Over at Massively OP Syp published a Perfect Ten column about the perils of getting what you ask for in the form of WoW Classic.
The list he came up with is almost charming in its scope, featuring things some people have been literally clamoring for in a vanilla server, like no Dungeon Finder and old school talent trees and new skills that don’t magically appear in you skill book. And believe me, inventory space is still at a premium in WoW Legion today. We have three damn hearthstones to start with.
So I started trying to come up with other aspects of vanilla WoW that people might have forgotten or actively suppressed from their memory. So, to steal Syp’s idea and add to the list, here are a few that stick out for me:
Just Being Poor
Gold was scarce and you would collect every bit of gray trash to vendor just for the few silver coins it might bring. One of my earliest memories of World of Warcraft is going to my class trainer and realizing that I did not have enough coins to train all of my skills. This got a little better as time went on but, like so many things, it seemed to be especially burdensome for new players.
Expensive Epic Mounts
Even when you think you’re no longer poor you end up running into this. I don’t even remember the price of the level 60 fast mount, but you had to buy the skill, which was expensive, and then you had to buy a mount, which wasn’t cheap either. And then there were the paladin and warlock mounts, both of which had long quests, needed the skill, and cost even more to finally acquire. Our little group did both of those.
Mounts in Inventory
And if you are worried about inventory slots, then you might have blotted the fact that your mount took up a spot in your bag. You kept your favorite mount with you and, if you had others, you left them stashed in your bank… which was probably also full.
You Are Mounted
It seemed like any mob that tagged you would dismount you. But if you went to a flight point and tried to get on the bird while still mounted, you would just get an error message flash on your screen informing you that you were still mounted. At one point Blizz tried to go through and automatically make you dismount when a task required it, but there are still a few corner cases in the game where you can get that message. But back in the day you had to manually dismount for damn near everything.
Point to Point Flight Paths
While we’re on the topic of travel, flight points were different back then. While being able to fly past flight points you hadn’t visited is a more recent change, back in the day you couldn’t even automatically fly through multiple flight points. Sitting up in Darnassus and want to fly to Tanaris? It didn’t matter if you have the whole route on your map, you could only fly to a flight point directly connected to your current location, at which point your trip would stop until you talked to that flight master and picked the next connecting flight point. Non-stop flights eventually came, but for a long stretch you had to get off the bird to catch your connecting flight.
Still, it probably wasn’t as bad as taking the tram from Stormwind to Ironforge, getting distracted, and then finding yourself heading back to where you started again.
Hunters with Ammo and Quivers
I still have a few old hunters I rolled up back in the day on various servers that still have quivers or ammo pouches with ammo in them. Hunters were really this strangely different class back in the day, which I think explains some of the love/hate relationship people have with the class even today.
So yes, you had to have ammo for your ranged weapon. And you had access to better ammo as you leveled up, and getting that was pretty much critical to remaining effective. And then there was player made ammo, which was a bit better… and also came in various levels.
And all this ammo had to go into your inventory, taking up precious space. And if you wanted to draw ammo from inventory you had to keep it in a quiver or an ammo pouch, something that took up a whole bag slot. Basically, hunters had four bags of general inventory while every other class had five. Whoever thought that was a good idea had never done The Green Hills of Stranglethorn.
Hunter Pet Skills
This was one of those neat ideas that became awkward as you progressed. Like every other class, Hunters had to go back to their trainer to get and upgrade their skills. But not all of them were available to the trainer. Some pet skills you had to learn in the wild. What that meant was putting your pet in the stable (three slots only, no epic collections of pets back then), running out into the wild without your essential combat buddy, finding a mob with the skill you wanted to learn, taming that mob, then fighting along side it for a while before you would finally learn the skill, at which point you would abandon that pet and head home to teach your pet the skill and then carry on with your adventures.
Hunter Pet Levels
Hunter pets had their own independent level back in the day. If you liked the model of a level 10 lion… like The Rake in the Barrens, with its special fast attack speed… but were level 30 already, you would have to go level up your pet to catch it up to your level. And the only way to do that was to grind mobs. You had to be really dedicated to a particular model to level up a pet more than a few levels.
Again with the hunters… I know, but they were special and popular and helped make Azeroth what it is today. But first they had to suffer.
