Ever since World of Warcraft Classic proved there are a lot of people willing to facemash their way through the original, most difficult portion of the game, we began to hear chatter that a follow-up might be in the works for The Burning Crusade, the first expansion pack for the popular game. Whether this was wishful thinking or potentially true has not been clear until now. Blizzard has announced The Burning Crusade Classic, arriving later this year.
Features are what you’d expect. It’s The Burning Crusade, with only minor quality-of-life changes to the UI. Raid content will be introduced post-launch over a period of time, the same way Classic content was.
The method Blizzard has chosen for moving the player base is similar to one I proposed when Classic was new. When TBCC launches, players will have the option to either advance there with the rest of their server or stay behind on new, Classic-only servers. In short, Blizzard isn’t just bringing back specific instances of the game as snapshots, they’re recreating the entire character path folks took through the game the first time, with one difference. This time, if you don’t want to progress, you’ll be able to keep playing Classic on servers that are limited to Classic.
Historically, Blizzard always made certain features of new content available to all players, but not all of them. Any new content gated into an expansion pack remained locked to it, but broad world changes are always introduced for all players. Let’s say you were a Druid player stuck at Lvl 60 when everyone else got to go on to Lvl 70. You’re still Lvl 60, but you would get features like spell changes and talent tree adjustments. That may not be the case, here, because it isn’t clear if WoW Classic would freeze just before the final patch of the base game.
Basically, TBCC offers the same deal that WoW Classic did: Play the version of the game you liked better, as long as you want, with WoW Classic and TBCC included with the standard game subscription. I’m interested in TBC, partly because it was the first time players with multi-class characters had a decent chance of actually performing their roles. Paladin and Druid tanks advanced from also-rans to viable options, though Paladin taunts remain a bit annoying here, because you have to target the alternative individual being targeted, as opposed to slapping a mob in the face.
We’re Probably Prepared
If Blizzard makes any changes to TBCC, I’d like to see them make a few small changes or additions to Illidan’s portrayal to keep up with their own lore retcons. In Burning Crusade, Illidan Stormrage is one of the later raid bosses you’ll face in the instance. In the later expansion, Legion, Illidan is something of an anti-hero, whose motivations are rather different than as they were portrayed previously. It would be nice to see a little effort to harmonize the two depictions of the character, but I doubt it’ll happen.
If WoW Classic was a nostalgic opportunity to return to WoW as it was born, The Burning Crusade offers a chance to visit WoW as it matured. The Burning Crusade dramatically expanded character opportunities added the ability to fly via player-owned mounts, increased the overall leveling speed of the game, and expanded the lore with storylines that resonated through multiple expansions. Critical characters like Garrosh were introduced and plot lines that had lain dormant since the end of Warcraft II: Beyond the Dark Portal were paid off.
Players showed up in droves to battle Onyxia and brave the depths of Molten Bore Core. Will they return to brave the Black Temple, battle the trolls of Zul’Aman, and save the Sunwell from corruption?
PS: Paladins, your bubble will not save you in the Serpentshrine Cavern mega-drop. If you plan to skip the elevator and let gravity do its thing, you’d best wait some seconds before you trigger it.
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