Right — first things first. If the slow unraveling of quest giver text is driving you nuts, there is a way to switch it to instant text. When I first saw the slow quest text last night it struck me as very out of place. Then, through the night I remembered. This was a thing I turned off in the past. Generally instantly upon logging in to a new character.
Secondly, I switched it up from Human to Orc. Originally I had planned on running through the Elwynn Forest chain — as it is the starting area I remember most fondly. But I’ve done a lot of alliance in my most recent retail WoW play and one of my longest persisting mains in the past was an Orc Warrior. So I thought it would be nice to change it up a bit, while still keeping a bit of that nostalgic feel for a place and thing I’d done before.
Plus, I also then remembered just how much I hate Westfall.
The Den (Orc & Troll Starting Camp)
I started the night full vanilla. That is to say — no mods of any kind. I thought that is how I’d keep things too, unless I started to raid (which I viewed as extremely unlikely).
For a starting character this was fine. There aren’t too many skills anyway, and bag management is simply around not picking up more unstackables than you’re willing to go back to sell for. And I have very little tolerance for going back to sell outside of aligning it to a round of quest hand-ins.
Beyond that, I was struck by a few things off the bat:
- The kill / item required counts for quests were very high compared to retail.
- There are no map indicators of any kind for quest locations out of the box.1
- Actually reading the quest text is, as a result, far more important.
And I wonder if it is that last bullet that led the Blizzard devs of the time to default to the slow unraveling of quest text.
After the initial shock, from being so accustomed to not only MMORPGs, but all games now providing quest markers by default it took me a while to actually remember the experiences of doing this in the past.
I remember looking for Mankrik’s wife based on the description alone. I remember looking for items in the open-world dungeons by having to explore with hints alone.
I’m not convinced this is a better experience than having quest markers, but I’m also not convinced it isn’t. As I noted — it makes reading the quest information vital, and provides an aspect of puzzle solving otherwise absent. When I was heavily into Morrowind, I loved this aspect. I hated it when Oblivion brought in the quest and location markers. It felt as if a whole part of the game had been ripped out.
But then in the context of MMOs, I’m still, like it or not, a subscriber to the way of thought that the ‘real’ game starts at the end, and everything else is in-the-way-filler. I find it difficult to enjoy leveling for leveling’s sake.
And I understand that if WoW Classic is to have any future for me, that mindset will need to adjust. I will admit too, that I received a small spike of joy at working out where Sarkoth was hiding without any outside assistance. It wasn’t a quest I remembered at all until I spied the plateau referenced in the quest text, triggering a dim and foggy voice of memory to say, ‘go right to get up’ — so I did and there he was.
Less fun though?
It appears that no matter how many times I do this place, and swear to myself that next time I’ll remember the path — I don’t. Also add on top that I somehow let my quest hand ins get out of sync, and I found myself here one or two times more than was necessary.
It was also here that I asked myself, ‘Can I run safely all the way out?’
Turns out — yes, yes I can. I didn’t get dazed which struck me as odd. I remember there being a defense and attack skill interaction here, but I wouldn’t have thought my little bitty warrior sufficiently over their attack skill to warrant not getting dazed at all.
Hmm. *Goes to look it up*
Oh OK. That might explain it. It has to be a melee attack, and mostly the enemies in here are fireball casting imps. I must have been at least a little lucky with the Felstalkers.
In any case, many slaughtered pigs, slapped peons and selected apples later, the quests in this area dried up. I’d made it to level 5 — almost 6 — and was being sent on my way to Sen’jin Village.
It was also here that I decided I would throw some mods in after all. Mostly those recommended by Belghast in a recent post. The knowledge that ElvUI existed for Classic — the base UI for my retail play — was enough to tip me over.
After installing and spending a little time configuring, I turned to run from The Den. It had been my home for the past little while, so I waved.
I had planned on playing through this section today as well… But the energy just wasn’t there, as I’m still rather on the sick side of things. It wasn’t just energy in facing WoW Classic, I didn’t play anything else either.
I ran myself over though, and picked up the quests. Now — these ones I remember a lot more vividly.
This is a portion of a much longer Tweet thread, that is well worth a read. (It took me a while to find it again! I was desperately searching through recent blog posts, convinced it was Kaylriene who had written on the topic.)
I may not be able to remember the exact location of everything on the isles off the coast from Sen’jin Village but I sure as hell remember the pain of exploring them as a newb. Densely packed, team AI mobs. Even going through it with my brother didn’t make it much ‘better’ from a very functional, play efficiency point of view.
But it created shared stories. And emotions. Ones which in the moment might have been frustration, sure — but also ultimately ones which ended in triumph.
I don’t know if WoW Classic will recapture much of this for me now or not. WoW wasn’t my first MMO which I certainly think to be a large factor.
But we’ll see how it goes. While I still completely expect to be done with WoW Classic before the end of my first subscription period — that time isn’t here yet. I plan to play more as energy allows.