I remember the first time I played World of Warcraft. It was 2005 and I was in seventh grade. I thought World of Warcraft (WoW) was stupid. I saw my brother play it for hours and hours just wasting the days away. It just looked plain stupid. Then one day, Tony was gracious enough to let me try playing on his account. I figured why the hell not. I took his seat at the computer and I made my first character: a level one Gnome Warlock appropriately named “Hamsterman.” Within minutes I fell in love with Hamsterman and the true World of Warcraft: the continent of Azeroth. After three hours of constant play Tony had to pry me away from his computer. I did not want to leave.
I continued to play World of Warcraft year after year and for every expansion of the game. However, the fun did not remain the same. Over the years the game became more and more dull and for the longest time I could not put my finger on it. However, nearly 10 years later as I logged into a private server that runs the game as it was from back in 2006, I have figured out why World of Warcraft was not able to remain the same. World of Warcraft became centered on reaching the end-game content and it lost its focus on the journey. In the original iteration of WoW or “Vanilla” as it is referred to, most players would never reach the maximum level. In every expansion to the game, a player that could not reach the last level was to be (and is today) considered a total noob. And even worse, as noobs commonly reach max level to this day.
Back in the OG days WoW was fucking hard. Reaching max level was a really big deal: it was not easy. Most players did not do it and the ones that did, never got very far in end game content. WoW was this endless time sink where you could always pour more and more hours into it and you would never be done with what was available in the game. This was the beauty of Vanilla World of Warcraft. Again the expansions of World of Warcraft are too focused on the destination of max level, and thus they have lost track of the journey: what really made the game fun in the first place. Now WoW has changed over the years and the end game raid content the game produces is top notch, no one can dispute that. This post is not to rip on World of Warcraft entirely as games do evolve, but more to lament the change that happened to the game. If you were a player that started playing WoW after an expansion release then the game has more or less always felt the same to you. This is because the game for you has always been about being the maximum level and pursuing end game content. Now, if you were one of the blessed individuals (and I truly believe that we were blessed) that was fortunate to play Vanilla World of Warcraft, you will most likely agree with me that it was the best game ever created. Period.
Vanilla WoW was special. It was hard. Leveling took forever. You needed to interact with people to get stuff done, and sometimes they took your shit. And then worse you got ganked by someone else who was a higher level from the opposing faction. The game was the absolute opposite of instant gratification. And this is precisely why everyone loved it, especially in hindsight. Today we can hop into WoW and hit max level instantly and get solidly geared in close to no time. This is not to diminish the skill that top notch WoW players achieve or their accomplishments (WoW is still in certain areas of it a very challenging game), but there is no comparison to the feelings of accomplishment felt back in Vanilla. Everything about Vanilla was hard as fuck, not like today where the only truly hard achievements are Mythic Level Raiding and High Rated PVP. This in effect reduces WoW to World of Boredom: Unless you are in a Mythic Raid and or 2200+ Arena/RBG.
But there is hope! Nostralius, a private server for Vanilla WoW praised for its stable servers has returned from its slumber now relaunching itself as the Elysium Project. For those like me that wish to play Vanilla WoW and bash our heads against the wall trying to get that Cruel Barb 4% drop rate in The Deadmines, there is hope. And I will say that this hope is tasty. Meet my new avatar. Appropriately a gnome as I had to return to my roots, but I decided to switch it up and go from Warlock to Mage. Meet Wzrdgirl. The hottest level 6 mage on the server. I only have 3 moves, basic attack, fireball, and frost armor, but I will wreck you.
I think I have more at this level but I need to find a mage trainer. Yes that is right. You had to find trainers and buy spells back then. You didn’t get shit for free. And the hearthstone has a 1 hour cool-down. Lol.
So far I am absolutely loving the game just like I did in the old days, but possibly even more so as this time around I’m not in middle school, I get to understand the game in a more cerebral fashion. But hey, maybe this will be a drawback and I have just been nostalgic this whole time. Hell, we are going to find out. From time to time I will post about my adventures on Nostralius and my thoughts on the old content, whether it really was as good as I remembered, and for better or for worse.
If you are interested in joining me in my Vanilla WoW adventure just shoot me an email about it or add me in game. Name is Wzrdgirl. The game is very old so just about any computer today can run it smoothly without experiencing the brutal lag we used to get playing it back in the day. I hope to see some of you soon. For the Alliance!
See you in Azeroth.