Casually Classic: Is it worth playing into World of Warcraft’s Cataclysm Classic?


Do you know that feeling of flipping through cable channels or endless Netflix menus only to suspect there’s nothing on that would hit the spot? I kind of feel like that in World of Warcraft lately. We’ve never had so many versions of the game than we do right now, and yet none of them is exactly what I’m looking for in this MMO.

Narrowing down the selections somewhat to the “Classic” side of the equation, I’m more than a little burned out on vanilla and all the variations thereof, including Season of Discovery. Yet whenever I turn my attention back to regular WoW Classic, the specter of the imminent future gives me real pause — and that’s what I want to talk about today because maybe you’re in the same boat.

So here’s the situation as it stands for regular WoW Classic. Thanks to the inherent quality of WoW’s second expansion, Wrath Classic was in a good spot. We had a solid build of the game with lots of content and plenty of welcome quality-of-life features. To me, this is a far more satisfying version of the game than vanilla without being so warped that it trades away that old classic feeling for the modern design.

But Wrath is over, and in a few weeks we’ll be thrust into Cataclysm’s beta and pre-patch whether we want to or not.

This is where Blizzard fouled up. I get why the studio is pushing into the third expansion. It’s not what I would’ve done, but I get it. The problem is that the studio isn’t giving us any choice whether we want to stay in Wrath era or not. We either go along with this, we eject from the game, or we head to Classic Era or Retail.

I know it would’ve been yet another server to juggle, but creating a world where the game was capped at Wrath of the Lich King would’ve taken away the “Cataclysm Conundrum.” Despite brave talk at last year’s BlizzCon to the contrary, I think Blizzard knows well that many Classic and WoW players have no love for Cataclysm and wouldn’t be that quick to head into it unless forced.

I really wish a time traveler would come back from a few years into the future to tell us what the studio does with WoW Classic as a whole because I don’t think Blizzard has any idea right now. It’s showing all the signs of throwing stuff at a wall and hoping something works.

On the personal level, the question that every Classic player has to answer is if Cataclysm is worth revisiting. Even if you have a grudge against this expansion, it’s not that easy to divorce yourself of characters and guilds that may provide strong attachments. You’ve been playing a character for years now, perhaps since 2019, and don’t want that journey to end — even if that journey is about to enter No Man’s Land.

I’ve heard more than one player offer consoling words to the effect that Cataclysm is a stepping stone to Mists of Pandaria Classic, and that’ll make the temporary pain worthwhile. I suppose in that respect, we really do have knowledge of the future. With the hope of a better expansion a year or two down the line, drinking a dose of Cata now may be acceptable.


I have a Shaman about three zones into Wrath, and I find her gameplay engaging and the current expansion that right hit of old school WoW to satisfy me. It’s just that it’s hard — if not impossible — to be looking at and thinking of the future, especially when I’m sinking a lot of time into this character.

Maybe it really is simply for the journey, nothing more and nothing less. There’s precious little that you’re able to take with you between expansions in this game save for cosmetics, mounts, and pets, after all.

Another consideration is the fact that retail will be trumpeting out a brand-new expansion later this year, right about when Cata Classic players may be losing steam and looking for entertainment alternatives. Unexplored countries with lofty promises are enticing.

Are you feeling the Cataclysm Conundrum? Do you feel torn between continuing or calling it quits in your Classic trek?

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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