With World of Warcraft Classic in its 4th phase of content, it is officially past the halfway point of its lifespan – which makes this an excellent time to reflect on the successes and failings of WoW Classic.
World of Warcraft Classic has seen undeniable mainstream success with record-breaking viewership numbers on Twitch at launch and the biggest increase in subscribers in World of Warcraft history.
However, even with these impressive records behind it, there is no denying that WoW Classic has several issues. And the fear of making minor changes to the game is causing many of the biggest problems.
Note: This is an opinion piece, and the hope is simply to spark a discussion.
Underlying issues of NoChanges
15 years is a very long time and while World of Warcraft Classic remains mostly unchanged the world of gaming does not. The ease and availability of information are so dramatically different that you cannot possibly expect to have an authentic experience in a 15-year-old online game without making some adjustments.
1. So much has changed in the last 15 years
When World of Warcraft came out more than 15 years ago, everyone was utterly new to the experience, and the internet did not have nearly the same amount of information and guides to help people optimize. Whereas today it seems that almost all players know exactly what the best classes, gear, and talents are. Everyone can easily read up on what to do in all the raids before they even come out, and people in general just have a much higher level of game knowledge.
All of this contributes to making the content of the game a lot easier than it was back then and is part of why the raids are such a joke in World of Warcraft Classic. Which removes a lot of the prestige that came with clearing the raids and obtaining gear back in the day.
The state of World of Warcraft Classic raiding is a lot like if Battle for Azeroth only had the Looking For Raid difficulty. Everyone is clearing everything, every week and it completely devalues what it means to clear that content and all of the items in it.
2. ”No Changes” should be a philosophy, not a strict code
No matter what you do, the game can never be exactly as it was, and instead of making the code exactly as it was, Blizzard should instead strive to make the game FEEL like it was. Sometimes the ‘No Changes’ mentality makes the game feel less authentic and completely contradicts the reason ‘No Changes’ was a thing in the first place.
An example could be the raids that are currently tuned to be as they were, but due to the aforementioned change in circumstances, it just doesn’t work. Blizzard should strive to make the raids feel like back then instead of precisely as they were. Currently, all of the raids are easily clearable by every single player in the world, and even pick-up-groups clear the content easily, which in turn means that the loot is devalued – which doesn’t feel very authentic. Blizzard needs to ask themselves; What is most important? That the numbers are authentic or that the feel of the game is?
What Blizzard is currently doing:
All content is tuned to be exactly as it was in patch 1.12 of World of Warcraft.
What Blizzard should consider doing:
Make all of the content much harder so that the clearing percentage is closer to what it was in 2005. If only 20% cleared Ahn’Qiraj back in the day, then they should strive to make it so only about 20% can clear it in Classic.
Concrete BIG issues caused by #NoChanges
Now that I have mentioned some of the broader reasons that #NoChanges is hurting the game, let us look at some real problems that are hurting the game today.
1. The Raid Content is a Joke
Blizzard is using their reference client to make sure all the raid content is exactly as it was back then, and it’s one of the biggest problems the game is facing right now. Today, the internet has a billion resources on how to play the game, and we got updated 1.12 itemization and talents and much better PCs and internet connection. When you combine all of these things with the fact that most gamers are better and more experienced in general, it is no wonder that everyone and their mother are smashing through all of the raids and dungeons.
”Vanilla content was always a joke.”
Sure, when you look at the mechanics and everything today, it seems insanely easy, and Molten Core, Blackwind Lair, Onyxia, etc., was never hard. But just because it was never hard doesn’t mean it should be THIS easy.
A Reddit user named Enexy made an excellent list of changes that highlights how different Molten Core & the game, in general, was back in early Vanilla compared to what we have today. Below are some of the more significant changes – you can check the full list here.
- There was no threat meter addon.
- Blues from dungeons that you see now were not the same back then. A lot of blues were removed and replaced with better items.
- Rare items from dungeons had VASTLY lower drop rates
- Shaman’s Reincarnation caused resurrection sickness
- Bloodrage cost more health. Battle shout was 20 rage. Heroic strike did less damage. Thunder clap only lasted 12 seconds.
- Almost all classes saw big buffs compared to their early Vanilla state.
- Items with spell damage & healing had nearly half the amount they do now.
These are just a few of the reasons that the content today is so much easier than it was back then. It is no coincidence that the average damage today is a lot higher than even the best players back then – We are not THAT much better at spamming Frostbolt today.
The raids are far too easy right now and should be tuned with current circumstances in mind. Blizzard should buff the raids and dungeons to suit the fact that everyone does far more damage, everyone has better computers, internet connection, addons, and everyone has easy access to information and guides.
Prestige from obtaining rare items or being part of a top-end guild was a big part of the allure of World of Warcraft back in the day. And having every single guild in the world clear the latest content on the first week it hurting the game a lot and makes the game feel less authentic as well.
2. Spell-batching is ruining PvP
Have you wondered why Elemental Shamans seem to be absolutely off-the-rails broken in PvP combat? Well, that is in large parts due to spell-batching.
Spell batching is an artificial recreation of a mechanical restriction that the original 2004 World of Warcraft suffered from. It means that the server is processing information in ”batches” instead of instantaneous like it does in the modern version of World of Warcraft. This allows multiple spells to go off in the same batch. A popular example is two warriors charging each other or two mages Polymorphing each other
This allows for some cool plays such as canceling Sheep or Sap with self-harm items like Dark Runes. However, it has far more negative impacts on the game than positive, and it makes the game feel far more slow and unresponsive.
