24

Portents

September 4, 2019 by Tim

I have zero interest in WoW Classic; I played it the first time around, and that was plenty.

But reviving a retro version of the game and (I assume, due to the surprising popularity) working through the expansions at some point, similar to Everquest’s Progession servers, raises some very interesting questions. While normally you play an MMO and you have no idea what’s around the next corner, Classic is the opposite; you know exactly what’s coming.

We have a pretty clear roadmap for the route WoW takes with all of its various patches and balance changes over the years, and while I believe every class has, at some point, been really strong, I can’t think of a single period of time where they were all balanced. So no matter what class you play, at some point you’re OP, and at some point you’re useless.

(And I will add that just about nobody can agree when those times are; because it is a time-honored tradition in WoW to declare your class “broken” and other classes “OP”.)

In some cases, you could be playing a character in WoW Classic (like 2hand Enhancement Shaman) knowing full well that your spec is doomed; that it will not exist as a viable option in the future. I think it’s an amusing sort of existential quandary, like being cursed with the knowledge of the exact date of your own death.

Do you play around that information? Do you play a weak class in Classic, like Prot Pally, knowing that it’s an investment into something more viable/powerful down the road? Or do you go for whatever’s overpowered at the moment, living it to its fullest since you know its exact shelf life, and simply pretend that winter isn’t coming?


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Zaldrak
Zaldrak
2 years ago

Uhm, you know there’s no reason to not play the best build because you can just respec once your build becomes obsolete, right? Even if you geared in a certain way to complement your spec, all of your gear becomes completely obsolete in the new expansion anyway.

bsigil
bsigil
2 years ago
Reply to  Tim

Speaking as someone who played an enhancement shaman in vanilla, nobody wanted you in their groups anyway. At least from my experience. I got kicked out of SO MANY groups because everyone assumed that because I was a shaman that I was specced restoration.

Zanquis
Zanquis
2 years ago
Reply to  Tim

Shamans I have loved and hated it. At one time, I felt it was supreme. If I wanted to be a caster, I would go all Emperor on them and spam lightning and I be the top ranged damage. If I wanted to go melee, I would dual wield, and with all the bonuses that I could stack to attack power and critical hits my damage would easily surpass the rogues. And I required no support as I generated mana and health non-stop. Wanted to be a healer? Chain heal was super effective, heal the main and anyone that needed… Read more »

Boomchickenpop
Boomchickenpop
2 years ago
Reply to  Tim

Each spec now plays so differently that telling say an Enh to play different is like giving an archer a sword and saying go kill that enemy army. Sure maybe they can..but its not likely.So glad for the most part I main tank and have stayed that way. Only time I DPS is when guildies and I need keys done since the only people that have stayed around for ages are us tank and healers lol.

deekeetr
deekeetr
2 years ago

This comic looks like it deserves its own trip to the therapist. lol

MRD
MRD
2 years ago

But maybe, just maybe they’ll actually balance all the clas– ha, ha, no.

ArdentSlacker
ArdentSlacker
2 years ago
Reply to  MRD

Couldn’t get any farther with a straight face, eh? 😀

Cathfaern
Cathfaern
2 years ago

As far as I know the current plan is to leave classic as it is, sort of like when they restore an old castle and let tourist visit it. So they want to preserve it how it is. That’s why it started from the latest patch and not growing through all of the classic patches (except for what dungeons and raids are open). So I think if they make latest expansion “classic” too, those will be separate servers.

melchar
melchar
2 years ago
Reply to  Tim

Based on what I’ve read, the plans for the future are servers that offers the later content – and ‘free server transfers’ for characters moving forward to that content

Merendel
Merendel
2 years ago
Reply to  Tim

I would think once the nostalgia spike tapers off keep a few servers that are forever locked at the end of specific expansions for those that really like that content and then launch new progression style servers periodically. I agree pure vanilla will probably not need 50+ servers several years down the line once folks get tired but i suspect there will always be enough for one server that really loves a specific expansion.

