Vanilla/early BC player returning, whats new?

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Hello folks, old time WoW player here.

Started playing around vanilla 1.3 or 1.4. had some fond memories of world pvp and long games of alterac valley. Ranked up to "champion" back in the day and with the release of burning crusade, got to arena 1850+ and then quit shortly after the patch where daily quests came out because I got bored. In that time I managed to level a rogue and mage to lvl 70.

Its been a long time and watching many old WoW videos, I felt nostalgic, decided to poke around again a little bit, decided to try the ten day trial to see how things are nowadays, and see whether I'd be interesting in returning.

Some questions as a returning player:
Is there anything completely new that I should be aware of?
How balanced are the classes nowadays? Who has a reputation for being OP/UP?
How big is the gear gap at the highest level currently?
Is it better to play on a high pop or low pop server?
And anything else I should know?

Thank you for your time.
1. Honestly almost everything. It would be really difficult to tell you all the changes since early BC. Obviously it's still the same game fundamentally, but almost every system has had changes, along with a ton of new ones. Ones like glyphs that have been part of the game for years are going to be new for you. I think you'll just have to experience a lot of it on your own to get a hang for it.

2. Balance has changed a really lot since BC. Every DPS role is viable in DPS. All tanks can tank, and all healers can heal. It's pretty much "pick what you want" now. OP and UP specs and classes change so often that it's recommended to not think too much about this.

3. Not very huge, mostly because there are new systems in the game that allow you to easily move from new level 90 to dungeon running/BGs and to raiding and arenas. They even made it easier to use PVP and PVE gear in both types of gameplay.

4. Population is always a personal preference, and there are cons and pros to playing on each. That said low pop servers no longer have small numbers of people out in the world, because MOP added a cross-realm zone feature.

5. Again so much is different that I recommend jumping right in. You could also take a look at patch notes from the other expansions to get a hang on some of the changes.
1) Everything has changed and it's essentially a new game compared to when you played.

2) The classes are balanced just fine. No one is majorly OP or UP unless you're on the bleeding edge of progression...and if you were there then you wouldn't be posting here :P

3) What do you mean by gear gap? When you hit 90 you're probably in quest gear, and from there you can gear up for PvP with the honor set the conquest set. If you want to gear for PvE, you go through heroic dungeons, LFR (looking for raid), and normal raids.

4) Zones outside of Pandaria are cross-realm, so population doesn't matter much other than finding a guild.

5) It's really a new game. The laundry list of changes between when you played up until this point would be to long. Hop into the game and take it for a spin. The trial isn't 10 days anymore.
Zones are cross realm now?

How does that specifically work? Is it several servers joined by battle-group and you automatically play with everyone there?
I don't know the specifics, whether it's by battlegroup or other factors.

While you're playing you will just see players from other servers out in the world. You can group with them or PVP with them, just like if they were on your server.
Battlegroups were more or less merged. They're separated by datacenter location but other than that the player pool for PvP and cross-realm dungeons is from all servers in the region. You can't cross US/EU though.
Zones are cross realm now?

How does that specifically work? Is it several servers joined by battle-group and you automatically play with everyone there?

Kind of

it mixes the lower pop realms with some of the higher as soon as you enter zone it places you on that realm. Now if you are in a party with someone you will be on their realm or they on yours.

The new MoP zones aren't cross realm unless you are in a party with someone else.

Note even if you are on someone else's realm you still get the dailies assigned to your realm.
Free-To-Play has replaced the 10 day trial. It has all the trial restrictions but you can play it forever.

If you do decide to return, your old account will be upgraded to Wrath of the Lich King as BC and WotLK are included in the basic game now.

Also, use the Scroll of Resurrection sticky up above to get a return invitation - you get to promote one of your characters to level 80 immediately vial the scroll acceptance..
12/12/2012 10:06 PMPosted by Dashlong
Is there anything completely new that I should be aware of?

Looking for dungeon allows you to automatically queue for dungeons with 4 random people, so you don't have to spend lots of time in trade/general looking for a tank or a healer. The trade off is that dungeons that can be completed this way tend to require less coordination than, say, Burning Crusade heroics did.

There is also a Looking For Raid feature which allows people to do an easier version of current raids with 24 random other people. The gear that drops here is a bit lower in quality than the gear from normal/heroic mode raids.

In PvP, in addition to arenas, rated battlegrounds were added. Thee are basically premade vs. premade, and are very competitive and really pretty fun.

In addition, a number of new BG maps have been added.

Dual specialization was added, which makes it a lot easier to have a PvE spec and a PvP spec, or for a healer to have a DPS off-spec that they use frequently.

How balanced are the classes nowadays? Who has a reputation for being OP/UP?

There is no more hybrid tax, so things like rets, shadow priests, balance/feral druids, shamans are all viable as DPS now. Generally, a pure DPS class may occasionally have one non-viable spec in the upper echelons of PvE, but it can fluctuate a lot which spec that is from patch to patch. In PvE, ranged can be a bit more desirable in some tiers due to mechanics, but most teams tend to be looking for a good mix of classes, specs, and raid buffs, rather than stacking a couple OP classes.

In PvP, there are always flavor of the month classes or specs, but overall, I'd say you're best off playing the class that most interests you and that you feel the most comfortable with.

How big is the gear gap at the highest level currently?

We're still in the first raid tier/PvP season of the latest expansion, so it's not too bad.
Generally, upon hitting level 90 your item level will be around 440-ish. There is item level 450 craftable PvP gear available if you want to jump straight to PvP. Honor gear is 458 item level and conquest gear is 483.

In PvE, justice points gear is 458 item level. Heroic dungeons drop 463 item level. LFR drops 476-483 item level. Valor points gear and normal raid gear is 489-496 item level. Heroic raid gear is 502-509 item level.

Generally, you'll feel the gap most very early on. The other thing to know is that a certain amount of base resilience has been given to all players. (Resilience now reduces damage taken from players.) PvP Power was also added, which counteracts resilience, increasing your damage done to players. This means that even though PvP gear is much lower item level than PvE gear, a PvP geared player will still do more damage to another player than someone in very good raid gear.

Is it better to play on a high pop or low pop server?

This is really a personal choice. Overall, though, it's usually easier to find people with similar interests on a higher pop server.
Also, regarding the gear gap on the way to level cap, you can expect to see a lot of players wearing the Bind on Account gear (aka heirlooms) which is comparable to dungeon blues, but also can include a boost to EXP gain, and scales as you level; most stop scaling by 80, a few now by 85. Wearing a full set is rather like wearing Tier-lite, in that it provides a lot more stats than what the average player who's just questing and Needing for their upgrades will usually see. And that will also explain why you see players wearing helm and shoulder pieces in the starting zones...which BTW, now that achievements (added in Wrath) are account bound, you'll also see level 1's with titles.

What would be considered "vanilla" gear now (from 1-60 content) will be surpassed by BC gear, with BC greens being better than vanilla purples. Same when going from BC to Wrath, the new quest rewards will replace your hard-earned epics. But the transition from Wrath to Cata and MoP is MUCH larger, so at level 80, players can have 100k+ more health than you, and one-shot you with a dirty look. As you gear up during the 80-90 Cata/MoP content however, both your gear and your base stats will increase dramatically, and that's when you'll see what Honorata described, not on par with the uberleets yet, but not grossly outgeared either.

Welcome back /wave

And Cata revamped much of the vanilla world, with the Forsaken quests receiving some of the more dramatic changes, so definitely check that out if you haven't already...although you might want to check to see what they were up to in Northrend, so things make a little more sense.

Which reminds me, a few database sites are still around, but Wowhead's pretty much the go-to resource now.

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