Examples of issues with Spell-batching
- Shamans Elemental Mastery talent affects all spells within the batch. This means that you can get 100% crit chance on both chain lighting and earth shock and is why you have likely been one-shot by elemental shamans more times than you can count.
- Mages shatter talent is much more likely to affect more spells. This means that more spells will benefit from the 50% increased crit chance, even if Frost Nova breaks from the first hit.
- Mages Counterspell can hit even if the target canceled their cast before it was cast. Making it much harder and more frustrating to ”juke” a counterspell.
- Interrupts(Kick, Pummel, Counterspell, etc.) can miss even when used during the target’s cast
Spell batching has always been a thing in World of Warcraft but the size of the current batches is way too big and allows all of these issues to happen way too often.
There are many more negative impacts from the spell-batching system that Wow Classic uses, and it needs to be removed. It is ruining PvP for a lot of players and makes the game feel slow and clunky. (More than it is)
3. Raid Consumables Cost a Fortune
The average World of Warcraft Classic server is far more populated than even the most popular servers were back in the original Vanilla days. Still, the spawn timers on mining ores and herbs remain the same. This means that the supply of flowers such as Black Lotus and Mountain Silversage cannot keep up with the demand and results in extraordinarily expensive consumables. There are simply not enough resources on the servers for the high population caps.
These three issues are some of the most damaging problems that World of Warcraft Classic are facing right now and could easily be changed without hurting the ”Vanilla feel” of the game. In fact, changing it for the better would likely improve it.
What Should They Do? (What changes are okay)
So, what changes could Blizzard make that would not cause an uproar?
Needless to say that all changes should go through a testing phase on the Public Test Realm and receive community feedback from the player base before being added to the live game. I also think that the feedback would have to be overwhelmingly positive before a change to the game should go through.
1. Buff all of the upcoming raids on the Public Test Realm
While I think the game would be better off if Molten Core, Onyxia, and Blackwing Lair were also buffed, I think it is too late for that. The items from those raids have already been devalued, and pretty much every guild in the world clear them every week.
Test the waters with Ahn’qiraj
Zul’Gurub(ZG) is currently on the Public Test Realm, and it seems to be mind-numbingly easy, even by Classic standards. But it is also an introductory catch-up raid with generally worse rewards than Molten Core and Blackwing Lair, and it should be easy. This means that Phase 5 and Ahn’Qiraj would be the perfect opportunity to try out some changes on the Public Test Realm and see the community feedback.
It does not require any change in mechanics, but buffs in the 10-25% range on all the bosses would be a great start and perhaps even give us that pre-nerf C’thun.
With the Public Test Realm, there is no downside to this as they can always roll back the changes if the feedback is negative, but I doubt it would be. It would require slightly more work from Blizzard, which is probably why it has not been done yet – ”No Changes” is the perfect excuse for Blizzard to do absolutely nothing about blatant issues facing WoW Classic.
2. Remove Spell-batching or nerf it significantly
It was a fun idea to bring back spell-batching for World of Warcraft classic in an attempt to make it feel more authentic, but it just didn’t work out.
Back when World of Warcraft released, it was considered an incredibly smooth game, and WoW Classic should feel the same way in 2020.
The removal or nerf of spell-batching would make the game feel a lot smoother, and player-versus-player combat especially would benefit.
3. Increase the spawn rate of flowers & veins dynamically.
Right now, it is not uncommon for serious raiders to spent more than one hundred gold per raid, which in the context of WoW Classic gold is pretty insane. While spending this amount of money is in no way necessary to clear the raids, it is something to do for those that still want to take Classic raiding seriously.
The current spawn rates are simply not high enough on most mid-to-high population servers, and Blizzard should find a way to increase them dynamically – the bigger the server, the faster the spawn rates.
4. Introduce floating combat text for healers
Being a healer in World of Warcraft Classic takes a certain level of generosity and team spirit that most people do not possess. So let us not punish these wonderful people but instead reward them.
Healing in any World of Warcraft expansion past the original Wow feels so much better due to the simple addition of proper floating combat text for healing that displays the healing you do above people’s heads.
There is no downside to this addition. It should be added as soon as possible, and we might start seeing a few more healers pop up.
5. Use the modern Battleground scoreboard
Something that came as a shock to many of those that never played on private servers was the original Battleground scoreboard. In World of Warcraft Classic right now, you can only see killing blows, honorable kills, deaths, and objectives such as flag capture. Which is an abysmal representation of people’s performance.
They need to introduce the modern version that they have in Battle for Azeroth so that people can also keep track of damage and healing done and other essential statistics.
This is another change that would have no negative side effects and would just make battlegrounds more enjoyable.
What changes are not okay?
It is a fine line to walk, and unless you understand why people love WoW Classic, it is tough to explain why some changes are okay, and some are not. It is all about making the game feel as it was, and maybe I am too hopeful, but I do think the Classic development team you see in the video above understands what is and what is not okay.
And even if they don’t, I trust the community to let them know if the developers are making a mistake.
In conclusion – Some Changes are necessary for the future.
World of Warcraft Classic has been an enormous success, and it is still a fantastic game, but I feel like we have to trust the Classic team to play around with a few minor changes. They have shown in general that they understand what is essential for the game and what isn’t with some of the small changes they have made already.
The game would benefit a lot if Blizzard removed spell-batching and gave healers some floating numbers to look at, and I think it is very hard to find a downside to these changes.
Willingness to change blatantly broken mechanics is going to be even more critical when(if) Blizzard chooses to release the Burning Crusade. Since Blood Elf paladins and Blood elves, in general, could be enough to destroy faction balance on all servers due to your overpowered radicals abilities.