World of Warcraft Classic is only a few months away, and one of the biggest questions looming over its release is what will happen after Blizzard completes its six-part update schedule, which includes new raids and dungeons and PVP features. Once we've raided the halls of Naxxramas, will Classic ever see more updates or will Blizzard just leave it where it is, our heroes doomed to stay level 60 forever?
With our nostalgia goggles freshly cleaned, we gathered to debate this important issue: Should Classic continue onward by adding new expansions? If so, which expansion it should eventually settle on permanently? (Or should it just keep going until it catches up to modern WoW and Blizzard has two identical MMOs?)
We also want to hear your thoughts, so jump into the comments to tell us whether Classic should eventually include older expansions and, if so, which ones.
Steven: I feel like I might be the only one who thinks that Classic should stop right where it started, before any expansions began to fundamentally alter WoW for better and for worse. Of course this means that, by next year, Classic players will be running out of things to do, but I feel like that's the point. I don't see Classic as a permanent edition of World of Warcraft, something that should be updated constantly like the main game. At what point would Blizzard just be running two separate MMOs? And at what point would Classic call it quits at a specific expansion and cease all updates?
Everyone has their favorite expansion, so Blizzard will never please anyone if they decide to cut things off at Burning Crusade or beyond. Instead, I think Classic should stay true to what it is: a nostalgia-filled snapshot of World of Warcraft in its pre-expansion form. If by this time next year players have seen everything worth seeing, I think that's OK. Classic, to me, is exciting because it offers a temporary glimpse into what used to be. It's fun to visit the past, but I don't want to stay there permanently.
Fraser: Flying was the coolest hook an expansion could have, and Burning Crusade had plenty of others. Outland was a shattered alien world full of bizarre locations and demonic armies, all waiting on the other side of the Dark Portal we’d been waiting to peek through for ages. It was great. Now my heart sinks if I have to make a trip back there, with its obnoxiously huge and empty areas designed to be flown over rather than explored. When I'm playing through Burning Crusade now, I'm just waiting to get to Northrend. If World of Warcraft Classic does open up the Portal and kick us into Hellfire Peninsula, I only hope it's a stop on the road to the best WoW expansion.
Bo: For me, Burning Crusade was the pinnacle of WoW. Sure the maps were huge and empty, but the game at level 70 holds my fondest memories. I spent the first half of the expansion pouring myself into the newly invigorated PvP experience, thanks to the addition of the 2v2, 3v3, and 5v5 PvP arena format. Later in the expac's lifetime, I transitioned into hardcore raiding, which was a much more pleasant experience at 10/25-player parties instead of vanilla WoW's gargantuan 20/40-player groups.
In short, Burning Crusade is the "classic" experience I'm actually interested in. It's the point in time when many of vanilla WoW's quirks had been worked out, some cool features had been added, and the game was still young enough that it wasn't yet bogged down by the things that make people want a classic edition in the first place.
Fraser: Arena continues to be the most terrifying part of WoW for me. It reveals just how terrible I am at PvP. I think I tried a 2v2 fight once during Burning Crusade and then never again for years. If I’m teaming up with people, it’s got to be in a big group so I can hide my failings more effectively.
Steven: Oh, so you must play a hunter then?
Wrath of the Lich King
Fraser: Wrath of the Lich King is the all-time greatest expansion. I wouldn't say WoW peaked in 2008—I'll never give up my Demon Hunter—but that's definitely a time I'd love to revisit. It's where Blizzard started beefing up the quest design and using phasing for more ambitious storytelling, and it's the story I'd been waiting for since Frozen Throne. Arthas is the villain that's loomed largest for me, even if he's not the cosmic threat that some of the others have been, and the fight through Northrend felt a bit more special with that final confrontation in sight.
The arrival of WotLK was also the first time it felt like raids and heroic dungeons were actually welcoming. Instead of worrying about grinding rep, I could start doing heroic dungeons the moment I hit 80, while raids started to drop their indomitable masks and feel like something new or casual players could tackle. I have even less time now, so I doubt I'll be doing any raiding in Classic, but I'd happily return to Icecrown Citadel and beat up the Lich King.
Steven: Though I still maintain that WoW Classic should stick to vanilla, I'm guessing most people will agree with you, Fraser. WotLK was when World of Warcraft struck that perfect balance between accessible and hardcore, a game that appealed to just about everyone.
Andy K: I was late to the World of Warcraft party, joining in 2010 when the Cataclysm update was released. This was a big deal for existing players, with the world being literally torn apart by the evil dragon Deathwing. Some zones were changed dramatically, notably the Barrens, which was split in two. But even though I wasn't immediately aware of how much the world had changed, there was a feeling that something, well, cataclysmic had happened to Azeroth, which gave the locations and quests a nice apocalyptic vibe.
I remember spending one Christmas at home on my own, by choice, and dedicating every night to playing Cataclysm. Sometimes I'd be joined by a couple of friends. We were far from hardcore players, preferring to just hang out, explore, and quest rather than get involved in raids or anything like that. That made World of Warcraft a really chill game, and an enjoyable way to waste an evening. But that was almost a decade ago.
If Classic ever reached the Cataclysm era, I doubt I'd ever go back. Because even though I'd be doing the same quests and exploring the same world, it wouldn't be the same. I'm in a different place in my life, and the people I played with are too. I don't mind a bit of nostalgia. Hell, I'm currently replaying the original Deus Ex. But some things I'd rather leave as pleasant memories, rather than pointlessly trying to relive them. Which is a long-winded way of saying that I'm not all that bothered about World of Warcraft Classic.
Mists of Pandaria
Steven: OK, if you put a gun to my head and made me choose one WoW expansion that Classic should eventually update to, it would be Mists of Pandaria. Of all the World of Warcraft expansions, Mists of Pandaria is the one I wish I could go relive as it was happening instead of experiencing it after the fact. It and Cataclysm were the two expansions I missed out on, but Mists represents World of Warcraft at its most daring and stylish. Any time I've had to venture to Pandaria for quests, transmogs, or anything else, I'm always struck by its beauty and sorely wish I could have experienced the expansion in its prime instead of quickly whisking through it while leveling a new character. That said, I know there were a lot of things people grew to hate about Mists of Pandaria, and rightfully so. But Mists is also the most unique and flavorful of WoW's expansions, so I think I could make peace with the daily quest grind.
Warlords of Draenor
Steven: When we first laid out the first draft of this story, it included empty spots all the way up to Legion for people to make their cases for. But after Mists of Pandaria no one wanted to recommend WoW Classic should go this far—and for good reason. I think after Wrath of the Lich King, World of Warcraft started to transform into the MMO it is today with Battle for Azeroth. It's still fun, sure, but it's also a vastly different game that has lost some of the charm that made the original expansions so captivating.
Only the oddest among us would suggest Warlords of Draenor should be the expansion that Classic eventually caps out on. At the same time, I'd love to see Blizzard do it anyway just to screw with everyone.
What about you? Do you think Classic should eventually add expansions and, if so, which ones would you like to see? Let us know in the comments.