Since its release on 26/27th of August, World of Warcraft’s fanbase has been divided into two groups, people who prefer Modern version and the ones swearing by Classic. With the same game having two different versions it brings the inevitable question: “Which one is better?”. While there is no certain answer for that, after wandering original Azeroth with my now level 42 warlock for a while (don’t judge me it is hard to level!), I thought why not make a quick comparison of the two in order to help newcomers and returning players to see what these have to offer.

Time Investment

Let’s not kid ourselves, it’s an MMORPG you knew what you signed up for.

Leveling is longer:

Even though in Modern WoW players can level up to 120 (yep, you read that right), it takes longer to level in Classic with the cap being just 60. It is definitely a factor to consider if you want to experience end game content with a more casual playstyle.

Gold is a problem:

In Classic WoW, money is really hard to earn at the start without making some extra effort, also easy to spend for sure, because even learning new spells or upgrading existing ones cost money. With the cost of skills scaling with each level I can’t tell you how many times I have seen my gold go down the drain after visiting a trainer.

Harder to experiment with classes:

Like I mentioned above, in Classic it takes some time to level and new skills unlock until you reach the cap of 60, so once you invest in a character for a time, you know it will take longer to reach the same level with another from scratch. While you also need to have a high level to acquire all the skills in Modern, you get access to the core spells of the class so much earlier. This gives you an opportunity to experiment more with other classes before going full in on one. Without a doubt, it is harder to experiment all the classes in the game if you are playing Classic, especially if you don’t have too much time to spare.

Rep gated content:

Although Classic is the more time-demanding version for sure, Modern is not a walk in the park in this sense (at least if you want to experience all the game has to offer). In Modern, some parts of the new expansions are gated behind reputation grinds, which includes 8 allied races, and even some dungeons. Considering there is only a limited amount of content you can do to get reputation at a given time, you will need to invest especially if you want to play as one of these races.

World of Warcraft vs “World” of Warcraft

In Classic, the world feels livelier

Loot matters:

In Classic during your journey to level 60, every creature from basic mobs around the world to elite dungeon mobs can drop something valuable and items can go a long way, while in Modern WoW you probably won’t be using an item that dropped 2 levels ago.

Creatures do pose a threat:

In the world of Modern WoW, depending on your class, you can fight 6-12+ mobs at the same time and kill all of them like a legend, while Classic feels like hell itself in comparison. If only I had a count of how many times I died because I pulled a third mob… I can see how modern iteration might seem like the winner on this subject but trust me it gets old quick, meanwhile Classic combat always feels fresh since fights never feel like you’re being taken for granted.

Dungeon design:

In vanilla WoW dungeon designs are more complex and vast. There are elite mobs roaming the area even before you reach the entrance, showing the player that dungeons are not to be trifled with –One does not simply walk into a dungeon. To give you an example, a dungeon called “Wailing Caverns,” which you get access to at the early stages of the game, is really different between the two versions. 

In Classic there is a deep cave system that runs through the whole dungeon as you can see on the right part above, while Modern version offers a less complicated map.


I find Classic to be more of a social game due to the increase in difficulty. In Modern you can solo almost every quest, but in Classic, you need all the help you can get, which creates an environment that urges people to interact and help each other.

Missing on content:

The faster leveling in Modern WoW causes you to out-level areas swiftly, basically, you are skipping through content faster than me running away from my responsibilities on a Friday night to play some games (trust me that is some Usain Bolt-level speed). This can cause several problems that affect your WoW experience. It prevents you from appreciating the beautiful world around you, while also making it harder to improve your choice of profession (leatherworker, enchanter, blacksmith, etc.) since the materials needed are gathered according to zones you are in. You can never keep up with the pace of the experience-gain –Either you stay in a zone you can’t get exp to gather materials or you buy them from other people.

Leveling does feel rewarding:

In Classic, leveling up gives you something to work with, which can be new spells, talent points or class-specific quests. You can feel your character grow stronger with each level. On the other hand, most levels (especially later ones) in Modern are nothing more than plain stat increases, which can be a little frustrating, to be honest.

Keeping up with technology


As someone who admires the evolution of game graphics as much as the next person, there is no question which one is better graphic wise, so here is a picture of my characters from both:

Here you can see my level 120 Orc warlock from the Modern version, he is standing in main capital of the Horde faction, Orgrimmar. Notice he has an upright stance and a fine-looking demon on his side.

And here is my level 42 Green Potato, also a warlock standing almost at the same location in Orgrimmar. As you can see in Classic orcs have a slouchy posture and don’t even get me started on the character’s face.

A variety of armors, weapons, and mounts:

To nobody’s surprise, with all those expansions comes more variation whether it be different armor sets, a variety of weapons of all types or mounts (with lots and lots of different model structures/skeletons/rigs). Modern WoW has a lot to offer in this regard compared to Classic which is lacking 7 expansions of content.

More classes and races to choose from:

Likewise, Modern WoW offers more races and classes to choose from, some classes even starting from higher levels (up to 98). Blood elves, dranei, goblins, worgens, and pandas are the races that aren’t available in Classic, which you can get instant access to. Modern also includes 3 new classes you can play with, Death Knight, Monk, and Demon Hunter (Be warned though, you can’t create a Death Knight without having an existing level 55 character, and Demon Hunter requires you to have a level 70 character beforehand).

Complicated boss mechanics:

Like every game that goes through multiple expansions, WoW too had to build upon its features. This can especially be seen on the end game content like raids and dungeons. With every raid added to the game, the players were introduced to new mechanics, which are both more complex and interactive than its predecessors. I have to admit that this is one of the selling points of Modern (at least for me).

