All We Know About World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King Classic
Wrath of the Lich King Classic was announced earlier this year. Considering the success of WoW Classic and its Burning Crusade follow-up, it is not surprising that Blizzard would wish to revisit the most celebrated vintage WoW expansion of them all. Since the announcement, we have learned quite a few details about the upcoming release and its application of the new “Some Changes” design philosophy. Keep reading to learn about what WotLK Classic has in store for us, including both familiar content and adjustments made by the development team.
WotLK Classic Release Details
Developers have yet to reveal the precise date on which WotLK Classic will arrive. What we do know is that it will come at some point in 2022. Its beta surprised many by launching before June was over, which may be a sign that the final version will also come relatively early - possibly around September. All Burning Crusade Classic realms will transition to the new era. This process will actually occur a couple of weeks before the expansion proper, as it will be preceded by a prepatch that will implement some of its features and changes. It will also remove Naxxramas before its Northrend reappearance and initiate the Scourge Invasion event.
Of course, even after the expansion proper is released, not all of its vaunted features will be present at once. Advanced content such as raids and the Argent Tournament will be released in several stages. The schedule for those stages has not yet been announced. The precedent of previous Classic installments suggests that there will be few differences from the original sequence of major content updates, but the stages themselves will take less time. In particular, it is unclear whether the Ruby Sanctum instance will receive its own (fifth) stage or arrive as part of the fourth.
In addition to the progressing servers, the team plans to add a number of “Fresh Start” realms. As the name suggest, those realms are meant for newly-created characters who will level up from scratch after WotLK Classic begins. The core intent is to accommodate new arrivals to Classic, along with extant players seeking to begin anew, by providing them with an even playing field instead of a situation where existing high-level characters predominate. It may also improve the server faction balance. For the first three months, if not longer, those servers will not accept any transfers. They will be subject to a few other restrictions to preserve their intended focus.
As usual, WotLK Classic will be a part of the WoW subscription, requiring no additional payment to access it. However, players outside “Fresh Start” realms will be able to use official paid character boosts to raise one adventurer per player to level 70. That would allow them to embark on the expansion’s content straight away. The price for such services is traditionally controversial, and it seems the company is still weighing its options. A survey suggests that players may be able to choose between differently-priced bundles including level boosts and other goodies like mounts, pets, and toys.
WotLK Classic Content Highlights
There are many reasons why WotLK is so fondly remembered among longtime fans. Apart from its solid class balance and a well-executed story that wrapped up the narrative of the titular Lich King, one might mention the large number of new content and features it delivered. It truly managed to have something for everyone, and that is a large part of what makes this version so highly-anticipated. The most notable additions are listed below, together with what we learned thus far about their Classic implementation.
The maximum character level shall be raised to 80. Adventurers will need a minimum level of 68 to begin exploring Northrend. They will have to go beyond that to interact with most of the incoming content and master newly-added talents. Progress through new levels, achieved mostly by questing and running instances in the new areas, should take about as long as this process did in the preceding expansion. It may even be easier than the preceding steps, but efficient progression still requires careful planning, so players wishing to prepare for the climb would be well-advised to seek out a WoW WotLK Leveling Guide.
The introduction of Death Knights was one of the most consequential and memorable aspects of WotLK. As a “hero class”, they started out at level 55 and played through a distinctive introductory experience before joining the other adventurers in the open world. They could belong to any race or faction, fill different combat roles, and possessed some special mechanics. One such mechanic was their intricate resource system, requiring them to spend Runes to earn Runic Power, with both resources powering certain abilities. The other was Runeforging, an exclusive skill used to enchant items.
Originally, a player could only have one such character per server, and then only if they already have a level 55 adventurer there. Recognizing the special appeal of this class for fans, the WotLK Classic team has waived the level 55 requirement for making one’s first Death Knight. However, it remains in force for “Fresh Start” realms. As a further measure to make them more accessible, Death Knights could be generated during the prepatch, allowing them to get some development before the expansion proper. “Hero class” characters are not eligible for the standard boost, though a pricier version might be introduced for them.
