World of Warcraft is still around and still holds millions of people in its clutch, but to claim it’s in its prime would be to lie. The days when some of us played WoW for sixteen hours a day are long gone, as is a good chunk of Blizzard’s subscription money.
Like any company, Blizzard wants to maintain full control of your wallet, so they’ve come up with something that might rekindle your interest. In August this year, they will be launching a reboot of World of Warcraft Classic (also known as Vanilla WoW) – that’s right, the very game that ruined so many lives in the best way.
We could talk for hours about the various features of the game back in the day, but the truth is that the most addictive aspect of it was always the community. That’s what kept people coming back and made so many kids drop out of school to play WoW – literally.
Let’s sit down by the imaginary hearth and reminisce on some of the things a typical WoW player had to deal with in 2004.
Living the life in Alterac Valley
Alterac Valley is a large, 40 vs 40 people PvP battleground that existed even back in the days of Classic WoW. It was also a second home to some people. Why? Because in Vanilla, a game of Alterac Valley could last for days.
The objective of the battleground, other than just fighting it out with players of the opposing faction, is and was to defeat the enemy NPCs and gain control of their base. We know this now, but no one really understood how it worked back in the early ’00s, which resulted in the same AV battles lasting for up to 5 days.
People either ignored the objective and just fought endlessly, or tried to complete the objective, but did it wrong. This resulted in the entire faction being wiped out and having to go again – still in that same battleground.
Oftentimes, players would join the battle, play for hours on end, go to bed, and then go right back to that very same battle.
Alterac Valley is coming back to WoW Classic, but – unfortunately – as everyone knows what to do now, we don’t expect it to be near as ridiculous as it was back in 2004.
Raiding with 40 of your best friends
If Alterac Valley sounds like a complete mess with its 40 vs 40 team makeup, you should’ve seen 40-man raids in Classic.
Raids are the ultimate PvE (player vs environment) experience in WoW and the pinnacle of end-game content. You and your guild-mates (or entirely random people in this day and age) have to fight your way through several bosses. However, these days raiding requires 20 people. Back in Vanilla, some raids required 40.
Think of it like this – that was back in the early 00s. Everyone had a poor excuse of a computer that they shared with their parents, siblings and grandma, a slow internet connection, and oftentimes – parents yelling at them to go to bed. The frame-rates were awful, as was trying to coordinate 40 people at a time to do something together without messing up.
Combine that with the fact that raids in Vanilla were generally harder than they are now, and you had an experience that was as addictive as it was traumatizing.
Raiding as a full-time job
Tied with the above is the fact that Classic raiders didn’t just raid once or twice a week. Raiding was almost a full-time job that required 8-hour shifts for many days in a row.
It wasn’t uncommon for players to dedicate their entire lives to the game. In fact, if you wanted to get anywhere, it was almost required. Each raid and each boss called for a different set of equipment, enchantments, and other incredibly tedious things. Teens that had no energy to do their math homework showcased the patience of a saint as they would spend weeks trying to get a single item.
Once you were all decked out in whatever the content required, you could experience the joy of explaining raid tactics for 20 minutes, only to have one of your teammates fail the moment the encounter begins. With 40 people in a group, the majority of them were bound to be terrible, which only made the experience all the more fun.
Like in the South Park episode that covered World of Warcraft, raiders often did little else than play and sleep. Some took it to the extreme and sadly died while playing – this has happened several times in Chinese internet cafes (remember those?).
Level 60? No problem, see you in 4 months
If you’ve played the current version of WoW, you probably barely remember the leveling process. Getting to max level is a breeze, and veteran players often consider it a nuisance because they’ve done it twenty times over.
Back in Vanilla, leveling up was an adventure on its own. Just finding the right place to complete your quest could take hours. Getting lost, dying, and quitting out of frustration was totally normal. Those that achieved level 60 and started raiding were revered by the poor shmucks that were forever stuck trying to complete that one quest that was just too hard.
The fun part was that this encouraged more community interaction. People actually spoke to each other (gasp!) and assisted in various tasks. These days, if you try to play an MMO, you’re more likely to hear about the things someone did with your mother rather than find help when you need it.
A nostalgic grind fest
The truth is, Vanilla WoW succeeded largely due to the novelty. Everything was new and exciting, and its competitors were left far behind for years. It also required intense dedication that you just don’t see in games anymore. As the generation of Classic WoW players grew up, Blizzard is going to face a whole new set of troubles.
WoW Classic may become little else than a nostalgic novelty that will tire people out after a few months – but we’re sure that some will get sucked right back into that hole they once managed to crawl out of.
If you were around playing WoW when it first came out, you’re now in your 30s or 40s and we hope you won’t divorce your wife just to raid for sixteen hours a day. However, if you end up raiding all day and night, remember: the guild always comes first. You can find a new wife, but your guild needs to kill Patchwerk today. Keep your priorities in check and enjoy forgetting that real life ever existed.
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