WoW Classic: The case for an expansion, and I don’t mean TBC

We are just over a week in, but considering Blizzard is STILL opening new servers and now offering server transfers, I think its safe to say that Classic has been a hit beyond what Blizzard originally projected. How big of a hit we will likely find out during financial reporting (where good news is always celebrated, and bad news is ignored and/or spun), and there is always the question of retention. But let’s assume retention is good and the success of Classic results in Blizzard investing further in the product, what could that mean?

The seemingly obvious choice is to plan for the release of the original expansions, starting with The Burning Crusade. I say seemingly because I don’t think this is as obvious as people initially think. For starters, I fully believe Classic is as big a deal in large part because Retail WoW is so different (read: bad), and so moving Classic towards the bad version of WoW, even one expansion towards it, wouldn’t be great. I’ve argued in the past that WotLK, the second expansion, is when Blizzard really lost it and WoW started to decline (it did decline in terms of subs, and IMO declined in terms of design with things like welfare epics), but even TBC isn’t a ‘great’ expansion, with its 10/25 man raid setup, and the overall zone design being worse than the better zones of Vanilla.

What Blizzard really can’t do is do nothing. People would eventually leave the game, and Blizzard does not want to let a hit just die on the vine, especially when that hit is what originally pushed the company from a nice studio that made hits into a mega-corp. A second helping of $15 a month-fueled WoW success? You’d have to be SOE-dumb to ignore that.

Which leads us to the most interesting possibility, a new expansion for Classic. Take the lessons learned from 15 years of mostly ruining WoW, actually analyze why Classic is a hit, and then do what an expansion should do; give people more of what they like.

Keep the level cap at 60, but introduce something similar to EQ’s AA system, where you still earn XP and ‘ding’, but the power increase is more minor. This would allow those who are currently struggling with Classic-era raids a better chance for success (Nax40 isn’t going to be beaten by the vast majority of raiding guilds in Classic, you can bet on that), without all of the usual ‘reset’ problems of a level increase.

Add more content. Duh right? Fill in the world map with the missing zones, and they don’t all have to be level 60 zones. There is plenty of room for ‘filler’ content in Vanilla, and seeing it actually filled would be great. Same goes for new dungeons. Give people a real reason to level an alt in addition to working on a main. It’s already something that Vanilla was great at, so improve that strength. Give me a fitting ending to the Defias storyline with a level 30ish dungeon!

Adding new races, classes, and crafting professions is all fine, so long as it’s not space goats and Horde Paladins. Worgen, goblins, ogres, etc all already exist, use those. Death Knight and Demon Hunters? I guess, so long as they have that same ‘feel’ as Classic classes, and aren’t played like a fighting game simulator or Dance Dance Revolution. Don’t make all classes good at all things either, ala Retail. Rogues don’t heal!

Of course add more raids, and scale them as needed to keep everyone entertained. Nax40 works so well, even in its too-short lifespan, because it was so goddamn hard initially. Do more of that, and then adjust everything as needed as time goes on so the bleeding edge raids eventually become mid-tier and so on. If new raids are actually hard and progression guilds struggle, I could even see WoW become a big thing on streaming platforms should progression raiders allow it. How many views would a Method stream get for their first attempt at the final boss of the final current raid?

Finally, get some of the good ideas from future expansions into Classic, like a guild bank. Yes Vanilla didn’t have one, but its pretty hard to come up with a good argument against them. Dungeon finder? No, of course not, but again, we KNOW plenty of good reasons against that. Multi-spec? Yes, maybe, if handled correctly.

Sell me that expansion already Blizzard, my $80 for the collectors edition is waiting.

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
This entry was posted in MMO design, World of Warcraft. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to WoW Classic: The case for an expansion, and I don’t mean TBC

  1. I agree. It seems obvious to me that they can’t just let things stand where they are. We’ll see what they say at BlizzCon

    I am on board for what I guess would be alternate timeline classic. If any company has the resources to make that happen, it is Blizz. But do they have the vision? I think they might need to get Metzen back in to consult for an overall theme. But they should remember what he said way back in the day, that the world is the real main character of WoW.

  2. zaphod6502 says:

    “I think they might need to get Metzen back in to consult for an overall theme”
    I think this is an absolute must do. The current design team at Blizzard has proven they are only good at one thing – losing subscribers.

  3. Polynices says:

    That would be amazing but of course it’s hard to trust the people who ruined WoW with the task of not ruining it again if allowed to change anything at all about Classic. I agree that even TBC (which many people seem to say was great) was the beginning of some bad trends (just dropping 40-man raids was destructive to guilds and communities IMO).

    Here’s a crazy idea for alternate advancement: extra talent points, possibly just added to your main spec or perhaps unlocking dual spec one point at a time. So initially your dual spec could only be 1 point different from your main and increasing from there. Though that seems like it would be difficult from a UI perspective.

    I really worry that current Blizzard doesn’t understand what made Classic so great and is only grudgingly tolerating it. Hope I’m wrong.

  4. zaphod6502 says:

    “I really worry that current Blizzard doesn’t understand what made Classic so great and is only grudgingly tolerating it. Hope I’m wrong.”

    They will tolerate Classic only as long as it continues to generate revenue for Activision. Classic is a quick easy win to try and drag subscribers back to modern WoW. Maybe if they get rid of Mr “You think you do, but you don’t” J Allen Brack. :)

  5. Naithin says:

    I can’t express strongly enough how much I agree with the sentiment and wish here — but I just can’t see it happening.

    At best I think we’ll see some course correction in the coming expansion(s) which still wouldn’t be a bad outcome. Just… as has already been pointed out, does the current team even understand what it is Classic offers? And would they have a strong enough dedication to the vision even if so to make more than token gesture changes?

    I’m unsure.

    But either way I hope WoW Classic continues to be successful so we at least have the chance to see.

  6. Mailvaltar says:

    Fantastic idea, I’d really like to see this.

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