Greetings, reader! You’ve probably noticed by now that I love to wax nostalgic about the World of Warcraft of 5+ years ago. And, I mean, I do. I can’t really deny that. But I was thinking about leveling experiences by expansion, and realized that I think the one that is the most fun to level through isn’t even all that retro.
Mists of Pandaria, friends, has, for my money, the best leveling experience. It’s just an absolute joy to level from 85 to 90. I don’t know if it’s the quests themselves or just how relaxed everything is. But it’s so nice to sit back with some pandas and have a little fun. It’s a shame that the experience needed to do it these days was nerfed so hard that I feel like I just zip through a zone and a half and then rush away. I mean, I’m 100% fine with a leveling nerf in regards to old content, but when I mess around on other alts in Outland or Northrend and then compare it to Pandaria, it just feels like Pandaria was tuned too sharply. When you can dash right through a level in an hour, without flight, that’s just weird.
But yeah. Thinking back on it it’s funny that MoP had a lot of stuff I liked in it (the 85-90 leveling experience, the music, the 5.1 storyline, etc.) and yet I played it the least out of all the expansions thus far. Honestly, I think what kicked me out was the lack of normal dungeons at max level and the resulting huge congregations of jerkoffs in Heroic pugs who didn’t want to deal with a freshly-dinged 90. But that, my friends, is all a story for another day and another post!
One of the things that I find really fun about new expansions is the evolution of the login screen.
The classic screen was the Dark Portal, and you know, after three Dark Portals… I’m still not sick of it. I like the Dark Portal. It’s iconic and it feels like you’re stepping into another world (of Warcraft.)
Picking a favorite is tough. I might have to go with TBC for maximum nostalgia (and Dark Portals). Although, who can forget Wrath and its big dragon roar?
There probably won’t be a Dark Portal involved in Legion, but who knows, I guess!
Recently someone got to my blog via the search term “TBC or Wrath.” As it turns out, these are the two expansions I played the most, and they are also perennial fan favorites. The really interesting thing about these two expansions is that they kind of straddle a paradigm shift in the game. Let me explain:
Although at the time Burning Crusade was seen as a huge quality of life leap over vanilla World of Warcraft, looking back on it now, it was still very, well… vanilla. Lest you forgot, here are some of the attributes of TBC:
A 1-60 leveling nerf did not happen until at least halfway through the life of the expansion. To compare, it’s now fairly standard to get a nerf to experience rates through previous content with the release of a new expansion.
Mounts, mini pets, and so on were carried in your bag (or your bank).
Attunements. Attuments everywhere. At least at the beginning.
60 minute long hearthstone cooldown.
You didn’t get your first mount until level 40 (a patch at the very end of TBC did reduce this down to 30.)
Not only was it normal that there were certain buffs only one class could provide… but there were certain buffs only one spec could provide.
There was no dungeon finder. Finding a PuG dungeon meant sitting in the LFG channel for a long time.
There was of course no LFR and no real gear catchup mechanic aside from a little bit of badge gear so people were running the expansion’s first raid– Karazhan– until the night before WotLK’s release. Literally.
And so on. This was the most player-friendly MMO for its time, for sure, but it was still very much a retro, old-school type of experience.
Now then, we make the jump to WotLK.
As I said earlier, Wrath was very much a sort of paradigm shift for WoW. The QoL improvements were just immense. Off the top of my head, we got:
Shorter hearthstone cooldown
Mounts at level 20 and 40 (partway through the expac)
Dungeon Finder (about halfway through the expac)
Mounts and pets as spells rather than items (the bagspace, you guys!)
Buffs provided by more than one spec
Easier gear catchup for alts via a solid badge system that gave us new stuff every patch
Few to no attunements
And so forth. This was definitely an expansion that established a new zeitgeist for WoW: one that was less focused on hardcore raiding and endgame (although raiding was still huge throughout Wrath) and was more focused on a streamlined experience.
So: TBC or Wrath?
That depends on what side of the MMO coin you preferred.
To use a silly analogy, TBC was to Vanilla what Pokemon LeafGreen/FireRed were to the original Pokemon games. So if you prefer your MMOs more… unrefined, then TBC was probably the high point.
Wrath is a lot more like the newer expansions. It was streamlined. Why is it more popular, then, than basically all of the newer and even more streamlined expansions? For me, it was the atmosphere, the raids (which were very good, almost without exception,) and in the huge playerbase. WoW was everywhere back in 2009, being played by basically everyone, and it was a fertile ground for fan creations and dumb pop culture references alike. It was easy to love the game, because everyone loved it.
(I like this video because I recognize like all the gear in it)
So there you go. That’s my absurdly long, 600-word essay about Wrath and TBC.
And no I’m not gonna choose.
Okay, fine, I’ll choose TBC. Because of blood elves.
So the new expansion has been announced! Turns out my Council of Glaves guess earlier was wrong, but hey, I kind of sort of called Demon Hunter, right? Granted I was off on the specifics, but you know, details.
What am I hyped about? Well I’ll tell you what I’m hyped about BIG HUNKY TOPLESS ELF MEN. That’s what I’m talkin’ about.
I’m also hyped about some of these weapons we’re getting. Felo’melorn for my Fire Mage? Some super awesome looking phoenix bow for Althalor? Yes. Sign me up. SIGN ME UP.
Also Alleria Windrunner? Only the return of the best Windrunner sister? I am here for this.
I’m not 100% sold on the overall aesthetic of the expansion yet. I feel like we’ve been fighting the Burning Legion for approximately 1295862345 years, and I’m not really into this dusky magical night elf stuff (give me more of my lovely blood elves every day). But hey, I’m sure we’ll be getting more details in the future. For now I’m sort of cautiously hyped more than super hyped. Thanks to WoW Token I feel like I can sort of fund my sub indefinitely so hey, might as well play a new expansion, right?
So today my Windows 7 partition (cause I’m a nerd who dual-boots with Linux) decided to update to Windows 10. The update itself took about an hour and after some initial awkwardness where my screen resolution wasn’t being properly recognized, everything seems to be working fine and dandy. I did have to disable my custom Firefox theme for now because it’s not playing nice with the minimize/maximize/close buttons, but I imagine that’s something that will get fixed in a future Firefox version.
So anyways, everything else seems to be working A-OK, including the important things like Steam and Battle.net. I figured I’d let you all know because some people on Twitter told me they were concerned about the upgrade and I have to say that it went pretty smoothly. The entire updating process took about an hour, though, so have a book or Nintendo 3DS to hand while you wait.
So rumors abound that the next expansion is going to be much sooner than usual. I have no idea if any of these rumors are founded in reality, but they mostly have to do with the fact that the Draenor storyline seems to be drawing to a quick conclusion.
And what do I have to say about all that?
I have to say WAIT
I STILL HAVE ALTS TO LEVEL BECAUSE I WANT LIKE TEN MILLION GARRISONS SO I CAN MAKE SERIOUS BANK!
I STILL HAVE LIKE TEN TRILLION ACHIEVEMENTS TO FINISH
I STILL HAVE BATTLE PETS TO LEVEL
I STILL HAVE TITLES TO GET
I STILL HAVE MOUNTS TO GET
Yes, yes, it is me. Pike, the one person who wants Blizzard to SLOW DOWN with content.
Man. Maybe I should’ve come back a year before I did, back when nothing was happening…