WoW classic was announced and I am excited. The dwarf hunter at the end of the trailer was a “whoa, dreams do come true after all” moment. But I’m also the same Goblin, always suspecting something nasty coming. So no, I won’t jump on it or hype it until I see clear specifications. This can and – knowing the game industry – likely will go wrong.
How? By Blizzard assuming that players long for Vanilla content. It is demonstrably not true, Vanilla content was so underused that Blizzard decided to rework it in Cataclysm. It was great in 2006, but no one cared for it in 2010. I doubt if anyone does in 2017. It’s not the low poly models, not the colors of Desolace (bleh) or the “kill 10 wolves”, then “kill 10 larger wolves”, then “kill the great bad wolf you killed 3 times already while killing the previous wolves” quest system that made WoW a huge hit. These are all outdated and I won’t miss them. Every expansion content was better than the previous.
It was the Vanilla ruleset. They might didn’t even think of them as “ruleset”, they just came as natural, but they were perfect.
- Skill matter: if you mess up CC, pull too many mobs or simply suck, you die
- Gear/levels matters: if you don’t have enough stats, no amount of skill gets you a dead Patchwerk
- You get gear and levels by completing tasks. Not by getting welfare from devs for logging in, or buy in the shop
- Everyone who has the same rewards completed the same tasks. No one got shortcuts
- Lot of content wasn’t defeatable by morons. Much was out of reach for baddies. Some content could be conquered by the best of the best
These implicitly made WoW competitive. You could make an official topchart of character progression. Some third parties created raiding and gear toplists. But for the ordinary people it appeared as competing with the people they knew. The people they saw at the AH. Those who were better were seen better, were wanted by better groups and could do more.
Current WoW is not competitive. You can achieve anything by logging in. Maybe not as fast as others. But everything is available to you just by waiting. If they implement this ruleset on Classic content, that will be a flop. If they bring back the old ruleset, no compromises, no catchups, no welfare gear, no boosted skills that allow 1-button characters clear anything, Classic will be the a huge hit. There is a whole generation who are fed up with P2W and “social gaming” and “accessibility” and “patented matchmaking”. A whole generation that wants real, competitive games and get none.
I have my suspicions. Even if they release Classic right, I’m afraid they will cave in when the “oh shiny” players start to quit because they can’t kill a monster at their level. Or when they are booted from their RFC group. When the player count drops after the initial spike. Instead of just sticking to the vision and waiting for the core audience finding them, they’ll just cave in and nerf. I hope they understand that the hardcore MMO playerbase were lied to so many times, that no amount of cool trailers can make them believe. Only if they see – only if I see – that the game stick to the competitive ruleset even when inconvenient will this group play again. Then the player count will slowly rise and will keep rising forever, just like it would have if the WotLK abomination doesn’t kill it.
I’m hoping, but I’m not expecting. I won’t play at the start. I will wait at least 6 months before I give Classic a chance. But if it sticks to the ruleset, it’ll be my retirement game, the one game I play forever with no other games taken seriously.