WoW: The Burning Crusade Classic

For World of Warcraft Classic, The Burning Crusade is brand new. There are new quests, new dungeons, new raids, all-new arena mode for PVP, new reputations — the works. All of it is brand-spankin’-new. Then again, for the modern/retail version of the game, which is currently building upon the Shadowlands expansion, The Burning Crusade is the oldest playable content.

Dated, forgotten, and left behind; the Outland experience isn’t encountered often when it comes to level-grinding on new characters. It seems that most players prefer Draenor (Outland before its metamorphosis and destruction) for leveling.

But I’m not here to throw my hat into an Outland-vs.-Draenor debate, if such a thing exists. I’m simply here to explain why so many people are having an absolute blast with the oldest content available within modern World of Warcraft.

WoW: The Burning Crusade Classic

And it really shouldn’t come as a surprise that WoW fans are having so much fun with it. World of Warcraft Classic and its original (Vanilla) content proved that there was a demand for this older style of gameplay. I’m not just talking about the original 40-person raids or the battlegrounds and honor system (which promoted extremely unhealthy lifestyles). World of Warcraft was a very, very different game back in the day, and a lot of people miss how things used to be.

Whereas the modern game plays like a hybrid between an MMO and Action-RPG (this is true and I’ll die on this hill), the game’s Classic iteration plays like a refined version of its biggest influence: Everquest. You’re going to have to really work to hit max level, so I hope you’re ready to spend a lot of time killing monsters and wondering why they don’t always drop their eyeballs, trekking halfway across the continent after a quick 15-to-20-minute questing session, and grinding through mobs because doing so is more efficient than completing a random fetch quest that gives you little to no experience. 

That’s not to say that this “traditional-style” MMORPG gameplay (for lack of a better term) is bad; most people in the modern audience have simply moved past it. The game required a lot of effort from its players, and not everyone has the time for that. Those who were able to put the work in, however, were greatly rewarded. Not necessarily with challenging content (yeah, it turns out we’re just better and smarter than we were 15 years ago), but with items, prestige, and accomplishments.

WoW: The Burning Crusade Classic

Getting 40 people to work together is no small feat, regardless of how trivial the content is. Items in Classic are different than in Retail; It took me until level 65 in The Burning Crusade to replace a trinket from one of the entry-level raids in Vanilla; some people will walk into the first raids in The Burning Crusade with items they got at level 60, and those items might still be the best they can get! This results in far more excitement when a piece of super-rare loot drops — and even moreso when you win it. 

Now, you might be wondering why I just spent so much time writing about Vanilla World of Warcraft instead of its successor, The Burning Crusade. The reason is simple: The Burning Crusade is Vanilla WoW perfected.

Raid sizes were trimmed, sure, but that was desperately needed. The most difficult part of Vanilla wasn’t the content itself; it was the logistics of getting a raid team together. Now, that barrier to entry has been thankfully removed.

As for everything else? The zones are refined to have large, populated quest hubs instead of being scattered throughout vast areas (which means getting from point A to point B wastes a lot of the player’s time). Reputations were expanded to not only offer choices between who you pick and who you work for, but to also offer meaningful rewards. The same is true of professions: every choice you make here feels, at minimum, like a solid option. That’s important in a world of min/maxing; in too many games, upgrading feels like there’s one correct choice and dozens of very wrong ones — the player has the illusion of choice in front of them, when in reality there’s only one way to go. With The Burning Crusade, that’s not the case: players have freedom to not only go their own way, but to not be punished for straying off the predetermined upgrade path.

WoW: The Burning Crusade Classic

It’s important to also note that with The Burning Crusade, we saw a small-yet-important overhaul to the original 1-to-60 experience so that it takes less time to level up. Now, we’re not talking about something you can knock out in a weekend (as is the case for Retail), but it’s still a significant improvement. What before would take a month at minimum (at least that’s what it felt like, even for those who were “no-lifing” it) can be done in a few weeks. This doesn’t necessarily seem like much, but trust me: it’s a very noticeable experience, especially when playing as the classes that don’t always move at a brisk pace (Paladins, I’m looking at you). 

The Burning Crusade never reinvented the wheel; it simply perfected it. This is what World of Warcraft could become with a bigger budget; this is the way it was meant to be played — the older, original design philosophy, but refined and perfected.

When I played Vanilla World of Warcraft back in the day, I felt pigeonholed into one portion of content: Battlegrounds. With The Burning Crusade, more opened up to me: heroic dungeons, raids, arenas, and (more) battlegrounds. I didn’t feel like there was a steep barrier to entry anymore. I could experience everything available (well, mostly — ahem, high-level raids). This is what we’ve been waiting our entire lives for.

Well, it’s what we’ve been waiting the past 22 months for, anyway.

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