Casually Classic: Why WoW Classic progression should end after Wrath of the Lich King


Considering that we are just in the early months of Burning Crusade Classic, I think it might be both premature and presumptuous to be looking forward to a Wrath of the Lich King Classic. But c’mon, we all know it’s going to happen most likely in 2023. There’s a sizable contingent of players who haven’t been that keen on old Azeroth or Outland who are champing at the bit to experience Northrend.

When Blizzard opens those frozen doors, it’s going to be a stampede. Let’s not even pretend otherwise.

And when that day arrives, when WoW Classic transitions into its third major iteration, I sincerely hope that Blizzard will have the wisdom to announce that this is as far as the Classic servers will go and leave us in Wrath indefinitely. Here’s why it must happen.

As far as I see it, the whole purpose of WoW Classic is to take us back to an early era of the game before it was changed, modified, and reshaped into a far different beast than what players fell in love with back in the mid-2000s. While every successive expansion, starting with Burning Crusade, added and revamped plenty of elements of the game, historically the dividing line between the old era and the modern one of World of Warcraft is the division between Wrath and Cataclysm.

Like it or not — and a lot of players did not, thank you very much — Cataclysm took a familiar playground and bulldozed it to build something that the devs thought would be objectively better: a redesigned old Azeroth with better questing, improved graphics, and the ability to fly everywhere. Talent trees were squished, and other expansiony systems came out to play.

I’m not here to dunk on Cataclysm (and I suspect I’d be preaching to the choir, anyway), but I will argue that it irrevocably changed the world of World of Warcraft. It gave us an “after” to which vanilla, Burning Crusade, and Wrath was the “before.” Not only is the nostalgia for Cataclysm pretty much absent, but its inclusion into the Classic lineup would break the concept of Classic being a throwback altogether.

But Wrath? Wrath was World of Warcraft hitting its stride in a big way. Burning Crusade was a huge improvement in many ways over the original game, especially with reworked classes, flying, and additional talents. However, it was still mired in a lot of old, not-as-user-friendly design that wasn’t adapting to the times.

Wrath aimed its frozen cannon right at making World of Warcraft one of the most casual-friendly MMOs on the market and fired with all of its might. That expansions additions and improvements were legendary, including the LFG tool, achievement system, Death Knight heroic class, Dalaran, reputation tabards, a revamped Naxx, Wintergrasp, Inscription (and glyphs), 51-point talents, the barber shop, heirloom items for alts, pet and mount tabs, and more raid difficulty options. Just about the only thing that didn’t make it to launch was the lamented dance studio (R.I.P.).

It was an amazingly fun expansion that helped a game on the rise to explode in popularity and interest. Say what you will about “Wrath babies,” but this population boom was proof that WoW had connected on a whole new level with gamers.

And it’s this expansion that would serve as a fitting endcap to Classic. It wouldn’t need to go any further, not just because doing so would break the concept but because the base game plus the first two expansions constituted a massive pile of content that has and will keep players occupied for years. I can definitely imagine how a frozen-in-time (pun intended) Wrath Classic would have long legs even once Blizzard is done rolling out its patch phases.

Since that expansion gave players a lot of tools and incentive to roll alts (including heirlooms, easier dungeon accessibility, and a class that started at level 58), raising up new characters could lengthen one’s interest in the MMO for years to come. Tack on achievement hunting, mount collecting, and all of the other progression systems, and there’s so much there to do that it wouldn’t need to move past Northrend.

Just about the only post-Wrath system that I’d want to see brought back into Classic (even now) is transmog, but other than that, yeah, you can keep your pandas and Deathwings. This is where I want to live.

Stepping back into the MMO time machine of WoW Classic, Justin Olivetti offers up observations and ground-level analysis as a Gnome with a view. Casually Classic is a more laid-back look at this legacy ruleset for those of us who’ve never stepped into a raid or seen more than 200 gold to our names.

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All Activision had to do was when they launched Classic in 2019 and after Naxxrammas to start doing what OSRS did – put polls for players what new content should be developed and released for Classic – new zones, classes, dungeons, raids, etc.

Now they have Retail, Classic 1 and Classic 2. If and they probably will, release Classic WoTLK, then they will have three Classics and Retail. With that much segregation, they are killing their tiny remaining player base and can’t focus on anything anymore.

