WoW: That's why The Burning Crusade was so cool back then
When WoW veterans are supposed to discuss the best era of World of Warcraft or vote for their favorites in surveys, the first expansion The Burning Crusade is often mentioned before Vanilla-WoW or Wrath of the Lich King. Accordingly, the enthusiasm within the community should be correspondingly great if the people in charge at Blizzard officially announce classic servers for The Burning Crusade. But why do we so fondly remember TBC? What innovations and improvements have the developers used to take the already very good vanilla framework back to a new level of quality? We look back on the version of World of Warcraft from 2007 and 2008, which was temporarily unsettled by well over ten million enthusiastic fans.
The "first time" is often something special that you won't forget quickly. This knowledge can be applied to many areas of life, even to World of Warcraft. For example, it is striking that many players particularly like to recall the WoW phase in which they started themselves or in which they were able to go full throttle for the first time. The first expansion, The Burning Crusade, continues to benefit from this in several ways: There are numerous players who first created an Azeroth hero in TBC. Many vanilla veterans were also late for the game. When they reached level 60, the train was almost gone and the TBC launch could be seen on the horizon. They too experienced WoW in all its glory for the first time after January 16, 2007. In addition, there were all the enthusiastic fans of the first hour who were far from full, simply wanted more and were granted this wish by the first expansion.
The dark portal opens
How great the anticipation for TBC was with the community, we experienced on the said day in January 2007. At exactly midnight the Dark Portal in the Blasted Lands should open and open the way to Outland. And we weren't the only WoW players who wanted to put their hands on the night to absorb as much of the new continent as possible. Hundreds of characters had gathered in front of the portal and jumped excitedly back and forth or passed the time with duels. Yes, you could literally taste the anticipation of the other players. It didn't matter to us that the servers of that time had to struggle with the large number of players: the images displayed per second were hardly worth mentioning and several times we ended up on the desktop again after a connection was broken.
The actual opening event or the first few minutes of play on Outland was similarly mixed. The large number of players not only caused lags, but also frustration when questing. Back then there was no phasing or layering, which is why the entire gamble pounced on the boars, demons and orcs at home. It only got better when we were able to gain a small lead over the large crowd during the night. But hey: how often can you experience such a launch event? The countless fans, who had stood on the street for hours for the announced midnight sales of TBC in order to be able to hold a copy of the game in their hands, should see it similarly.
Better balance in all matters
So much fun World of Warcraft (buy now) also made in the Vanilla variant (and is currently doing with the WoW Classic reissue), the corners and edges of the original could be so frustrating and throttling. In retrospect, the developers themselves admit that they often did not know exactly what they were doing at the time. No wonder, after all, WoW was Blizzard's first online role-playing game. This was most evident in the design of the classes and objects in Vanilla-WoW. While some ways of playing were almost absurdly good in (almost) all areas, others didn't even have enough mana for a complete boss fight. Due to the limited number of weakening effects that could affect an opponent at the same time, many skills had to remain unused in the spell book in raids. And if you look at the design of the animal sets, it quickly becomes clear which corner the developers most wanted to put many hybrid specializations in.
Despite numerous patches with which the designers adjusted talents, items and skills, the balance only improved noticeably with The Burning Crusade. Suddenly, balance druids, elemental shamans, retribution paladins and shadow priests in the PvE area were no longer laughed at because they noticeably improved their teammates and at the same time caused okay to good damage. Protection paladins became the best tank for enemy groups, hunters suddenly became the best damage experts and it was great that shamans and paladins were now equally available to both factions. On top of that, all play modes now received their own armor sets with appropriate values and bonuses – a motivating innovation for the players of the different hybrid classes.
Small but nice: the raids
With TBC there were suddenly more interesting ways of playing that could be seen in the dungeons and raids. At the same time, the developers reduced the size of the raids from 40 or 20 players to 25 or 10. A blatant change that caused trouble for some guilds, but at the same time a necessary improvement. In the vanilla era, it was one of the greatest challenges of all to find 40 like-minded people for every raid appointment. Organizing such a large squad was simply extremely time consuming and draining.
It is no coincidence that the 10-player Karazhan challenge is one of the absolute favorite raids in WoW history for many WoW veterans. That was, admittedly, but not only because the tower at the Deadwind Pass could be made unsafe with a group of good buddies. The design of the atmospheric instance was consistently successful and there were plenty of varied boss fights like the theater event, the chess game or Prince Malchezaaar on the top of the tower. But TBC also let us relive the battle for the Hyjal summit, led us to the Black Temple in Illidan and took care of one or the other gray one in the snake shrine caves and in the storm fortress at the end bosses Lady Vashj and Kael'thas Sunstrider Hair.
