I have been watching with fascination the rise of a homebrew community in WoW Classic that’s started to eclipse the standard format — the Classic Hardcore subset. This is a community that’s been thriving on a self-made permadeath ruleset that uses an addon to keep everyone honest as they try to make a 1 to 60 run without a single death. Apparently, it’s been going so gangbusters that the rumor is Blizzard is going to implement an official version in the near future.
But for now (and while I still have time on my account), I thought I’d give it a try myself by going back to the Classic Era servers, installing the mod, and seeing how far I’d get before I faceplanted. Probably before level 10, is my guess.
And not to drag out the suspense, but yes, I died at level 8 — to a Defiant Mage and a couple of previously unseen friends in Elwynn Forest. But those eight levels were an absolute blast. Playing this way changes your whole perspective, as it’s no longer about investing huge amounts of time into a character that you feel you’ll have for a long time. It’s going back to the Atari 2600 age of “Let’s see how far I can get before I kick the bucket… and then start all over again and see if I can do it better the next time.”
Suddenly the world was a whole lot more dangerous, especially with Classic’s antique design and mob foibles. Every scrap of gear is needed for survival. A two-mob pull could spell death. Caves are basically suicide. Trying to hit level 10 just to get a talent point and some help with a class quest or two is a vital threshold. A single six-slot bag is a lifeline. Professions, even first aid and cooking, are immeasurably helpful.
If the 1-60 run without a single death isn’t daunting enough, there are several optional achievements that you can select from the get-go to make things even tougher. You have to pick them right at the start so that the addon can track them. For example, I picked a “scavenger” achievement that said I couldn’t get any gear from quest rewards — only from making them or getting some from loot drops. Considering the very low drop rate percentage of Classic, this ended up being really brutal.
I thought I was doing well, for the most part. I had a couple of close scrapes but did what I could to safeguard my healthpool. But it was all naught in the end, for I died and the notice went out to my entire guild that I bought the dust. I said farewell, logged out, deleted the character… and rolled up a new Rogue for a new run.
This sort of thing is addicting, let me tell you. And if Blizzard makes it an official mode, I can see a true revival coming to Classic Era realms.
As for me, I’m kind of reluctantly putting this to the side. My subscription is about to run out (I bought four months’ worth last year) and I’m trying not to spend money on games right now. But I will walk away really pleasantly surprised how engaging hardcore ended up being.
One thought on “Taking a run at World of Warcraft’s Classic Hardcore”
I can sort of see the appeal. It makes the game more thrilling and, as you say, more like the video games of yore, where death meant, at the very least, a complete reset. Imagine making it all way to 59 or something and then having a bad pull. I don’t think I need that kind of stress in my life. On the other hand, ArenaNet turned the already free repair stations in GW2 into armor buffing stations about a year ago (I think). Hence, death (defeat?) is just the minor expense and inconvenience of a waypoint away. It’s kind of dull that way.