Daniel
2 years ago
Reply to  Tim

Blizzard has been doing a better job of listening to their community lately. I guess the subscription dip that WoW took every expansion since Cataclysm has knocked them off their high horse. With that said, the community is being more vocal about creating separate TBC and WOTLK servers instead of progressing current Classic servers. In theory it should work, because they’ve said a few times before that a “Medium” pop Classic realm is “a lot” more crowded than any “Full” pop realms were back in 2006. Considering some realms are far and above “Medium” pop these days, I think they… Read more »

Jortalus
Jortalus
2 years ago
Reply to  Tim

The problem with advancing the server to TBC is that a lot of people never wanted to move on to TBC to begin with. It was a forced upgrade, and those forced upgrades over time are why people wanted Classic in the first place. Upgrading to TBC by force (instead of opening separate servers) would just be creating the exact same problem all over again.

Me, and many others like me, never want Classic to change from being Classic. TBC must be separate, or else it shouldn’t exist at all.

Jortalus
Jortalus
2 years ago
Reply to  Tim

Classic “died” over 12 years ago when the burning crusade launched. I’d rather have an inactive server with the version of the game I love most, instead of having to go through the slow, agonizing destruction of WoW all over again with a lot of people sinking on the ship with me.

If/when burning crusade servers come out, they should be kept separate from classic in the same way classic is kept separate from the modern version.

Jortalus
Jortalus
2 years ago
Reply to  Tim

Exactly. As soon as you “upgrade” Classic into something else, the demand to bring Classic back will start all over again. One needs only to look at the private server community for proof that people will play Classic long-term. If “new” content is mandatory, it should only ever be on separate servers (with a character copy function for existing Classic characters). We’ve already had the experience of what Classic will ultimately “evolve” into. We don’t want it to “evolve” back into a game we don’t enjoy anymore. Even if Classic never changes, ever, at least it’s the game I’ve always… Read more »

Tony
Tony
2 years ago
Reply to  Jortalus

But in this case, progress and evolution absolutely were good things. I will always appreciate what classic was and it got me into a game that I played pretty seriously through the next 2-3 expansions, and casually until now. But it’s a 15 year old game and feels every minute of it when you go back and play it now. I guess I just never had the rose colored glasses for classic. It was painful and monotonous at moments. Most of what made it enjoyable were the people that I played with, not the actual game itself. About the only… Read more »

fonglet
fonglet
2 years ago
Reply to  Tim

Blizzard said they’d see about adding new content depending on what the players want when it comes to that. Meaning it’s kind of up in the air at the moment the direction they will go. Whether they make some complete new content or something else.

I can’t see them just following the expansion plan step for step the exact same thing they did before. That would be a terrible business approach.

Jester David
2 years ago
Reply to  Tim

Does it NEED a long shelf life? The development cost was likely cheap, and the server costs are tied into the existing game. It might have a limited appeal at a time, but subscribers can come and go.
Plus, the majority of players are “casuals”. Getting to 60 will take months or even a year.

Tony
Tony
2 years ago
Reply to  Cathfaern

Blizzard officially commented that they would roll out content patches through the end of what was classic, and then relaunch BC if there was interest. They did comment that they could potentially do things differently this time around. But changing classic servers to BC servers is definitely an option on the table.

Bwauder
Bwauder
2 years ago

Runescape did exactly this a good number of years ago.
While a lot of the community merely sampled or didn’t want to play the old school servers, the ones that “started again” and maintained their characters found that the updates and progression of the new-old servers were completely different, and in many ways very rewarding experiences to the historical progression they “should” have followed.
Don’t assume that just because they are rebooting an older version of WoW it will progress or end up exactly the same way it did last time.

Solokov
Solokov
2 years ago
Reply to  Bwauder

As if Blizz-acti is going to follow the successful model in this.