Travel to Northrend
The WotLK map of Azeroth expands the playable area to the frigid northern continent of Northrend, which serves as the setting for most of the campaign. The continent consists of eleven zones, which are more varied than the cold theme might suggest. There are mountains, jungles, and ruins as well as frozen plains. While players would start out exploring those locales on foot, eventually they will have the opportunity to unlock flying mounts in Northrend. Dalaran is going to move to the north and open its gates to heroes, serving as a neutral hub settlement.
In addition to fighting the Scourge, adventurers would take on a variety of other high-level threats and complete quests on the behalf of the Alliance, the Horde, and assorted locals. There will also be more opportunities to improve reputations with locally-based factions to unlock exclusive recipes, goods, and cosmetics. The grind will be somewhat less than before, partly thanks to the championing system. Champions could equip tabards devoted to specific factions while running endgame instances, letting players choose who they are trying to befriend.
According to many fans, Wrath of the Lich King dungeons and raids are where the MMORPG’s instance design has reached its peak. Back in 2008, developers had systematically reinvented instances. New raids were designed with 10-player and 25-player variants, instead of the earlier, more cumbersome 40-player standard. The often grueling attunements were removed. Inside the instances themselves, a more flexible design allowed multiple classes to fill the same role, giving players more freedom of choice. There were many fan-favorite instances in this era, from The Culling of Stratholme timewalking dungeon to Ulduar and Icecrown Citadel raids.
Wisely, the team decided not to tinker with most of this design, given its remarkable success and lasting popularity. There will still be a few changes, most notably concerning the controversial Emblem system. Two kinds of Emblems will be obtainable from the start. One will drop in the latest raid(s) and pay the best gear, while the second will drop from earlier raids and give lesser gear. Also, the encounters in the revamped Naxxramas shall be more difficult across the board, since it was deemed to be much easier than originally intended. Unlike in BC Classic, there is no pre-nerf/post-nerf timed encounter change system to speak of, as most WotLK instances did not require as much patching in the first place.
Adventurers who have reached level 40 will have the opportunity to purchase the Dual Talent Specialization skill from their class trainers. It comes with a steep one-time cost of 1,000 Gold, but offers considerable convenience that was previously absent from the vintage versions of WoW. Namely, it would allow adventurers to switch between two talent builds at no cost and at nearly any moment outside of combat. While switching between them is free, altering either of those builds still comes at the usual price. Although the developers considered placing some added restrictions, they ultimately decided to keep this mechanic as it was.
Achievements are another eagerly awaited WotLK innovation. They cover all kinds of accomplishments, including exploration, finding collectibles, and scoring kills. When WotLK Classic goes live, many players will receive retroactive Achievements for some of their prior feats. That said, it remains unclear which past accomplishments have been tracked. Realm First! achievements provide a new incentive for speedrunning, acknowledging those who are the first on their server to meet certain milestones. Alliance players might be at a disadvantage for such tasks due to their more complicated leveling experience, though a good WotLK Alliance leveling guide should be enough to even things out.
Heroes will have the chance to learn a novel Profession called Inscription. Scribes could process herbs to produce Glyphs, reworked Darkmoon Cards, and Vellums. All of those items give players unique additional ways to increase their power and drive up the demand for Herbalism materials. The skill caps for all Professions will rise to 450, granting their practitioners access to numerous higher-grade materials or recipes. Professions will also begin to provide special passive bonuses to those who have them. For example, having Mining is going to increase health, making it ideal for tanks.
Fresh PvP Content
The most noteworthy PvP addition in WotLK is the Wintergrasp Lake, an open world PvP area using siege mechanics from Battlegrounds. The group that seizes it could then take on the Vault of Archavon, a raid that allowed heroes to earn Honor and PvP gear in PvE. Apart from that, Arena seasons shall continue, with fights spreading to two more Arenas located in Dalaran and Orgrimmar respectively. The latest Battlegrounds, Strand of the Ancients and Isle of Conquest, will present more opportunities for siege warfare on a grand scale.