Lots of server options and no waiting:

With the introduction of the Classic, players got to experience the true vanilla experience, servers were not ready for the sheer amount of players, leading to hours of wait time on highly populated servers, on the other hand, I didn’t experience such a problem while playing Modern.


One factor that I can’t deny is that Modern WoW has some damn good cinematics, I don’t think I can convey them by writing alone so I will provide a link to one of them and if you like it you can check the rest of them yourself. But beware it might contain spoilers about the story if you haven’t played Legion expansion, so watch at your own discretion!!!

WoW: Legion Broken Shore Cinematic / Alliance: 


Maybe a little too balanced?

Gear quality (epics for everyone):

One of the problems with Modern is how it degrades the concept of obtaining rare loot. Let me put it this way, while playing Classic even common (white) loot makes a difference while getting a rare (blue) drop feels amazing. Most of the time it is a huge upgrade to your current equipment and even if you already have something better it will provide you some good money anyway, because it is literally rare. On the Modern side, things are a bit different, you don’t care about uncommon (green) or rare drops, because everyone has epics (purple) all around. Dungeons drop epics, raids drop epics, battlegrounds drop epics, hell even world quests drop epics and I’m not talking about the chance of getting one, every single loot in the endgame is epic quality. The contradiction here is, having epic loot doesn’t make your character “epic”, it makes you “common” since it is pretty common to have purple loot.

Class balance/uniqueness:

Modern WoW offers a more balanced experience overall. In Modern, all classes, whether it is provided by specific talents you can choose from or already built-in skills that classes have access to, have a defensive, mobility or offensive cooldowns; while in Classic, for example, my shaman and hunter friends enjoy the perks of movement speed buffs and I as a warlock walk around the map like a 100 years old turtle. But here is the twist, once I reach level 40 with my warlock I get to unlock a free mount which other classes –other than paladins — will have to buy with their in-game currency. So the lack of balance (absolute equality) that is mentioned in Classic is actually classes having a flavor to them, which I would argue is the very thing an MMORPG needs.

Faction balance:

Regarding the factions in the game (horde and alliance), Modern is stricter about making both of them equals while Classic lets the factions have some exclusivity to them. To give an example, on Classic, the shaman is a horde-only class while only alliance players can create paladins. This matter is rather subjective, but personally just like with the class balance, I find the idea of factions having specific features more enticing since the other way around makes the concept of having different factions kind of obsolete.

Mixed Bag

Things I think Classic does better, but also can see why people would disagree


The absence of flight might seem like a curse right now and personally I am a fan of flying in any game that you can but bear with me. It is all about what kind of experience you want from the game. If you want to have adventures in a big RPG world, no flight makes the world feel so much bigger and ready to explore. While I flew over Deadwind Pass so many times in Modern, it was when I passed there on foot in Classic, when I realized how it was meant to make you feel. A daunting place with stone bridges left and right that hovers above a misty pass of death. Flight is fun for sure but it also takes away from the atmosphere of the game so once again it is up to you to decide.

Handheld gameplay

Well, this part is more about the UI and how much help you want from it. But with people getting bored of being spoon-fed by developers lately, let me tell you something that happened to me in Classic. I actually sold a quest item because there was no text underneath (one could argue that this is just bad UI design, but on a deeper level it shows how much we (or is it just me?) grew accustomed to the developers holding our hands). The newer UI’s shows us too much information if you ask me, so you stop giving attention and just follow whatever the game tells you. Well, in Classic, that won’t do. With no quests showing on map or some quest items having no labels, you have to read the quest to learn where to go and you sure have to pay attention to the game you are playing.

Dungeon finder vs Finding a dungeon

Another big difference between the two is how you get to do dungeons. While Modern version includes a dungeon finder system, in which you choose the role you want to play and the dungeons you prefer and voila! You have a 5-man group to do the content, but once again there is a pay-off for having this convenient method, it substantially reduces socializing and getting into the atmosphere of the game. By finding the groups automatically, it renders the need to talk to people to do content needless and also removes the necessity of going to an actual place to access dungeons. In return, attending a dungeon in Classic feels both more social and more of an event than its Modern counterpart. Just like the zones I skipped while flying, I actually went to a dungeon I did so many times in Modern and saw the actual place (Sunken Temple). A ruined temple in the middle of a huge lake, and it looked amazing. In fact, now I’m looking forward to it, even if I already completed it countless times in Modern.

Story (No Spoilers)

I’ll make this one quick and don’t worry this is not about specific events in the story, but rather about how your character is treated as a part of the story. In Classic, you are an adventurer who isn’t much different from other folk trying to improve themselves and survive in a dangerous world. In Modern, you are the savior of basically everything time and time again, so naturally, you will be addressed as “Champion”, “Hero” and such most of the time. I know this might seem like nitpicking but it certainly has an effect as an RPG element and is something to be considered before you choose a version.

Which one to go with???

Like I pointed out since the beginning, these two might share the same name, but as a whole, they offer two very, very different experiences. The real question you should ask yourself is “How much of an RPG element am I looking for?”. If the answer is “As much as possible,” go with Classic where everything is earned the hard way and the environment pulls you in. If you want to be showered in epic loot and live in the Warcraft Universe with high resolution, that’s what Modern WoW offers. Whichever you choose, make sure you consider the items in this list. As someone who played both versions, I believe it covers most of the major differences that will impact your experience.

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Alp is a writer for Parallax Media

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