Diaries From Azeroth: We Only Said Goodbye With Words

I died a hundred times.

In the six hours that I have put into my Tauren druid over the past two days, I found myself in the same frame of mind going into WOW Classic as I did with Old School RuneScape many years ago: A lot of enthusiasm and confidence that this iteration will do just fine.

Money is far slower to come by, especially early on in the game. I think my retail characters would laugh at the idea that my level 9 druid takes a fair amount of time to scrap together a few silver to buy fishing training. I was actually overjoyed to fill up my bag on Venture Co mob equipment drops after fighting and dying to their mobs for half an hour only to come back and sell them for a cool three silver. Just had to sell one of my bandages and I had enough for the five silver cooking upgrade.

Another thing I saw plenty of during the opening days of the stress test was some real community interaction between players. Druids would cast buffs on other classes, you’d see people helping out and pulling extra mobs off of players, healing them during combat, and just generally answering questions in chat. There was plenty of trolling in chat, sure, but it was rather lighthearted and not so malicious as you’d see in other titles or maybe even in live itself if anyone talked in there.

As someone who started playing World of Warcraft back near the game’s launch, Classic isn’t so much hardcore as it is slower and more meticulous. Your health and mana pools don’t go as far, and enemies are better matched at your level and above, so you’re far less likely to pull more than one creature at a time and you’ll find yourself running out of mana or energy much faster. Mounts are a bigger achievement because of how expensive they are, the fact that you’ll be waiting until level 40 until you can acquire them, and the relatively lower speed of acquiring currency. Enemies drop quest items at a much lower rate, increasing the time you’ll need to spend farming areas with much lower spawn rates.

Everything designed around World of Warcraft Classic is built to be taken…slower. You buy your skills, you cycle your buffs, you level your weapon skills (remember those?), you read the quest text. Available quests don’t show up on the mini-map, NPCs for completed quests show up as dots and only once your draw near to them, and quest locations don’t show up on the map at all. Combat is slower, spells are slower, many of the abilities that you might know as being instant or nearly instant are not that way at all. Pulling in one equal level mob can be a deadly fight, two is almost guaranteed death. Mobs are far more likely to resist or block your attacks, and when you don’t have much mana to spare it can be deadly.

But as a result, the game feels more impactful. Leveling is a part of the experience, not just an inconvenience to get you to the end-game. Going into a group of level 9 mobs at level 8, then returning at level 9 to see how much better you fare is a treat. You won’t go from struggling to beating them with ease with just a level or two, but the fight gets easier. You have to cast one or two less spells, or spend less time running away from fights, or less time out of combat healing. You might have ranked up a spell or an ability in that time, or in my case started patching up my armor for some better defense.

How my life melds with World of Warcraft Classic will be interesting once the game goes live later this year. After all, the me of today is much different than the me of 2005 who had far less in terms of responsibility and time management structuring. I have no interest in gaining access to the beta or taking part in future stress tests as my time is far too precious to put hours into a character that will be erased within a few weeks. Still, for the six hours I played during the stress test, I felt like I entered a portal back into a simpler time in the MMO sphere where walking around and taking in the scenery was enjoyable and not just an inconvenience.

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