Casually Classic: Analyzing WoW Classic’s 2024 roadmap


With another year debuting this week, Blizzard was more on the ball than some MMO studios by already publishing its roadmap for 2024. Two roadmaps, in fact — one for retail World of Warcraft and one for WoW Classic itself. If I recall correctly, WoW Classic didn’t get the full infographic roadmap treatment last year, so it’s great to see the MMO elevated to this level of importance. I think it bodes well for how strong Classic is doing in the studio, to be honest.

It’s a pretty packed schedule with a lot of different projects and phases involved, which I thought called for analysis. So let us take a look over the roadmap for this coming year and see what lays in store for all of the versions of Classic, shall we?

Wrath is on the way out

If you have particularly fond attachments to Wrath Classic, you’re going to want to start the separation and grieving process now. Or you can cling to this as long as you have it, which looks to be only for a half-year. The final phase of Wrath — the Ruby Sanctum raid — is scheduled for winter, after which that’s it for this version.

In an ideal world, I would’ve loved to see Blizzard develop more content for Wrath or, barring that, give us Wrath-dedicated servers. But that’s not how it’s going to shake out, so players have a choice to make: Either progress on to Cataclysm or abandon ship and go to a different version of the MMO. Maybe we’ll get Wrath servers in the future or fresh start progression shards, but none of that looks to be happening in 2024.

Cutty time

Hardcore Classic gets a bone tossed its way

As announced at BlizzCon, Hardcore Classic is getting just one content patch this year — but it’s a welcome one. The permadeath servers are adding the option this late winter or early spring for a “self-found mode.” This mode, popularized by the unofficial Hardcore mods, challenges players to level up to 60 with gear that’s only found or crafted. In other words, by selecting this, you won’t be able to use vendors, trading, or the auction house to supplement gear choices.

This is being added for bragging rights and to give hardcore players another option, especially if they’ve already gotten a character to 60. It does raise the possibility of other modes for Hardcore Classic, which could extend the lifespan on these servers substantially.

Oh look, quick development.

Season of Discovery will keep you busy until the end

One thing is for certain after looking over this roadmap: Blizzard is going all-in on Season of Discovery. While the specific details of SoD gets more vague the further out this roadmap gets, the year is absolutely peppered by them.

There are four major updates planned for Season of Discovery in 2024: an early winter level bump to level 40 with the Gnomeregan raid, a spring increase to 50 with an unnamed raid, a summer increase to 60 with “end game activities,” and an autumnal patch with “end game content updates.” Each of the level increases also comes with a batch of new runes, so I guess we’ll see if the community is as quick to find those as it did with the first round.

It’s a really good chunk of content and should be encouraging to those who are surfing the Season of Discovery wave. Even though this version didn’t end up being for me, I am glad to see that this isn’t some flash-in-the-pan effort.

I do have questions, though. Will Season of Discovery continue to grab headlines and engagement through each of these stages? What is Blizzard planning, exactly, for the end game? How will the studio handle this server in the long run? And will this translate into more Classic+ experimentation?

In the meanwhile, four quarters, four updates. That should keep the vanilla crowd busy.

Cataclysm Classic comes in a half-year

What should be even more interesting is to see how the attention tug-o-war plays out between the conveyor belt of Season of Discovery and the shift to Cataclysm Classic. The fun of the latter begins with the beta at the end of winter, at which point we’ll see how much and what Blizzard changes for this version of Cataclysm. The only thing that the studio’s said about any significant difference is a “faster leveling experience,” which makes me wonder about how much the XP gain dial is about to be twisted.

One big question that could be answered in beta is the controversial topic of the raid finder. Blizzard (finally) buckled on the dungeon finder issue this past year, but will it do the same earlier with this? I kind of doubt it.

For regular Classic players, the real Cataclysm era begins with spring’s pre-patch. According to the roadmap, there will be an event and all of the features of the expansion. At this point, players can roll up Worgen and Goblins and get started with the true endgame, transmog. This’ll be a necessary period to adjust to the revised talent tree and other system changes, but more on that in another column.

Cataclysm Classic goes live in what looks like early summer — June, perhaps — and hopefully won’t have too much of its thunder stolen by The War Within’s release later on that season. A pair of content patches come later in the fall, keeping the momentum going.

There aren’t any big surprises here, as the studio pretty much announced all of this at BlizzCon, but it is nice to see the rough calendar. Whatever version of the game you’re into, it helps to know where you should be setting your expectations. For regular Classic players, this roadmap gives about six months of preparation to get their current characters ready for Cata, which should be doable for almost any project.

So what do you think of this roadmap? Is there something missing that you wish was mentioned? And where do you think Classic will go after 2024? Let me know what you think in the comments!

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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