Retail is a dumpster fire.
Classic 1 is abandoned for Classic 2.
Classic 2 is a cash shop P2W garbage with level boosts or whatever.

I was hoping back in 2019 that they will handle Classic the right way, but the imbeciles were just too stupid to see the opportunity, they just milked it and abandoned it. In the end they will have so many iterations of their game that they won’t be able to handle any of them and the old and used ones like Classics will be either put on life support or shut down.

Kickstarter Donor

PTW? Gear with stats is not for sale and never has been for sale in WoW.

Joseph Groulx

What it should do is make a server that caps at 80, has equal parts endgame from Classic, TBC, and WOTLK but with new races and with monk and DK. I liked the cataclysm quest changes to 1-60, and some of the level scaling for quest content that happened later. Blizzard should also add some of the classic beta zones and dungeons that were scrapped, and make Hyjal an endgame zone.


Dungeon finder didn’t actually come until the final patch, it was originally designed for catch up to get people ready for the last raid. Throughout most of Wrath it was the same as BC, run to the summoning stone.

DJ Meowth

I disagree. I’d love to have realms for each expansion in WoW’s history, so that players have more choice when it comes to playing their favorite expansions. Today I feel like working on my Wrath Death Knight, tomorrow I feel like playing my Mists Monk, and maybe the day after I’ll check back in with my Legion Demon Hunter.

More choice is better than less choice!

Lily Cheng

Judging by how empty the vanilla classic servers are now, I’m going to make a bold guess that you are in the severe minority when it comes to wanting this sort of thing.

More choice may seem better at a surface level, but if you start segregating your playerbase too much, eventually you will find certain expansions just aren’t played enough for them to bother even maintaining it. Never mind the logistical nightmare of maintaining 8 different versions of the same game.

DJ Meowth

The vanilla servers are empty because TBC just launched, and because there are way, WAY too many of them. It’s not a good time to draw those sorts of conclusions.

Last I checked, which was earlier this year, there are Cataclysm, Mists of Pandaria, and Legion private servers with good player counts. WoD, BFA, and Shadowlands private servers are still extremely buggy and so they don’t have as many players. I imagine they would have more if they were more stable.

I know Blizzard is just a small indie company, but I have faith in their ability to maintain at least one well-populated realm for each expansion. Barring that, a progression realm that starts at the first expansion and progresses through all the others would be pretty nice too. If Everquest 1/2 and Lord of the Rings Online can do it, you’ll have to excuse me for not shedding a tear imagining how poor Blizzard could pull it off too.

Joshua Burnworth

I couldn’t agree more! Cataclysm is where WoW began to change drastically. A precursor of all future expansions. Wrath was the final “pure” expansion. I personally would have no interest in playing anything past Wrath. LFG, Deathknight, and the Story! It was all perfect!

Hazard Pay

Justin, I don’t understand your reasoning here. You act as if it were an all-or-nothing situation. Why can’t we have a Cataclysm concurrent with Wrath and just allow the players to pick how/if they want to proceed? It’s the current setup with vanilla and Burning; there’s no real pressure to move onto the next expansion (other than maybe FOMO). I suppose you could be alluding to not wanting Blizzard to expend resources towards Cataclysm that could be poured it into other projects…but you hadn’t explicitly stated that or any other salient reason for Blizzard to not proceed past Wrath.

I personally would not play Cataclysm, but I have no qualms with Blizzard doing the whole run-through of expansions. Furthermore, I feel you picked arbitrary delineations for what you consider “classic”. What is classic is completely up to the players…and your desire for Blizzard to stop after Wrath is your personal imposition of semantics on other players (if you had it your way and provided that expansion procession remains non compulsory).

Lily Cheng

I think any WoW player can easily see what is considered classic between the gaping chasm that is Wrath – Cataclysm.


I am looking forward for WotLK because it has Dual spec and LFG… otherwise, I like TBC equal if not better! But thanks to the #nochanges nonsense, we cant have good things. Not even barbershop… (yet they now cry for mercenary mode, the hypocrites…)

Kickstarter Donor

The one thing I’ll miss are battle pets.

Rick Mills

How about brand new content based on everything in WoTLK but the content?

Jeremy Barnes

*yawn* Why wouldn’t they keep going? I despise shadowlands, but there’s people who like it. They should have servers in all eras of the game. The only real question is how they do that.