Starting World of Warcraft Classic in 2022 Part 2: Levelling

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We’re back. Welcome to another extended discussion about Starting World of Warcraft Classic and if it’s really worth getting into in 2022.


This article is the second part of a series. Find out how the journey began in Part 1.

Starting World of Warcraft Classic – “The Meaningful Journey”

Within the span of just a couple of weeks, I managed to ding 70 on two separate occasions. I leveled a Rogue all the way from level 1 to cap and also started the same journey on the newly released Death Knight class which luckily starts at level 55. And my experience with World of Warcraft Classic has bounced from kinda pleasant to a little miserable. Now some of those complaints can probably be pinned down by the fact that Classic was designed for a completely different audience. While the RPG part is supposed to be huge in Classic, you feel like you’re hampering yourself by not following guides.

Thanks for a generous 50% experience buff the leveling experience is a lot less painful and you get out of a zone just when you’re starting to get sick of it. But I have to say that traveling Azeroth even in its classic edition on a not-fresh server at the end of an expansion’s life cycle is a miserable experience. And it’s not for a lack of players. I ran, and this might be due to me playing around midnight and early mornings on weekdays on a European server, into the constant issue of either not finding groups when I needed them or sharing zones with players when I had to be left alone.

On a non-PvP server, it can be a quite miserable experience, waiting for the players of the opposite faction to clear out just so can kill a world boss that only spawns every 5 minutes. And while I would’ve delighted to be in a fight with those players, I had to watch a Bloodelf Death Knight grief said boss for a solid 40 minutes until they got bored.

Not that going into a dungeon faired any better either. Being late to the party that is Classic TBC forming a group especially when you play DPS or Tank can take upwards of an hour, depending on when you play. And the time spend spamming in the LFG chat channel even with the party finder function Blizzard has added could also just be spent doing quests instead. This brings us back to the problem of sharing one Zone with level 70 characters from both factions doing dailies or a 50-50 mix of players leveling. So you’re going to spend some time just finding an uncongested zone to quest in.

I did that twice on a Tank and a DPS. And while it should be easier now to level in the earlier zones, especially on a fresh server barely being able to do dungeons because no one wanted to run Razorfen Downs since everyone was grinding Heroics in TBC instead. So let’s get into the specifics a little.

Character Progression and the Illusion of Choice

Now when players gush about the good old days of World of Warcraft, they often tell the story of how the skill points of your character really mattered and how later versions of the skill tree really took away the RPG systems. Having been through several MMORPGs and their development cycles I know that is a lie players like to tell themselves. Skill trees are not being dumbed down to make a game more accessible, they are often a way to reign in the room for error.

World of Warcraft and Classic especially are games that have been ‘solved’ optimal skill trees and rotations are accessible for everyone. And when faced with the choice of spending 50-something skill points in an exhaustive list, most players will probably look up the most optimal way to spend them. As a new player, this is quite daunting since you’ll automatically assume that everyone knows a lot more than you do. This turns into this weird kind of self-induced peer pressure in which you just start looking up things that can really hamper your enjoyment in learning your class.

So here I ended up feeling my way through talent trees at first, only to have the back of my mind bugging me about how I should probably look up how to do things. Being the mindful, haha wholesome Final Fantasy main I am, I never want to hamper other people’s experience. So your mileage will differ, but I also don’t think anyone jumping into WoW Classic at this point is completely new to MMOs. Chances are that you’re probably in my situation where you are just interested to check out what all the hype is about. And clear some of gaming’s most iconic content.

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Casually Forging Ahead

Probably one of the big ups or big downs, depending on what you’re looking for is that World of Warcraft Classic can be enjoyed very casually once you get the problem of installing certain add-ons and playing a meta build out of the way. World of Warcraft is a really low-effort experience. And it turns into the kind of game in which you throw on a Podcast or comfy music or do it on the side while you write an article for a certain gaming website.

This should bother me more than it actually does, I would love to tell you there is a lot more effort involved once you get to the gearing up stage after hitting max level. But it’s the same dungeons and quests. Now I haven’t engaged with the raid content just yet, but from what I’ve seen I doubt it is much more involved than what I’ve played so far but I’m also hoping to be surprised. That being said, I thought tanking would require a lot more effort.

See after slugging through TBC on a Rogue, I decided to roll a DPS Death Knight. Somehow I still ended up being the tank half the time, even though my spec wasn’t suitable for it at all and everything just was more of the usual. I really wish tanking was more exciting than just pulling mobs into the right corner, having some foresight that fear could wipe the group and everything is easy pickings from there. And seriously, why would you not play a tank instead? You get easy group invites and there is little more to do than casting your ground AoE and spamming an attack that hits multiple targets to keep aggro.

