What is WoW Classic? Let me start with a quote from the official release of Classic that answers precisely this question (emphasis mine):
World of Warcraft Classic is a faithful recreation of the original WoW experience, as it was in 2006. Everything about the game—from combat mechanics and talent trees, to character models and zone layouts—has been restored to realize a truly authentic experience
However, this definition of WoW Classic is, sadly, no longer true. Over the last year this philosophy of authenticity has gone out the window in favor of “quality of life improvements” and other changes. What was once a #NoChanges version of the game is now well on its way to #AllChanges.
When Classic came out you could tell the developers were enthusiastic with building an authentic experience, going so far as to introducing the 400ms spell batching and comparing everything to their inner 1.12 reference client. They had constant communication with the WoW Classic community to look into bugs and correct things that were not faithful to the original. They even had a long Q&A where they gave thorough answers and reiterated how careful they were being with any possible change, so as to not affect the original playing experience in any meaningful way.
The result was extraordinary! The game felt exactly as I remember it and I loved every minute of it for the almost 2 years it lasted. When they were asked, in the Q&A linked above, what does “success” look like for Classic WoW to the dev team, they responded:
“Success” for us is that players enjoy the game! We hope that those who played back in the day are overcome with nostalgia, great memories, and reconnect with old friends. We hope that new players get to experience this iconic time in MMO history and experience the world with new friends.
To me, they achieved that success spot on. I played my Paladin with the same group of friends I used to play vanilla with and had a blast. The dev team did an excellent job and I’m very happy I was able to experience it completely.
As great as it was, all good things for some reason must come to an end. This wonderful and authentic playing experience started changing drastically as we got closer to the release of TBCC. In the form of Patch 1.13.7 came the removal of the the 400ms spell batching, which permanently broke many aspects of a Paladin’s fighting mechanics such as Reckoning, among other things, and the introduction of a brand new item: the Chronoboon Displacer. This new item, meant to stop people from logging out to save buffs, further aided in the cementing and encouragement of the World Buff meta to help people selectively bypass almost any raid boss mechanics.
Over the course of the next year we would only see an even bigger avalanche of changes. Some examples include:
- TBCC-style dispel/cleanse resistance
- Retail-style auto dismount
- The completely game-breaking no patch notes 3.14 Patch when they switched Classic to the Retail client. This broke almost every single add-on and introduced an immense amount of new bugs many of which will quite simply never be fixed and are the new normal. Bugs still in game months later cover animations, sounds, graphics, quests, raid boss mechanics and spells/fighting mechanics.
- Many SoM changes are being added to Classic Era as well on almost every new patch.
- The addition of a brand new creature model and warlock pet the Incubus.
- UI changes.
One would think some of these changes don’t make a big impact on game feel on their own, but all of them put together definitely do. Suddenly you’re playing a game that with each patch mimics Retail more and more closely.
It’s even worse when most of these changes come unannounced, as there has never been an official announcement from Blizzard stating that the original Classic would be continually incorporating all these changes and would abandon and dismantle its original authenticity principle. I would appreciate if they finally do make it official, so as to not leave any doubt or misplaced hopes about the direction of Classic.
When trying to have Blizzard address these plethora of changes and/or bugs to Classic, now Classic Era, all we get is to be put on /ignore. They won’t even respond to a Community Council member’s request (thanks for trying Sixxfury).
What has become undoubtedly clear is that Classic will forever keep adopting changes whether it be from Retail, TBCC/WOTLK or every SoM season, and there is no going back. If you take a quick look at the Forums over the span of WoW Classic up to now you will see the exact same complaints of people from back in 2007 and Blizzard following the same pattern of caving in to all the demands from these very vocal Retail requests, little by little shifting from the original experience and taking away the magic that it had. Taking away the authenticity that originally attracted players to private servers and in turn made WoW Classic happen.
The truth is, as much as I hate to say it, most people approve of these changes. Most people don’t want Classic. They want Retail with Classic content. The people that inspired WoW Classic, those that wanted a completely authentic experience, ended up being only a minority of the total WoW Classic player demographic. I would not be surprised if next we see dual specs, LFG tools, reduced XP in addition to whatever mountain of changes WOTLK will bring that get applied to Classic.
We have come full circle. We’ve had the complete Blizzard experience of having them build an amazing game and then degrade it, via bugs and “improvements”, into something very different even when the game was not supposed to change (Era). I guess this is what they really meant when they wanted to give us an “authentic” experience. Well they sure got it right, because I feel the same disappointment as I did back then when I realized many of the reasons why I liked the game so much were no longer there.
Welcome to Classic Retail.