Earlier this month we had our first look at World of Warcraft Classic with the first official demo that was available to anyone with a Blizzcon virtual ticket.
A demo that was a lot more enjoyable than it had any right to be, considering there were only two zones to explore and you could only level from 15 to 19.
However, I have had Classic on my mind these past weeks, and one of the biggest questions surrounding World of Warcraft Classic is this: What happens after Naxxramas? The last raid of Vanilla World of Warcraft.
In this article, we will discuss all the different options, which we would like to see, as well as the pros and cons of each solution.
1. Progressive Expansions
Let’s get the obvious answer out of the way. The most straightforward answer to this question is releasing the expansions as they did back in the day.
Which would mean that about six months after the release of Naxxramas we would see an official legacy server option for The Burning Crusade. Which would make a lot of sense considering the love that people hold for The Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King and it likely wouldn’t require as much work as the other options on this list.
What happens after Wrath of the Lich King?
The problem with this approach is that the Legacy servers will eventually make its way to the later expansions that the World of Warcraft Classic crowd generally doesn’t like.
World of Warcraft is a product meant to last for years and this solution would almost have an expiration day as the original Classic server crowd would likely not want to continue onward from Wrath of the Lich King.
Blizzard could choose to release brand new Classic Wow servers with the release of each expansion though, which would make sure that the die-hard Vanilla and The Burning Crusade fans always have a fresh server to play on, which is something I think they should do no matter what they release post patch 1.12.
I would be absolutely fine with this solution as I am so excited to relive both Vanilla and The Burning Crusade but it does have some obvious issues.
Likeliness: Very High
2. Pristine Progressive Expansions
If you ask the Vanilla World of Warcraft fanbase, every expansion had its glaring issues, even The Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King.
TBC introduced flying, Wrath had dungeon finder and general trivialization of a lot of content, Cataclysm had the Looking for Raid feature and Transmogrification, and the list goes on from there.
But what if they didn’t?
What if Blizzard introduced the expansions as they were in a progressive fashion but chose to remove the ”anti-classic” features from said expansions. So when Wrath of the Lich King comes around there will be no Dungeon Finder, when Cataclysm comes there will be no Azeroth Flying, no Looking for Raid and definitely no Transmogrification.
It would be so exciting to see the later expansions without all of the quality of life additions that were added over the years — no sharding, no Cross-realm zones, no transmogrification, no leveling boosts, no heirlooms, no queuable content, etc.
But what about flying?
Don’t get me wrong, I think flying was a bad addition to the game as it allowed you to essentially ”skip” the world and the people in it when playing. However, flying is essential in some places such as Netherstorm to reach the dungeons and raids, and in Storm Peaks and Icecrown to even complete the zones, and so on. They could obviously just add a ton of flight paths to replace the feature entirely but then what about the Netherwing Drake and other flying mounts iconic to the expansions?
I would be okay with flying being replaced entirely with flight paths, but as long as they never introduce Azeroth Flying from the Cataclysm expansion, I am pretty okay with flying.
I would very much prefer this approach to the regular progressive release of expansions as this might allow me to enjoy the later expansions to the same extent as I did with Vanilla and The Burning Crusade. Don’t get me wrong, the newer expansions have had fantastic content and beautiful areas to explore, but it was always ruined a bit for me by the philosophy of the modern World of Warcraft.
Related: Best MMO Gaming Mice.
3. Post 1.12 Patches – A second crack at the Dragon Isles, Azshara Crater, etc.
Post 1.12 patches is also a popular option that Blizzard could go with, and it is done incredibly well by Old School Runescape, the official Classic servers for Runescape. They keep releasing new patch content but without messing with the original formula.
What better way for Blizzard to start this patch cycle than with content that was originally planned for Vanilla but got scrapped during development. Blizzards ambitions for the original World of Warcraft were huge, and the amount of content and concepts that were initially planned for Vanilla is a testament to that ambition.
Content Originally meant for Vanilla
- The Dragon Isles(Zone/raid): This was a raid and an area that was originally planned for Vanilla World of Warcraft but ended up being scrapped. From some pre-alpha maps, we can see that it is located north of Tirisfal Glades and from some artwork it looks quite old-god themed and obviously involved some dragons.
- Hellfire Peninsula(Zone): That’s right, the first zones of The Burning Crusade was meant to ship with Vanilla World of Warcraft, and it even went decently far into development as showcased by Hayven Games. Releasing the Hellfire Peninsula in a patch would be interesting if they provide fresh content that suits the less focused narrative of Vanilla Wow. Perhaps even release Magtheridons Lair as a single boss 40-man raid.
- Black Temple(Raid): Yes, the most iconic raid of The Burning Crusade was supposed to ship with the original game and not as a separate expansion. However, releasing this as a stand-a-lone raid with no real context from the rest of Outland might be a bit weird.
- Karazhan(Dungeon): One of the most beloved raids of all time, Karazhan, was supposed to be a dungeon back in Vanilla but never made it to the game. Releasing Karazhan as a 10-man dungeon in a post 1.12 patch would be awesome, and due to its location being on Azeroth it would fit perfectly. It would also finally make that ”Teleport to Deadwind Pass” ability from the Atiesh legendary staff make sense.
- Kezan(Zone): Home of the Goblins and Trade Prince Gallywix was also planned for Vanilla Wow and could serve as a fun Patch for World of Warcraft Classic.
- The Emerald Dream(Zone): This is another major zone that Blizzard worked on for Vanilla, but they admit to struggling with the overall fantasy of the place. The Emerald Dream is essentially the blueprint for Azeroth as the Titans created it and it would be great to see it as a fully fleshed out zone if Blizzard managed to get it right.
