The Reality of Vanilla WoW

I remember vanilla World of Warcraft. Every so often, you’ll see many players wistfully thinking back about the fondness for the old days. Thinking about how the game play and the difficulty was truly better then.

That’s Kodo-crap.

Let me tell you, those days weren’t all that great. People that remember it so positively are doing so through rose coloured glasses!

We’ll talk about the PvE side of things.

Raids consisted of 40 people. Of those 40 people, 10 were phenomenal. 20 were mediocre and average. The last 10 players were carried because they were either sleeping, AFK, or just plain stupid. Coordinating the efforts of 40 people was like trying to pull greased up weeds from the ground.

It took an abysmally long time to gear out people. Remember, this was when drops were 2 items per boss. We’re really lucky to have 5 items a boss on 25 man these days.

Don’t get me started on attunement quests? Having to grind through Blackrock Depths just to get keyed for Molten Core? I did so many of those runs to help my guildies get keyed.

Life before the dungeon finder was agonizing depending on your server. Sitting in chat for 3 hours looking for a healer for Undead Strat? Good luck. Oddly enough, that’s why I rolled a priest. Current SWTOR players can sympathize a little bit with that.

What about PvP?

Cross realm didn’t exist.

Alterac Valley battles took up the whole day (if not more).

Servers usually had one or two pre-form teams per faction and queues took longer than most in order to ensure both teams were lined up against other pre-forms. It made for some fun rivalries though. One of my first ever guilds in WoW was a PvP guild. All I did was Warsong Gulch, Arathi Basin, and Alterac Valley while playing on a Paladin.

Granted, there were some memorable moments.

Finishing my Benediction.

Killing Rag for the first time (on the last attempt, no less).

40 players acting in a cohesive unit for the first time after screwing up for hours on end instilled this amazing feeling. It was infectious. It’s like this feeling of accomplishment and the thought that “You know, maybe we really can do stuff”. All that coordination, all the wipes, they actually mean something when factored in with the 40 man raid.

I still hate it.

I’m so glad I never have to farm Whipper Root Tubers again.

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About Matticus

Matticus is the founder of World of Matticus and Plus Heal. Read more of his columns at WoW Insider. League of Legends player. Caffeine enthusiast.

Comments

  1. Amen! LOL My friends and I like to talk about how things were different back then. Like when you had to farm rep with the Timbermaw before you could make it to Winterspring (without dying repeated). And speaking of death run, remember the universal groan of everyone in the general chat when a level 1-10 asked how to get to Teldrassil from Stormwind? Hell, do you remember doing that run and forgetting to pick up the FP in Dun Morogh so that you had to run all the way back again?
     
    It’s fun to look back, but there are a lot of things I wouldn’t go back for. For example, I can’t relate to your raid experiences because I just couldn’t get into the raid scene. I wanted to, but I was told my hunter had to get the Baron’s cloak before she would be ready for beginning raids. So, I ran undead strat. For 6 months.
     
    I never did get that cloak. :-/

    • MotherOwl says:

       @captivehearts Exactly the things I liked about WoW Vaniolla. The hard times. NPCs in starter zones were red, you did not have FPs all over, you could go anywhere and take the Quests you were at level for, almost no prequesting needed.
          And yes I remember dying for the 2nd or 3rd time by falling off Teldrassil and never ever getting to my corpse. I remember the run through Wetlands – The coming of age rite of an ally toon. I remember looking all day long for a small mound of newly turned earth in Duskwood no glittering – and gloating as Dear Husband reached same Q 😉
      I remember how long it took me to level. I had a tauren hunter. and I levled him as quickly as possible for him to get Dig Rat Stew for my ally main (and recruited a guildie to buy it for me). After Cata I made a new one. I went to Darkmoon Faire, did daily fishing/cooking for achievements, I went exploring, and generally fooled around. I hit level 15 I typed /played. Almost exactly the same time played as my old hunter! Too easy? I think so.
      Why is it only the end game that counts, not the way up there. It was a real achievement to “ding” a new level in Vanilla. Now I do Ironman challenge to re-capture the magic of WoW.

  2. its always good to think of the past but change is necessary for the better.   I think its the memories that last  a lifetime is the reason why people think of vanilla often or another expansion pack. It wasn’t better it was just the friendships and experiences your shared with others occurred and changes over time.

  3. Darthkeller says:

    People always look at the “something new and shiny” as the best ever.  Talk to people who started in Vanilla, they’ll say it was the best.  Started in TBC – of course it was the “last time WoW was hard”.  Are you a “Wrath Baby”?  Well, if so, then Wrath was the greatest expansion of all time.  And if you’re like me and started in Cata, well…. it was ok…. Actually, Mount Hyjal was freaking awesome!!!  But  I’m a lore nerd.
     
    Most people don’t even know what they like, for example: Ask any raider about the Best Raid Tier.  There will be a majority of players, regardless of when they started, that will say Ulduar.  They also talk about how good ICC was.  But, Wrath was for “casuals”.  They talk about how easy Cata is, but when you talk to the top 100 guilds, they will talk about the difficulty of Heroic Ragnaros… 
     
    I do appreciate that you’re able to take off the glasses and look at things objectively.  Even though I started in Cata, I still think some of the older raids were much better (Ulduar is amazing!!!  Again, “lore nerd”, which might have something to do with it).  It’s always good to see Vanilla players who are able to look at that game in the light that it should held: a grind fest…. 