So hunters also had a relationship with their pet based on being fed and letting them die and just fighting together. A happy pet did more damage, so you wanted to keep them happy, which primarily meant keeping them well fed. So in addition to having a while bag slot roped off and dedicated for ammo, you also had to keep a stack or two of pet food in your bags. And not just any food, but the RIGHT food. Some only ate meat, some only dairy, others a variety. There was nothing like being out in the field and finding you were short of food and the only vendor around only sold something your pet wouldn’t eat.
And it was possible that, if neglected, you pet might run away. I never had that happen, but the thought of it was enough for me to pack an extra stack or two of food… because stacks were only 20 units back in the day.
The Elf Run to Ironforge
If you made a Night Elf back in the day, you were probably found yourself pretty much alone over in Darnassus while your friends we all over having fun in Stormwind and Ironforge. The reason you were alone was that Westfall was one of the best early zones and led to the Deadmines instance, so nearly every night elf before you had already gone there. Getting there meant taking the ship to Menethil Harbor and then making the perilous run across the Wetlands to Dun Algaz and the tunnel that would bring you to the zone with Ironforge.
Of course, the Wetlands was a level 20+ zone and you were likely level 10 tops… so everything could kill you and your aggro radius was huge. And then, if you did make it and were a druid… well… you class trainer was back in Darnassus, which could be awkward. But at least you had a travel form. You did train the travel form, right?
The current design philosophy for dungeons in Azeroth is like the old slogan for Dominos, “30 minutes or less.” New ones are designed in that scope while older ones have been mostly trimmed back to that goal.
But back in vanilla WoW the design philosophy seemed to be… hrmm… more like, “We’re just doing something that seems cool!”
So instead of being configured for one run, some instances seemed to be designed for multiple visits. Everybody’s favorite early instance, The Deadmines, had a level split from the start to the end that was wide enough that if you were set for Van Cleef the start of the run was all gray to you. The Wailing Caverns were a long and confusing crawl. Uldaman was another with a wide level gap designed for multiple runs… and the worst death respawn location ever. There were three wings to Scarlet Monastery, but just getting there as alliance was a chore. Then there was the epic puzzling majesty that was the original Sunken Temple.
And many of these had quest lines that tied them to the zone they were located, so you would have to do at least some of the zone in order to get the quests. (Otherwise, for example, Gryan Stoutmantle wouldn’t shout your name to the whole zone after you defeat Van Cleef.) I look back at our instance runs through vanilla back in the 2006 to 2008 range and times were a lot different. (Also, if you want to wallow in nostalgia I have a video from our first year and another one devoted just to Sunken Temple.)
It was, when it came to five person dungeons, a very different time.
The Great Stranglethorn Quest Gap
One of the things Syp mentioned was quests not filling in the experience gap to keep you advancing. But that one is a lot deeper. The thing is, quests were fine, you just had to make sure you did them all across a couple of zones. For example, I would move back and forth between Stormwind and Ironforge, each of which had their own early zones, and do all the quests in both areas. Doing that would keep you moving into appropriate level content and was easy enough to find.
Eventually though you were funneled into Stranglethorn Vale, with quests both odd and annoying, crowded with the flow of players, and unable to provide the experience boost needed to get you past it via questing alone. There was a reason I had a number of characters sitting levels between 35 and 40 unplayed for ages.
If you went and did some research you could find Desolace as a possible alternative, though getting there from Menethil Harbor would take you an hour or so, if you didn’t get lost. And there, in the pre-Maraudon days the quest chains were… odd? You could end up running around trying to quest there, Arathi, or in the Swamp of Sorrows and still find yourself coming up short. Or that was how it felt. But once you got past that hurdle to about level 45 or so, more options started to open up, and from 50 to 60 there was almost an embarrassment of choices. This was one of the reasons that Blizzard went back and filled in the Dustwallow Swamp with a bunch of additional quests.
There are many others. Useless trade skills, no quest locations on the map, dancing for tips, restricted class roles in raids, five minute pally buffs, Addons yet to be imagined, and more swim in and out of view in my brain. But these are the ones I wanted to put on the growing list of what to possibly expect from WoW Classic.
Addendum: I case it is not clear, I embrace all of these items as part and parcel of the original experience and, in case you haven’t read any of my past posts about wanting something like WoW Classic Blizzard, I will be there on day one when it is launched,