World of Warcraft came out at the end of 2004. I’ll spare you the platitudes of what didn’t exist then aside from a measurable amount of the playerbase. Ponder on that for a second. The game has been around long enough for humans to come into existence and be old enough to fully appreciate the title for all it’s worth. A human coming into sentience and being capable of self-preservation is a considerable chunk of time for our squishy existence. It’s an eternity in technology and game design. A server that ran WoW at launch is a laughable piece of equipment in today’s cloud-heavy world backed by Amazon Web Services and other on-demand, highly scalable options. Having a single specialization seems equally archaic.
Which has me wondering how “vanilla” are we really going to go? How bonkers, old school will Blizzard make WoW Classic? The company repeatedly shot down the idea because of the needs to meet its exacting standards. Yet, here we are, Blizzard succumbing to a multitude of outside pressures and third-party success in running vanilla shards. The company has bowed to the niche and granted its wish. This could be a great adventure into the world of nostalgia or the best clinical psychology dataset to study the notion of the human penchant for seeing memories through rose-colored glasses. Both?
During our gallop through the Opening Ceremony reactions, we came across a few WoW nuts that understood our surprise. Are hunters going to need to feed their pets and fill their bags with arrows? Are soul shards going to be the bane of Warlocks (and raid leaders) again? Will classes go back to having well defined, highly restrictive use cases, paladins and shamans being in charge of buffs? Is my dwarf priest, rolled specifically for Fear Ward, going to become a mainstay in raids? Resilience gear grinding? Can I please, please return to being a stud Tyr’s Hand farmer that learned the most basic Chinese sayings to trade trash for bandages?
What of the larger questions? The massive quality of life changes that made WoW go from a major time suck, one that people jokingly remember today but caused much strife in the moment? Is DKP going to need to return? Are servers going to be isolated, relegating players from ever being able to physically meet someone in real life that’s actually on their server again? What part of vanilla will we return to? Will there be vanilla servers with progression and the original patches coming out over time only to reset?
I’ve so many questions. That’s how bonkers this announcement really is. Classic Diablo and StarCraft are easy. Those titles are standard issue single and multiplayer affairs. Not living worlds. The craziest aspect may very well be how little information Blizzard gave the community on such a momentous announcement. Regardless, For the Alliance!
What ancient game design choice are you most scared of seeing return?