Almost three weeks ago, one of gaming’s largest single-studio events, Blizzcon, took place in sunny California. The convention was packed full of interesting details, including an upcoming World of Warcraft expansion and the announcement of free-to-play Starcraft II. However, amongst all the noise there was only one real standout for me, the news that Blizzard will finally be launching classic servers (Otherwise known as legacy or vanilla) for World of Warcraft.
I’ve been checked out of the World of WoW for over a decade. Although the game absorbed much of my childhood, and as much as I loved it at the time, I never intended on looking back. Yet the announcement of classic servers has peaked my interest in such a way I never expected, and it seems to have done the same for much of the Blizzard community. Taking to the World of Warcraft subreddit, I quickly found that the announcement thread for classic servers had gathered over 10,000 comments and 50,000 upvotes, the most engaged post on the entire subreddit. Compare that to the next highest post of all time, with 26,000 upvotes and 600 comments, and you start to understand the scale of excitement surrounding the upcoming release.
What is a Classic World of Warcraft Server?
Since it was released in 2004, World of Warcraft has seen some major changes in the form six full-scale expansions, each offering adaptations to core gameplay mechanics and the evolution of both story and world. Yet, many players have craved a return to the days of the original game; a return to the build the most popular MMO of all time was born from.
While the game’s levelling system does allow players a taste of the old incarnation of the game (originally running from levels 1-60 instead of the current 1-110) the changes made have been so significant that there is simply no way to truly experience what World of Warcraft was like when it was launched in 2004.
Classic servers will allow all gamers to experience World of Warcraft as it was in its infancy, similar to a remastered edition of a console game. The crucial difference here though, is that while you could still play games like the original Halo on the Xbox before Halo: Anniversary was launched, nobody has been able to return to the original edition of WoW cherished by so many since The Burning Crusade expansion was released in 2007.
With the new World of Warcraft classic server announcement comes the promise of a return to what many fans of the game, including myself, would call its heyday. Blizzard have promised to be as true to the original game as possible, which means taking gamers back — for better or worse — to a fifteen-year-old title.
Imagine your favourite food disappeared from the planet for over a decade, and suddenly returned. This is what World of Warcraft classic servers are like. Honestly, I can’t wait to chow down, but will it taste as good as I remember?
What Do We Know About World of Warcraft Classic Servers?
Currently, very little. The announcement came with a very small subset of details. So little, in fact, that the better question would probably be: what don’t we know about World of Warcraft classic servers?
What we do know is that they’ll be supported until the day World of Warcraft dies. Much like servers for Warcraft 3 are still operating decades later, Blizzard intend to continue allowing dedicated players to enjoy their favourite game for years to come, which emphasises the fact that this isn’t some short-term gimmick to entice more people back to the franchise — it’s more of a long-term gimmick! We also know that they’ll be hiring a new team of developers for the launch, as to not skimp on content for the upcoming World of Warcraft expansion Battle for Azeroth.
So what don’t we know? We don’t know the release date of World of Warcraft classic servers, nor what build of the game they’ll use, as it had numerous incarnations over its 3-year run. We also don’t know how people will pay for the service, and whether it’ll be a complete rebirth of the original or if any newer mechanics will sneak their way into the end product.
Given the fan response though, we expect to see a lot more details emerge very soon. With so many people touting returns to the game just to enjoy the classic World of Warcraft experience, we’re pretty sure Blizzard will want to kick this game’s development into high-gear.
Four Reasons to Care About Classic World of Warcraft Servers
If my enthusiasm for the long-lost title wasn’t enough to go on, there are plenty of other arguments that should get you excited for the return of this retro-MMO gem. There’s a reason World of Warcraft is the most famous and well-regarded MMORPG game on the planet, and it all started with the release of the classic game. But, WoW fan or not, why should you care about Blizzard’s big announcement?
1) It’s the Godfather of the Modern MMO
World of Warcraft did not invent the wheel, but it definitely remodelled it.
Before its rise to prominence, the MMO was certainly alive and kicking. Yet Blizzard took the genre turned it on its head, producing something that would influence most all future titles for years to come. You can see the inspiration of World of Warcraft in many of your favourite MMOs. Whether it’s the acquisition of epic items, running instances and raids, using talent trees or collecting tiered gear sets, World of Warcraft was the platform from which all these MMO standards grew.
Fans of the MMORPG genre specifically shouldn’t miss the opportunity to revisit the game that started it all. And, while they’ve been previously unable to, the rebirth of World of Warcraft classic gives everyone a chance to get in on the ground floor of one of the most popular gaming platforms in the world.
2) The Beauty in World of Warcraft Classic’ Simplicity
Name the best Call of Duty title. It’s Call of Duty 4. Now try Halo. It’s Halo 3.
What do these have in common? They’ve both been followed by a myriad of other, more advanced and complex titles, none of which captured the beauty in the simplicity of their predecessors. That’s exactly what World of Warcraft classic is. It’s definitely not as expansive or as diverse as the newer expansions, but it doesn’t need to be. It lacks a lot of the features sure, but it makes up for it in its core gameplay experience. When you start to add layer upon layer over the foundations of something, you start to lose something. Those who’ve enjoyed newer iterations of the game, or other MMOs such as Elder Scrolls: Online or the Destiny series, should seriously consider getting onboard with the return of World of Warcraft classic. For the best, bare-bones MMO experience, you can’t beat classic WoW.
3) Slow-Burn Game That Offers True Rewards
A complaint of many games these days are that they are built for the casual market, that they hold your hand and pretty much ensure everyone can access and achieve the best results. This is also true of the current World of Warcraft franchise, and most MMOs you’ll find in the mainstream market. This cannot be said, though, for classic WoW.
The title was a challenge. It was a slowburn that took forever to conquer and even longer to master. Achieving anything in this game was a true accomplishment, something that many gamers took pride in. Hitting level cap in most MMOs now is nothing, just a portal to end-game content. Hitting max level in pre-2007 World of Warcraft was a huge achievement that took serious dedication.
The game was punishing, too. Once you knew what you were doing, you could pull off some pretty spectacular feats, but the learning curve was steep. Gamers looking for true satisfaction from their titles, those tired of meaningless achievements, will find a new favourite game in World of Warcraft classic. There was nothing quite like original WoW when it came to pure satisfaction; you really did get out what you put in.
4) The Ultimate Gaming Community Experience
Nowadays, while gaming seems to be more focused on connectivity than ever before, it’s actually a far more isolating experience. Yes, most titles require an online connection to even play, but they also ensure that you can pretty much do anything without the help of others, so solo players don’t have to interact with others to succeed — or if they do, it’s fleeting. For some, this is a huge bonus, but for those who enjoy the community aspect of gaming, its slow demise is not something to be taken lightly.
The classic edition of World of Warcraft though, was all about community. Many of the challenges and quests in the game required community to complete. The slow nature of the game also made building friendships much easier, as you’d spend long periods of time with other players, not simply jumping in and out of groups every 10 minutes. Players who love being part of something bigger will find World of Warcraft classic an unbeatable experience when it comes to immersing themselves in a gaming community.
This article was brought to you by James from Two Honest Guys! We’re kinda like the team over here at Respawning, but we lack the same keen focus, so also branched out into movies, TV and tech as well — Because we’re greedy like that.