I see a lot of posts about this subject; close to every day in fact and decided it was time to write about it. If you are even remotely familiar with what goes on in the official World of Warcraft forums, or have even a passing interest at various different boards, such as mmo-c, then you shouldn’t be a stranger to posts that pine for the return of vanilla WoW, or similarly TBC. An innumerable number of posts have asked Blizzard to establish vanilla and TBC servers, just for those who liked those times of the game.
First of all, to get out of the system, Blizzard has so far refused and I completely agree with their reasoning. The simple fact is that the game has evolved, for the better in many cases (no matter what the critics say) and they prefer to keep the game going forward, instead of maintaining versions of the game that are outdated and outright flawed from their perspective.
Secondly, and this is the part that I feel people should remember, is that when people post stuff like “ohh but things so much better back then, there was an actual challenge to the game…” they are not really being perfectly honest with themselves. It is not actually just a World of Warcraft phenomenon, but human nature to often pine for the return of the old, by the assumption that it was somehow better. I remember when I, once upon a time, did a summer job as a janitor, I got all these old people coming to me (and my boss) to complain how I was doing it wrong and the old guy was much better than I was. I talked with the actual janitors there about it and who simply laughed and told me not to worry about it, that the old guy got the exact same flack I got. Apparently he had not been any better than I was, nor doing anything a whole lot differently. It is simply the human nature to endlessly complain and even make up logic to support their ridiculous argument.
Now I am not saying that, beyond the shadow of a doubt, the old expansions had their moments and many people rightfully enjoyed it but lets try to take some of the more valid arguments and consider them from a logical perspective.
#1 The Game was more challenging, as a whole.
I really doubt it actually was. Many things are a bit easier to accomplish in the modern game, like grind the necessary reputation to buy items from faction vendors. Back in vanilla it could possibly take months to just get one item, but that isn’t really challenging and it is the main pitfall of these arguments; that they assume grinding is difficult. It isn’t. It simply takes a lot of time which is just outright boring. The game has lost a lot of the grindiness (probably not a word but I’ll use it anyway) and that is a good thing. It can still take anything from 2-4 weeks to grind a single faction to exalted. I know Baradin Wardens took me a long time and so did the original Sons of Hodir faction in Wrath of the Lich King. Lets remember, a month of doing dailies every day is a long time and, at least in my opinion, anything beyond that is just excessive, particularly when that only pertains to one faction, out of half a dozen in current content.
#2 40-man raids were much more epic
Were they really? The reason why Blizzard changed the raid format down to 10- and 25-man was the simple fact that in most cases, it was not actually 40 people raiding. It was more like 20-25 who were raiding and the rest were just sitting on their hands, and getting carried. Not to mention the whole organizational nightmare of actually getting 40 people to show up on time for regular raids, to gear them up and have them perform optimally. How many guilds nowadays, have a problem with putting together and maintaining 25 skilled players? Most average guilds have to work in 10-man and even then, many still have problems. Now build that up to 40 people and you have a raid leader’s nightmare.
#3 Raid encounters are just a joke these days
No they are not. If you actually look at most of the encounters in vanilla for example, they are not very complex. By comparison, modern raid encounters have a lot more things going on simultaneously; where as vanilla encounters have relatively few. For example, the heroic lich king encounter in Icecrown Citadel has been described (by many world top guilds) as the most complex and difficult encounter thus far, a statement I personally agree. Much of the so called “challenge” actually came from the fact that you were most like utterly under geared for the encounter and that itemization was not ideal, by any stretch, back then. Some mechanics were also just outright broken; like healers down ranking their spells, tanks not truly having much in terms of aoe abilities, etc. Not to mention variety and game balance issues between classes.
#4 No more class specialization
When I heard this, I was just bewildered. The fact that in vanilla you might have had the need to, specifically, bring something like a dwarf priest just to get fear ward and some specs were not viable for raiding at all. So if you wanted to raid, e.g. as a paladin tank in TBC you had just an enormous world of hurt ahead of you because, at the time, and especially during vanilla, you only one viable option. Same goes for the healers. Now, we have four viable tanking specs and five viable healing specs. To me, this is awesome and lets people play the class that truly interests them. Many other things were actually simply broken in the game at the time. Just consider pvp in vanilla, where some classes were just useless and others were close to gods. Warlocks for instance could use detect invisibility to see through stealth. Some go the distance and say that literally half the game was broken, in one way or another.
Really, the whole nostalgia for old content seems to play more to the selfish need of importance to me. Too many are too proud of themselves for the sheer fact that "they started the game back in the day” as if that somehow made them better than others. The comedy of it all becomes obvious when you realize that, while many did started back then, they did not actually clear that much content. But still… they were there so it has to for something right?
Last but not least, by Blizzard’s own words, we know that this is not what the game was suppose to be in the first place. There are countless blues on the forums, trying desperately to make sink into peoples’ consciousness that the game was not supposes to be an effort in pain management. It was not supposed to be masochistic and all the changes the game has had ever since have been working towards the goal of getting away from that. Lets remember that a lot of the Blizzard designers came from old games like Everquest and the whole point of World of Warcraft was to step away from that style of gaming.