“Some Changes” in WotLK Classic
The original idea behind WoW Classic was to reintroduce vintage WoW content the way it was when first released. By now, however, this idea has evolved, with the developers deciding to introduce certain changes in expansions. Some of those changes simply involve a few conveniences from the retail version that could be introduced without disrupting the original design. Others, however, are aimed at preserving the “spirit” of the original experience, most notably including social interactions and a certain hardcore authenticity. Here are the most important changes revealed to us thus far:
- WotLK’s original Dungeon Finder tool will not exist. Although popular, its automation of social interactions and cross-server reach have been blamed for diluting the social experience. Instead, players will use an alternative Group Finder, a sort of bulletin board for advertising group activities in the realm;
- Likewise, there shall be no detailed quest tracking without installing add-ons;
- The Barber Shop, on the other hand, will have much more extensive and convenient functionality from the start. Notably, faces and genders could be swapped by paying gold, rather than real money;
- Arena Rating is going to be personal rather than team-based, effectively making Arena Teams obsolete. The team-based approach has been criticized by fans as unfair to players who actually show up to the matches, as opposed to passive teammates.
Classes and Races in WotLK Classic
There is another way in which WotLK Classic will differ from the original experience. Like any major expansion, the original WotLK saw many smaller gameplay tweaks, most notably involving racial and class abilities and other characteristics. Some of them were there on launch, while others were implemented in later patches. WotLK Classic will use the final patch as base for its character mechanics, so many changes that were staggered out originally will be active immediately. Here are the most significant tweaks:
- Death Knights are going to be somewhat weaker, though still solid, than on the original release, due to incorporating their retuning from the start;
- Paladin Seals will cost far less mana, last for half an hour, and no longer get dispelled or expended to cast Judgements. Also, Divine Protection has been reworked to function more like Shield Wall;
- WotLK Hunter pets shall get their own talent trees, unique “family” powers, and independent leveling. The overhauled system would be harder to master, but it offers much more flexibility for deft users;
- Rogues will be able to wield axes from the start;
- Shaman Totems are now seen as physical abilities rather than magical spells. Fire Nova is no longer a totem, letting Shamans deployit faster;
- Warlocks will begin with the final WotLK versions of Molten Core and Conflagrate, making them less overpowered though still effective;
- All pets will ignore knockback and area attacks in PvE and gain their owner’s Resilience in PvP;
- Will of the Forsaken’s cooldown will be brought in line with other debuff-lifting effects;
- Night Elves shall disengage when using Nightmeld;
- The maximum damage dealt by area of effect abilities will be capped, causing less damage to each target if it affects more than ten targets;
- The differences in stat bonuses given by races are going to be less drastic;
- All characters will regenerate health and mana faster when not fighting.
Talents and spells will be added for all classes, and many existing ones shall receive less dramatic adjustments. The final WotLK meta was known for being well-balanced, and that should also be the case here. Nonetheless, the raw power of Paladins, Rogues, Mages, and Warriors is difficult to deny, while Hunters and Druids gain considerable versatility from their new talents. Another effect of using the final patch will be to make the leveling process quicker and easier, especially for characters without healing powers.
How Rocketboost Can Help
WotLK Classic will be a unique opportunity for WoW veterans to relive what many still see as the MMORPG’s glory days, and for newcomers to experience them for the first time. The epic storyline, polished class balance, and sophisticated instance design are all appealing draws. Nonetheless, WotLK Classic is still an old-school MMORPG, and that means many grinding elements that may drive off modern players. Rocketboost’s WoW Wrath of the Lich King boost services can take care of any tedious activities, leaving our customers free to focus on the parts they like. In the same vein, we offer WoW Shadowlands boost services for the current retail version and WoW Dragonflight boost services for its upcoming expansion.
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