The beta for World of Warcraft Classic is here, and with it everything old is new again. My invite to the beta caught me off guard – truthfully I had no real interest in retreading a path I walked over 15 years ago – but having been offered some exclusive access to a small scale beta I figured this was my best chance to try it in a controlled environment.
So I installed the client, and remade my first ever WoW character. A Night Elf warrior, named Midknite. Misspelt name and all, he was created exactly as he had appeared 15+ years ago. I figure if I am embarking on a journey from my past, I might as well do it as authentically as possible – even as I enviously noticed that the name Midnight was available, I felt I owed it to myself to keep it super OG.
Gedda load o’ dis guy
So I entered the world, and I felt a little pluck of nostalgia as the narrator’s voice explained how the Night Elves lost their immortality. The dated visuals reminded me how impressed I was when I first saw them all those years ago. Eventually the cut scene ended, and I was at the helm of my green-haired, purple-skinned goober with a goofy name.
…17 hours later, I am fast tracking my way to level 20. Blood, sweat and tears have dragged me to the lofty level of 17 – and OH BOY do I have some shocking nostalgia beats to work though. There’s been wonder, there’s been swearing, and now here are five things I forgot I hated in Vanilla World of Warcraft.
Miss. Parry. Dodge. Your skill in One-Handed Swords increased to 4.
…I completely forgot these existed – such a basic feature in ye olde WoW, the need to make sure you were not only TRAINED, but LEVELLED in the martial arts of ‘hitting thing with blunt/bladed object’ was such a standard practice. For those that aren’t aware of how this feature works, imagine your modern WoW Tradeskills. You have a bar of 1/300, and each time your swing your weapon you contribute to this ‘Skill’. The lower your skill, the higher the chance your enemy may dodge your strike, parry it or even just have you miss entirely. And when does this mostly occur? When you loot a weapon that is different from your own (say, picking up a mace after you have used a sword for a long time) and excitedly charge into your next quarry to cave their skull in.
…Only the skull stays perfectly intact, because you forgot that you haven’t levelled your mace skill in ages, you sold your old sword for cash and now you can’t hit them worth a damn. Welp, better go find some low level deer to quietly pummel and get that dang skill level up.
Vague Quests Descriptions + No Quest Indicators
Go to the place and retrieve the thing!
I am sure people will slam me for this, but I need to clarify – some quests are fine. When the text in game says ‘PLEASE ADVENTURER, HEAD WEST TO THE CAVERN OF SPIDERS AND COLLECT 8 SPIDER LEGS’ you have no issue. You don’t need a giant waypoint arrow, or a minimap icon – you have a minimap compass and a heading right off the bat. It’s when a quest says ‘TAKE THIS NOTE TO NOBBY DOLDRUMS IN STORMWIND CITY’ and no further information, you have effectively been told to find a needle in a haystack. In the old days, resources like the Thottbot website would scrape info and report where particular NPCs were located, such as ol’ Nobby, but having to resort to third party resources kind of speaks volumes as to the quest design. Mankrik’s wife, anyone?
GODDAMN TIMED QUESTS
1 minute 21 seconds remaining.
I could write a novel explaining the unbridled fury these quests gave me. I completely forgot that they even existed – I casually accepted a quest to deliver a poison antidote to my mate Iverron, and BAM! A timer appeared. My blood ran cold and I started to sweat. I was instantly transported back to my first ever WoW levelling experience, where I had failed this quest twice.
Truthfully, the timer was generous enough – the issue came from the spiders that would attack you on the way, presenting an agonising choice. Do you try and outrun them to save time? Stand and fight? Obviously I tried both of these options once…and failed twice.
Timed quests? Damn them to the fiery pits of Hell from whence they came.
Quest Items Sitting In Your Bags
Sure do enjoy having an entire bag of body parts…
Pick up half a dozen quests. Four of them want you to GET THING or TAKE THING TO PLACE. These THINGS sit in your bag, taking up a valuable slot. It’s bad enough that NPCs use you as an errand boy, but forcing you to meticulously choose what you will and won’t be looting from defeated foes is a rough one – especially when your low level experience involves having sweet fuck all bag space.
Which brings me to item 5…
No hoarding allowed apparently…
As above, good God almighty – BAG SPACE. I forgot just how little you had when you first start. In your first couple of quests, you’d be lucky to loot enough to really fill out your initial backpack – but as you progress to higher level mobs (dropping gear) and humanoids (dropping cloth) suddenly you are in a different conundrum. Let me paint the hypothetical.
You, gallant adventurer, have been tasked with leaving this town and journeying to the next. You must deliver a letter to the mayor of that town, as well as deliver a crate of horse shoes to the blacksmith. One slot for the letter, one for the horse shoes.
For your perilous journey, you have healing potions, bandages, two stacks of food to restore your health, some herbs to make more potions (as well as glass vials) and a sword that you are unable to use yet (as you are not yet high enough level). Conservatively, this would have you looking at eight more slots of items in your bag.
Your standard backpack, the one you start the game with, has 16 slots. Depending on materials gathered and quest items, the above is already taking up 10–11 slots – if you are a hunter, you need to carry ammo, which can be multiple slots – so generally it’s a tight squeeze. This means that items that drop on your journey must all fight for those last few slots as you agonisingly weigh up what you need most, vendor trash or trade goods.
Additional bags can drop from low level enemies, offering a godly additional six bag slots, but this is not a guaranteed thing. In my time venturing around Teldrassil (The Night Elf starting zone) there were calls in the general chat from people begging for any spare bags a person may have found – I was fortunate enough to find TWO additional bags, but I clutched them firmly to my chest, my precious slotssss.
So where do I stand initially on the merit of WoW classic? I mean obviously I have just written an article titled 5 things I hate about it but the truth is, there is a certain charm to some of these details. Unlike many dated games, that just feel offensively old and next to unplayable, WoW classic captures a brutal aspect of game design before years of quality of life/accessibility input was added to the game. Features of convenience are missing in swathes, and in some ways it’s promoting a different kind of gameplay.
Who knows, maybe my next article on the subject will be titled ‘5 things I love about WoW classic.’