How will it feel compared to current WoW?
When World of Warcraft was first created, it immediately became a huge success and placed itself into gaming's hall of fame. It was huge, so well known that gaming started to be considered cool rather than a waste of time and nerdy solely because of it. As the years passed and the game evolved however, it wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that current WoW is almost an entirely different game as opposed to how it originally was. The game still has a huge fanbase but a lot of players who've played original WoW are quite bitter towards it, claiming that nowadays Blizzard's philosophy is built on efficiency rather than hard earned progression. So how is the hard earned progression of Classic? As someone who plays WoW and who played the Classic stress test, l'll give my take on how different the two games feel and what you can expect from Classic as either an entirely new player who's never played WoW or just coming over from current.
As l started playing the test with my Gnome Mage, the first things l've noticed (aside from older models and the lack of playable races/classes from later expansions, of course.) were the difficulty, the absence of the quest helper and weapon skills. As l acquired my quests, there was no symbol on my map to help me. All l was given were my objective and the quest text. Whereas in current WoW, most players wouldn't read the text and just rush to the objective on the map, now they couldn't do that. They had to read the quest text in order to complete their quest, also learning about the world around them and a character's troubles while doing so. While it may sound like a hassle to not have your objective laid out for you in a world as huge as WoW, it all felt so real and expansive, looking at the world around you as you made your way through the quests and zones.
''The world feels truly real.''
In WoW, there is a taxi service called Flight Masters where you can travel from one zone to the other via a gryphon or wyvern. In Classic, there seems to be only one flight master for a zone, in current there are at least 5 per zone. As you are unable to get your mount until lvl 40 in Classic as opposed to the 20 of current and are unable to gain flying mounts, this makes you explore the world to it's fullest and not take shortcuts with the flight masters. This is probably the biggest hassle of all but it makes you grow accustomed to the world that you are in and instead of just blazing through them like they are worthless pieces of coding, you explore every part of them on foot for an extremely long time, growing accustomed and emotionally bound to the world. The feeling when you acquire your mount as you finally reach 40 and run through that same world on your horse or whatever mount you picked will feel all the more amazing, l am sure. Although l haven't witnessed that emotion myself, l can say it is one of the things l am most excited for.
The combat also felt extremely different. I found that my mana was running out which is a resource almost all classes in current WoW don't have to worry about, this adding a layer of both difficulty but also realism to the game. It made total sense that l shouldn't be able to cast spells indefinitely. This mentality carried onto weapon skills, something that was completely alien to me as it has been removed from current WoW. When l first started out, the monsters were resisting my spells or they were avoiding the swings from my wand plus they were hitting me in return. During combat however, l noticed that my skills in wands, spells and defense was increasing as l attacked and was attacked. This slowly increased my accuracy along with my chance to avoid incoming attacks. Again, it sounded like effort but just made total sense, making me feel immersed with my character and the world more than ever. Although getting stronger reduced the difficulty, by no means did it ever feel easy.
''The game forces you to group up, and that's a good thing.''
The mobs hit hard, so hard that it was difficult to take on more than two at once, at times one even, namely boss mobs for quests. This is not the case in current WoW. Most quest mobs, even bosses are extremely easy and able to be defeated by everyone, with a few exceptions. In Classic, every mob feels challenging and because of this creates the most important thing that an MMO is supposed to have. A need for cooperation. What would be the point of playing an MMO if you were able to complete everything by yourself, after all? As l had struggles with my quests, l helped others in the area for help and so did they from me. I noticed that so many were willing to help, even if they had already completed the quest that l need help with. This showed me that every player respected each other and wasn't hesitant to assist one another in the face of this dangerous, lethal world. It is hard to find spirit like this in WoW nowadays as grouping is so rarely required and during the times that it is, the game does it for you by a group finder system inside the game. Those groups are without spirit, say nothing to each other even if someone tries to strike up a conversation (usually me) and immediately disband upon completion, not even thanking each other.
Classic gets multiplayer right. Players are constantly ready to help others nor are afraid to ask for it themselves, everyone aware that they are striding through the same harsh world, only furthened by the fact that they find help instead of being given it by a system, other players feeling more like ally NPCs rather than players due to it in current WoW. Once again, it feels like effort to actually seek out help for a lot of things but that's the spirit of a true MMO. Few things feel better than helping someone and later down the line encountering them once again, catching up with what each other has been doing while reliving the fun times you had together. This happened to me even in the short 20 hours l've played. Someone I had quested together with just walked up to me on another one of their characters and yelled about recognizing me as his Gnome buddy. It felt wonderful. Stuff like this are the true charm of Classic WoW, the spirit current WoW is severely lacking. I haven't even witnessed how the grouping process for dungeons and raids work yet but l can only imagine how fun they are going to be.
