W.O.W. Classic is still perfect

Announced in 2001 and released in 2004, “World of Warcraft” hit stores as a massive multiplayer online game, or MMO, to build upon the largely successful Warcraft franchise. It blew up, and I doubt that even Blizzard Entertainment was anticipating the raging success it would experience over the next decade. Lasting 15 years and producing seven expansions so far, World of Warcraft is a game I still greatly enjoy, as do millions of players around the globe.

To celebrate the 15th anniversary of WoW, Blizzard announced a re-release of the game that dominated the MMO battleground. What they called “Classic WoW” was the unchanged version of the game that launched in 2004. Reasonably, people were suspicious. Without any changes made over time, would people really enjoy a game as fundamentally broken as WoW was in its infancy? People on the other side of the spectrum existed, too, claiming that this was the game they fell in love with that got them into the franchise as a whole.

The release of Classic WoW was incredible. So many people were trying to log on at once that Blizzard had to increase the server capacity twice, and people were still sitting in five-hour queues. Blizzard eventually conceded and made even more servers for people from the popular servers to transfer to. This grabbed the attention of some nefarious person who decided to spend a weekend keeping the servers down. Everyone’s attention was on WoW Classic, and everyone wanted to be a part of it. That begs the question of why a 15-year old game would pick up so much steam in an era where new games are coming out at a ridiculous pace.

As someone who has played WoW for roughly 12 years now, I hopped on the bandwagon. I picked a realm seemingly at random, created a human warrior, found a guild and have been playing daily since launch. The charm that the optimists were talking about, the game that people fell in love with 15 years ago, is so very real. The world is immense, and the sights to see while you travel to your destinations consistently make you feel like you’re a part of something bigger. The PvP community is very much alive and well, allowing the most unique social experience I’ve seen across all of gaming. Every quest takes you deeper and deeper into this fantasy world with seemingly no end.

That’s not to say WoW Classic is perfect. The existing version of WoW has had 15 years of tuning to look cleaner and play easier than Classic does. That’s what WoW Classic’s fatal flaw is: being abnormally difficult. It may not seem like it now, but the original WoW left virtually no room for error, and while most games have some level of a difficulty curve to them, WoW is really good at throwing you into the deep end from minute one. For people who don’t think they want to spend the time overcoming that challenge, the appeal could be lost on them.

For me and many others, WoW Classic is nostalgic. For other newcomers, it’s a chance to experience what they couldn’t 15 years ago. I think Blizzard has reminded everyone why WoW has the cultural impact that it does, and people are already speculating on what exactly Blizzard plans to do with this game going forward. I personally am pulling for a break off in new expansions, allowing all the positive improvements they have made to the game without the unintended nuisances throughout years of changes.