The Coming of Wrath of the Lich King Classic

In addition to the WoW Dragonflight announcement on Tuesday, which I covered already, there was also the announcement of Wrath of the Lich King ClassicThe WoW Classic page is now dominated by the grim icy visage of the Lich King.

I suppose I could have covered both in a single post easily enough… words are words and all… but WotLK occupies a very different spot in my relationship with World of Warcraft and felt like it should get its own post.

The classic comes to classic

Also, WotKL Classic is supposed to be arriving this year, which might make it a standout from Dragonflight.  Blizz has to ship something this year.

I have, at various points, attempted to rank WoW expansions via various dubious methods, and I always work it so that WotLK comes out on top.  Not that it is the incorrect result, it is more a matter of my metrics being less than scientific.

Still, it remains a stand out for me, the only expansion I played from the day it launched until the day the next expansion launched without a break.  While there are lots of factors that play into that run, they all added up to me going all in on the expansion like no other before it.  Wintergrasp, the Argent Tournament, leveling up alts, crafting, grinding faction, running the instances, building the chopper, it was my peak effort in WoW.

So I should be totally stoked for WotLK Classic, right?  I was stoked for WoW Classic.  There were points between beta and launch that all I wanted was just to play WoW Classic.  And I was pretty excited for Burning Crusade Classic, wasn’t I?

Then why am I not feeling it?

Sure, part of that is the Blizzard malaise, the discovery that the company is problematic on many levels along with a feeling of tiredness about the whole genre at the moment.  It happens.  I don’t want to be down on the whole thing, I just am.

But I am also wary of going back to try and relive what might have been my peak time in the game.  I worry that WotLK was great in its time, both in the state of the genre when it came out and at the point in my life when I played it, but that it might not be all that when it comes to nostalgia.

The thing is, I have been back to Northrend a few times over the years with alts at various times as the game has gone on and I have never, ever stuck it out when I didn’t have to.  Even after the level squish, when getting to the level cap was suddenly much quicker and you could choose which expansion you wanted to level up in, I tried WotLK, but ended up opting for Legion or Battle for Azeroth to finish out some alts.

And then there is the practical aspect of the whole venture, the fact that we ran out of steam when it came to Burning Crusade Classic.  The overland content in Outland was every bit as grindy as I had said over the years, and the four of us were not quite enough to get through five person instances without having to simply be better than we’re every likely to be.

So I have a level 62 paladin in Outland.  That is a ways to go, six levels at least, before you can hope a boat to Northrend.

Yes, Blizzard will happily sell me a level 70 boost.  They are even going to let death knights get an early start so they can be level 70 before the expansion drops in the land of classic.  But do I want it that bad?  And what awkward mount package will they sell this time around?

Meanwhile, there is some controversy about there being no Dungeon Finder available in Wrath Classic, which seems odd to me.  My most popular post yesterday wasn’t about Dragonflight or CSM17. Those two weren’t even close.  The big attraction here at TAGN yesterday was a twelve year old post about some early good/bad experiences with Dungeon Finder that got linked in /r/wow due to all of this.

I have been down the “where does classic end?” path before, but I think you could make a very strong argument that Dungeon Finder is the dividing line between “classic” and “modern” World of Warcraft.  Yes, Cataclysm changed the world, making Azeroth a different place, but Dungeon Finder changed how we played.

We no longer had to schlep out to a dungeon in some zone, maybe use the summoning stone, then enter the instance… or, in places like Scarlet Temple, fight to get to the instance… to get rolling.  We also no longer had to have our dungeon quests all lined up before we walked in.  There was still some connection to the zones, still quest chains that culminated in an instance run, but more and more quests were given inside the instance, right at the start, because people were just being teleported right into the dungeon from Stormwind or Orgrimmar or where ever.

You can argue whether or not it was a good change… my recollection is almost a dozen years of non-stop complaining about its problems and being castigated for defending it now and then… but it was a radical update that changed how we played the game and, frankly, marked the end of what I would consider the classic era of WoW.