Is it fair to rant about the simplicity of 15-old content and kind of enjoy it for how braindead it ended up being? Probably not. But I had built up in my mind for years that World of Warcraft and especially Classic were supposed to be the peak MMORPGs and I find myself slightly disgruntled that most dungeon bosses lack actual mechanics outside of doing damage. I haven’t done Heroic content at the time of writing so I hope that’ll change soon. But the issue probably comes from the fact that players today are way more skilled than those of 2008.

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I Feel Sad About the World of Warcraft

Now World of Warcraft is sold as this grand world that is alive and has meaningful stories to tell. The introduction quest of the Death Knight is kind of cool, you go to war with a crazy cult and slaughter your way through their minions only to have to change of heart after being abandoned by your master. This sets up your journey, the fallen hero who was resurrected by the evil Lichking only to break free from his shackles. To do what?

Well, that’s the kind of thing with World of Warcraft Classic. You just get dumped in the capital of your faction and then you’re supposed to go off and do whatever. If you are not around when content launches, it feels always like you’re being left behind and you are trapped in a game of catchup. I love the concept of The Burning Crusade, coming to a world that fell to evil and whose denizens fled to Azeroth in hope of a brighter future.

So I was a little disappointed that most of Outland’s little tales and quests were just more of the usual. Not that questing in Azeroth was more exciting than that but the world of Outland is really just comprised of sections you do quests in. In other games, you’d probably have a long-winded exploration of why there is a castle filled with ghost soldiers of a previous expedition or why there is a giant skeleton leaking goo. When you do the quests, it feels more like you’re just getting the cliff notes to what could be a lot more.

This might just be a me problem again, but most zones in Outland just felt familiar to what I’ve already seen in Azeroth. The people were different for sure but the quests and the factions they involved were just more of the usual just sometimes in different colors. And the game makes it so easy not to pay attention that all of it just feels like flavor text than actually experiencing the world (of warcraft) outside of its many systems and gameplay.

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Northrend Awaits

I last left Northrend some ten years ago after Arthas beat the big bad of the Burning Crusade expansion Illidan and claimed the seat of the Lichking. Somehow I’m still itching to see the frozen wastes interpreted in World of Warcraft from the perspective of just one character. But I get the ominous feeling that’ll be just more of the same and at this point, I don’t want to look up Wrath of the Lichking questing to confirm that.

Everyone around me who’s playing is super excited to storm the gates of Ice Crown and take the fight back to the scourge. The pre-expansion event was fun, we got a raid together and became menaces on our own, and the enemy faction started zones for shits and giggled until the no-fun police arrived and told us we were just wasting our time. Now the event is in full swing and I should probably get a group to raid some of the new event enemies for gear. But knowing fully well that the gear I’ll get from the first few quests of the next expansion will be more than enough to carry me through it.

But I’ll keep you posted.

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Should you Play World of Warcraft Classic before the Launch of Wrath of the Lichking?

That’s a loaded question that I still don’t really know to answer. It’s hard to parse who Classic WoW is really for because most of the players I encountered are people who fell out of love with World of Warcraft and want to relive the glory days. And some few are like me and want to see what it’s actually like. But the game definitely doesn’t have a huge audience of ‘new players. A lot of returning veterans and people from retail who all kind of know what is happening. For me, someone who’s never had any exposure to World of Warcraft all of this is a little wild.

No one ever explained to me what a Heroic dungeon is or how I grind reputation. So if you’re also in that camp, expect to do some reading and ask your fellow players what is happening. They’re quite the barrier to entry and it doesn’t exist because the game is harder, it’s just that no one tells you ingame that you should download some add-ons to make the UI more readable or how you’re supposed to play your class. And that really doesn’t mesh well with how painless and easy the game plays once you get over that initial hurdle.

And the leveling journey is quite the time commitment as well. If you don’t fork over the price of a full game for a character boost it’ll take you even with the buff a long time to hit the current cap of level 70 and probably even longer once the experience buff is removed when Wrath of the Lichking classic launches. Your experience might vary, but you’ll mostly play the game with people who just want to rush to the good bit, the raiding, and the endgame PvP. And for a new player to just slog along for days to get there is a bit much to ask.

That being said, if you can get a group of friends together or make some that keep your pace this can be a somewhat enjoyable journey. The big fun moments rarely come from the game itself. Like any other multiplayer game, it’s the player interaction that really counts. I should’ve played on a PvP server but I would also prefer not to be corpse camped for an hour when turning in a quest. So yea.. be cautious.

Classic can be really relaxing at times but it’s a huge time investment and has a bunch of essential reading that is required before you get to that point. Since I have the time to play this game as a side job, that was no problem for me. But if you can only cram in like 10 hours of gaming a week you’ll probably spend a good chunk of it just waiting or mindlessly hauling across maps that could’ve been half the size they are.

For more on World of Warcraft and the unending journey of despair, I’m currently subjugating myself to (Trust me playing 3 MMOs at the same time isn’t exactly fun), visit us here at ESTNN.

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