Pandamonium and Wondering about the Future of Classic

Not content to baffle the WoW player base with the release of Plunderstorm, Blizzard surprised with another announcement of a new game mode three days ago: WoW Remix: Mists of Pandaria, coming with patch 10.2.7 later in the spring. This seems to match what was previously called "Timerunning: Pandamonium" on the 2024 roadmap for WoW. That name was already a pretty big hint towards what it was going to be: something similar to Timewalking and something to do with pandas (even if the complete alien-ness of Plunderstorm combined with some additional datamining also led some people to speculate that it could be something else entirely).

The release of the previously linked article confirmed that it is indeed something similar to Timewalking and something to do with pandas, namely "a time-limited event which allows players to re-experience the entirety of the Mists of Pandaria expansion at an accelerated rate from level 10 through 70". There is still a lot we don't know and quite a few details left to be clarified, but we do know that it will require you to create a new character and that there will be a lot of special loot exclusive to this mode/phase.

Most of the reactions I've seen to this have been positive, and I've got to admit I'm kind of excited myself. Blizzard's still doing its usual thing of trying to bank on FOMO, talking about how fast levelling will be and spending a lot of time promoting rewards that I don't really care about, but I'm still looking forward to this event for a number of reasons:

  • I always say that retail WoW has this huge world and wealth of old content that is severely underused, so them actually making an event focused on re-using an older expansion will always be a good thing in my book.
  • I only played for a few months in late Mists of Pandaria, when quite a few bits of content had already come and gone, making the post-launch questing experience a bit disjointed. I have some tentative hopes that this event will give me a chance to get a more cohesive picture of the expansion (though some early clarifications are already tempering my enthusiasm in that area - e.g. we still won't get to see the Vale of Eternal Blossoms how it was before it as destroyed, and the legendary cloak quest line - which, from my understanding, was Wrathion's in-game debut for non-rogue players - will not be reinstated).
  • It's an event focused on levelling and doing content of all kinds, which sounds like a great opportunity for my husband and me to roll up another levelling duo and have some quality play time together.

While it's officially an experimental, limited-time event, it's also not hard to see how the reception of this "Remix" could have a big impact on the game going forward. Some ideas that I've seen thrown around are:

  • Maybe there'll always be an event revisiting an older expansion during the content gap before a new expansion in the future.
  • Maybe this will be a template for how to improve Chromie Time.
  • Maybe the option to replay an old expansion like this will simply become a permanent feature if enough people like it.

I would happily take any of these to be honest, and based on the positive reception I've seen so far, I think this event will absolutely be a success. For as much as certain parts of the player base and dev team have pushed for retail to focus on endgame at all times, there are still a lot of players who enjoy levelling in some form or another and/or who have nostalgia for older content that isn't currently being catered to in Classic.

Speaking of Classic though, I find it very curious that Blizzard would choose to have a nostalgia-filled event focused on the Mists of Pandaria expansion at a point in time when Classic Mists of Pandaria is presumably less than a year away. Yes, you read that correctly. We didn't just get a launch date for Classic Cataclysm the other day, but also a timeline that sees the expansion already hitting its last patch in January 2025. And here I thought they were going fast by making us go through each Classic expansion in less than two years, never mind less than a single year!

Most people seem to have read that as "haha, they just want to get to Classic MoP quickly", but I'm honestly not so sure anymore. I know that the Classic and retail player bases are not the same, but based on my own anecdotal experience at least, they're also not as totally separate as social media would sometimes have us believe, with many players happy to dip into both every now and then, even if there is one version they prefer. With that in mind, having a retail event that focuses on levelling through Mists of Pandaria, just to follow it up with the launch of Classic Mists of Pandaria six months later seems positively insane. No, it wouldn't be exactly the same, but way too similar to not feel repetitive to anyone who took part in the former.

This morning I was also hit by just how much the Classic player base has shrunk again throughout Wrath of the Lich King Classic, as a guildie pointed me towards forum threads about upcoming realm consolidations for both Europe and the US. I was struck by the fact that Nethergarde Keep, the server to which I was "forced" to migrate during Classic Burning Crusade and which at the time had about three times the population of Hydraxian Waterlords, is now also on the chopping block for being too small.

It looks like "regular" Classic will be down to about a dozen servers worldwide come Cataclysm, and almost all of them single-faction. I was shocked to see that even the PvE servers are not immune to this madness, as even the Wrath version of good old Pyrewood Village is 97% Alliance now. I thought things were already bad two years ago, but they are so much worse now. "Progressive" Classic is a mess with a declining player base, going into a controversial expansion that is unlikely to reverse that trend.

Before the official announcement of Cata Classic, many of us were wondering how far the Classic train could realistically go, as Wrath of the Lich King seemed like a natural end point. Once the continuation into Cata was confirmed, I saw a lot of comments along the lines of "well, then Classic MoP is a given" or that they could definitely keep going until Legion at least. However, after seeing those Wrath Classic population numbers and the timing of this "WoW Remix", I'm not so sure anymore. There is nostalgia for the (comparatively) more recent expansions, yes, but maybe Blizzard have decided to try and cater to that in retail instead of investing more money into rebuilding old expansions exactly as they were for a continually shrinking player base.

To be clear, I'm not implying that Classic as a whole is failing. While it was ultimately a disappointment to me personally, Season of Discovery still seems to be doing well. The "problem" is that it actually seems to be doing better than "regular" Classic by quite a margin, so I wouldn't be surprised if Blizzard decided to stop adding more old expansions to the Classic train and pivoted towards more seasonal servers or maybe even re-starting the Classic cycle from Vanilla again, while trying to pull players with nostalgia for the later expansions into retail instead, with dedicated time slots where those expansions are highlighted for replay.


  1. I didn't know about the Wrath Classic server merges. Thanks for that tip. :) I was able to start their moves to a couple of surviving servers. I moved my Horde characters where my guild should be playing and my Alliance to a server where I know people have some characters.

    I say should be, as folks are in a bit of Wow doldrums so our CataClassic run might not happen. That compressed timeframe might work against more casual players joining in, at least with my guild.

  2. There's currently a bit of a push on the forums to try and keep the Hydraxian Waterlords RPPVE server so EU still has an RP option. Hopefully Blizzard listens, as that server could become a genuine option for people that don't want to be forced onto a megarealm for Catacylsm.

    1. My understanding is that it already got a stay of execution once, when it was briefly revived for Wrath after being emptied out during BC, so I'm not optimistic that it will get the same treatment a second time... but who knows.

    2. I think it might survive a second death attempt. Blizzard has locked all the to be closed realms on WotLK classic, except Hydraxian Waterlords, which is an interesting development. It might live to see another day yet again.