- Mount Hyjal(Zone): Like a lot of people know, Hyjal was actually a zone you could reach in Vanilla with ”some clever use of game mechanics” and the area wasn’t just there to please the wall-jumpers, but it was actually meant to be an end-game zone in Vanilla and would be perfect for a Classic Wow patch.
- Azshara Crater(Battleground): This was a large battleground that went quite far into development before being scrapped due to Alterec Valley taking up too much time. As Azshara was very underused in Vanilla it would be great to see them take another crack at this Battleground in a patch.
- Caverns of Time(Dungeon): The Caverns of Time that got released in The Burning Crusade was supposed to come out in Vanilla World of Warcraft as a dungeon. I would love to see it return as a mega-dungeon in a patch with each wing being different time periods or something of the sort.
There are much more scrapped content from Vanilla World of Warcraft, such as the Stormwind Vault and even Northrend but this is just to give an overview of how many ambitions they had for Vanilla that never saw the light of day. Perhaps World of Warcraft Classic could be the second chance for some of those ambitions.
Now, they don’t have to go with the old scrapped content, they could also create entirely new zones and dungeons, but I think building on the content meant for Vanilla would stay more true to the original game.
I would absolutely love this approach as long as each zone did not completely nullify old content like new patches does today. That said, that is the issue with this, adding so many patches with no real scaling in gear and difficulty could be bad for the game, and if they increase it too much, the older Vanilla content such as Molten Core and Blackwing Lair could suddenly become obsolete.
Likeliness: If World of Warcraft Classic does exceptionally well, then maybe.
4. Alternate expansions
Probably the least likely option on this list for various reasons but I think it’s worth mentioning either way. It would take a tremendous amount of work and for this to even be discussed internally by Blizzard, World of Warcraft Classic would have to exceed all expectations. But what if?
I think World of Warcraft Classic has a lot more potential than most people give it credit for. Look at Old School Runescape, another revitalization of an original product and it actually supersedes the modern version in subscribers. To be fair, Runescape’s appeal is not as broad as World of Warcraft’s so it makes sense that Runescape players, in general, prefer a more ”Oldschool” approach to MMO’s. However, let us say that World of Warcraft Classic does a lot better than Blizzard expects it to then this is a discussion that Blizzard needs to have and providing original content for the Classic version is definitely one of their options.
But what about the lore? Which Wow is Canon?
World of Warcraft Classic did something incredible. It introduced us to this vast, exciting world without giving us an overarching narrative but instead gave us hundreds of different smaller storylines.
I think a potential World of Warcraft Classic expansion could work if they continued down the same path with storylines that focused more on character pieces and not world-ending villains. Stories that make sense in a pre-The Burning Crusade era and doesn’t go against the canon.
World of Warcraft: Untold Stories of Azeroth
They could also use all of the content that was initially planned for Vanilla that we mentioned above and wrap it all into one major expansion pack.
Just like with the patches, using content that was meant to be released in 2006 would likely feel like a decently authentic Vanilla experience. It would allow them to create an expansion that takes place in the original Azeroth without all of the dreaded quality-of-life additions that came with later expansions.
I prefer the patch cycle concept mentioned in point 3 but I won’t pretend like a Vanilla expansion like this wouldn’t get me beyond excited. That said, an expansion likely brings too much change in at once, and the feeling of the original game could potentially vanish which is why I prefer the patch cycle approach.
Likeliness: Don’t hold your breath
5. Seasonal Vanilla – Old dog, new tricks
World of Warcraft Classic is still an incredible game, and that has nothing to do with nostalgia. However, it isn’t the class balance or incredibly simple bosses that makes it so good which some Vanilla fans seem to believe.
Having bi-yearly Vanilla server releases with some minor changes to stuff like class balance or raid difficulty could help keep Vanilla interesting without messing with the core formula.
In a way, some changes would almost be more authentic because it would bring some mystery back to the game which is the one thing about Vanilla Wow that an authentic Classic server cannot recreate.
Wow Classic: Hardmode
An example and one that I would be interested in trying out is a hardcore version of World of Warcraft Classic.
This could include significant buffs to dungeons and raids throughout the game, and maybe even minor nerfs to the highest performing classes, talents, and items.
This would make everyone reconsider class compositions in raids, tactics on most bosses, ”best-in-slot” item lists, talent builds and generally just bring some mystery back into the game.
Wow Classic: Rebalanced
Would also be interesting to see Vanilla as we know it but with a complete rebalancing of classes, raids, and items.
A Vanilla World of Warcraft where Elemental Shamans and Retribution paladins aren’t useless damage dealers and Druids and Paladins can help the warriors out with the raid tanking.
The exciting thing about this concept would mostly just be to see everyone having to rediscover the game and reconsider everything from boss tactics to talent builds.
However, I don’t think the demand for this option is very high, and while I would love to play a hard mode version of Vanilla, I don’t think we’ll ever get that option.
Likeliness: Wouldn’t count on it.
6. Eternal Vanilla
What if you just want to raid Molten Core and Blackwing Lair forever?
Blizzard will have to provide an eternal Vanilla server or release new servers every other year, or we will have the same problem in a few years again, where WoW Classic is not officially playable anymore.
An ”Eternal Vanilla” server could easily co-exist with any of the other options on this list, but it is worth mentioning because I know several people who would be happy to play the same Vanilla World of Warcraft server forever without any new content or changes.
As soon as Blizzard has rebuild World of Warcraft Classic for the modern BattleNet client they might as well keep a few of these servers going for those that want it.
Likeliness: Pretty likely