  4. I disagree, (nice way to start a post I know) but I kinda do agree with some points. Main reason to reminisce about Vanilla is the fact it put people in a lot better defined boxes. I remember standing in my felheart outfit and ppl were oggling me and going like: “woooww”, that kinda gave you the proper feel of the effort you put in the game. 
     
    I also don’t agree on your 40 man remark.. yes you could be carried but carrying didn’t really get you through the end content. 
     
    I do agree the game needed refinement but some things really weren’t working properly. LFG and Cross realm are a godsend, but attunement quests really put apart the people that want to play and belong to your guild. (and your remark about attunement to the core, there should still be some movies floating around showing how to solo it with little time 😛 )
     
    I think there are more good memories than bad ones. Alot more than I have with the current state of the game. Now it’s nothinig more than log on.. do your cd’s.. log on.. wait for raid to form.. discuss in /o what the state is of the guild.. perhaps do some random bg/arena a bit.. force yourself to get to the weekly vp cap seeing raid brings you 200 under.
     
    The feel of being free to “do” stuff is gone. Where are the days where you heard you can solo end game instances? Experimentation? All out war (ahhh southshore war how do I miss thee) ?
     
    That’s basically the main thing that’s missing, freedom.. it’s all forced now

    • Buddy, you must be the one of the lucky ones then. I’d only been in 3 guilds (2 of which were actually PvE oriented). Great thign about WoW is that even though it’s the same game, not everyone’s going to have the same experience. There’s all these different variables and stuff that affect people. 
       
      Soloing at level instances? Overpowered. I remember they had to nerf chests back in one of the SSC instances because Rogues kept farming them over and over and listing stuff on the AH. Yeah, it’s nice to be able to solo at level end instances, but they’d have to allow every class the ability to do that. 
       
      Speaking of world PvP, we’re getting that back soon enough anyway. 
       
      I’d actually argue that we have much more freedom now than we did before. You don’t really need to be in a guild to raid. You can always just hit the LFR. Or you can join a pug on a weekend, for one. You don’t have to wait around looking for the right group that will take you. You don’t have to keep running the same instances and praying valiantly for a gear drop when you can spend points to upgrade gear instead (KNOWING that you’ll get an upgrade vs RANDOMING into one). 

  5. Gnomegates says:

    The funny thing about the past, is that the further you get away from it, the more clouded it becomes. Your views on Vanilla are valid, while at the same time, there is an honest fan base for vanilla. For some reason some people choose to only remember certain things. Good or bad, and they tend to forget that there is always another side of the coin.

  6. mistressnonny says:

    Good gods, this. I played a warlock back in vanilla. I was brought as a freshly dinged 60 in crap gear because my guild’s raid group needed another lock for fearing on the first boss in BWL. I was literally the only lock that handed out healthstones to the raid. I was the only one that regularly checked in for soulstones. I also did more dps than half of the warlocks that were in purples, and I had greens. Unsurprisingly, we never made it past Vael and just returned to farming Ony and MC.
     
    I loved vanilla. In part, all of this, guilds and raiding, were new to me and I loved them. I loved being part of something, and succeeding where we did. I was with above raid group when we downed said boss for the first time and it was exhilarating. But there is a lot that I DON’T miss, and I really think the people that are crying that vanilla was better are looking through nostalgia glasses.

  7. My friend.. I disagree with you on almost everything except your last paragraph. Vanillia raids 40 man was absolutely amazing. The difficulity of the PVE content was extraordinary in comparison to what was introduced with following expansions. The only difference is that expansions bringed more nice looking well scripted visual boss fights but fell on difficulty and actual reward “value”/”feel” for conquering every so new dungeon.

    How is AV all day game a bad thing?! Thats one the reasons why I have a tear in the corner of my eye when I think about old days..

    “Life before the dungeon finder was agonizing depending on your server.
    Sitting in chat for 3 hours looking for a healer for Undead Strat? Good
    luck. Oddly enough, that’s why I rolled a priest. Current SWTOR players
    can sympathize a little bit with that.”
    Yes! It was painful task to find a group, teamup and do some dungeons and even harder to conquer PVE content like 40 man dungeons following ZG/MC/BWL. But guess what, items were distributed in much different manner, nowdays you log into the game all you see is flipping FinalFantasy look, everyone is shining and glowing, everyone has epic items and legenaries and all you need is a week worth of gameplay to get high quality gear! A week!. Back in the days when you meet someone who had half of his gear an epic item it meant something. The time and dedication you needed to spend in gearing up your character was rewarded once you went for world PVP or battlegrounds because a lot of people who were lazy or were just learning the game (which at the time was majority) were very low geared compare to someone who was in good raiding guild.

    You saying about finish of your benediction, letme tell you somthing, there was time when I was running my priest across battlegrounds with Anathema  on my back and Rank 10 above my name in blue pvp set. I was unstoppable, having people to just turn around and run away rather than face me and thats how I remeber old good days. If it looks like you need to refresh your memory. Go and try one of the private server out there and check out how good old Vanilla feels like after all this years!

    Kind regards,
    Renhyl @ Feenix wow.

  8. written like someone who is making money from current WoW

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