I posted my initial thoughts on what a Classic expansion might look like. It was basically ‘more of the same’, and avoiding what WoW gets wrong with WotLK and beyond. But the more I think about it, a lot of those suggestions (new zones/quests, new dungeons, new raids) fit better into a patch vs a full-on expansion. And while I think Blizzard should 100% try and get such patches into Classic (again whether New Blizzard is capable of doing it right or not is another question), an expansion has to be bigger, and ideally focused around a theme.
I think I’ve found said theme.
The first Classic expansion should add a third faction.
Think about it, right now by far the most popular server type for Classic is PvP, and the only PvP going on in Classic right now is open-world randomness. You know what would make open-world PvP more interesting? A three-way battle of course! Out of all the things Dark Age of Camelot got right, the three-way fighting was very high up on that list. Imagine a third faction fighting in Hillsbrad?
The lore in Classic already supports this too. You have goblins and their allies as neutral to both Horde and Alliance, right? Well now they are playable and a bit less neutral! Plus you also have neutral-ish races like Ogres, Wargen, Kobalds, and the Naga. Classes that fit right in would be Pirate (Trickster ranged/melee hybrid), Tide Caster (water-based caster/healer), or Mechanic (turret pet class) to suggest a few. Perhaps Pirate is faction-only, and Alliance/Horde can also roll some of the new ones, to match the current Pali/Shaman setup.
The third faction would then need their own starting and ‘controlled’ zones, but could also be easily worked into existing contested zones, with perhaps a few new settlements created for questing and flight points. Booty Bay is upgraded into a capital city, with the unique bonus of being ‘true neutral’ and still open to the other factions (so you don’t have to rework all of STV).
In addition to the third faction, the other big add of this expansion would be to bring more meaning to open-world PvP. Give contested zones control points to fight over that give minor zone-wide bonuses, or grant a flight point. Add a Darkness Falls-like open-world dungeon for everyone to fight over/in. Maybe add a few spread across the level range, like lvl 25, lvl 45, and lvl 60 versions. Add a true reason to raid other faction’s cities and capitals. Basically, give players a real reason to care about world PvP beyond the fun that is bashing heads as people do in Hillsbrad today.
An added bonus to going down this path is now you truly separate the lore and story direction of Classic from Retail. Keep the main story about Horde vs Alliance, but now with a meddlesome third faction AND additional threats like the Burning Legion or whoever you need to be the big-bad of a raid.
A more minor additions that also fits the theme would be allowing everyone to have two specs, ideally one PvP and one PvE, but that could be useful even for pure PvP or PvE players as well. Respec’ing often in Classic just isn’t financially feasible, and while I believe assigning talent points SHOULD be a serious decision that is costly to change, specs lean too far towards either PvP or PvE to not allow for a second option.
Do I think this will actually happen? Eh, most likely not. Should it? Yes, of course. Make WoW what is should have been all along, an MMO rooted in PvE, that also has PvP as a core feature of the world, not a side-show of battlegrounds and silly arena fighting.