''The progression is slow, perfectly paced and fulfilling.''
Finally, l am going to talk about progression and the value of items. Levelling in Classic is a slow but fulfilling process, each level's exp pool being very large but somehow not feeling excessive. Every time l gained a level, it felt important and like an achievement, my skill stats in my class' specialities increasing. In Classic WoW, you can find class trainers inside some friendly zones, mine being the Mage. These class trainers have a list of every ability that you will learn as you level up. Once you reach the required level of ability, you have to visit them and pay certain amounts of money to learn the abilities. In current WoW, you learn abilities simply by levelling up, class trainers having almost no function. The fact that they show you all that you can learn and their prices motivate you to get to that level and prepare your money accordingly, choosing whichever ability that you want to learn. At certain levels, they will have quests for you. The only quest that l was able to do gave me my first uncommon quality item and it made me so extremely happy. I looked at its stats and savoured the fact that l had earned this. Up until that point, which was level 10, l only had grey items which are considered trash quality. However, even with them, getting ones with superior stats felt worth it and like l was progressing so just imagine how happy l was to get an uncommon one. If we look at current WoW, however, high-quality items are extremely easy to come by, pretty much every quest giving you an item of uncommon quality or higher, causing them to not be as satisfying to earn. It only gets worse from there, however, thanks to something called heirloom sets.
While normally levelling is already not so satisfying, heirloom sets take it up to a whole another level. For a small amount of gold (for high-level characters at least), you can buy a set of items that increases your exp gain up to 45%. These items bind to your account, meaning any character you make in the future can equip them and scale with you from lvl 1 to 60, up to 120 if you wish to pay even more gold to upgrade them. Heirlooms are the definition of efficiency but they are also the definition of stagnation. As said before, they scale with you and have way better stats than anything you will gain along the way, causing you to not look at any item you gain by levelling ever again. This creates a very fast levelling experience but it's also extremely boring all the while. Not only do they trivialize the game to the point of being unfun, but they also cause you to not look at any other item that you will ever get except the slots that don't have heirlooms which quite frankly, but you also forget about when you are extremely powerful due to the heirlooms. Classic does not have heirlooms which makes your stats and progression actually mean something no matter which character you are. Every item that you get matters to your character's power and rarer quality items feel extremely satisfying to earn.
''Classic class progression is entirely up to you.''
How class progression aside from class trainers work is extremely different in current and Classic also. In the current WoW, when you reach level 10, you are able to choose one of three specializations. For Mage, they are Frost, Fire and Arcane. Once you choose one, you will learn powers solely from them as you level up and choose one of 3 talents every 15 levels until lvl 100. (Although the last two talents are 90, then 100, not 105.)
In Classic, there is no such thing as specializations. A class is able to control all three powers so long as they choose to get the abilities from their class trainers. I remember feeling proud that l was blasting my enemies with frost, fire and arcane magic all at the same time. What Classic does have instead of specializations however is a skill tree. The skill tree is separated into three once again, Frost, Fire, Arcane for Mages. Although you can control all 3 powers in Classic, you have the freedom to lean towards one than the other or make a hybrid build leaning towards two and maybe even three (although I've been told 3 isn't optimal due to there not being enough skill points.) With each level, you gain a skill point and use that skill point to further go down your talent tree. Each ability in your tree has multiple levels to them and you gain access to even more skills the further you commit yourself to a certain line. It's a much more free and diverse environment as opposed to current WoW's.
As you can see, you are left to your own devices in Classic entirely and due to gaining a skill point in every level, no level up feels hollow. In current WoW, the levels that don't give you a new ability or talent feel pretty much useless and there are sadly a lot of levels that do not contribute to you at all beyond being a number.
In conclusion, it is clear to see that both games are like entirely different products. As stated at the beginning, while current WoW focuses on efficiency and easier content, Classic is much more about truly becoming a part of the world that you are progressing through, every action you take mattering towards something much larger and truly cooperating with people out of necessity against a harsh world but coming out with everlasting friendships and nice memories. It is very clear that Blizzard's game design mentality has changed over the years. If you are a player that is trying Classic after current like me or a new player entirely, l hope this article helped you get a taste for it and how different it is compared to current WoW. WoW Classic releases on the 27th, in just 3 days! Don't forget that you can log in right now to reserve your character names for release.