Last week I was fortunate to learn that I had been granted access to the World of Warcraft Classic Beta servers. Anyone who’s followed my blog knows I’m a bit of a nerd, and a big part of me loves to contribute to these early access servers. I like feeling like I’ve helped contribute in some small way to the game. So I was thrilled to be given the chance to do this again. Even more so this time because, in a way, playing WoW Classic is like playing a whole different game.
I’ll be doing multiple posts on my WoW Classic experiences and thoughts. This first post will just cover my initial observations – how things are different in Classic vs. Retail and what I found interesting. Expect future posts with more opinions and thoughtful discussion.
I started playing WoW at the end of Cataclysm, right around when Firelands was in full swing. I have only known Azeroth as it is now – broken apart and forever changed by Deathwing. I’ve always been curious to know how the world was before that time. How did it all look before it was ravaged and destroyed?
Knowing I’d be playing Alliance when Classic does go live (a simultaneous worldwide launch on August 27/28!!!), and knowing shamans were a Horde-only class, I decided to start my beta adventures as a Tauren shaman.
The first thing I noticed when making my tauren was the lack of choices in facial expressions. This wasn’t at all unexpected – it’s a super early version of the game, and this is part of it. Just one of the many luxuries we have in current WoW!
It was raining when I zoned in, and I have to agree with what I’ve heard from many people before – the weather effects were better then. I don’t know what it is, but the rain in that screenshot is just loads better than what it is in current WoW. The sound of it was incredible. It really helped add to the atmosphere of the zone.
There’s no guidance for the game. You zone in and there’s a person in front of you to do your first quest, but that’s about where the help stops. Quest givers aren’t shown in the map or mini-map. If you have to collect parts from mobs (like teeth from wolfs or something) there’s no indicator on the map of where these wolfs might be. Then when you (finally!) do get the parts, you don’t get a direction of where to go back to hand in the quest. The best you get is a small yellow dot (like how herb nodes are shown on the mini map in current), but even then that only shows up when you’re close to the NPC so isn’t reliable. What it all boils down to is this:
you actually have to read the quest text
And it’s fucking brilliant. It’s hard, but it’s so great having to read to figure out where to go to kinda be in the area of where some mobs might be.
And there’s so much running around. SO much running around. Which I don’t mind at all, because I just love to explore.
And there’s a lot of dying. Well there was for me at least. I didn’t mind too much because there was something really beautiful about the spirit realm. It’s different to live – it seems…. spookier? It’s hard to explain. But I find current corpse runs are beautiful, but the world is clear. In Classic, there’s less visibility – you can’t see a lot of what’s around you until you’re close, and there’s something really cool about that. It really does feel like you’re in the afterlife, frantically trying to reunite yourself with your body.
Combat is hard. For a couple of reasons. First one being that classes are completely different to how they are on live. I made a shaman, but you get spells from all specs, and you pick and choose where to put talent points in… it’s a big mash up of different (and customisable) builds. It’s really interesting.
The other reason combat is difficult is because everything costs so much mana, and you have no health. I’m used to pulling mobs with lightning bolts and dropping an earth shock and just spamming lightning bolt and lava burst until the thing was dead. In Classic, you can’t do that. There’s just not enough mana available to cast that many spells. You need to make sure you have enough mana available to heal yourself (god help anyone without a self heal!!), and if you’re battling humanoids, you have to make sure you have enough mana left to cast a spell when they run off, or they will run to their friends, and you will die. A lot.
With the abilities I have available to me now, I’m dropping a defensive totem that helps me take less damage. I’m casting a lightning bolt to hit them from a distance and get them running to me. They get a lava shock and a fire totem and then I wait. I right-click on them to punch them in the face until they die. (And that’s also making sure I’ve already got my lightning shield on and my weapon enchant on!)
And that’s another thing – you have to level up weapons! I started off being able to use a mace and a shield and that’s it. And I had to learn to use them. It’s an interesting concept because it means that your combat varies as you try to level up new weapons. To level up your defence, you have to literally get hit in the face (well, avoid getting hit in the face at least!!). To level the mace (or any other weapon) you need to be in melee range, right click the mob and just auto attack it down, and sometimes that will grant you levels on your weapon. This slows down combat significantly, but it also makes you think about what you’re doing, and making conscious decisions about what to do next. It’s very interesting.
I should also point out that you can use other weapons (for shamans we can still use 1h & 2h axes and maces and staves and daggers) but in order to use them you need to go to a trainer to learn how to use them. When you learn it, you start at 0, and sometimes you’ll just fail miserably as a result. It’s a very interesting concept.
Health wise, we have none. Same as mana, it’s a finite resource that you have to pay so much more attention to. You actually need to make sure you have food and mana water on you at all times, otherwise you’re pretty screwed. And don’t be surprised if you need to eat/drink after killing just 1 or 2 mobs. Don’t expect to live if you accidentally pull 2 or 3 mobs, either.. like I did… a lot >.<
The other finite resource is gold. It is really scarce. I don’t think I went over having anything more than 36 silver at a time (buying Iced Milk instead of Mana Spring water certainly didn’t help me there!!!) It makes for an interesting layer of complexity to the game. You have to make decisions about whether or not you’ll buy that health food to help save time between pulls, or will you just wait it out and save the money? Got 5 spells your class trainer can teach you – great! But you can only afford to purchase 2 of them. Which do you choose?
The hardest part that I’ve found about Classic is how fragmented the quests are. I don’t really know what the story is. I think I lost the thread somewhere and I’m not too sure where to go to pick it up again. Which is what it is and I’m not complaining 🙂
So instead of trying to figure out the “right” way of playing the game, I just decided to start doing my own thing and go exploring. It has been such a strong desire of mine to see the world “as it was in the beginning”, so I set off to do just that. I took a zepplin to Undercity to explore around there, and met a very different Sylvanas.
Then I headed off to Silverpine to work on a random quest I’d picked up in Thunder Bluff. Silverpine was absolutely beautiful. I don’t remember it looking as it does (I’ll have to check in live!) but I did like it. As I was walking around I noticed some magic looking effects in the distance so of course I chased after them to see what it was. I didn’t get far because there were too many mobs, but given where I was I’m pretty sure it was Dalaran. And not just any Dalaran – a Dalaran in a bubble still on the ground. Maybe?!?! I decided I’d try to get there… but failed miserably. Darn mobs 7 levels higher than me! I’ve got another idea in mind of how to get there next time I’m there, though… 😀
I know it wasn’t the “right” thing to be doing in the game, but it was what I wanted to do. It was how I wanted to adventure. I wanted to explore and see the world, and so I did. And that for me is what the root of all games is – playing the game your way. It’s something I’ll touch on further in future posts…
I don’t have the nostalgia that others have about Classic because I just wasn’t playing then. For me, playing Classic isn’t about reminiscing about a time in my youth that I’m longing to get back to. But that doesn’t make my excitement for Classic’s release any less valid or dim. I honestly cannot wait for this to be released. I cannot wait to experience the old stories, see the old world and just play the game because I want to, and how I want to, and not because I feel obligated to level fast to raid.
I know this won’t be for everyone, and that is how it should be. But this is right up my ally. And I can’t wait for August 27