WoW: Classic brings back the original great journey

  • World of Warcraft: Classic — and vanilla WoW in general — is a divisive product. Some veterans will feel like they spent enough time in that nightmarish, original version of Azeroth back in the day, while others long to go back. Some new players may approach it and wonder how it was ever popular; others will latch on right away. It won’t be a Gold in WoW Classic product for everyone.

    No matter who you are, it’s hard to sit down and load up the Classic demo without feeling some grand sense of scale wash over you. World of Warcraft: Classic takes the famous MMO back to its roots, before any expansions were released. It’s the version of the game from 2004, and it’s still absolutely massive — even by today’s standards. As you wander the plains of the Barrens or the grassy hills of Westfall, it’s hard not to see the appeal of hunting down one more stupid NPC for a quest.

    But it’s often not the quests that are tantalizing; it’s the journey in between them. Without any kind of direction, you’re forced to read and wander your way to your objectives and back. Even if you know where you’re going, the scope of the world around you feels vast and beautiful, despite the painfully low resolution.

    That scope and the restricted style of play creates a grander journey. In the years since World of Warcraft first launched, getting around its massive world has gotten easier. But in exchange for convenience, we leave some of the original adventure behind ... even if there are parts of that adventure we dread returning to.

    “[I’m not looking forward to] playing my Shaman, coming off level 20, getting the quest to get my water totem before I can keep learning a number of my abilities,” said Ion Hazzikostas, the game’s director, when we spoke to him at BlizzCon about his own anxiety toward returning to the world of vanilla WoW, “then having to go across the other continent halfway through a zone that I’ve never been to, just to get this one item so that I can actually learn my next spell that my trainer has to teach me.

    But Hazzikostas was grinning the entire time we spoke about his old memories. For as much as he dreads going back to the Eastern Kingdoms to get his totem, his nostalgic fondness has him excited for it as well.Regardless of how annoying a giant journey around Azeroth can be back in Classic, it remains one of the game’s major selling points. In Classic, you can’t fly and your mounts are slow — if you ever get one. You take the giant world one step at a time, dirtying your metaphorical boots along the dozens of zones.

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