I remember the first time my 40 player raid stepped into Naxxramas, the final raid of World of Warcraft‘s original game. Even trash pulls felt epic — more difficult than the awful pulls post Supression Room in Blackwing Lair or the far more awful meteor trash in AQ40. When we finally got our first boss down — Anub’Rekhan, and man, I absolutely hated tanking that fight — there was a sensation in the air, an electric current through the entire raid group. We had a lot of trouble progressing through Naxx 40 — certain bosses, like Loatheb, were extremely challenging for us. But overall, Naxx was terrifying and amazing, and it’s hard to explain exactly how it felt.
It’s especially hard because, until the return of Naxxramas 40 in WoW Classic which will be happening soon, the raid has been gone since Wrath of the Lich King’s pre-patch when it was taken out of the game. And for me, the replacement — the Naxxramas 10 and 25 player raid that took the place of Naxx 40 — just wasn’t the same.
I remember the first time my Wrath raid guild went to Naxx, and I felt like I was walking through an abandoned strip mall instead of the scary raid I remembered — trash pulls were reduced, the space that had been designed for large pulls and thick on the ground trash felt deserted and empty now. The boss mechanics felt far less difficult in the new Naxx, which was the introductory raid for Wrath rather than the final raid of original WoW. And the worst part was, the older raid didn’t exist anymore for comparison. We had a great resto Druid who had Atiesh in our guild, but we also had two other players who’d just never quite managed to finish theirs, and now they couldn’t.
Dungeons, raids, and other content lost
As I write this, Naxxramas 40 has been gone for twelve years. It really only existed for two, from June of 2006 to October of 2008, and so, Naxx has been out of the game for six times longer than it was in it — the version of the raid that I got to experience has not existed for over a decade. Only a few players got to have that experience. Despite my public, on the record statements about WoW Classic and the ‘you can’t go home again’ phenomenon, I have to say, just for making it possible for a group of 40 players to step back into Naxxramas as it was meant to be played, I will always be fond of WoW Classic.
But it’s not just Naxx that we’ve lost over the years. Stratholme, Scholomance, Sunken Temple, Scarlet Monastery, the Deadmines, Upper Blackrock Spire — these dungeons have all gone the way of the ultimate original WoW raid over the years, removed from the game for revamped versions. I understand why these things happened, but over the years I’ve come to feel like we’ve lost something precious when World of Warcraft removes content.
It’s not that I think revamps or changes are bad, but that there should be a means to preserve these places as they were, in much the way that Silithus has a Bronze Dragonflight NPC who can flip the zone to before Sargeras stabbed it. This is a mechanic we also see in the Blasted Lands, as Warlords of Draenor saw both Dreadmaul Hold and Nethergarde Keep fall to the Iron Horde.
I’d love to see it brought back
Much of the draw for WoW Classic comes from the simple fact that it does something that World of Warcraft failed to do, and preserves the original version of Azeroth and the content within that world that we had from 2004 until Cataclysm redrew whole zones. This isn’t me debating whether or not the Cataclysm revamp was a necessary one. This is me flatly stating that whether or not it was necessary, what it cost us should have been more carefully preserved. And WoW has continued to lose content as the game has progressed and changes unfolded — that list of dungeons above, for example. It would be my argument that it would be a benefit to World of Warcraft if original Azeroth — the Azeroth of WoW Classic, the one without flying, the one with Naxx 40, original Scholomance and Stratholme and Scarlet Monastery, that messy and sometimes laborious world — were added back into the 10 to 50 leveling pool we’re getting in Shadowlands.
We could have Theramore back. Original Onyxia. All the gear that had to be moved to Nefarian, or was just plain lost — the original Dungeon sets, the Naxx 40 gear, all of it. We could level in some of the weirdest, best, and just plain strangest quests, like the Missing Diplomat. We could get back all that stuff people clearly still want — heck, they’re playing it right now.
I mean, we’re basically scaling everything now, from Outlands to Draenor, from Northrend to Pandaria to alternative Draenor. Why not let us go back to level our mains in original flavor Azeroth? Why not put all that content back in, and let players experience Thousand Needles before the flood, the Barrens before it was cut in half, Ashenvale before the Horde burned half of it down? Why not let players level in old Darnassus and see the city again? Let Forsaken players play in an Undercity that hasn’t been rendered uninhabitable. Let Orcs see old Orgrimmar again in the retail game.
Losing content, removing it, just feels like it’s a missed opportunity when you’ve got this brand new scaling system ready to go. With the level squish and being able to level in any content in the game, all the places that have been replaced over the years could be ours to explore again, and I hope the opportunity is taken.
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