WoW brings back reviled expansion in puzzling move

  • Major announcements from Blizzard continue to trickle in, with one of the most bizarre decisions being the reveal of World of Warcraft Cataclysm Classic.
  • For the players who wanted a Classic experience, Cataclysm is the expansion that brought WoW to the modern era.
  • The new version of the expansion will also come with “changes” as Blizzard will continue to update its old games with modern improvements.

The annual BlizzCon event was held in California on the weekend, bringing a host of announcements from Blizzard about their stable of games. A new mainline expansion for World of Warcraft (WoW) was announced, as well as the first DLC for Diablo IV, upcoming improvements to Overwatch 2 and, most puzzlingly, a new expansion for WoW Classic.

World of Warcraft Cataclysm Classic is the name of the beast, and some players have reacted negatively to the news. The new expansion is set to launch sometime in the first half of 2024.

Classic is the original version of the 2004 cultural phenom without all of the graphical and gameplay additions made over the last 19 years. Essentially, it’s WoW at its most basic, and according to some, its best. It was released as an alternative to the mainline “retail” WoW to appease a small but vocal playerbase and stop them from launching private servers to play their favourite versions of the game.

The last expansion that saw the Classic treatment was Wrath of the Lich King (Wrath) where players famously head to Northrend to defeat Arthas – the biggest, baddest villain Blizzard ever produced – once and for all. Wrath Classic was received well by the community, who expected the game to be the final Classic expansion.

Wrath was the height of the WoW popularity explosion in 2008 and following it was a slow descent from cultural touchstone to just another MMORPG. A reason for this, a big reason, was Cataclysm, the fourth expansion released in 2010.

Cataclysm saw sweeping, irreversible changes to the game. Touching almost all facets, including more streamlined and casual friendly gameplay, easier enemies, simpler quests, revamped zones, the introduction of a Raid Finder system that removes the need to be social with other players, as well as other community maligned features for the sake of improved accessibility.

The expansion also changed the development of WoW moving forward, with Blizzard focusing on more casual features in spite of the hardcore player base that made it a household name.

It is the event in the history of WoW that separates “classic” from “retail” which is why many players have questioned the decision of Blizzard to release this version of the game, and have more asking where will Blizzard stop? Is Mists of Pandaria next for a Classic treatment? Surely not, MoP was as modern WoW as it gets.

With the Cataclysm Classic, Blizzard will be adding updated features that weren’t seen in 2010 when the original version hit shelves. This includes accelerated levelling, a streamlined auction house, improved guild features and a “faster content cadence.”

It seems Blizzard simply can’t help itself from “improving” its Classic experience. This year it released “Hardcore” servers for Classic, where if your character dies you cannot revive it and you will have to start a new character. At BlizzCon, the developers also revealed plans of what they call Classic’s Season of Discovery.

This will be another mode of Classic where players will create a new character, bring them up to level 25 and then discover “class altering” abilities that fundamentally change the way classes work. Like a Warlock that can tank, or a mage that can heal. This mode is set to launch at the end of November, with Blizzard looking to slowly raise the level cap over time.

Why is Blizzard set on launching these new Classic “experiences”? Perhaps the company is looking to attract more players to the alternative WoW to keep server costs manageable, or perhaps they are using the Classic shell to conduct experiments they could never do in retail.

Either way, we absolutely cannot wait for Warlords of Draenor Classic come 2026.

[Image – Blizzard]


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