Pessimism About Classic Wrath of the Lich King

I'm in a bit of a funny place with Classic right now, in the sense that I'm having a lot of fun with it, but it feels very much like all of that is happening inside a very fragile bubble. In general, Classic doesn't seem to be in the best of places. The killing off of my old home server Hydraxian Waterlords was only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to server population issues for example, as people are using paid transfers to slowly depopulate smaller servers and making the faction balance on PvP servers (which are the majority) more and more lop-sided to the point where things can become unplayable for the smaller faction.

At the same time people are already talking about Classic Wrath of the Lich King, which - while nothing has officially been announced - seems guaranteed to be released either by the end of the year or early next year. And I'm not looking forward to that either, as I also said to Redbeard in a comment on one of his recent posts.

Wrath may have been many people's favourite expansion, but as I've previously stated on this blog, for me it was very much a mixed bag. It contained some good content, but it was also the first time in my time playing WoW that some changes and additions started to look genuinely unappealing to me. And what good there was, I already played for all it's worth back in the day - I ran something like 1500 five-man dungeons during original WotLK, for Christ's sake! Even if I obviously had fun with that to some degree, do I really want to farm those badges all over again? I think not. Personal taste in expansions aside, I also have a fairly gloomy outlook on the overall situation as far as Blizzard's handling of Classic goes and looking at the way the community has been developing.

I wasn't as put off as some by the introduction of the paid boost and store mount for Classic BC, but it was definitely a sign that the thumbscrews had come out in terms of monetisation, and I expect Wrath to be ten times worse, as original WotLK was when Blizzard first introduced store mounts - meaning they are part of the "legitimate" Classic experience and Blizz have no reason whatsoever to hold back. There also seems to be a general lack of care for the Classic experience in evidence already - I mean, how many months has that succubus death pose bug been in game now?

And as for the community... it's a complex topic, because it's one thing to talk about something like a server's community, but "the Classic community" is vast and diverse. Still, I feel that in general there's been a lot of complaining from the start about not liking certain features of Classic and vocal demands for convenience updates, which just makes me want to scream: you knew exactly what you were getting with this, if it bothers you so much, why are you even playing?! It can be frustrating to watch people claim to love Classic while also asking for it to be more like retail.

At the same time there's been a lot of over the top min-maxing going on as well as people seemingly treating the game like a checklist of chores, the sheer degree of which has honestly been quite shocking to me. I knew that this was already happening in OG Classic, but it seemed more contained then and not as wide-spread as it became with BC. Even if things have mellowed out now, as those who were the most guilty of this are either burnt out or "done" and have no more reason to log in, the way in which this transformed even people I like and consider friends into relentless grinding machines at the start of BC will remain with me for a long time and that's not something I want to go through a second time. Again, with the introduction of achievements and the additional streamlining that came with Wrath, I only expect this to get ten times worse.

Combine this with all the things I remember not liking all that much about WotLK the first time around, and I think everything will come together to make Wrath Classic a grade A shitshow:

  • With dungeons actively designed for easy AoE grinding and the introduction of the dungeon finder, people will feel the need to chain-queue for instances 24/7, leading to even faster burnout than people experienced in BC. The dungeon finder will also eliminate any remaining incentive to make connections or to group up with guildies for anything other than raids, unless you're literally already best friends and doing everything together anyway.
  • Everyone seems to forget that the majority of Wrath's first raid tier was Discount Naxx, which made sense at the time because hardly anyone had seen the original, but considering how many guilds cleared the real deal in Classic only a year ago, people will be bored with the nerfed version within a week.
  • The death knight meta will cause chaos... everyone always just seems to remember how much they personally liked the death knight play style, forgetting that there'll be thousands of other people wanting to be just as OP at the same time. There'll be all-death knight dungeon runs and battlegrounds, competition for raid spots will be fierce, and people will be thoroughly sick of everyone else playing the class in short order.

All this and more is why I don't think I'll really want to play a Wrath Classic... but the sad thing is, I'm considering it even so. And you know why? Because of my guild. The whole server transfer shenanigans highlighted to me that I've made some strong connections there that are not so easily let go, and I could see myself giving it at least a try for other people's sake... but I'm not optimistic that it will result in lasting enjoyment.


  1. If they don't put in the LFG queue, it would be a huge development. I don't think that'll happen, but here's hoping.

    What people seem to be most interested in these days is dual-speccing, which would be a godsend for the multi-role classes.

    But yeah, Discount Naxx is definitely a problem that isn't explained away. I also think the "10-person raid everywhere" Meta is going to cause guild problems, because people will rush to that and not everybody will like going down from 25 to 10. If people disliked 40 -> 25, this is gonna be nuts, and people will willingly jump to 10s because they can get rid of "problematic people" in raids without consequence. And I know that I'd be one of them because of my DPS.

    1. The automated LFD will be there for sure, the question is just whether it'll be in from the start or whether they'll hold off with adding it until the ICC patch like it was back in the day. The only real change I could imagine them considering is to not make it cross-server, considering how much bigger the Classic servers are to begin with. But that might actually be more work for them, so who knows...

      I know dual spec is a popular one, but personally I remember it being a mixed blessing from the start because of how it creates expectations that everyone should be willing and able to play multiple specs/roles.

