No, I am not mistaken, my experience with Vanilla World of Warcraft ranks up there with the best experience I’ve had in gaming for over a lifetime. Yet, current commentators and Blizzard developers tell me that I am mistaken, that I, the most interesting one, the Malstrom, am in error. Despite private Vanilla servers of WoW going up, and being knocked down by cease-and-desist orders, we are still told there is ‘no market for Vanilla World of Warcraft’.
“But Malstrom,” you say, “the game is so much better.”
This is current WoW from Cataclysm:
This is Vanilla WoW:
1.1 – Initial Warcraft Launch, Nov 7th, 2004
1.2 – Mysteries of Maraudon – 3 wing 5 player instance introduced, Gurubashi Arena introduced, first seasonal event(Winter Veil) introduced. Dec 18, 2004(1 month later)
1.3 – Ruins of the Dire Maul – 3 wing 5 player instance introduced, Meeting Stones created, first wold bosses created. March 7, 2005(3 months later)
1.4 – The Call to War – Epic Priest/Hunter quests added, PvP Honor System introduced. April 8, 2005(1 month later)
1.5 – Battlegrounds – Alterac Valley and Warsong Gulch introduced. June 7, 2005(3 months later)
1.6 – Assault on Blackwing Lair – Blackwing Lair introduced, Darkmoon Faire introduced, Battlemasters introduced, Warrior/Warlock tree revamp. July 12, 2005(1 month later)
1.7 – Rise of the Blood God – Zul’Gurub introduced(first 20 man instance), Arathi Basin introduced, Stranglethorn Fishing event introduced, Hunter tree revamp. September 13, 2005(2 months later)
1.8 – Dragons of Nightmare – 4 new World Bosses added, Silithus zone revamped. October 10, 2005(1 month later)
1.9 – The Gates of Ahn’Qiraj – Ruins of Ahn’Qiraj introduced(20 man instance), Temple of Ahn’Qiraj introduced(40 man instance), Paladin talent revamp. January 3rd, 2006(3 months later)
1.10 – Storms of Azeroth – Weather introduced, tier 0.5 sets introduced, Priest talent revamp. March 28, 2006(3 months later)
1.11 – Shadow of the Necropolis – Naxxramus introduced(40 man instance), Mage talent revamp, Shaman talent revamp. June 20, 2006(3 months later)
1.12 – Drums of War – Cross-realm Battlegrounds introduced, Rogue talent revamp. August 22, 2006(2 months later)
Clearly, much more was going on with Vanilla.
So much has been written and spoken on this subject, I will not repeat what others have said. There is another approach to look at this.
World of Warcraft took heavily from the Warcraft series. No one will deny that. But there was another Blizzard series that World of Warcraft utilized: Diablo. Diablo 2 came out in 2000. Diablo 2’s expansion came out in 2001. World of Warcraft, which was in development for four years, came out in 2004. Are you telling me that Diablo had no influence on World of Warcraft? Hah.
When World of Warcraft was in alpha, a Blizzard employee told me that playing it “was more fun than Diablo”. I always remembered that linkage. He did not say “WoW was more fun than Everquest” or “WoW was more fun than Warcraft 3”. It was Diablo.
Vanilla WoW has many similarities to Diablo gameplay. Most of the monsters you face are demonic and evil. They all drop some sort of loot. The loot game of Vanilla WoW, with its heavy emphasis on RNG, is identical to Diablo in so many ways. Can you say ‘Thunderfury’?
In Diablo, you pick a character, play to get new armor and weapons, pick talent choices, get gold, and team up to do boss runs. Yeah, that sounds like Vanilla WoW right there.
Vanilla WoW had many great things going for it that has been covered. It came out when broadband was entering mainstream, it had a fantastic world to explore, fantastic music, and $15 a month sounded like a steal compared to paying $50+ for games that do not last nearly as long. But there has been something disappearing from the gameplay making WoW a hollow shell. What is it? What could it be?
I did some checking on the Diablo franchise. After all, if this theory is true that Vanilla WoW touched the same Diablo fun gameplay (of getting better gear through RNG, etc.), then we should see something interesting in the Diablo line. Check this out.
“Very early on in the process we had some people who argued that we should not make the game isometric, that it would be better technology, more modern, if we made a third or first-person game,” Wilson told games.on.net. “I really would have nothing of it. For me a camera is not a technology choice, there’s more than enough first and third-person games out there.”
Above: Jay “Fuck that loser” Wilson
Yes, it came from THAT Jay Wilson.
Right before Diablo 3 came out, I heard from weary World of Warcraft vets that they cannot wait for Diablo 3 and just have that to replace their World of Warcraft experience. With guilds and raids, they had to deal with the politics and logistics of it. Wouldn’t it be more fun just to go back to Diablo? Again, the linkage of WoW and Diablo comes up. If it wasn’t present, then why would WoW veterans see Diablo as the WoW substitute?
“Oh Malstrom,” you say, “You are just putting up junk to say stuff. Only you and your crazy anecdotes believe there is a link between Vanilla WoW gameplay and Diablo. Silly Malstrom!”
But Diablo 3 was originally designed to be a MMO. Of course, such a MMO would disrupt Blizzard’s WoW. But as you know the saying, if you do not disrupt your own product, someone else is going to do it. This is why Apple disrupted its iPods with the iPhone. Why have an iPod if you have an iPhone? And the iPad is disrupting the Macbooks.
What games are eating into WoW? Skyrim for sure. I’d say even Minecraft. Instead of more MMOs being made, every game got MMO like features like server saves and Internet multiplayer and communication. You could have MMO experiences without the MMO. Blizzard also ran out of WoW story.
Honestly, WoW should have been put out in the back and shot with a WoW 2 being made. Perhaps after Wrath of the Lich King or Cataclysm. Part of the huge appeal of Vanilla WoW was that it was NEW and that it was people’s first MMORPG. Everyone was inexperienced with it. Now, there is too much of a gap between experienced players and noobs which means the game cannot cater to both groups.
I actually quit Vanilla WoW when it became nothing but RNG loot quests. That is not how I wish to use my time. Many people disagreed. But this is also the same reason why I do not get into Diablo. There is definitely a link.
And I would totally play Vanilla WoW. Not for the nostalgia, but for the craftsmanship of that world. Some mechanics are outdated, but many have yet to be duplicated by anyone or anything in gaming. We hunger for Vanilla because it has something that current games do not. Let us eat it.