With the announcement today of Wrath of the Lich King Classic, World of Warcraft has now committed to revisiting arguably its most famous and beloved expansion – a time period that could also be looked at as the end of an era.
Wrath represented the peak of World of Warcraft’s popularity, and while it continued to thrive since then, the expansions that followed were very, very different. Cataclysm, specifically, was a moment of dramatic change throughout the “old world” of Azeroth, and saw a major revamp of numerous regions from the original game. That’s not to mention the various mechanical and visual changes from that point forward.
It’s for those reasons that I asked WoW Classic head Brian Birmingham and production director Patrick Dawson whether or not Blizzard would be interested in taking Classic further after Lich King has run its course. I’ve asked Blizzard leads the same question twice in the past – once when Classic was unveiled, and again when Burning Crusade was announced. Both times, the answer was a resounding “if the players want it,” but with a general optimism toward the idea.
This time, while the answer itself is still the same, the tone of it is a bit more cautious than before. Birmingham starts by acknowledging that while Cataclysm is often thought of as a breaking point, the break actually began in Wrath, with the introduction of the Dungeon Finder tool at the end of the expansion. An introduction that, notably, will not be present at all in the Classic version.
“We’re trying to find that balancing point where we can preserve the Classic feeling and still make sure we’re giving people new things to do,” he says. “Because obviously [if] you’re going to play through it again, you’re going to get to the end of it. And you’re going to say, ‘I want more.’ Well, what do we have? We’re going to try to make sure we find something that is satisfying to people that gives them something more to do, and also feels as much like Classic originally. Whether or not that’s Cataclysm or something else in the future is something we have not decided today, and we definitely want to hear feedback from the community. “
World of Warcraft Classic Wrath of the Lich King Art and Screenshots
Dawson echoes Birmingham’s sentiments, encouraging players to speak up as Wrath continues on what they want to see next.
“This entire game has been a love letter to the fans ever since we decided to make Classic World of Warcraft originally… When we shipped Classic, we really focused on that. We were not even thinking about the next step necessarily, but almost immediately people said, ‘We want Burning Crusade.’ And after we shipped Burning Crusade, people almost immediately said, ‘Wrath, that’s such a cool expansion, can not wait to play that.’ We’re going to continue to have our focus on Wrath and making sure that’s an amazing expansion for the players, but then we’ll take that moment afterwards to pause and listen and see what players are saying, what they’re thinking, and what they’re feeling. “
Wrath of the Lich King, announced today, will be added to World of Warcraft: Classic sometime in 2022. We also spoke to Dawson and Birmingham about some of the changes we’ll see from the original version of Wrath. And we chatted with the leads of World of Warcraft retail about its upcoming new expansion, Dragonflight, and whether or not it will eventually get a console port.
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Rebekah Valentine is a news reporter for IGN. You can find her on Twitter @duckvalentine.