Playing WotLK Alone on a Private Server is Still Better Than Playing Legion

Quick - some background about my WoW addiction, limited to just talking points:

  • Started playing in 2006, Vanilla on PvP server
  • Leveled 10 toons to 70 before moving to PvE server
  • Attended three Blizzcons
  • Quit playing for 2-years following WoD xpac
  • Four months on Legion, maxing several toons
  • 26 Toons total across three servers
  • Almost two years cumulative played time

I love playing World of Warcraft. I think that it's the best open-world game ever written and I've got mad respect for the developers.  Not so much for the designers, but Blizzard successfully took thousands of dollars from me in revenue for almost 10 consecutive years.

By far, my best memories of the game involve:

  •  romping around in Barrens, asking what's a "FP" at level 8...
  • Downing Arthas with my guild as a Warlock, then as a Healer Druid
  • My lock pwn'ing three plate-wearing ally slobs all my level or higher with dots
  • Lock/Paladin mount quests
  • BC Tailoring, shadow altar crafting
  • BC Crafturbating in general
  • Creating my first guild

I've blogged a considerable amount about the game - usually as a means to expressing frustrations over what I perceive as the inevitable erosion of the details, the base quality.  I mean, back in Vanilla and BC, WoW had more stats than baseball, right?  (Remember Elitist Jerks?)

I spent hours studying rotations to maximize DPS, bemoaned new patch releases knowing that my current favorite character was about be gobsmacked by Blizzard's nerf-hammer.  (To this day, I loathe Ghostcrawler for his attitude of general refusal to balance the classes.)

I've played other MMOs:  Rift, Guild Wars, FF, but none have had the staying power of WoW.  The closest game, I believe, to WoW in terms of playability and quality was Rift.  I think Rift went the other direction -- talent specs were incredibly complex and the community support never manifested to the degree when help was readily available for new characters.  What I loved about the game, however, was that you weren't penalized for selecting a particular talent tree -- all were equally playable.  A concept that has eluded Blizzard now for over a decade.

As a self-professed altaholic, I max'd out all the available professions across my toons.  Back in the day, gold was scarce and stuff was hideously expensive.  Gold sellers thrived.  Your first mount, at level 40 no less, would run you 100g.  Your elite ground mount was available at level 60.   (I still remember running out to Thrallmar in HP to see our guildie's first purchase of his elite ground worg mount!)  Rumor was that Blizzard has an economist on-staff that existed to keep the players poor and world-currency levels in-check.  Alts were an acceptable way to raise cash without  breaking your own bank in the AH.

After Wrath came several releases that showcased, in my opinion, a steady decline in game features and playability.  I have fond memories of playing before the GCD was implemented, when my alchemist could load up on  as many potions as scroll buffs as he had available, that dots could be applied as quickly as you  could press a key because, back then, instant-cast meant instant.

Talent trees required forethought and planning.  Making one wrong decision could mean your removal from the guild's raiding team.  DPS tables after every boss raid encounter were carefully examined and players were constantly seeking the best rotations.

Today, all that is gone.

Most of the player classes enjoy a three-button (sometimes four!) rotation.  Spells have been reduced to bare minimums for a talent spec and the talent trees don't even exist anymore.  Runecrafting, neglected for years after introducing DKs in Wrath were nerfed even further - something I didn't personally believe was possible.  No more buffs.  No more mage foods.

Hell - player classes really don't matter any more.

BC instances required strategic planning.  You needed crowd control, more often than not, more than one type of crowd control.  Completing an instance was an accomplishment and could take up to several hours.  Wipes were common place.  People worked together to accomplish a common goal. Rage quits were rare.

Today, all instances are a sprint to the finish line.  Blizz even rewards you for rushing through content as quickly as possible,  Were I a game designer, I would be mortified that players weren't afforded the opportunity to examine and enjoy the beauty of their surroundings.  BRD was an incredibly well-designed instance.  Full of towering majesties and hidden ways.  It took weeks to progress through these mega instances to fully view all they had to offer.

Today, you have to run balls-out to keep up with an over-powered tank who really doesn't even need heals any more.  DPS is considered second-rate in terms of requirements - don't keep up with the breakneck pace, arrive to late to the chain pull, you'll find yourself kicked without cause or explanation.  Whee.  Fun.

After four months of wallowing around whatever land Legion takes place in, spending time leveling guild level things, I just decided to quit.  Even after a two-year hiatus, enough was enough.  WoW, as it stands today, is clearly broken.  A game once admired for it's complexity has been reduced to console button-masher.  Delayed gratification, strategic planning, party balancing, all went the way of the Lich King.

Still, those johnny-come-lately players to WoW seem to enjoy the game.  They staunchly defend Blizzard's design decisions on the forums thinking the current release is the best game ever.  Meh.  Millennials.  Wouldn't be at all surprised to see that some are playing with console controllers instead of a mouse and keyboard.  That's how far the game has fallen - that it's even possible to play, successfully, that way.

Last weekend, I set aside some time and installed my own WotLK private server on my aging PC.  (I built this box about five years ago - it's still running Win7.)  I downloaded and installed the 16gb Wrath client.  Tweaked a couple of configuration params on the server side and, boom!  I had WoW running, version 3.3.5, June 24, 2010 release running on my PC!

Lag is about 4ms. 

(Side note - google: wow private server.  There's tons of information out there about how to get started.  It's not that complex and doesn't require high-end hardware.  I think Blizzard is really missing the revenue boat here by not selling a licensed version of previous releases along with the game clients....)

Events proc - I'm currently enjoying an exploit for the Fire (4th July) event where my newb toons can do those quests in the capitol cities and quickly make about 20gp.  Really a huge difference when you're playing without an AH community, a guild, or the ability to group instance.

I am absolutely loving it!  I have buffs back, trainers are relevant again, talent trees are back!  Inscription is a meaningful profession once again, and I have several more Runeforging choices.

Wrath, even playing the lonely wasteland of a private server, is still better then Legion.  Again, my opinion.  Think of it as a WoW version of Fallout and you'll start to understand.  Mounts are available at level 20 and cost 9sp.  Leveling isn't buffed - it's taken me almost 80 minutes of played time to get my mage to level 15.  Lots of walking.

I've even been able to locate some of the older, popular, addons via Curse.  

Crafting is relevant again.  Imagine -- actually using the stuff you make!

Some people would probably hate this style of play.  No one wants to be bounding about endlessly, back and forth, staring at the created beauty of the world around you.  Seriously, BC was just probably the most aesthetically pleasing release Blizzard ever made.  To have my own personal time machine, leveling my toons again, in an environment free from PvP, where I have to succeed on just my playing style and the configuration of my toon, this is the best way to play WoW.

And it's free!