TBC is not only known for its crisp raids, there was also a lot on offer for dungeon fans. Specifically, there were 16 (!) New 5-player instances in the first expansion, which were also given a second level of difficulty for the first time: Heroic. In the beginning, you could only enter this mode if you had previously earned the corresponding key from the corresponding quartermaster. And that was a good thing, because in fact the heroic versions of the Shattered Halls and Co. played so crisp that fresh level 70 characters hadn't lost anything there. Scherbenwelt visitors had to meet comparable requirements in order to be able to enter the various raid challenges.
On the one hand, it was pretty cool, since all TBC heroes made a long journey and overcame many hurdles. Progress guilds, which fought their way up to the sun well plateau, looked back proudly on the mastered path. On the other hand, it was very difficult for guilds to update twinks and newcomers. However, after the experience with Naxxramas, Blizzard wanted as many players as possible to experience the content. Therefore, after some time they weaken all dungeons and raids noticeably, for this reason they gradually removed the requirements for the dungeons and raids. Unlike in Vanilla-WoW, a comparatively large number of guilds in TBC were therefore able to master all of the content before the next expansion was launched.
Jewels and brand dealers
Many players who criticize the modern WoW want the loot and character system from the vanilla era back. Bosses have fixed bag lists, values such as hit rating are important, many items can be improved with enchantments, manufacturing professions play a major role and there are well-designed armor sets for all classes. On the other hand, there is no such thing as random effects such as titanium forged, boxes with random loot and legendary items for everyone. The first WoW extension improves the good system from the vanilla era even more: Thanks to the new craft of jewelery grinding, many items can now also be decorated with jewels in order to further increase particularly good values. In addition, you were able to earn emblems for the first time in dungeons and raids, which you were then allowed to exchange for epic items at retailers.
Finally flying, finally arenas
If we look at the other features of TBC, there are two so far not mentioned that should have a particularly strong impact on the World of Warcraft. There would of course be the introduction of flying: With level 70 and the necessary small change (1,000 gold pieces) we were allowed to make the sky of Azeroth unsafe for the first time on the back of a flight riding animal. Some areas such as the Fortress of Storms or world boss Kazzak were only accessible on the back of a flying mount. Clear that this innovation also had a noticeable (negative) effect on PvP in the open world. Speaking of PvP: In the "player against player" area, a lot has changed compared to Vanilla-WoW.
The 14-tier honor system no longer existed, instead everything revolved around the team deathmatch games in the new arena. The class balance was never really good and there were problems with matchmaking, but the rush was enormous – many players had a lot of fun in the 2vs2, 3vs3 and 5vs5 fights. The battlefields fell under the table. There was only one new battlefield with the eye of the storm and the best equipment could no longer be earned there. In addition, Alterac Valley in particular suffered severely from the numerous AFK learners and bots who wanted to tap a lot of honor with as little effort as possible.
Ruf and Daily Grind without end
We mentioned it earlier: If you wanted to enter all the dungeons and raids of the TBC era, you first had to meet the associated requirements. Some of these were linked to the reputation status of a faction. But in general in 2007 and 2008 it was part of everyday heroism to keep up with the 19 factions in Outland. All of these interest groups had their own retailers, but they only released their goods from friendly, benevolent, respectful or even awesome.
You could often increase your reputation by visiting the dungeons associated with a faction on a regular basis. In some cases, however, you had to pounce again and again on the few daily quests of a faction. We think here, for example, of the tasks of the Netherschwinge faction, which many Azeroth heroes mastered for weeks and months only for one reason: because of the chic Nether Dragon mount. There was also time-consuming reputation grind in Vanilla-WoW, but this is not quite as monotonous in TBC. Anyone who has earned an awesome reputation at the Timbermaw Festival or the Winter Saber Instructor knows what we mean.
An unforgettable experience
The bottom line is that Blizzard's The Burning Crusade has ironed out many of Vanilla-WoW's weaknesses while at the same time playing new challenges on the live servers, which are some of the most iconic in WoW history. Today we still remember how loud the shouting in the TeamSpeak was when Lady Vashj finally went down on the ground defeated after weeks of agony. Or how awesome it was to pull the legendary war glazes out of Illidan's pockets. Or how much fun the PvP beating on the island of Quel'danas was. We just had a great time in Outland.
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