So you want to play Emerald Dream's Vanilla WoW
I’m seeing lately some vanilla WoW action since my boyfriend picked it up a few weeks ago, probably enticed by The Noisy Rogue’s adventure log. I peek over his shoulder as I go about my stuff. Does it look nice and pretty. I have already discussed those features that made the old WoW system superior to the one we have now, but until now I hadn’t thought much about the downsides (which, in turn, are the upsides of the new system). Let’s think about them.
So you want to play vanilla WoW? That’s great, it’s an experience that everybody should at least try, at least dip their toes in, once. Maybe just to see what it was like and look at the new game from a deeper perspective. There’s lots of things that are great about the old game, but sometimes I wonder if Blizzard was right in saying ‘We would have been in bad shape had we not done that [=turned casual]’, because I, at this point in my life, could not play WoW vanilla as I played it when I was younger. I turned casual. My younger goth self would be ashamed.
There are lots of ‘features of discomfort’ that make sense in a world that needs to pull their players in for longer periods of time in order to foster a stronger engagement. You could not just play one hour of vanilla WoW; you would achieve next to nothing. There are quests that take you back and forth between Lakeshire, Westfall, and Stormwind just to talk with people. Other quests ask you to deliver the innards of a beast that is found at the antipodes of the world from where you are standing. And finally there are quests in a zone that can only be tackled after you have levelled up from questing in another zone, often very far away.
What this achieves is a stronger bond between the players and the world (they know it so well, they have invested so much time and effort), but it discourages casual play. There is nothing wrong with that per se, but perhaps Blizzard saw that their demographic was turning older and casual and thought that they had to retain them somehow. They failed in the how, or perhaps they took the lesser of many evil design decisions, who knows.
So if you’re going to play ED and enjoy it duly, you’ll have to be willing to become engaged (that’s right, get that ring prepared!) Or you may want to play it as people play MMOs these days, just for the content. It can still work, if you take it that way: it is a challenging solo content when compared to what we are used to now. And it cannot be found anywhere else but in the private servers since Cataclysm overturned Azeroth. It’s a good nostalgia ride.
If you want to be part of the ED community, then you’ll have to devote a lot more time than you might be used to to getting the gear to start raiding, or to grind a lot of battlegrounds to get your rank up. And once you start, you will have to watch out for your consumables. I was reading up on paladin tanking in vanilla because tanking is now my thing and I abhor warriors, and I came upon this. That list of consumables made me my day. Thanks TBC for restricting the amount of grinding that some people will willingly go through!
Another thing that you will find changed in ED is the combat itself. It is slower, way slower. My boyfriend says that he likes it because it flows well, and it allows for in-combat chatting. The horror, the horror! Not the chatting part, that is neat. As I was arguing above, a lot of what goes on in vanilla WoW seems to benefit community-building and player engagement. What I don’t like any more as I used to like it when I played back then is the slow combat, the cancel-casting of heals, the loss of aggro and mobs everywhere because rage doesn’t build up or my paladin is out of mana or 1,5 seconds is too long to deal with a disastrous pull. To that, he argues that tanks in vanilla had not the sole responsibility of aggro, a misspull or overaggro was dealt with by the entire group, and he is thoroughly right. But the feeling of power of modern tanking is intoxicating. There should be a way to make the whole group participate in the aggro mechanics without making the tanks as maladroit as they were in vanilla. What is preferable, a more enjoyable, fast-paced tanking experience that places all responsibility on the tank’s shoulders; or a less enjoyable and more clumsy mechanic that forces the group to act like a group? As I said before, almost everything in Vanilla, and specially its inconveniences, help in creating a sense of community and virtual world. But for a casual player, the former is preferable. If we want, say, EQNext to succeed in pulling in the hardcore players, the community-builders, and benefit from a strong community, the latter is preferable, as Wolfshead attests. Still, if we're going to distribute responsibility around, let's not make the tanks flat-footed dimwits to balance it out.
Other minor things you should be aware of when entering Emerald Dream: no auto-loot (really!?); many of your favourite addons would not have yet been born; being a private server, it crashes from time to time, and sometimes stays offline for long periods; only warriors can tank; if your class has a healer spec, you will be required to heal in raids (and anywhere); no blood elves (this is a sad one for me); ways to make money are grindy and sometimes arcane; very few cool mounts, or cool gear in general; too many talent specialisations are unviable; boss mechanics are very simple and often reliant on gear-checks… and the good things: no LFD, no flying mounts, no asshats (or very few).
You may go in for the hardcore, community-focused experience -even if you do not raid, you will still need to invest a lot of time to feel that community around you, and it is that what I meant by hardcore, someone who invests lots of time-; or you may go in to relive old memories and poke at the old content, as a casual player. Have a fun time however you tackle this ‘new’ experience. I will be casually glancing at the game and waiting patiently for Diablo 3’s expansion and for TESO. No, the game itself isn’t interesting to me, but I would love to do some roleplaying in Tamriel.