With the team spending their time scrubbing questionable content while Shadowlands founders and their legal problems continue, Blizzard has decided to play the nostalgia card again, returning to the WoW Classic well that got them out of the doldrums of Battle for Azeroth.
Last week Blizzard announced WoW Classic Season of Mastery, which will be their second run at a vanilla experience.
That means some new fresh start WoW Classic servers will be coming our way at some as yet unspecified future date.
But wait, there is more.
Taking lessons from the original WoW Classic run Blizzard has decided to move the dials a bit when it comes to how the game plays.
To start with, players will level up faster. Per the announcement:
We’re planning on increasing experience gains from what they were in the first iteration of WoW Classic. Our current plan is to set them close to what the 1-60 XP rates are in Burning Crusade Classic with a bigger focus on quest XP increases.
That should flatten out the slump from the late 30s to the late 40s when it comes to the leveling curve, or at least keep players from having to scrounge for every single quest in every zone before moving on. I do like the pace of the Burning Crusade Classic 1-60 leveling, but I somehow managed it with three characters before that hit.
There are also a couple of “quality of life” changes mentioned in the announcement:
- Meeting Stones converted to Summoning Stones
- Increased Mining and Herbalism nodes
The former seems like a bit of a cheat, though I suppose I am biased having gone through WoW Classic without summoning, but mining and herbalism nodes did seem to be a bit of a choke point. As Blizz points out, more players are on classic servers than were back with the original launch, so maybe that deserves a review.
Blizzard is also going to introduce honor system and battlegrounds right away rather than trying to simulate the progressions (and problems) that were seen both back in the day and with the WoW Classic phases.
But the big focus of this appears to be on raiders and raiding guilds. Do I once again detect the hand of Holly Longdale guiding this? Certainly raiders were a key demographic for the EverQuest retro servers.
While the new servers will go through the same six phase plan that WoW Classic did originally, the goal is to roll them all out at an every other month cadence, so the final phase will be available in less than a year.
Meanwhile, the team is concerned that the raid bosses seemed a little bit too easy in WoW Classic, so they are making some adjustments to increase the challenge in order to make groups wipe at something closed to the 2004 rate rather than the 2019 rate. Those include:
- World buffs (like Rallying Cry of the Dragonslayer and others) disabled in Raid instances
- Restoring mechanics that were removed early on to some Raid bosses
- No boss debuff limit (up from 16 debuffs in WoW Classic)
- Increased health on bosses, to offset player buffs and the removed debuff limit
So get set your raid calendar I guess and get ready for tougher fights.
Now I wonder how popular round two of WoW Classic will be. There was at least a decade of pent up demand to see the content that had been missing since Cataclysm when it first launched in 2019. Who will be queuing up this time around?
Somebody will, I am sure. If the EverQuest progression server experience has taught us anything, is is that there is always SOME demand for a fresh start retro server experience. Daybreak seemed to be able to swamp a server and have queues throwing a fresh one out there every other year.
But Blizzard and WoW… well, they have their own complications. Leaving aside that the company is in bad odor due to its own bad behavior, they haven’t had Burning Crusade Classic running for all that long at this point, which has a lot of draw for raiders as well. I am certainly not feeling any huge draw for the vanilla experience… or a slightly reformed version there of… right now.
As noted, the launch date for this new round of servers has yet to be mentioned, though beta testing for them started yesterday. My invite must have gotten lost in the mail. Blizz has tried to address some of the outstanding questions, but we’ll have to see how this rolls out going forward.