Changes We Can Expect From WoW Wrath of the Lich King Classic

Wrath of the Lich King Classic is shaping up to diverge from what OG WoW players know from the original release.

After the conclusion of Burning Crusade, players will now soon receive the Wrath of the Lich King expansion for WoW Classic before 2022 ends. Many consider this a big deal – the original WotLK was touted as WoW’s greatest era. It also introduced some features, notably the ‘Looking For Group;’ option – an attribute long blamed for the MMO losing that early sense of community.

Since its launch, WoW Classic has been mostly an unchanged experience from how the original game played in 2006. However, in their most recent blog post, Blizzard pointed out that this design philosophy won’t be carrying over to Wrath of the Lich King Classic. It looks like we won’t be farming currency as we did for WoW TBC gold.

From #NoChanges to #SomeChanges

World of Warcraft Classic followed a strict pillar when it first launched: #NoChanges. Blizzard faithfully recreated WoW as it was back in 2006, including as few changes as possible while still making it possible to run in a more modern environment. In the grand design for Wrath of the Lich King, they figured the mantra #NoChanges isn’t sufficient anymore.

As Blizzard rolled out expansions for WoW Classic, they realized that some of the changes they made were no longer consistent with how the game felt, like the addition of certain WoTLK items. Its latest expansion, Shadowlands, felt different from the original launch game in 2004. Thus, WoW Classic revised its design pillars as #SomeChanges.

Blizzard’s Core Design Pillars for WotLK

In the blog post, Blizzard outlines three core design pillars that will inform players how the company plans to approach the re-release of Wrath of the Lich King. The first pillar is “nurturing and protecting social experiences.” One of the defining features of WoW Classic is its social nature, and Blizzard is looking to preserve that in future expansion releases – that, of course, includes Wrath of the Lich King Classic. Players can expect features like the automated group finder to no longer be found in the Classic version.

The second pillar is all about being “approachable and familiar.” Many changes can destroy many long-time players’ familiarity with the Classic expansions. But the goal of keeping things accessible means that Blizzard isn’t afraid of doing a bit of tinkering with systems that, by today’s standards, may be deemed as confusing or outdated. 

For example, let’s look at the Emblem system for Wrath of the Lich King Classic. The original system was “complex and downright baffling.” Emblems were currency earned through raid drops that you could use to buy gear equivalent to the raid level you were doing. The old system used to work until more raids were released for the expansions. On the other hand, the new system will have players earn two types of Emblems: one type for older dungeons and raids used to purchase not-so-powerful items, and another type for the most current raid content used to purchase the latest gear offerings.

The third and last pillar is: The World is the Main Character. It defines the idea that the world of Azeroth is the protagonist of WoW Classic, with the goal of players maintaining the feeling of being immersed in a living world. For the most part, what the studio has to say about it in their blog post is mostly fluff, but it essentially means that Blizzard won’t be making dramatic changes to the world itself.

Keeping Things Challenging

As for the other changes coming to Wrath of the Lich King Classic, the monsters in the Naxxramas dungeon are scheduled to be buffed. Blizzard admitted that they made the dungeon too easy in WoW Classic compared to the original release. As a result, they’ll be ramping up the difficulty.

Heroic dungeons are also getting a makeover in terms of difficulty and loot to make them attractive to players. In the OG WotLK, these were embarrassingly easy. This time, Blizzard is experimenting with adding more challenges that would net players valuable loot if they managed to complete them.

Goals and Principles to Uphold for WotLK Classic

The “names” of the three pillars can come across as abstract, but fear not, because the studio outlined some concrete examples of the changes being made for Wrath of the Lich King Classic. Blizzard listed the goals and principles they serve as follows:

  • Provide a consistent itemization scheme across all expansion phases.
  • Maintain a healthy density of players enjoying Heroic dungeons throughout the entire expansion.
  • Foster a vibrant player ecosystem engaging in all WotLK instanced content.
  • Maintain a healthy density of players enjoying Heroic dungeons throughout the entire expansion.

Based on the things Blizzard has touched upon, Wrath of the Lich King Classic will see renewed interest from players who consistently buy WoTLK Classic gold. There’s no date on when WotLK Classic will release yet, but it’s due sometime this year.