I couldn’t resist. I really couldn’t. With all of the World of Warcraft Classic chatter these days and my fired-up imagination as to what I might play come August 27th, I saw the opportunity to jump into the stress test beta last week and took it. As I told myself, it was just to satisfy my curiosity and answer those questions that every WoW fan is asking in regards to this project — Is this actually as fun as we remember? Is it way too hard? Where should my expectations be?
And to my delight, yes, it was as fun as I remembered. It’s this bizarre mixture of a more relaxed WoW experience than the one the game’s slowly morphed into since 2004 and a heavy dose of nostalgia. I don’t think any previous vanilla player can hear that classic login theme without his or her brain injecting serotonin to every extremity of the body.
I went ahead and rolled up a race/class combo that I had no interest in playing — in this case, a Human Paladin — and jumped back in time.
Of course, this being a stress test, I had no illusions that I was going to log in to the Northshire Abby and see maybe one other player running way, way off in the distance. No, it was wall-to-wall chunky humans, smothering the landscape with their level 1 noobness. Lag was also a bad issue the first night, and for a while there I couldn’t even accept a quest. That was fine, this was more a fact-finding mission than an actual push to make progression.
From the music to the graphics to the slowly revealing quest text, this was 2004-era WoW as I remember it. There were a few features that I immediately missed, such as the quest tracker automatically updating (having to do it manually is really annoying) or seeing quest markers on the minimap. Even having no idea where that mob is that I tab-targeted because it doesn’t show a direction made me trip and stumble.
The one that really caught me off guard was the fact that there was no buyback option in the vendor, a fact that I woke up to after I accidentally sold a quest reward weapon that I needed for an upgrade. Oopsies.
As all of the quest mobs in the newbie zone were being overcamped like you would not believe, I formed a group of level 1s that left that sanctuary to the wider forest in the hopes that we could tackle level 5 and 6 mobs as a group. Turns out that we could, although pulling more than one or two ended up wiping us. The Defias Brotherhood has teeth once more.
I guess if I had to describe the whole experience, it really would be “relaxed.” You just have to downshift to get into the groove of slower combat, slower leveling, more steps to getting things done, slower money making, and so on. Without feeling rushed, I had a great time just grabbing my two coppers and crossing my fingers for some grey drops that would actually be useful gear. Never saw a bag drop, though. Pity me.
This poor wolf is the epitome of every mob in the beginner zones during that 48-hour test.
So this was a pleasant surprise. You see, way back in 2004, I bought the WoW collector’s edition, which has since turned out to be a nice investment for the pet collector me. I didn’t expect it, but lo and behold, when I logged into Classic, I got that special quest to grab my pick of one of three pets. As a result, I was the only character running around Northshire Abby with a pet following me. That got me more than one curious tell.
I always went panda out of the three pets, by the way. I love that he falls asleep while I’m fighting.
By the afternoon of the second day — and five levels later — I felt as though my curiosity had been well and fully addressed. Yeah, this is pretty fun stuff right here, and there’s this thrilling current of excitement from everyone playing that gets you all sorts of pumped up. How long this feeling — or a lesser but still content emotion — will endure, I have no idea, but now I am eagerly anticipating the launch far more than I was before.