playing – except during those occasional 20-minute hikes to nearby zones.
It’s just a shame that questing in Classic is such hot garbage. It’s the best source of experience points, but many zones have too few quests and they all feel like enormous chores. Killing 12 boars in an open field isn’t all that fun, especially when the drop rate on the item needed for the quest is cruelly low. Times like these make me wish I was my level 120 demon hunter so I could round up dozens of boars and slaughter them all at once.
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