Hello, I’d like to kick off a discussion into the future of Classic WoW. Now that we are just a few weeks away from Wrath of the Lich King launching, I think it is a good time to look back and think where the future may lead. Feel free to chime in with your own feedback!
Personally my journey with classic ends with the end of WotLK if there is plans for Cataclysm to follow suit. There’s a few reasons for this but one of the main ones relates to the Shattering. This was a huge turning point for WoW’s history as there was no going back on this one. No way to “relive the old world” as you quest a new alt or as a new player. Sure, TBC and wrath changed the game and how it was played, but those changes weren’t quite reflected until you reached higher levels where you unlocked the new skills and talents.
I remember exploring Azeroth post-Cata release and was in awe of the devastation at first, but then all that nostalgia that I had of visiting thousand needles raceway, or questing in darkshore on a fresh Night elf… it was gone. It was too different from what was a well established introduction to the game for many players.
Another main reason was this was the first expansion that saw class design changes on a more prominent level. Instead of tweaking abilities and skills and adding new ones, they completely re-did classes such as paladin to utilize holy power. Hunter was changed to use focus instead of mana and be able to shoot while moving. A significant change to hunter leveling was they started out at lvl 1 with a pet! Such a drastic difference from the original experience of fighting to survive and then picking out a pet to tame at level 10… Warlock soul shards became a resource instead of a inventory management item… etc. etc.
This was also the first expansion to see sweeping changes to stats, not just additions and minor tweaks (such as vanilla crit going from % to rating in TBC). I guess optimizing so many different stats was too much for the average player to wrap their head around so they wanted to simplify it… personally I really enjoyed the optimization that came with the various stats choices.
Another major change was talent trees. It wasn’t quite the “retail” change as what MoP was, but if I recall you had one specialization and you could no longer split up talent points between trees. You had to pick one and that’s what you stuck with for the most part. (yes I know there was “some” overlap but not much). Your choices for talents were narrowed so drastically that you pretty much only had one or two builds to choose from. The abilities you got were now given as soon as you got the talent tree unlocked instead of this epic ability you get at a later stage of leveling.
There were things it did right too and it was a fun expansion by most standards. Given the above things though to me it just won’t feel like Classic anymore. There was a reason subs started hemorrhaging before Cata was even over. TBC expanded on what vanilla had and polished it. Wrath expanded further on what TBC had and polished it more. Wrath wasn’t perfect either but I think it can be classified as the end of the classic era - with Cata being the true turning point to a more simplified game that pulled away from many of the core elements of vanilla and what made it so unique.
So if no Cata, where do you go from here? Well Classic WoW is already a very different game. Who says we have to continue to follow the expansions? Even if you follow the expansions, do you continue down the same path that retail paved? I’d love to see new content, or even content from different expansions brought into a classic world. Then again, I’d probably be 100% content of just starting over FRESH to play vanilla again, then TBC, then wrath. Rinse and repeat… This was and still is honestly the favorite versions of the game for me. Also for many others, just look at the data from private servers over the years where thousands of people played the same thing over and over for years on end.