Upon first entering the World of Warcraft Classic Demo, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the incredible amount of nostalgia that inevitably hits every seasoned WoW player, and probably hit you, as well. However, over the course of one hour, while the experience is certainly limited, a few initial dosages of sentimentality and yearning for days past is more than enough time to reignite childhood memories. The true wonder of this taste of WoW Classic comes not in the first hour of gameplay, but in the fact that come next Summer, the game will be released in its entirety, setting up countless hours of content and reminiscing alike.
When I first logged into the WoW Classic Demo, I was greeted by a familiar portal from the past, only to be welcomed into the open arms of an all-too familiar character creation screen. The lack of races, classes, and polygons all helped bring back a wave of fond memories of a simpler time. Almost instinctively, I created a Human Mage, harkening back to my original character from the game’s Vanilla installment. However, much to my surprise, the game instantly boosted me to level 15 and ported my character directly to Sentinel Hill in Westfall. After exploring the surrounding area for a bit, I decided I would take the plunge and wander Azeroth as it used to be.
I made the trek across Westfall without any mount at all, only to reach the connecting bridge between the zone and its neighbor, Duskwood, and receive an instant boot from the area, sending me back to the inn at Sentinel Hill. Quickly realizing there wasn’t much for me in Westfall, I figured I would spend my remaining time over on the Horde side of things, eager to get the full experience out of my limited time.
Over in the Barrens, I took my newly-created Troll Shaman across the zone, looking to find mobs to kill and quests to complete, just like the hundreds of other players on my server. Without hesitation, the first (and only) quest I completed while in the Barrens was “Lost in Battle”, more commonly known as the “Mankrik’s Wife” quest. For myself and many other long-time WoW players, the ever-mysterious presence of Mankrik’s Wife was a defining factor of Vanilla WoW, and to see the quest come back to life nearly 14 years later was truly nostalgic.
However, what I found most interesting once I got out into the world is that the game was actually hard. Like, seriously difficult in comparison to WoW in its current state. Most of the content found in the world at max level along with the leveling process in Battle for Azeroth is essentially a joke. In Classic, mobs are hard to kill and quests are grueling to complete. I found myself eating and drinking after nearly every encounter, as my health and mana were depleted every time I looked up at my resource bar. Even after grinding mobs for what seemed like and eternity, I spent nearly the full hour trying to level up just one level. The game is certainly a process, to say the least, but it’s genuinely a process that I’m enjoying.
Most notably, the lack of direction the game gives you, the vague quest instructions, the old-school talent system, and the armor and weapons you’re supplied with will feel substantially weaker to everything you may have been using on the live servers. It’s almost as if Blizzard trained us to get used to all of the fancy new features WoW had to offer over the course of its evolution, and at once, stripped everything back, revealing the skeleton of a fully-developed game.
However, while WoW may be more advanced in 2018, it’s not to say that WoW Classic isn’t a developed, finished product. It’s obvious that the game needs more polish before a formal release, hence the Summer 2019 release date, but for now, just one hour of gameplay was enough to sate my thirst for waves of memories, as I am thoroughly eager to see what comes next.
Needless to say, I’m incredibly excited to see what the future of WoW Classic has in store, and I can’t wait to jump back into Azeroth as it was.
Photo Credit: World of Warcraft, Blizzard Entertainment