Invus
Invus
2 years ago
Reply to  Tim

At that point, you can pull the “who knows if they’ll get balance right” card for any game with updates.

Felaeris
Felaeris
2 years ago
Reply to  Tim

I know it’s been a long, long time since Vanilla. But we also have to remember and contextualize the patches with Blizzard’s design philosophy from way back when. On the subject of balance and class balance: “The classes aren’t supposed to be balanced [against each other.]” While this does create rather gaping holes in certain talent trees, it also gave some classes distinction. You’ve hit the nail on the head. I’m sure many will roll classes just to exploit specific mechanics in ways they didn’t have the time/chance to do back in the day. Retribution Reckoning bombs anyone? Elemental Shamans… Read more »

leduk
leduk
2 years ago

I just play with friends, since bfa does not interrest us anymore, and I’m having fun, and it’s fun!

melchar
melchar
2 years ago
Reply to  leduk

And THAT is the true crime! The crime that Classic is more interesting & fun to play than BfA [aka ‘Breaking failed Artifacts’]

leduk
leduk
2 years ago
Reply to  melchar

true story, even if I would LOVE a wotlk classic (best expac to ME), i’m having a lot of fun, action house price are in SILVER, everyone is having fun everywhere, so yeah, it’s like a travel back to time (I even set a LAN with my old vanilla/tbc friends to play classic… remember me when I was 20…)

Urazz
Urazz
2 years ago
Reply to  leduk

yeah, I found WOTLK to be the best expansion. Other than resto druids being OP in PVP (they were incredibly mobile with HOTs and snare removal in the form of shapeshifting), I found that expansion to be incredibly well balanced. My guild had no issue letting people play various classes/specs in PVE.

leduk
leduk
2 years ago
Reply to  Urazz

you do forget s5/6 dk (with pal then with druid) but yeah agreed

Mnemnosyne
Mnemnosyne
2 years ago

Have they made any announcements about this being a progression thing? I thought it was going to be a Classic server, period, not like EQ’s progression ones where later stuff eventually unlocks, but where they return it to WoW Classic and leave it there.

Not that I’ve been paying that much attention, but that’s definitely the impression I’ve gotten from the things I have read.

Metus
Metus
2 years ago
Reply to  Mnemnosyne

Yes, it’s going to be a Classic server, so not a “progression” server. It only works through the Classic patches and keeps it at that. At least that was announced. Hopefully they don’t suddenly randomly change their minds or anything.

James Betts
James Betts
2 years ago
Reply to  Mnemnosyne

I was going to say this. Additionally if they change the things about the expansions that detracted from the sense of community – I am all for at least BC and WOTLK. (no flying, no LFG, etc)

Urazz
Urazz
2 years ago
Reply to  James Betts

To be fair to WOTLK, it was designed with flying in mind. They had alot of verticality in some of the zones.

leduk
leduk
2 years ago
Reply to  James Betts

flying is great, lfg is meh but hey, what is the problem with you guys? dont like it? dont use it!

Urazz
Urazz
2 years ago
Reply to  leduk

I like LFG because it allowed me to run dungeons on a daily basis without the hassle of finding a group. It’s a real pain in the butt as a dps to get a group without the group finder. Flying was definitely great, especially when zones were designed with it in mind but then Blizzard decided to start being dicks about it and limit it to a massive grind in Legion and BFA. I can understand preventing us from flying in the new expansion initially, but then when we hit the level cap, we should be able to fly after… Read more »

leduk
leduk
2 years ago
Reply to  Urazz

I can’t agree more

Deborah
2 years ago
Reply to  Mnemnosyne

Classic servers are supposed to be set at the final AQ patch and nothing further. It’s been a hell of a lot of work for Blizz to set this up as is, to placate a group of people who may or may not actually have played the game in vanilla, but are overcome for nostalgia for it nevertheless. Having played a holy priest since vanilla, nooooooo. Never touching this. I remember the “good old days” of Power Word Shield, one big spell, Shadow Word pain, and wand, wand, wand, wand, read my book, wand, re-up PWS, wand, wait for my… Read more »