      And another thing with the 10/25 split is that it means people will end up farming each raid twice as much... which will again add to burnout. And again we know this because it happened back in the day too...

    2. All true. And I can't dispute it, either.

      One of the things that has followed us into TBC Classic is the willingness to respec for a raid already; a lot of guilds will simply provide the funds necessary to cover the talent respeccing going on --I know ours does-- which makes me think that the multiple specs/roles is already present to an extent.

      If people try to do both 10 and 25, they will earn their burnout. I can't say that any more directly than that. I kind of hate saying "you're a dumb !@#$ if you do that", but sometimes people have to relearn things to get it into their skulls.

      Or maybe Doctor Heidigger's Experiment (short story by Nathaniel Hawthorne) is more accurate than anybody cares to admit.

    3. I know more frequent respeccing is a thing already - one of my guildies has a priest alt in a more hardcore raid force, and the raid leader there pays him to spec discipline before the raid to buff everyone and then respec to shadow for the actual run, lol. But even if you can deal with the gold cost, the fact that you can only change by visiting your trainer in town puts limits on how much people can expect.

      I hadn't heard of that short story before, but you made me look it up. :D

    4. Oh, hadn't thought of that. Hawthorne was one of the first American literary greats --I think James Fenimore Cooper predates him with his Last of the Mohicans (and other novels about Hawkeye)-- but most people see Hawthorne and think The Scarlet Letter. In Doctor Heidigger's Experiment, he wrote one of the progenitors of Science Fiction in as much the same way as Edgar Allan Poe helped to develop the detective genre with his stories like Murder in the Rue Morgue and The Purloined Letter.

  2. Some of my immediate group have expressed interest in Wrath Classic, but I'm sort of 'eh' on it. To be fair, part of it is that they like to go hot and heavy with a Classic release for a week or so and then immediately fade away. :/ The other, bigger, part is that I did _so much_ in Wrath that there's no real draw.

    About the only big thing would be the Naxx proto-drakes and no-fail 10/25 titles. Since those don't carry over to Retail it becomes harder for me to motivate myself to work through this all again. Especially since so much of it is readily available in Retail.

    The 10 / 25 man problems will be very noticeable once Ulduar is available. People will want to do 25 Ulduar for Val'anyr. This will repeat in ICC with Shadowmourne needing 25 man ICC. Since 10 doesn't go into 25 evenly there's going to be guild drama over those five slots added (or five removed if it is a big guild running three 10 mans). Well, at least there was back when Wrath was current.

    I wonder if burnout will be as bad starting with Trial of the Crusader since there are (were) four difficulty levels there (10 normal, 10 heroic, 25 normal, 25 heroic). I was in a guild that tried to do as much of all four each week. And tried to get to and kill Anub;arak with zero wipes. (Never made it, but some were super-sweaty about it.)

    1. My experience with the 25/10 split from what I remember was that the 25-man was fine to transition into from BC and to maintain it as your main focus, but the 10-mans could be kind of clique-ish. Still, it wasn't until the Cata announcement that this actually broke up my guild...

      And I didn't even want to go into the horror that was Trial of the Crusader. I have the evidence of how dull that was here on this very blog...

  3. > a lot of complaining from the start about not liking certain features of Classic and vocal demands for convenience updates

    A little torn on this one, as I think it's perfectly fine wanting to experience 'the game' at that patch/expansion level in its entirety and still hating single features.

    But as I'm writing this from the standpoint of someone who usually isn't loudly complaining or even demanding things, maybe me "wouldn't it be nice they fixed X or Y" is a bad comparison.

    1. Would you actually think it a good idea if they made major changes to Classic though? I mean, to me it's always seemed pretty obvious that it's primarily meant to be a recreation of an old experience, and that changing it to be more modern (outside of special rule servers like Season of Mastery) would kind of defeat the point.

  4. I don't like the LFD in an MMORPG. It completely changed the community. But, to be honest, neither the community nor I myself were the same in Classic as we were in Vanilla.

    WotLK was the only addon that cared a little bit about non-raiders. It was the only addon where you could collect a raid set without actually raiding. (You might not like that but if you don't like raiding this was actually fun.)

    The whole 15-minute LFD instant dungeons matches more the play style of todays gamers. It matches the play style of the popular lobby games or mobile games. And while I won't play WotLK as an MMORPG I'm looking forward to tank one or two short dungeons a day and collect all these badges again!

    1. I've just never really understood this whole obsession with what raiders wear. When I'm not raiding in a game, I care whether the other activities on offer are fun and offer interesting rewards. I'm not really affected by how these rewards compare to what some strangers get while taking part in other activities that I don't care for...

    2. It's not about what the raiders get - it's about what you get from running dungeons. WotLK allowed you to collect a good set - a set you're going to wear - with awesome bonuses from dungeons. The set was the same (although with a lower item level) as the one raiders get but that's not what matters. What matters is that WotLK was the only addon* where you could collect a meaningful set from dungeons.

      The reason raids drop these cool sets is because it's fun. And you know what? Running dungeons is also more fun if you get a cool set. :-)

      *) Vanilla also had cool D2 sets for non-caster classes although it was to little, to late.

      WotLK was the only addon where you had a parallel end game progression for non-raiders - where non-raiding content wasn't only there to obtain pre-raid BiS.