Over the past few months, the conversation around the world of classic World of Warcraft (WoW) has predominantly centered around the burgeoning hardcore scene.
A surge of players have explored this hardcore world, drawn to the distinctive appeal it offers. However, even as official servers have been confirmed for release later this summer, there remain many questions regarding the rules and allowances for these servers.
But it’s not solely the hardcore scene that has seen a resurgence on classic servers. In the midst of this growing hardcore narrative, the ‘regular’ classic servers have experienced a considerable influx of players, a phenomenon that has somewhat flown under the radar. And these aren’t just individuals casually perched on their bug mounts in Capital Cities, they’re players returning for Battlegrounds, open-world Player vs Player (PvP), raiding, and leveling on entirely new characters.
Despite the server’s phase of content stagnation and the absence of further updates, players are returning, willing to start anew. This trend suggests that it isn’t only hardcore players finding a renewed home in classic WoW.
Both hardcore and regular players are seeking something that cannot be provided by a single new server release. While the confirmation of hardcore servers is certainly a step forward, the question arises – is it also time for a rejuvenation of the 2019-esque vanilla classic?
The rise in the number of non-hardcore servers deserves exploration, delving into the reasons behind why players are returning to them. Blizzard should, perhaps, take into consideration the success of these servers, not just the hardcore servers, for the betterment of the game.
Vanilla WoW has always held its charm. Even when juxtaposed against The Burning Crusade (TBC) and Wrath of the Lich King, it offers a unique experience. With its distinctive features like no flying, 40-man raids, World Buffs, extensive stacking of buffs, dubious class balance, PvP ranking, a vast open world, and much more, it has a special allure. While some players might balk at the thought of returning to such a format, others eagerly anticipate a chance to relive these experiences.
Despite its quirks, the number of players returning to these servers is astonishing. Though precise player numbers are a closely guarded secret by Blizzard, a casual log-in and a stroll through Stormwind and Orgrimmar, or a walk through the leveling zones, show a robust player presence. This observation isn’t just limited to a specific server or region, but can be seen across various servers, indicative of the game’s popularity.
Players are flocking back to experience everything from the end game content to the PvP encounters. The appeal of classic WoW doesn’t rest solely on hardcore elements. A more casual, laid-back gaming style where a single death doesn’t spell the end for your character holds equal allure for many.
There’s clearly a demand for the classic WoW experience – the option to trade, to group, and if they die, to simply resurrect and continue on their merry way. It’s a less demanding and more relaxed experience than the hardcore version, free of the fear of griefing or losing your character. At the end game, there’s also less min-maxing or gatekeeping compared to the hardcore setting.
However, it’s not just about the number of players returning or the experiences they seek. The question at the heart of this conversation is why players are gravitating back to a version of the game with no further updates