Blizzard is all set for the big re-release of The Burning Crusade expansion, following the massive success that was WoW Classic in 2019, but they might have a tough time getting lightning to strike twice.
Back at BlizzCon 2013, Blizzard president J Allen Brack infamously assured players “you think you do, but you don’t” when asked if they had ever considered vanilla servers for past versions.
Half a decade later Brack himself had to eat the crow and get up on-stage to announce WoW Classic, which as we all know proved to be a massive success. But, could his widely-mocked claim have had a grain of truth to it?
Jumping back into Azeroth was like stepping into a time machine for some players, but when TBC Classic comes out on June 1, it might not have the same magic to it, in part because of elements from Retail that are leaking over.
When WoW Classic released in 2019, every player was starting from the same spot with a level 1 toon and had to grind their way to 60 from there, just like it was back in the day. If you wanted that sweet, sweet, endgame content, you had to put your time in.
For The Burning Crusade Classic, Blizzard is offering a one-time boost for a character to level 58 in the “Dark Portal Pass” and Deluxe editions, along with other upgrades, in addition to the option to bring over toons from Classic.
Sure, this feature will be nice for players who dropped out midway through Classic and want to give it another go, but it just makes the poor in-game experience a lot of us went through in Vanilla’s last year more likely to start sooner.
For a lot of people, grinding your way up to the max level is one of the best parts of WoW. You’re finally able to experience that legendary end-game content. But logging in on launch day and seeing other players with brand-new toons already at level 58 for TBC is sure to take the wind out of some people’s sails.
Sure, you’re proud of your Draeni’s progress after week one, but what’s the point in continuing to grind when your buddy’s new character is already running Magtheridon’s Lair or Serpentshrine Cavern, and you can join them with one simple purchase? Not only do you get to skip a good portion of the game, you also get level-appropriate gear. It’s probably not the best loot, but each piece of gear is one less dungeon you’ll have to run.
There’s the argument that everything before the endgame in WoW is “boring” content, so why not skip it? Based on that logic, why not just skip everything except that one raid for that one piece of gear you need each week? (Oh wait, that’s exactly what was happening at the end of Classic Vanilla).
Then there’s the store-exclusive mounts in the deluxe version which will get you two exclusive mounts, the equivalent of roughly 1000 gold if you could buy them in game. Not a terrible deal, but it does take something away from that “WoW” feeling, at least how it was back in the day, to have cosmetics only available behind a paywall.
Thanks to users on the Icy Veins forum, we also know that the WoW Token, which basically allows for in-game gold selling, can be found on the NA/EU clients. This was actually discovered before Vanilla Classic came out as well, but was only made available to Chinese players, and while there’s no sign that will change this time, gold re-selling in one form or another will probably continue anyway.
Finally, one of the biggest reasons why TBC Classic won’t be able to capture the Magic we saw in Vanilla is that a good number of players who quit during Vanilla, did so for the same reasons they probably quit WoW in the first place, and getting them back for the long-term following release won’t be easy.
This means most returning players will have sunk hundreds if not thousands of hours into Classic, and somewhere along the line since 2019 the demand for that “authentic” experience we all wanted seems to have gotten lost among a community looking for any excuse to skip as much of the game as they can, even if it is through micro-transactions.
Classic Vanilla proved there’s still plenty of magic to be found in World of Warcraft, and I can’t wait to head through the Dark Portal myself, but because of all the new shortcuts and micro-transactions on offer for players, it just won’t be the same game we remember.