ReaverRogue
ReaverRogue
2 years ago

Rolled a Rogue (surprising, I know, given the name) and am loving it. Rogues were absolute demons in Classic and it’s nice to be back! But even so, the malaise that WoW brings along after so long has begun to set in. The thing is that people who played vanilla back in the day now, for the most part, lead busy lives. I know I certainly do; girlfriend, flat, high-powered job to maintain… I don’t have the hours to dedicate each and every evening anymore that vanilla all but demanded to make even mediocre progress. I’ll keep playing for some… Read more »

MrPsio
MrPsio
2 years ago
Reply to  ReaverRogue

Rouges are overpowdered

Devilmore
Devilmore
2 years ago

That’s not quite how classic works though. Some content, like Darkmoon Fair, PVP System and Raids asie, the game exists at Patch 1.12 state. Additional items (and skill levels with AQ books) will be added with their respective raids, but there will be no class or item changes. All classes, skills and item stats exist at their 1.12 (final vanilla patch) state. This is also one of the reasons given for why the Ragnaroy/Onyixa first kills came so early. Classes are more powerful now than they were at original release. This also means that this is not a totally accurate… Read more »

Sanquin
Sanquin
2 years ago

There was a time where the classes were all VERY closed to being balanced. The end of TBC. There were still some tweaks that needed to be done, but overall every class/spec had a fairly equal shot at being viable both in pvp and pve. The problem is that 2h enh had become completely pointless, as dual wield was just plain stronger. And dual WF on your weapons was very fun in the beginning, but they nerfed that so quickly. And then the only real option you had was WF + FT for pve or WF + FB for pvp.… Read more »

Urazz
Urazz
2 years ago
Reply to  Sanquin

The balance of the end of TBC was pretty good in my opinion but I feel WOTLK had the best class balanc (other than resto druids in PVP). I saw all sorts of classes/specs doing any role pretty much and other than resto druids, PVP felt very balanced as well.

Twilight Faze
2 years ago

I legit don’t think about if the class is strong or weak. I just play because I think it’s fun. Nothing more. Let those other nerds worry about such trivial details. I haven’t opened up Classic yet, but I’m looking forward to it. Not sure how the expansion progression is gonna work (if they’ll keep to their formula of overwriting the story or do like FFXIV and open up the next story after completing to a certain point), but I’ll give it a couple weeks to see what the players say. Because “professional reviews” these days are anything but, imo… Read more »

Solokov
Solokov
2 years ago

Blizz hit Shaman with the nerf bat back in vanilla and iirc, it took til WOD to recover.

Ceric
Ceric
2 years ago

I actually hope this equals a new evolution of Classic. That what-if scenario where they decided to keep things more pure and decided to do things with the question of “How would this work if it was made at launch” Could be interesting.

Zokene
Zokene
2 years ago

Classic Will stay classic tho, they might make other servers for the likes of tbc and wotlk but for classic it Will stay classic

Leon
Leon
2 years ago

World of Waecraft is still alive?

Matthew
Matthew
2 years ago

I think they should get a new engine, allow players to keep their character names by pre-buying the game and just start new. From what i’ve read here and online, I think ‘classic WoW’ sounds silly. Don’t get me wrong, i’m sure people will buy into it and it will get it’s game play, but it sounds to me the WoW community is hungry for new and better gaming but in the WoW style. If you like to grind, then buy the new WoW, play with the latest in CG animation in a known format. I know that the die-hard… Read more »

Abigail
Abigail
2 years ago

As someone who started playing WoW a few months before Wrath came out, I do not get the appeal of Classic. Our guild has a lot of people into it, including my husband, and I can appreciate the nostalgia of it, especially for people who played from the beginning (or in beta). I am not one of those people, and what little time I have for gaming is spent on games I either do have nostalgia for or newer games.

