?The Burning Crusade? Official Artwork
Classic World of Warcraft (WoW) has been a huge success since it launched in August 2019. It even managed to double the subscriber count for the game, which has been dwindling in recent years. However, since it?s launch, one question has been on fans? minds; ?what next??.
Why Are We Asking ?What Next?? Already?
It may seem strange that people are already focused on what?s coming next when Classic WoW still has two massive content phases yet to launch, but like most strange things, there?s a simple explanation just below the surface. WoW has changed considerably since it was launched in 2004. It?s changed so much that current WoW and original WoW could be considered two entirely separate games that exist in the same universe and draw from the same lore. With each new expansion came new and sometimes controversial changes.
This article isn?t about pitting Classic WoW against current WoW and declaring a victorious winner. But for some added context, here are a few ways that the game has changed and why these changes sparked fierce debate.
The ?Looking For Dungeon? (LFD) feature
This was introduced in the second expansion, ?The Wrath of The Lich King? (WOTLK), in 2008. LFD allowed players to automatically group up with other players to complete a dungeon and transported them to the location of the dungeon. This was a huge quality-of-life feature for the game because it all but eliminated the work involved with finding a group and traveling to the dungeon. However, many players argued that it eroded the social nature of this process.
Flying was first introduced in the first expansion, ?The Burning Crusade? (TBC), but was only allowed on one continent. Eventually, flying way rolled out across all continents. Although flying was much more convenient, many players argued it took players out of the world and essentially killed random player-versus-player (PvP) combat in the open world.
The game became ?easier?
This one is a little more subjective than the others. Each new expansion increased the level cap by 5 or 10 levels, to the point where there are now 120 levels in the game (up from 60 in the original). Leveling was a slow and grueling process in Vanilla WoW. With so many more levels to get through, Activision Blizzard started simplifying the leveling process and making it quicker. Players could also buy or earn special gear that would level as they leveled, ensuring that they were always appropriately geared. This meant that players were always strong and therefore the environment felt less dangerous. On the flip side, Raids are much more difficult in the current game than they are in older versions.
In the first few expansions, you could tell exactly how powerful a player was by the gear they were wearing. The high-end gear was difficult to obtain and had a distinct look. This meant that you could walk past another player in a capital city and be in awe of them simply by getting a glance of their staff or headpiece. In the later version of the game, the gearing system became so customizable and complex that this kind of instant recognition of ability and achievement just wasn?t possible in the same way. In the current version of the game, players can also use a feature of Transmogrification to change the look of their gear to that it takes the appearance of other gear.
A Split Community
These changes have created two distinct groups in the WoW community. The people who like ?old WoW? and the people who like ?new WoW?. Ever since the first expansion launched, players were asking Blizzard to make Classic servers so they could play the original game. This then repeated for each expansion. The ?classic? or ?old WoW? expansions are now considered to be: Classic WoW, The Burning Crusade, and Wrath of The Lich King. Some people also throw the Cataclysm expansion into the mix, but this community is much smaller.
These fans of the older versions of the game weren?t just waiting patiently for Activision Blizzard to create dedicated servers for them. They were shouting about it in forums or playing these versions of the game on illegal private servers. Since Activision Blizzard launched Classic WoW last year, private Classic servers have died. But there?s still a thriving community of people playing on private TBC and WOTLK servers. These players want to know when they will get there chance at playing their favorite game on a legitimate server too.
Will Classic TBC Happen?
It hasn?t been officially confirmed, but you could say it?s 99% confirmed. Activision Blizzard sent out a survey to some WoW players asking them for their opinions on Classic TBC. This survey even delved into the specifics of how the move from Classic to TBC should be handled and what players would want Classic TBC to look like. It?s fair to say that Blizzard wouldn?t have sent this survey out unless they were seriously considering launching Classic TBC.
There are several options to consider here, and they all have their problems.
Classic WoW Stays Indefinitely
This is an attractive option for some players but doesn?t hold up so well in reality. As time goes on, most players will all be level 60 and potentially have a level 60 for each available class. There will be very few new players attracted to the game and very few people for them to play with if they did. Virtually no one would be running older leveling content like dungeons or open-world quests. And if the whole player base is level 60, then the open world would be essentially empty. Players would just log on twice a week to raid, only seeing the capital city and the inside of a raid.
Furthermore, this version of Classic would reward players who have played for the most time and who sink the most time into the game. There will be players who end up with all of the best gear and who absolutely decimate players who are on their way up. This happens much less when the game is released in phases because people naturally complete content at their own rate so there?s much more of an equal playing field.
This would mean that Blizzard would periodically reset Classic servers every 18 months or 2 years, putting all players back to square one. This option is likely more appealing to the hardcore private server players than your average player. This is something that did happen on private servers. Sometimes it happened intentionally, and sometimes the server would get shut down and players would have to start fresh on a new server.
This solution is unlikely to be popular with casual players since they won?t want to lose all of their progress for seemingly no reason. People get very attached to their characters and understandably so, hitting your goals in this game is incredibly time-consuming.
Transferring or Copying Characters to TBC Servers
Character transfer would involve the player porting their character over to a TBC server and that character ceasing o exist on the Classic server. Copying would allow you to have a character on both Classic and TBC. Both of these options have problems:
- How do we ensure that servers are balanced rather than hugely favoring one faction?
- How do we handle character names and guild names moving onto new servers or when Classic servers inevitably have to merge due to low population counts?
- Will players try to play the economy by stockpiling items on their Classic character and then copying the character across to TBC to sell the items on the Auction House?
Linear Move to TBC
This option is the most simple and straightforward. There would be no option to stay in Classic and all Classic servers will simply move on to TBC, the same way the current game does for every new expansion. This will likely disappoint die-hard Classic WoW fans and may even cause a resurgence in Classic private servers. However, it?s the option that will cause the least amount of problems and will also be acceptable to most players.
A lot of players came back to Classic WoW to reexperience the old content again with fresh eyes. These players likely won?t want to run this old content over and over for years to come. Once all Classic content phases have been released and completed, they probably won?t touch this content again. For this reason, a linear move to TBC seems like the most likely option.
What do you think?