But I see a bunch of people angry that Dungeon Finder isn’t in Wrath Classic, including a column over at Massively OP which says I am a selfish gatekeeping ogre for even considering the idea, which baffles me a bit, given the above.  So many years of people complaining about it has led me to expect that is the default reaction to the feature.  I guess not.  There is an attempt to lay the blame on Holly Longdale due to her history with EverQuest and the contested raids thing that eventually got scrapped in favor of instanced raids on retro, which isn’t even close to a parallel situation, but if you were ever seen as gatekeeping… and what is a classic server but an exercise in gatekeeping… then you get painted with that brush forever I guess.

Oh well.  Just because I define classic one way doesn’t mean anybody has to agree.  Certainly the comment thread on that Massively OP post seems to be completely on the side of Dungeon Finder.  I expect Blizz will, if not cave, hedge on the issue due to the outcry, and then we’ll hear the other side of the issue howl.

Selfishly speaking I hope Blizz sticks to this because Dungeon Finder (and achievements frankly) would undermine the whole experience for me… should I decide to play… which isn’t even feeling likely at the moment even if they don’t include it, so I shouldn’t really care about it but I clearly DO care about it and… I don’t know, it is a mix of emotions.

I know, I am in a mood.  And moods pass.  Maybe, when the launch date is closer I will find some enthusiasm for Northrend again.

15 thoughts on “The Coming of Wrath of the Lich King Classic

  1. PCRedbeard

    As I put in my most recent post, if Blizz goes down the road of no group finder, they’d better fix the server imbalance problems. They’re getting pretty bad right now, and there’s no end in sight.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. p0tsh0t

    I think you’ve got that right. Dungeon Finder changed the “world” as we knew it into a game lobby and decoupled instanced content from the broader world at large. Azeroth went out with the bath water.

    If the problem was dungeon group formation, the adopted solution was worse than the original problem. If the original “best” WoW model was the world based quest progression that culminated in the Deadmines, etc., DF destroyed that model entirely.

    And to be something of a gadfly, phasing introduced in WotLK started WoW down a slippery slope of individualized content that would, in my opinion, consume the whole experience. A world and group experience (except to the extent necessary to complete instanced content) went overboard. Is there anything more offputting than being unable to play with your friends because they are in a different phase of the exact same place in the game world. Terrible design decision in my opinion.

    On the plus side, I do have great fondness for WotLK. I thought it was much more cohesive and in sync with the classic world than TBC ever was.


  3. bhagpuss

    I realise there may be resource issues, but surely the obvious answer is to have Dungeon Finder and Non-Dungeon Finder servers. How hard can that be? It’s not like they have to do all the extra stuff you mentioned, with the questgivers inside the dungeons etc. All that came post-WotLK, didn’t it? They just need to put in the interface that handles the remote queuing and the teleport.

    Also, DF didn’t come until fairly late in Wrath, surely? I played for about 6 months in WotLK and it had been going for a while before I started. The DF was added right at the end of my time there. If it follows the pattern of the previous Classics, why were peopel expecting to have DF from the beginning?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Marathal

    Yes, I believe you are correct. I think it came out with the ICC dungeons. I think my issue with Classic as a whole is that they are doing what they said they wouldn’t. Obviously I was ok with them repairing broken quests or fixing terrain or other under the hood issues. But taking out a feature? I’ve often thought about if I had a chance to go back and play my Shadowpriest at a time when I felt in tune with the class, was so eager to play I was eating dinner at a load screen. But I will leave those memories in the past. If I were to revisit that time, current retail would be over for me by looking at how badly the class has been reworked since MoP b


  5. PCRedbeard

    For what it’s worth, Wilhelm, that post over on Massively struck me in tone as like someone was channeling their inner Gevlon, even though they took the exact opposite stance of what Gevlon would have taken. I felt your comment was pretty spot on, and for people to pretend that the LFG tool wasn’t the demarcation between old and new WoW is being disingenuous at best.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @PCRedbeard – Far be it from me to advocate for the horror of the LFG channel and PUGs, so the whole DF thing makes me annoyed and tired.