Regardless, this made me chuckle – thanks for a great piece 🙂

Urazz
Urazz
2 years ago
Reply to  Abigail

Yeah, that’s why I’m not playing Classic. I played it when it originally came out and don’t feel the need to again when I have other games to play (FF14 as my current MMORPG).

The rAt
The rAt
2 years ago

I KNEW Old Nan was a zombie.

Also, this comic makes me wonder if halfway through the the final expansion, the Lich King is going to get one-hit KO’d by a random halfling rogue.

Urazz
Urazz
2 years ago

Yeah, I didn’t join in on WoW Classic either. I did it once and I don’t feel the need to do it again since I’m playing FF14 right now. On top of that, I don’t want to put in a subscription just to get into it because I don’t want Blizzard thinking that I like the current WoW and think that my subscription applies to that. On balance of the classes, I think things were mostly balanced in WOTLK in everything but PVP with resto druids being OP. When I played in PVP and arena, Any composition was fairly balanced… Read more »

Jester David
2 years ago

“I can’t think of a single period of time where they were all balanced.”

Well… yeah. Because perfect balance is impossible. There’s always going to be a “best” option. A best class. A best specialty in that class. A best build for that specialization.

Thinking about the future of Classic is odd. Will they do the expansions? Will the expansions be separate side servers that you copy your character into? Or will it just remain Vanilla until it’s not sustainable?

schnozzberries
schnozzberries
2 years ago

Personally have been loving classic. My wife got into wow WELL after vanilla and never really understood the hardship, or skill in some cases, required to play WoW in its early days. Now I get to watch her suffering as she forgets AOE loot isn’t a thing, or loot ninjas….

Ashi
Ashi
2 years ago
Reply to  schnozzberries

I can’t understand the appeal of saying “How does it FEEL to have your loot stolen like that?” If I were in that position, my reaction would be more “Why exactly did it take Blizzard as long as it did to get RID of that? It’s not skill, it’s infuriating. Thank GOD I don’t have to deal with it in retail!”

Merendel
Merendel
2 years ago

“it is a time-honored tradition in WoW to declare your class “broken” and other classes “OP”.”
I dont know, I remember my druid tank being downright awesome in TBC aside from the few bosses that absolutely required a shield tank to block that one special tank killing swing the boss does every 30 seconds. If they hadn’t tossed warriors that mechanics bone to keep them relevant my guild would have happily run 2 druid tanks that whole expansion. Feral was in a pretty good (almost OP) place back then.

Jason Doege
Jason Doege
2 years ago

Now, stay with me here, you can always just play without having a min-max obsession. Also, the way Blizzard did it, there isn’t really the progression we experienced 15 years ago. They pick a point in the progression (end of the expansion) and stay with it. So basically we have two years of static balancing followed by 2 years of whatever they pick for The Burning Crusade, not the endless churn of re-balancing. You can either play whatever is optimal for the role you want or you can play something sub-optimal. About that; the game seems so much easier than… Read more »

Admiral Casual
Admiral Casual
2 years ago

*laughs in FFXIV*

Urazz
Urazz
2 years ago
Reply to  Admiral Casual

Yeah, I’m playing FF14 and I’m loving it. So far, the only complaint I have about it is the transition campaign from the base game to the first expansion, Heavensward. Square said that they will be cutting down on all the BS grinding and traveling from point to point quests in the transition campaign (which is like 80% of it) so as to make leveling a lot better and smoother.

OfficerRickyRoss
OfficerRickyRoss
2 years ago

Ah the good ol’ days of 2H Shaman windfury. Doing Alterac Valley until my brain turned into mush for that Unstoppable Force. Though I was always elemental at heart so after seeing WF procs (especially when it crits)on it, it sat in stash as a reminder of the fun times.

