Wednesday, September 11, 2019

WoW Classic | A Conundrum

One of my biggest problems with retail World of Warcraft was that they never seemed to work on the features that would have actually made the game more approachable and sociable. Guild features, for instance, were never fleshed out to anything meaningful. Eventually, we got guild perks (for a while) and guild banks but those really are the bare essentials.

It's been 15 years and Blizzard is only just now talking about a mentoring system. Just the ability to temporarily drop down in level so that you can play seamlessly with your friends. We know they have the technology to do it, the Timewalking events make that much clear.

That said, it wouldn't really help my situation in WoW Classic. My Tauren Warrior sits at level 27 while my family's characters sit at levels below that. I primarily rolled this character to try out tanking with a group that includes no randoms and it's gone great. Unfortunately the other people in my life aren't complete shut-ins and don't have as much free time as I do to keep leveling up. If I want to group and do content that is still somewhat relevant to us then I'm essentially forced to stop playing.

We've finished up Wailing Caverns now about two times. Its the only dungeon we can reasonably access that can handle our current 12+ level gap. I have no real interest in doing it again but it was a nice little romp. A couple of thoughts:

  • I greatly underestimated the maze it used to be back then. Or maybe I just have a poor sense of direction. It's a good thing I live in a time where Google Maps exist.
  • I greatly oversitmated the "platforming boss". If you don't know, there is a small gap about 3/4 of the way through the dungeon. Failing your jump means you have to walk a bunch to try it again. I keenly recall this being a massive chasm 15 years ago that required pixel perfect platforming skills. Turns out it's very much not. It's like a foot across. Sometimes I can't tell if I really sucked at this game or not.
  • The shield from the turtle never drops. Never dropped then. Never drops now. #nochanges
  • Tanking is very easy when your 8 levels higher than everything else in the dungeon. 
  • 3 manning and 4 manning these dungeons, even at the appropriate level, really isn't that big of a deal. Seriously, these dungeons use to be multi-hour affairs me and my friends would congratulate each other on. I really do used to suck.
  • Playing with real life friends is so much better than randoms. This was already known but I really forgot just how much better life is when you're experiencing it with people your constantly worried will go on a barrage of hate speech any minute. Crowd control! Focused targeting! Not going afk for 20 minutes! I'm never playing a game with randoms again!


Now, about the inability to level; this isn't that huge of an issue. I can, after all, level my professions (done), do low level quests (also done), or level an alt.

So an alt is now in my future. I'm struggled deciding which class though. I have zero desire to group with randoms in any sort of committed way, so dungeons are mostly out. So strong soloing classes are mandatory. I've also done a lot of the early Horde quests, so something on the Alliance side makes sense as well. At this point I'm strongly considering pushing forward on a Human Mage.

I actually started leveling a Human Mage on retail right before Classic came out. Mage was my second main (although an Undead one) and Classic seems like a good time to remember those old memories. My first ever character was actually a Warlock, but I found the gameplay so boring I quit WoW for about a year. ( I was also convinced Everquest 2 was going to win the MMO war of 2004. It didn't.) Pet classes always feel fiddly to me. DoTs feel even more indirect. Soul shards and life tap management feel like paperwork. Not to mention that Warlocks spent a decent portion of Classic as rogue-fodder on PVP servers and not much else.

Anyhow, what drew me to mage at first was the flavor. An undead who can light people on fire is as aspirational a career goal as any. Wizards were stuffy old dudes with long beards who had to memorize their spells everyday. But WoW Mages felt different. Druids, Hunters and Shamans were all naturey. I lived in a rural area and hated it; if I wanted outdoorsey nonsense I could have left my bedroom. Warriors were as bland as you could make a thing. Literally everyone on my server was already a rogue. Priests and Paladins were some Alliance bullshit. So a wizarding we would go.

What made me fall in love with the class was, oddly enough, movement. Playing a mage in PVP always felt to me like playing a game of basketball. It was about movement, restricting your opponents movement, and area denial. Blink, Frost Nova, Cone of Cold, Polymorph, etc. Instead of an elderly man chanting and drawing on the ground in sidewalk chalk, I felt like an athlete hauling ass around the battlefield and controlling the show. This was the end of my high school, and therefor, athletic career. WoW doesn't have the physicality of a real sport, but it showed me that video games could certainly have the same mental approach.

I've mentioned in a previous post that I was attracted to playing my Priest because healing was such a compelling and different way of playing. We've all played how many hundreds of hours of killing things. When a video game lets me choose a different paradigm completely it has my interest. And a mage in World of Warcraft offers that. Granted, they are still really good at killing things. But take dueling a rogue:
  • each player strategically using and reacting to each cooldown, 
  • mentally keeping track on the timing of each other's abilities, 
  • carefully controlling positioning (me as far as possible from the rogue, them on my butt for backstab damage), 
  • using abilities in odd ways (like using Counterspell to keep a Rogue in combat and preventing a free restealth),
  • looking for tells in their actions (is he trying to get to my front instead of the back? He wants to gouge me and reset the fight).
 So in the end it was still a thinking man's class, but a type of mage that wore sneakers and not flip flops. This sort of memory feels very personal and very in the moment. Some of WoW Classic's nostalgia was going to still be effective. The background music in the Barren's, old Orgrimmar, etc. I'm not sure if the memories of playing my mage will be the same.

I guess we'll find out as long as my squad keeps dragging their feet.

2 comments:

  1. It's fascinating, reading your posts on Classic. You are almost the anti-me! Very nearly every point you make is close to the exact opposite of how I feel about the same topic. And yet we are playing and enjoying the same game.

    Must mean something!

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    1. We could be living in mirror universes. I have been considering bringing back my mid-2000s beard and goatee for WoW Classic.

      https://vignette.wikia.nocookie.net/memoryalpha/images/a/a7/Spock_%28mirror%29.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20090220220251&path-prefix=en

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