Burning Crusade Classic will make even greater use of Phases to replicate the feeling of old content releases — but how well will it work?
If you played WoW Classic when it rolled out, you got to witness its phased content release schedule. Rather than just dump every raid and dungeon in the game at once, there was a series of staggered content releases that finally ended with Naxxramas, letting players get some sense of how it felt to play World of Warcraft when it originally launched. It wasn’t a perfect recreation, but it did let players experience the older dungeons and raids first before later ones that often required gear from their predecessors to complete.
With The Burning Crusade returning as Burning Crusade Classic, we know content will again be rolled out in several Phases that mimic the original release schedule of raids and dungeons. However, BCC includes quite a few other changes in its Phases, changing items, NPCs, and other details from Phase to Phase.
We can see some of this in the latest beta patch notes:
- Badges of Justice will not drop in raids until a later phase, however, Badge of Justice dailies will be available in all phases.
- Developers’ notes: While these were both changes made late in original Burning Crusade, we feel that dailies provide healthy gameplay in encouraging dungeon variety, without significantly impacting gear acquisition.
- Primal Nether, Nether Vortex, and World boss items from Doomwalker and Doom Lord Kazzak will initially be Bind-on-Pickup, as they were in original Burning Crusade, and should be updated in a later phase.
- Primal Nether and Nether Vortex will become available from the Badge of Justice vendor at a later phase.
- Outland faction vendors will initially sell the items that they originally sold, and their offerings will update as content unlocks.
- Examples: the Swift Skyfire Diamond gem recipe from the Consortium, the Mysterious ammo from Karazhan, and PvP gear from all factions.
- Ring enchants and Jewelcrafting-specific gems now have a profession requirement to benefit from them.
- Developers’ notes: The design intent for these perks were a player power reward for having that profession, and the fact that they continued to function after unlearning that profession was a technical limitation in original Burning Crusade.
- Weapons that were changed from Main-Hand-only to One-Handed late in original Burning Crusade will be restored to their original version in Burning Crusade Classic, and should be updated in a later phase.
- Developers’ notes: Changing these to One-Handed was a very late change in original Burning Crusade that would have a notable impact on player power.
- Epic engineering goggles will become available from trainers with the Tier 5 phase.
- Haris Pilton, Zephyr, and Cooking and Fishing dailies will be available from the beginning, as they do not directly or largely impact player power.
- Landro Longshot will not offer WoW Trading Card Game code redemption.
- Developers’ notes: We don’t intend for the Burning Crusade Classic to make duplicate use of WoW TCG codes, nor do we want players who have unredeemed codes to choose between games for redemption. Landro Longshot may be repurposed in Burning Crusade Classic for a different use, but that will not be related to the WoW TCG.
A great deal of these changes are aimed at sustaining the way it felt to play The Burning Crusade when it came out. The game is built on patch 2.4.3, but these changes mimic the game’s progression through earlier patches.
The change to main-hand weapons, for example, was a later change allowing players to off-hand the various blacksmithing weapons as they got better weapons from Black Temple and Sunwell. Similarly, Blizzard is making sure attunements are still in force upon the launch of the game even though those were largely gone by the time patch 2.4.3 rolled around. The general feeling of these patch notes, and the phase rollout of Burning Crusade Classic, is to attempt to present the game as close to how it felt when it first came out.
Can a phased content schedule really recreate the original game?
We can admit that it doesn’t exactly replicate the original experience without really answering whether or not it gives players a reasonable sense of how it felt to play through the expansion the first time. From my perspective, there’s a conflict between wanting to use the ultimate version of the game by using the game’s final patch and wanting players to experience the dungeons, raids, and other gameplay as close as they can to how the game was as it progressed — but with that conflict in mind there’s something to be said for the phased approach.
I mean, just having everything available without any of the attunements or having to wait for Tempest Keep or Serpentshine Cavern to open would just lead players to rush the content even faster than they already do, for starters. WoW Classic absolutely showed us that players today will burn down these raids and dungeons much, much faster than they did the first time around.
I think, even though phases saw some tweaks during the original run of WoW Classic, such as the Scourge Invasion being tweaked for the pace of modern WoW Classic it is fair to say that phased release of content did the job they wanted it to do. You got to run Molten Core and Onyxia for a while, and only after you’d gotten used to that content did Blackwing Lair release, followed by Zul’Gurub, then Ahn’Qiraj 20 and 40, then finally Naxxramas. This did the job of letting players experience the content of original WoW in higher fidelity than if you simply dumped it all with the release of the game just because it was all out already by the last patch. Using the ultimate form of the game’s code doesn’t mean you should ignore the context, even if you can’t precisely replicate it.
Therefore I’m cautiously optimistic for the way phases are being used in Burning Crusade Classic to simulate that same content release cycle. It’s clear that some changes are being made — daily quests that grant Badges of Justice were a late addition, but they don’t really make a massive impact when they’re being played early simply because there won’t be later, very powerful badge gear on vendors until a later phase. It’s just more content for players to engage in.
It’ll take a while to really see how it all shakes out, but I think the concept was proved pretty successful in WoW Classic and it will work for its Burning Crusade Classic iteration.
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