Since its launch on August 27th, World of Warcraft Classic has been smashing records everywhere including on Twitch. The viewership, player population and popularity of the game as a whole as risen again, thanks to Classic. But what about Classic has got everyone so pumped and hyped to play a 15 year old MMORPG again?
Nostalgia Is A Drug
The obvious answer is nostalgia. You can’t beat it, you can’t fight. In MMORPGs, we all have memories that are cherished – our first MMO, our first guild, the first time we experienced something, in some zone, or some raid. These memories over time creates a powerful longing to return to a time when the experience was pure. This is why older MMORPGs that create fresh start servers, or classic versions like World of Warcraft has done here will always be popular. On Classic right now, it’s hard not to pass by folks in chat without hearing about how the good old times have returned. Now it’s just a matter of seeing how far nostalgia itself can carry Classic forward to a long, populated life.
One of my favorite things about classic so far, is the difficulty, solo. Right from the tutorial onward, everything about modern MMO questing systems in respects to the way you’re spoon fed information about where to go and what to do, disappears. If you’re not reading quests texts and paying attention to detail, things can become a little confusing especially if you’ve never played WoW before and assuming you’re not looking up guides and tutorials on the internet. I’m not doing the last one of course, I think that’s the best way to play Classic, because it makes you come out of your shell like in my case, I’ve had to interact more with other players around me and that leads to point number two I’ll touch on later on.
The difficulty also encompasses the gameplay – yes it’s a dated game and that’s intentional. The combat’s slower, depending what you’re doing, you can’t pull more mobs at once like you would on the live version at around the same level, and all of that adds to this sense of danger, that yes, I could die very early on leveling my character if I’m not careful, or not managing my mana and pot use efficiently, and that’s somewhat exciting for a theme park MMORPG and what’s cool is that I felt that way so early on in Classic, and that’s missing from most modern MMORPGs, never mind the early levels, but in general and in large parts of the leveling experience. I’ve died a few times in Classic, and that actually made me happy because it teaches me to not make similar mistakes, and it sets a precedent of what to expect as you continue to level in harder areas with higher density of mobs.
It’s super populated right now across regions and realms, and while that may sound normal, anyone who’s playing on Classic at the moment will tell you, something’s different about this. There’s a different vibe in the air when it comes to the playerbase, and it’s not new but it’s certainly been missing from retail WoW and other modern MMORPG games today. It’s that closely knit MMORPG community feeling, where players rely on one another, interact more, and willingly or unwillingly help each other through the game’s content, that’s the key ingredient in all of this. This is what’s tugging at my nostalgia strings – not the Classic gameplay as I’ve never played it launch, but this – a community so in-tune with itself, the world and the adventures we’re sharing together. It’s positive, it’s infectious and it is what will keep players playing the content down the line.
Yes, there are negatives, yes there’s toxic here and there, but that’s being drowned out thanks to how awesome the community in general is. I’ve been helped by passer-by’s and folks just waiting at certain checkpoints to either group up for group quests or to just lend a hand, I’ve been given free stuff for no reason at all, and to return the favor and make myself feel a part of this, I’ve stood at Goldshire for quite a bit, throwing buffs to players coming to and fro, and it’s stuff like that which takes me way back to when I first started playing MMORPGs, when these huge shared online worlds felt alive not because of how much content or levels there is, but because of the playerbase that populates it and what they do.