Rapter
Rapter
2 years ago

Across different games I’ve played where there are “balance” issues, I usually feel the only way to balance different builds, is to not balance them. In my experience, the devs don’t seem know what balance actually is. Every balance patch doesn’t actually balance anything, it simply makes something else OP, while the “balanced” build becomes nigh useless. So I say, just leave it alone,

Kaitensatsuma
Kaitensatsuma
2 years ago

I feel like EQ Progression does it better because EQ was primarily a PvE game.

It all falls apart when you have to balance for PvP

Urazz
Urazz
2 years ago
Reply to  Kaitensatsuma

Either that or have separate stats for PVP. FF14 actually gives you a separate list of abilities to use and your stats are set and gear won’t affect it. I have played only a little bit of PVP in that game but it’s nice that you only need to worry about skill and strategy being a factor instead of gear.

BlackSeed_CH
BlackSeed_CH
2 years ago

Sniffed in for some hours. Played, what i still play today (since 15 years as main)… Affli WL I do enjoy classic, i like to see the “old” world again, without joining some private servers, i like how it teaches most of the “younger” gamers, the feeling of it. It wasnt that less complicated and easy thing you have today in wow. It was normal, to form grps for questing. I still play wow, cause i like the style, i like the art, the cutscenes, the story (since WC1 in 1994), Its one (IMHO) of the MMORPGS (besides EVE Online),… Read more »

Cad
Cad
2 years ago

This isn’t really relevant. The build is based on the last patch before The Burning Crusade expansion and as far as I’m aware it’s not going to change and progress. It just is what it is with all of it’s warts. Like having to mine 1 mineral deposit 3 times to get all the ore.

Bobby
Bobby
2 years ago

I think what interests me the most about classic is that I have had far more human interactions in it than I have had in retail in the past few years. I am a casual player.. usually only pop on for the summer months before work starts again. And every time I step into an area with a lot of people trying to kill the same thing, someone shoots me a group invite so we are not fighting against each other to complete our goals. As such I have made a few new acquaintances/friends. I have not had that experience… Read more »

ArdentSlacker
ArdentSlacker
2 years ago

I like when people can defy the expectations about a “broken” class. Neverwinter MMO, there’s a melee warrior, it is basically point blank AOE. Which is brilliant for dungeons with adds. Burns ’em off the tank, yanno? Considered a gimp class because, for DPS, it only shines if you have more than one thing to hit. Then it outperforms rogues. You want a mix, of course, but knowing what you class does and being able to position yourself for it… that’s real power. Still remember the best bad dungeon run I had in wow. Vanilla (or close to it) warlock…… Read more »

Jakk Frost
Jakk Frost
2 years ago

I know death knights were OP most of the time, but I never really had much problem with them in my mains during Lich King. I loved playing enhancement shaman with the 2-handed windfury proc, and many is the DK in battlegrounds that regretted death-gripping me into melee range.

When Blizzard nuked enh shaman not long after that, I gave mine up in disgust and rolled a combat rogue. Much to my surprise and delight, combat rogue was also able to shred DKs. Dismantle, wound poison, and killing spree usually meant a DK that had no idea wtf just happened.

leduk
leduk
2 years ago
Reply to  Jakk Frost

yeah but in a 2v2 (dk/hpal, then dk/protpal, then dk/rdrood) or 3v3 (dk/war/hpal) it was a totally different story

Pulse
Pulse
2 years ago

i have no interest in classic as is, may have started in BC but ive played enough of the vanilla content to understand what i missed. what i DO see is the potential for making the game better. they returned it to basically the original version. saw a couple articles talking about how things like taurens having larger hitboxs and gnomes having smaller boxes being left intact for authenticity, but they also fixed some hunter pets being basically worthless, a change that wouldnt come till much later. So if, lets face it when, they move to updating classic to BC… Read more »

twentylvliam
2 months ago

they nerfed my character big time in normal wow (since starter editions cant access classic) by removing pvp perk that allowed my spell that normally just keeps enemy in place to deal damage (it was actually huge amount of damage)… i miss it…