It all started back in Vanilla, I think even the beta briefly. Truth be told I wasn’t as into WoW then, to me the game seemed far to grindy (more so then I was interested in). Many folks actually forget that one of the ideas behind WoW was to be a sort of “casual gamer’s Everquest” (talk about a grindy game!). You see lots of people, at least the vocal ones, complaining about how bad WoW has gotten, how lame Cataclysm is, and go on to talk about the glory days of Classic (or TBC). Frankly it’s all nonsense, I hate to break it to most of these folks but it’s just nostalgia. You may remember it fondly, but that doesn’t mean it was actually great or better then the WoW we have today. Something a lot of these folks, at least those who were actually playing during Classic (more on that later), also forget to mention is how the game actually was:
Addons played for you, there was a time when addons could do a lot more for you. It might be an exaggeration of course, but not by much. You get the oddball from time to time that declares that any addons or ones like DBM/Bigwigs/DXE are cheating or lame or whatever but these folks would be shocked at the sort of addons that existed back during Classic (and in some cases TBC).
Raiding wasn’t just raiding. Today all you have to have when you walk into a raid dungeon is a flask and food (potentially elixirs for tanks). Bonus points if you have scrolls, or drums to fill in for no priest or no druid/pally. However back during Classic raiding entailed having to farm for multiple hours outside of raid times to gather buffs, mats, etc… Some of you might remember those crystal BOP buff things from Un’goro crater, I don’t know if they still exist after Cataclysm but for serious progression you’d have to farm that stuff up! And let’s not forget potions, flasks, etc… During much of Classic potions could be chugged, so for most of the overtuned (gear check) encounters you’d be chugging pots, whether as a tank or a healer, or a dps.
PvE Balance — there were some specs that simply didn’t work! These folks with those thick rose-colored glasses on often forget this too or don’t want to admit to it, but some specs were downright unplayable or pointless/worthless to bring to raids. Aside from the fact that Shamans and Paladins were faction specific (Horde and Alliance respectively) some classes were just not even worth bringing to raids — Warlocks for instance, in almost every way they were inferior to Mages. Granted you might stack Warlocks for a fight like Garr to banish adds, but is that really what you’d call viable? Right now during Cataclysm you hear complaints from the community when a spec is 10% below the top dps class! Frankly if you consider Classic that’s amazing that you could walk into Firelands as a Frost Mage and do fine DPS. Ask a Retribution Paladin how that worked out back in Classic (that is if you’re feeling cruel and want to see someone cry).
PvP Balance — This is, of course, a joke. Such balance didn’t exist at all and this is where I start to feel really cynical about the “Classic was better!” crowd. Truthfully all but a few specs were even usable in PvP. Rogues, Mages, Warlocks; and specific specs of those. Warlocks were mostly imbalanced because of fear, Mages were capable of putting out significant burst at times and/or CC’ing you for obscene amounts of time (on the plus side you do look really cute as a sheep), and Rogues… well… “You can’t do that while stunned.” Now, to be fair, these folks who declare Classic the best version of WoW ever and specific cite PvP as the reason might have played these classes or specs that did really well (read: were grossly imbalanced) so they may actually have a point here about the game being better. Personally I prefer the person I’m fighting to not just end up dead because I hit a couple buttons in a row!
PvP in general — I will admit that I miss AV a bit. I vaguely recall that battleground in all it’s glory, but in general most of my memories of Classic are dim, because frankly the game wasn’t that impressive back then (at least enough that I would remember anything). Anyway PvP in Classic is almost the definition of grind. Aside from the imbalances I mentioned earlier, the best gear generally came from Raiding, and those in raid gear mopped the floor with everyone in PvP. Grand Marshall was an insane thing to actually acquire as far as I’m aware that required months of pvp, literally almost nonstop battlegrounds. I seem to recall people getting together to play a character around-the-clock to accomplish this — similar to how folks team up for the Diablo II ladders and take turns leveling a character to 99. Regardless many folks may not like PvP today, but there aren’t many who would claim that the game is less balanced today then it was in Classic (unless they’re just being silly).
Going back to raiding breifly, something that stands out the most for me was C’Thun. Before Blizzard tweaked that encounter, it was not possible to down for months. I’m not talking about people being bad, I mean that C’Thun was literally impossible to defeat with the gear, skills, and damage possible for level 60 characters at the time. Yes, that was certainly the pinnacle of raiding don’t you agree? Wiping on a boss for months at a time before realizing that it was quite literally impossible to kill sounds like awesome fun to me. Frankly most of the fights are also simplistic in nature, nothing like some of the bosses from TBC, Wrath, or Cata. One could argue that the bosses in heroic 5-man dungeons today are far more difficult than AQ, MC, ZG or BWL bosses were back for 20/40 people (be honest, how many times do you cringe to see Blackrock Caverns to load and you hit Corla? What about Jin’do in Zul’Gurub? Stoncore period).
Where to now? Well I’ll save my discussion on TBC for another time. I wasn’t really intending to ramble on so long about Classic but I’ve seen so many folks complain about Cataclysm sucking as of late that it must have been aggravating me more than I realized. The last thing I’d like to mention is something I touched on briefly earlier about if the people who claimed Classic was better actually played Classic — HA! Frankly I think it’s hilarious. I’m pretty sure that if everyone who claimed to have played and raided/pvped in Classic actually did so the percentage of those who got to see endgame dungeons in Classic would be closer to 80% rather then 3-5%. And that’s the major thing in all this: it made no sense for Blizzard to waste so much time designing endgame dungeons or raids that a fraction of those playing would even see (not to mention the far lower number of those who finished them!).
Next time I’ll chat about TBC, my “serious” interest, and my awesome 70 Feral Druid!