World of Warcraft (Classic) Became My MMORPG of Choice

If you told me in 2004 that World of Warcraft would have become my favorite MMORPG of 2023, I would have told you that you were lying. I’ve talked about my newfound love of the genre more than enough over the course of the past few months, but I still can’t believe how enamored I am with a nearly 20 year old game. And when I say 20 year old game, I’m talking about World of Warcraft Classic.

For those unfamiliar with World of Warcraft Classic and what that entails, it means that Blizzard effectively made the “vanilla” version of the game with its very own set of servers. It isn’t entirely 1:1 with the World of Warcraft 1.0 experience, as it does have some basic quality of life features that make jumping into it a bit easier. That said, I love playing old MMORPGs; Lineage II was my main haunt for eight years and AION followed shortly after that, and both of those games were extremely grindy. So of course I’d love World of Warcraft Classic, where the game is focused on the grind and the experience. I don’t mean experience in the technical sense, but more or less just being in the game itself.

World of Warcraft has a level of immersion I’ve been missing in MMORPGs, along with environmental design that piques my curiosity. Classic allowed me to experience areas post World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, which is perhaps one of the most divisive expansions in the game to date. It’s given me access to areas that ended up changing to staggering degrees. Now I’ve already sung my praises about Season of Discovery, which encourages players to use the Rune system to try out unconventional builds, like Mages that heal or Warlocks that tank. But Classic has impressed me so much that World of Warcraft has been my go-to MMORPG, effectively usurping Final Fantasy XIV as my primary MMORPG.

Image via Blizzard Entertainment

Starting off as an Undead in Season of Discovery allowed me to explore The Undercity, the remains of Lordaeron from Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos and the hub for other risen (also known as the Forsaken). The area is full of incredible ambient noise and has fantastic sound design. Lingering in the throne room allows you to literally hear a pivotal cutscene from the RTS play out in chunks, echoing along the empty halls of the ravaged palace. But there is something unsettling about this area, as the mundane farmlands and provincial villages outside of The Undercity are awash with the mindless undead and the sky is forever a sickly green that taints the horizon. It edges on horror, which I find so interesting in an MMO. But the longer I played World of Warcraft and the more characters I created, the more I realized that each of these individual starting zones has so much packed into them that I just wanted to explore and experience them all.

Outside of these starting zones, which probably aren’t very novel to long-time World of Warcraft players, environments are vast and feel alive. Even The Plaguelands has enemies that roam in packs, with one particularly fearsome beast wandering around in random paths. After clearing out my quest log in The Plaguelands, I headed to The Barrens, taking a zeppelin to the other continent to meet up with friends that numbered some returning players and others entirely new to the MMORPG. This lush, golden savannah had herds of gazelle running through swathes of grass in a way that made the zone feel immersive. What also helped is the sudden influx of returning players as well, as all of the areas I traveled to, even the starting zones, had more than a dozen people wandering around and assisting others.

The game feels like the way MMORPGs did when I was a kid, and maybe that’s why I’m loving World of Warcraft Classic. It’s populated, areas are distinct with their own themes and enemy types, and the game feels vast in ways that other MMORPGs don’t. It amazes me that Classic has little to no loading screens, and that the game launched that way as well. I’ll probably keep playing World of Warcraft for as long as Blizzard continues to support it’s Season of Discovery servers, and Hardcore game mode. And I’ll probably keep playing retail as well on my Death Knight just because the game is so much fun.

I’ve just really come to love World of Warcraft, and I think so long as I enjoy the game casually it’ll stay that way. Which is what I’m planning to do, as exploring Azeroth and tackling dungeons with friends as they recount their time in the game has made this one of my favorite experiences of 2023.

World of Warcraft is available on PC.


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