For a long time, the idea of World of Warcraft Classic has been met with many asking… why? Is it nostalgia? Is it a desire to recapture how we felt many years ago? To go back to when our lives were simpler and we had more gaming time? For a while, I thought it might be that, the nostalgia trip. But now I have been playing for many hours and it isn’t the nostalgia that keeps me heading back in… it is the change of pace.
Escaping the rat race
Currently, we are drowning in games and content. You don’t have to look far to find editorials or comments about how we have so many games and so much to do now that it can all just be too damn much. I suffer from this and it downright gives me anxiety that I am not playing enough of X game, or too much of Y game and not getting to Z. Everyone from the free to play games through to big AAA premium titles is drip-feeding us new content, some of it in expiring event form and while this means your favourite game or games are keeping you entertained, it also means the time budget required for the game goes up and up, with no time for something else.
World of Warcraft Classic has become an oasis for me in a world of event-based updates, Battle Passes, Seasons and other time-based cycles of doing things in games. Even without looking at other games except for Classic’s counterpart: modern or retail World of Warcraft, the change is quite stark: Say goodbye to the weekly mythic chest, the weekly quests, the daily emissary reward, the sometimes hourly world quests constantly refreshing and your mission table. All of this refreshing content definitely keeps us busy, but is it being busy for the sheer sake of it while we wait for other things or play the game for the reason we initially might have had: playing with friends or using up free time or exploring a new story and world?
Classic doesn’t have a map full of icons to run towards, a tracker of what to do next or ideas of what you could do. No achievements to go do, no calendar full of recurring events. It is just me and my quest log and a world I need to move around in to discover what to do. I have to slow down and read or ask someone in-game if I get stuck. I have to explore, rather than making a beeline straight for where the little thing is I was tasked with finding and returning.
Vanilla WoW was right difficult to conquer on your own. Enemies hit hard, pulling extra could result in a quick death and stopping to drink and eat could end abruptly thanks to a patrolling mob or a respawn in your immediate vicinity. When I first played WoW, it was a social thing. I logged in when my friend did, we quested together, helped each other out where we could and found dungeon groups. There was lots of time to talk during long runs to the next zone or quest, or while travelling back to a city to train. And not just talk about what you were doing, actually talk about life and how your friends are doing. I’m not saying that nobody does this anymore, but there definitely is less of it as there is always something vying for attention.
This conversation isn’t limited to my friends. Standing around waiting for a quest mob to spawn, forming a group so everyone gets credit for the kill, there is a lot of time to talk to people, to hear where they are from and at what point they climbed on the WoW train. Quests and tips are shared, spare bags are offered
I’m doing something similar in Classic now, adventuring with a friend and pretty much only doing big questing runs when we are both online. Not only does it make it much easier to kill enemies, but there is also someone there to chat with in the downtime between mobs every now and then. I have gone from a near-immortal Demon Hunter to someone who only wants to pull a single mob at a time, and after two or three kills I need some time to get my mana back. With two of us, we can handle three mobs, four in a pinch, so our chances of a bad pull killing us have reduced. It is a completely different pace, with more time spent looking around for items, and chests, or potential danger, and less time just hitting keys as quickly as possible to watch my DPS go as high as possible while thinking about the next world quest, the next achievement or milestone.
There is something soothing about changing pace, and not thinking of things in terms of metrics and some big picture. Every quest we do is progress, every level up means something new in the skill kit and while I remember doing a lot of this content many years ago, it isn’t so fresh that I have a perfect memory of it. It is like I get to enjoy that “new” MMO feeling, but with everything being pretty familiar. I know where to go to buy a mount and what level I will be able to get it, but I am also… pretty broke. Some levels I don’t even train all my new skills, because money is tight. Any treasure we find is precious, from a bag to a new weapon, everything is either used or sold off to start climbing towards the big pile of gold required to ride around instead of walking.
I used to play my single-player games until my friends got online and we would hop into WoW. Now I can do something pretty similar again, which gives me a hope of beating back the tide of games I have to play and want to play. I know I will never beat my pile of shame (retirement plan, more like) but at least I feel like I am making a dent in it again, instead of just doing the same things, again and again, to try to get an achievement mount or whatever. Or maybe just because it is there.