World of Warcraft Classic in 2020

In 2004, American game developer Blizzard Entertainment released their beloved multiplayer fantasy game, “World of Warcraft”. With over one hundred million player accounts created as of 2014, World of Warcraft still stands as the world’s most played MMORPG, or Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game. The game revolves around two warring factions: The Alliance and The Horde. Each player joins one of these two groups with a custom created character. Similarly to “Dungeons and Dragons” and other pen-and-paper role playing games, each player picks from a list of classes and mythical races to create a unique character. Players can choose to be an orc warrior, a troll shaman, a night elf rogue, or one of many other options.

Since it’s release, World of Warcraft (or WoW for short) has undergone significant changes, as new expansions are added to the game. As time goes on, these expansions continue to fundamentally change the game with each release. For example, leveling up was once a slow but rewarding process, where the game now seems to rush players to the highest levels as soon as possible. This left many old-school players unhappy with the modern version of the game after almost 15 years of alterations. Luckily, WoW classic was re-released last summer, reverting the game to its original state, just as it was in 2004. The only major difference is that the new game runs of the most recent version of the WoW engine, giving the game a more smooth and visually appealing experience.

The gameplay of “WoW” classic mostly consists of doing quests for the various non-player characters that surround the players. These NPCs give you experience in return for completing the quests, causing your character to level up and gain new abilities. Quests can include a variety of tasks for you to complete. Sometimes you are gathering items, slaying dangerous creatures, or exploring harsh landscapes. The atmosphere of the game is rather unique. With a focus on somewhat cartoonish graphics and fantastical landscapes, “WoW” is not a game that takes itself too seriously. Many modern science fiction and fantasy franchises take a darker approach to storytelling. This style can be done well but frequently is laughable and self-important. WoW maintains a nice balance of themes and aesthetics that makes it a varied and enjoyable experience.

For me, WoW classic is a perfect way to pass time while inside during the quarantine. The game is expansive and rewarding with enough variety and freedom to keep its audience engaged after all these years. The game is best played with others, either friends or other player characters you find online. The game encourages grouping up to beat dungeons and particularly difficult quests, giving the game a social aspect that is very welcome during the 2020 lockdown. This social aspect is mostly due the teamwork required to complete certain tasks. Many areas require players to take on different roles within a group to succeed. For example, a dungeon usually requires at least one “healer” to keep the group alive, one “tank” to get the enemy’s attention, and several “DPS” characters to output high amounts of “damage per second”. Assigning roles and coordinating a playthrough of a dungeon is integral to the success of the group.

“WoW Classic” has surprising depth for a game made in 2004. With hundreds of hours of content to explore and surprisingly deep combat mechanics, “WoW” is a game that has managed to keep a thriving fanbase for well over a decade. The game has aged well, due in part to the fact that so many MMORPGs feel the need to copy WoW to succeed. Most of the tropes of the genre originate with “WoW”, despite “WoW” not being the first MMORPG. “WoW” is, however, responsible for modernizing and popularizing the genre\ and remains the premier MMORPG to this day.