    @Potshot – Indeed, I can recall us all standing in the same location on the map but being in different phases. It was a victory of story over worldliness.

    @Bhagpuss – Yes, DF came into the expansion after more than a year if I recall right. By the time it showed up our group had done all the then available five person instances, hit the level cap, and stopped playing as a group, leaving only Earl and I running around doing dailies and Wintergrasp. Aside from the last three instances that were introduced at the end of the expansion, I did it all without DF, so it was kind of a “well duh” moment when they said there was to be no DF. Imagine my surprise at the outcry.

    A split version of of WotLK Classic, DF and no DF, seems unlikely. The plan appears to be to push current TBC servers to WotLK and that would lead to even more complications. We’ll see. I don’t expect this to launch until the end of summer given past history.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Archey

    @Ula and @Wilhelm, my first instinct was to ask (not being a regular MMOP reader) if all their articles are so staggeringly arrogant. And I’m also glad the delay between No-DF and DF was mentioned here. I remember that too, and it was entirely ignored by the article.

    I think delaying it like the original release would be a better option than splitting servers. I was initially enthusiastic about it, way back when, but I remember the slowly growing despair when I saw the effect it had once introduced. Not just on zone progression and story as you mentioned, but the gasoline it pours on the fire of what Redbeard calls the “Meta”… the selfish race to gear collection mindset where the “right” method is to mash the LFG button and run the dungeon until you receive your cheese then unceremoniously drop group and do it again, regardless of others’ needs.

    I personally am excited for the expansion just on the strength of its design, but I’ll be around for a lot shorter time if they cave and put it in from day one.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Marathal

    My wife and I needed dungeon finder. In our situation we would log in around 6 at night to try to get our runs in to be met with comments from others that they had done theirs earlier in the day, and if we asked for a tank to help we were accused of asking to be carried. I don’t necessarily see DF being the big evil, as much as the notorious what’s your gear score. It was a different time to be sure. But I wonder if the memories of dungeon finder being bad for the game are tempered with more disdain of LFR, and the whole welfare epics for the dirty casuals.


  9. Pallais

    My preference would be to have the Dungeon Finder come in when it did in Wrath. That feels appropriate. Even though Wrath Classic will be based on the final iteration of the Wrath client, the phases used should make it easy enough to leave out the Dungeon Finder until it shows up. After all, the Dungeon Finder was part of many people’s Wrath memories and nostalgia.

    That said, if Wrath Classic is the end of the Classic line, I can understand not having the Dungeon Finder as that lets the Classic player base have a small differentiation from Retail. But as Redbeard said, it really forces Blizzard to deal with low pop servers. The tool was put in place to deal with those very issues. If Blizzard doesn’t use that solution, then they damn well need to provide a different one. Server merges with character names being unique to the account, not the server would be one and inline with their ‘Classic with a few changes’ mantra.


  10. Shintar

    Do you have a link to the reddit thread that linked your old blog post? Would love to know what they had to say about it… 😆

    As someone who’s been playing BC Classic, I’m not at all surprised to see many people wanting the dungeon finder for Wrath. Heck, a lot of them want it now. Basically a lot of the Classic community has actually gone through Brack’s “you think you do, but you don’t” process at this point, so they’ll make arguments about why they totally still like Classic, they “just” want it to be as convenient as retail and swear that doing so won’t take anything away from the game at all, honest. In fact, players have already taken their own steps to try and get as close to the dungeon finder experience as possible – buying transfers to converge onto mega servers to minimise group formation times, and addons that simplify the process just short of fully automating it.

    If anything, I’m surprised how hotly debated the subject is, with many coming out in support of not including DF in Wrath after all. I guess considering the way it was introduced kind of halfway through the expansion this makes sense, as some people would have preferred the first half and some the second.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. SynCaine

    This not even being mentioned in our discord is pretty solid evidence of interest. For me personally I also don’t really care, both because of the Blizzard company issues and also because Classic reaffirmed to me that Vanilla was great, and then everything after was a decline, sometimes slow (TBC), sometimes full-steam ahead (Cata, etc)


  12. Pingback: Classically Classic | In An Age

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