World of Warcraft Classic

One of the sharpest critiques of modern World of Warcraft from WoW Classic players is its inclusion of a Dungeon Finder tool, which creates queues that connect players across multiple servers. While undoubtedly a fantastic quality-of-life feature, many WoW Classic players believe this undermines the social aspect of the game. It’s a fair point: World of Warcraft is an MMORPG, and as time has gone on, the “Massively Multiplayer Online” part of that has seemingly been put aside for convenience’s sake.

After stepping back into the retail version of the game (when the 9.0 patch was fresh), I mentioned that it felt more akin to an action-RPG than an MMO. Given the modern landscape of online gaming, this makes total sense: The MMO genre in particular has seen an overhaul as time has gone on, and the influence of action-RPGs has been more and more noticeable. Online communities are no longer solely formed in-game; Discord servers and Facebook groups have filled this role. 

There’s a quote from a Wired article last year written by Cecilia D’Anastasio that really stands out to me: 

When [D’Anastasio] told [Ion] Hazzikostas that World of Warcraft Classic felt lonely, he described how, back in the day, much of the novelty of the game was the ability to talk to strangers online. He recalled his first time doing so, while running a dungeon, and the Texan and English accents he encountered over voice chat. “Today, that’s the default,” he says. “Today, almost every multiplayer console or PC game has voice chat, friend lists, social networking systems built into it. They’re almost inescapable. That’s not a unique selling point of World of Warcraft.”

The community’s #NoChanges stance for World of Warcraft Classic is loud and clear, and to date, there’s no Dungeon Finder tool in Classic. You have to make groups for instanced content the old way: recruiting people to join you. The problem is that people were either 1) already sticking with pre-formed groups, 2) using external applications like Discord or LFG-style add-ons to find groups, or 3) not even playing through the content in question.

For all intents and purposes, the Classic crowd had won: they were getting their game, minus the quality-of-life changes that they argued were undermining the social elements of the game… yet the game feels empty.

World of Warcraft Classic

I recall a lively community back when Classic first launched, filled with people looking for players to take part in high-level dungeons and entry-level raids such as Upper Blackrock Spire. The problem, though, is that no one actually wanted to do that content. We all needed our best-in-slot trinket! Everyone wanted to work on their Onyxia attunement! Once that was completed, we were done and over with it, ready to move on to whatever was necessary to obtain our next best-in-slot item.

Of course, not everyone had this mindset. I can promise you that plenty of people enjoyed the experience of running through both wings of Stratholme. They enjoyed diving into Blackrock Spire. Friendships were formed, relationships were strengthened.

I would argue, however, that those people were the minority. For most, their time spent in World of Warcraft Classic was waiting for world buffs and then logging into an alt character who had almost no chance of going through Upper Blackrock Spire. What was the point? This was old content with no upgrades for a majority of players.

Incidentally, you’d get people doing this particular instance because they could acquire the Head of Rend Blackhand and get the Warchief’s Blessing buff. This was ultimately sold by most players, of course, but that’s a topic for another day.

One thing that Blizzard (thankfully) fixed with The Burning Crusade Classic was ensuring these dungeons would remain relevant. They did this with the introduction of both the Heroic Difficulty, as well as the Badge of Justice currency, which players obtain by killing bosses. Remember that Hellfire Ramparts dungeon that you ran back at level 61, 62? It’s relevant again, not just for upgraded heroic gear, but also raid-level epic gear too!

The Burning Crusade Classic

Blizzard seems to have cracked the code for getting players back into dungeons once they’re in raid gear, whether it’s a small group of people playing through challenging content, or min-maxers wanting the best of the best gear available to them. There’s just one, small, tiny problem…

Everyone wants to run these heroics. That means if you play a DPS class, which are a dime a dozen, then I hope you like waiting a lot. No joke, I recently waited 90 minutes for a dungeon, only to be bailed out by friends who logged in right when I was about to give up. While this is true to the original version of The Burning Crusade, it’s not really a great experience.

I want to go back to the Ion Hazzikostas quote I mentioned earlier:

Today, almost every multiplayer console or PC game has voice chat, friends list, social networking systems built into it.

It’s true: There’s a multitude of widely accessible social functions in virtually every (non-Nintendo) game out there, whether its in the game or via an external application. While World of Warcraft Classic lacks modern quality-of-life features such as the Dungeon Finder tool, you can argue that people have now created them outside of the game. Back in Vanilla WoW, raids were put together outside of the game via Discord channels where people would check an applicant’s gear, logs, and track record to see whether or not they were “qualified.” Server-, guild-, and even class-specific Discord servers have various channels dedicated to finding groups. Coordinated efforts were created for factions to queue as a full group in battlegrounds.

Blizzard may not have added a Dungeon Finder tool to World of Warcraft Classic, but players have found plenty of ways to circumvent that. Just one recent example, the LFG Bulletin add-on, collects message in various chat channels in an easy-to-read list so you can figure out who’s looking for what.

If you’re not willing to use an add-on or go outside the confines of the game for group-finding, you’ll have to scroll through messages traveling faster at the speed of light. Is it as efficient as an actual queue where you can form groups with people exclusively on your server? No, we wouldn’t want to endanger the “classic experience” that longtime players crave. Instead, we’re going to have them waste time trying to get a group together, only for someone to have to leave by the time the group is finally assembled. 

The Burning Crusade Classic

The Burning Crusade Classic has been an incredibly enjoyable experience with a multitude of things to do and accomplish. There’s no harm in making the instanced content more accessible. The #NoChanges version of Classic is long dead — servers can handle more people, world buffs can be stored, Black Lotus spawn rates were altered, Seal of Blood is on Alliance, character boosts and purchasable mounts exist, and so on. Blizzard needs to embrace all this and enhance the player experience instead of ignoring the problem.

I already run pick-up groups that don’t speak a single word to each other or refer to other players’ by class, not name. That’s just the way things are in 2021 for an MMO. For many, it’s about the destination, not the journey. So isn’t it time we make that journey a little bit smoother so we can get to that destiny just a little bit faster?

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x