I am going to remind everybody up front about the general stink eye that I have given The Burning Crusade over the years. When I rank expansions I tend to put TBC down in maybe third or fourth place, behind Wrath of the Lich King, Mists of Pandaria, and even Legion if I am in a mood. Even when I try for some objective measures, it ranks down the list.
There are a few reasons for that. I didn’t really start playing WoW seriously until the instance group formed up in September of 2006 and by the time TBC launched we were still in the middle doing instances at around level 40, so it was just around and a thing for much of our time doing dungeons in old Azeroth. It was also a time when I was a lot less focused on a single game relative to today… I think I could juggle four MMOs back then, now I max out at two… and I was not very invested in the WoW lore. I mean, I am not all that invested now, but I am at least not asking, “Thrall who?”
With the pre-patch, which seems to be running pretty smoothly despite Massively OP calling it a “mess” repeatedly, TBC is my current favorite WoW expansion… which is saying something since we can’t actually go through the dark portal until next week.
In that sort of twist of irony that time tends to bring vanilla WoW, viewed back in 2004 as the “easy mode” MMORPG, all cartoony and colorful and not very serious because you could solo any class to the level cap to a point where that very same play style in 2021 feels a bit like walking five miles to school in the snow uphill in both directions. Compare and contrast WoW Classic and Shadowlands and what it takes to get to the level cap… a level cap that is 60 for both of them, welcome to 2021… and you feel like you could do the latter over a long weekend. I think I did, in fact, run a demon hunter up to at least level 50 in a time easily measured in hours rather than days.
And into that contrast of experiences, the TBC update brings relief on that snowy, uphill walk to and from school in a myriad of ways I am still coming to grips with.
There was a bit of an easing of the level curve to start with, though that almost caused me a bit of frustration. I was keen to get in with the pre-patch with my pally and get him up to level 60, having found a pile of quests I had totally missed in one corner of the eastern plaguelands. And then I got in and was at the level cap before I knew it with my hunger to play as yet unsated. And all the more so because with the new paladin talent tree introduced with the patch, he was actually useful. He has a ranged attack when wearing a shield! And he didn’t even have to spec up the holy tree to get consecrate. But he was all leveled up now.
So I dragged out my druid Alioto, whom I had mostly given up on. He was lingering around having just made it to level 36, the start of the great vanilla dead spot for questing. But the new patch brought a free re-spec, so I dropped his resto plan… he was slated to be a backup healer in case Earl came back and the mix of the group needed to change, an opportunity that has long since expired… and went feral with him.
He was over in Theremore for a quest and I realized that the place had changed. There were a bunch of new quests there, which I would see on the mini-map because quest givers now appear there with exclamation points, including a few of my old favorites.
When I think of Theremore, I think of the deserters, whose lines Skronk and I will quote now and again.
They are discredited by a disinformation campaign worthy of… well, modern politics I suppose, ascribing bizarre beliefs to your opponents in order to undermine their credibility.
Always a laugh, suppressing dissent. But there is a whole pack of new quests in and around Theremore to fill in the gap for my druid, who has since made it to level 41. Part of that was a full ration of blue bar being available, but having a decent selection of quests has helped as well.
And I keep stumbling over little things that have been updated. The strange aspect of this is that the pre-patch delivered a whole bunch of items that were previously meted out in individual patches over time, so we ended up getting one giant birthday present of changes. I keep finding things that are different… and often better.
It is at a state where I am sure that some people are going to start complaining that this or that quality of life change was the start of the downfall of the game, but I’ve been happy enough, or at least able to adapt, so far.
And it is clear that other people are getting into the swing of things. While there haven’t been any login queues on the Bloodsail Buccaneers server, others have started to see that. My own measure for server population is the auction house, and how many pages of auction the Auctioneer addon reports. (Nobody from the Auctioneer team got an invite to the BCC beta, so were behind in updating, though you can find a beta version that works if you Google.)
Before the pre-patch I was seeing 220-250 pages of auctions depending on the day. Since the patch I have see the count exceed 700 pages on the weekend and well into the 600s on weekdays. That indicates a substantial boost in activity in my book.
I’ve also seen a host of Draenei. I was pretty impressed when I saw a level 58 Draenei shaman last Friday, but I have seen a few level 60s since then.
And then there are the special mounts, which you get with the deluxe edition which I mentioned when the patch went live. I always expect to see anything like that hanging out by the bank in Stormwind, somebody showing off their shiny new toy. But I have been seeing a bunch of those mounts just out and about.
Blizzard is apparently selling more than a few $70 deluxe editions. I guess it is only $30 more than the level 58 boost… and you get a mount on classic and another on retail… but still.
It is all feeling like the jump to The Burning Crusade content is going to be a big deal for Blizz.
Addendum: Blizz has put up a “the story so far” post about the lore of the expansion