Daily Archives: September 22, 2022

Achievements, Northrend, and Classic Destinations

I had this list of things I wanted to write about before Wrath of the Lich King Classic went live, and now it is suddenly happening next week and I am scrambling to get in those last few pre-launch posts.

Another Day Closer

Wrath of the Lich King occupies a very special spot in the history of World of Warcraft.  It was the peak of the game’s popularity, it was a point when they seemed to get the flow of content updates just right to keep people engaged, and it was the “before” state of the game to Cataclysm‘s “after” situation, and the slow decline.

The early WoW timeline

And, for purposes of this discussion, it was very much the dividing line between “classic” and “modern” World of Warcraft.

That line, however, isn’t hard and precise, something that changed on December 7th, 2010 when Cataclysm launched.  WotLK arrived as the peak of the classic era and ushered in over the two years of its run things that changed the game nearly as much as the next expansion did.  The Dungeon Finder no doubt leaps to mind, which made the dungeon running experience a very different experience.  Cataclysm shut the door on classic, but Wrath set us on a path towards that.

But there were also achievements, which came in with the pre-patch.  I had to look that up because, in my brain, I had the notion that it came in later.  But all my earliest achievements are dated October 14, 2008, which makes it part of the 3.0 expansion pre-patch.

Achievements were one of the big splashy features, something that maybe didn’t change the game the way the Dungeon Finder did, but changed the way people felt about the game and how some of us approached playing it.

I have said this before, and I will reaffirm it now, that I have always been a pretty big fan of Blizzard’s approach to achievements.  They seemed to me to strike the write tone with few exceptions, made for a nice mix of gimme level items to peak game aspirations with plenty of oddball items in between.

I didn’t spend days fishing for coins in the fountain in Dalaran because it was the best mechanic in the game.  I did it because I wanted the Coin Master achievement.

Dalaran fountain fishing galore

So I was into it, at least to some extent.  I was good for goofy stuff or things like the explorer achievement, but I never quite made it there for the Loremaster.

And I get that achievements were not universally beloved.  Some people saw them as an immersion breaking intrusion in the play time.  I would have been fine if Blizzard had given people the option to hide achievements.  I’m pretty sure I wrote a post about that at some point, but can’t be bothered to dig up everything I am referencing.

But the message here is that I was largely pro-achievements when the showed up in Azeroth and have spent many happy hours doing things to add one more to my list of those earned.

Which leads me to Wrath Classic achievements.  I don’t care for them.

Seriously.  One of the reasons I know when achievements came in to the game is that when the Wrath Classic pre-patch dropped and I got my first achievement, I went looking to figure out how the Dungeon Finder got excluded but these made their way in.  I’d be willing to trade one for the other if they were from the same era.  But no, they were a day one feature so there is no “classic” argument to be made in order to exclude them.

So what is the problem?  Why am I suddenly anti-achievement?

It is actually a pretty simple explanation.  I’ve already done them.

Seriously, that is it.  I have fished in the fountain, danced drunk at Brewfest, run all the dungeons, earned all the mounts, and whatever else I might have been willing to do when I was 14 years younger and seeing all of this for the first time.

I shouldn’t begrudge anybody who wants to go do them, but I’ve been there, done that, and likely won’t put in the effort again.  I can log into retail and see them all if I want to reminisce.  Now I want the hide achievements feature for myself.

Which I suppose brings up one of the flaws in the retro server experience.  I want to go back and rekindle some memories of good time, relive a few good time, and enjoy the game as it was back in the day rather than the state it is in now.

Honestly, I’d like to get on whichever bus to Northrend that plans to stay there.  There is already buzz about Cataclysm Classic, and I have opinions… not all negative… about that for another post.  I am saying now (and we’ll see if I change my mind) that I’d like WoW Classic to culminate in Wrath and just left there for people to work through at their leisure.

Because another problem with retro servers is that they tend to be accelerated experiences.  And maybe in a year I’ll feel that I’ve spent enough time in the cold.  But right now Northrend is a destination, not a stop on the journey for me.  Perhaps if I am allowed to stay I’ll even go fish in the fountain in Dalaran, just for old time’s sake.

And maybe that is my problem… or the problem with retro servers… the lack of commitment by the company to the experience.  If I could just stay on a server that ended at Wrath, would I be happier, more committed myself, and willing to invest in the experience?  I certainly think I would.  But like most players, there is a notable history of discrepancy between what I say I want and what I’ll actually go all-in on.