Why is there so much nostalgia about Vanilla WoW?




Why is there so much nostalgia about Vanilla WoW?



Vanilla WoW was released roughly 15 years go. Compared to the retail version of the game (Battle for Azeroth) it is clunky, user unfriendly and generally bad for the today’s standards.  So, why is there nostalgia about this awful game? After playing it for a couple of weeks, we now have the answer. 

Why the nostalgia?

Nowadays, Battle for Azeroth and, for that matter Legion too, are simpler, more user friendly and very convenient to play. You can demonstrate how good you are at the game by just linking your Raider.io score and a bunch of achievements. You can group with total strangers, do a Mythic+, say gg at the end and probably never meet the same guys again. You get your first mount at level 20. The gold is abundant. The game itself can be paid with it by just playing and farming for a couple of hours per week. Then the new season and the new raid come and on the hamster wheel we are again raiding and boosting our raider.io score again. 

In BFA you can instantly find a group via the LFG interface, either for a Mythic+ or for a raid. You can clear most of the game content even without having and active guild. The retail WoW version nowadays is so much about efficiency and speed. You do things rapidly and then jump in another group and do other things. You can rely on the infinite layers and never wait and waste time for anything. You have heirlooms for your alts and the levelling process is like a breeze. 

The zones and the content scales with your level. You have such an abundance of information about everything, including guides like this here and the rest of ours. If you fall back in your personal progress with the content or if your group or guild gets stuck at a given boss, you can simply wait for the new season and try again. The several words, which can easily describe retail are: speed, functionality, efficiency.

Why the nostalgia then? Well, it is like your very first girlfriend or boyfriend in high school

A few awkward kisses. A few secret notes passed through common friends. A couple of cheap beers in the park. And yet, despite of the whole this thing, you remember this episode of your youth and sometimes, when you are alone, a crooked smile will appear on your lips, remembering those days.

That is for you though. Most of us reading and writing this article had their first truly immersive PC gaming experience while logging for the first time in WoW Classic. We didn’t have girlfriends or boyfriends. They were in Azeroth – either in front of the Ironforge Auction House, or in Barrens, trolling in the chat. The non-native speakers of English firstly discovered that they can make friends on the other side of the world and do stuff together with them, just like in real life. And so on, and so forth.

In Vanilla you had to manually find a group, oftentimes persuading the group leader to take you just by your own words. The LFG interface came later in TBC. In Classic, it was up to you to find a group, a guild and a PvP team. This means that month after month you were building personal relationships with the rest 39 people from your raid. You liked some and some didn’t like you. But you were all united in achieving the same goals: kill Ragnaros, or Onyxia, or Nefarian or whoever was the final boss at the time. 

This in turn made you all part of a tightly knit community, working together for the greater good. Another thing was that all the content was relevant at all times. Even the hardcore guilds which were farming Naxx and AQ40 were still venturing into MC hoping to get the legendaries for their tanks and DPS. There were no seasons as in retail. But even if you started later into the course of the game, you could still find a guild to take you in and get raiding together. 

Speaking about communities, we should also note the servers’ populations. Without the layering system, all the content was strictly server specific. You could wait in a queue for Hogger’s head until your group tagged the boss himself and sometimes the wait was significant. Also, one of the most notable things was the community’s ability to deal with the toxicity and obnoxious attitude of some players all by itself. Just spam for two or three afternoons in /2 Trade that someone ninja looted an item or stole the goods you traded him. 

Sooner or later members of his guild would hear and he will most likely be kicked out of his guild. And after a couple more of these situations, his reputation would spread and he wouldn’t be invited to any guild and raiding community. All of this without writing tickets and speaking to Game Masters in game. 

Furthermore, many of us played Vanilla WoW with our real-life friends and, as the classic wow loading screen tip said, we took our friends out of Azeroth too. But while in game, we continued our friendship and the same relations and jokes we had in real life. Some of us made friends from abroad and went visiting them and got visited in turn. All in all, the keywords in WoW Classic were community, friendship, relationships.   


Vanilla WoW has topped the viewership of Twitch for quite some time now. But this is not only because of the nostalgia of those who played the original version. It is because they have told the new generation about the experience of those times. So, naturally the newer players are curious as to what is the fuss all about. 

And nostalgia is creating the said fuss. It is the usual longing about times long gone. Simpler times, where things weren’t all about the results but much about the process of getting there, too. Times of friendship and of exploring the unknown. Just like your grandparents, telling you stories about the life in the 60s and the 70s. Only here it is with axes, guns, claws and hammers. Pixelated ones, of course. 

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