Join WoW Classic lead producer Holly Longdale, production director Patrick Dawson, and lead software engineer Brian Birmingham for a deeper look into the Burning Crusade Classic in this BlizzConline panel.
Burning Crusade Classic Features
As with any expansion, Burning Crusade Classic brings with it a variety of content for players to explore. Through the launch and over the course of content updates to follow, players will discover:
- New Lands to Explore: Step through the Dark Portal and into Outland.
- Two New Playable Races: Fight for the Horde as the blood elves, seeking a new source of arcane power or join the Alliance as the draenei, exiles from Outland in search of a new home.
- Arenas: Assemble allies and prove your PvP prowess in 2v2, 3v3, or 5v5 combat in Arenas such as the Ring of Trials and the Circle of Blood.
- Flying Mounts: Take flight in the chaotic skies of Netherstorm and soar over fel-touched Shadowmoon Valley with the introduction of flying mounts in Outland.
- Master Challenging Raids and Dungeons: Conquer 5-player dungeons and Heroic dungeons set in the crystalline fortress of Tempest Keep, or raid the haunted halls of 10-player Karazhan as you gear up over time for a climactic confrontation against Kil’jaeden in 25-player Sunwell Plateau.
- Jewelcrafting: Carve gems of power to socket into players’ gear with the Jewelcrafting profession.
- Aldor and Scryer Factions: Choose between the Aldor or Scryer factions in Shattrath and earn their unique rewards
- Create a paladin on the Horde or a shaman on the Alliance.
- Level to 70 and gain new class abilities and more.
Bringing Burning Crusade Classic to Life
Much like WoW Classic, we faced a lot of challenges in bringing Burning Crusade 13 years forward to today. One of these challenges was translating all of the expansion data—the content, the gameplay rules, how enemies behave, and so on—into the modern code, with all of the under-the-hood technical improvements, performance enhancements, and bug fixes we’ve made over the years.
To do this, we need to convert over 750,000 rows of data from the format we used around 2007 to the format we use today. Thankfully, we have dedicated and talented engineers who can utilize scripts that help make these conversions go a bit easier—but that doesn’t mean that we can solely rely on those automated conversions. Running the old client, we look at how things actually worked in the original Burning Crusade and compare it against the conversion in Burning Crusade Classic to verify it’s all working as intended.
We also wanted to make sure that as we made these conversions, we retained any bug fixes that we had made previously so to provide a cohesive experience between WoW Classic and Burning Crusade Classic.
We spend a lot of time looking at the old reference code to make sure we get things right and bug fixes are retained. Because it’s been 13 years since the launch of Burning Crusade, we also have to take the time to make sure that what we remember matches up with how things really were. It’s easy for time to change perceptions and what we might have thought of as a bug, might actually be how it played originally in Burning Crusade. Having a reliable resource to check makes a big difference.
Our modern code also provides additional stability for the client. Servers used to be much more siloed, but now have the ability to harness the benefits of cloud infrastructure. This allows us to avoid issues like “instance not found” errors when players are trying to access things like dungeons or raids.
Sometimes bringing this data over results in unintended consequences. When doing early tests, we found things like the blood elf male missing his clothes, despite the client believing he had some on. We soon figured out that textures weren’t assigned properly, even though the geometry from his clothes was still apparent.
With the Draenei, they initially appeared that they were too tall on the character creation screen—but the real problem was that Draenei were being shown in the Dun Morogh character creation screen, which has a camera height appropriate for dwarves and gnomes.
We also ended up with water showing up in Hellfire Peninsula where no water was meant to be. Outland doesn’t have oceans like Azeroth does, but this was something we were able to address.
Some Changes Ahead
Our guiding principle in WoW Classic was to keep the game as true to the original as we could. With Burning Crusade Classic, we still want to make sure we’re providing an experience true to the Burning Crusade, maintaining the essential elements of the expansion that players expect. We also have some changes that we are making to maintain good experiences for players when they arrive in Outland.
With WoW Classic, we purposefully recreated the “spell batching” behavior from the original game. Though it was largely a relic of old technology, the idea of having this again in WoW Classic was popular with players, and seemed like something we should include in the name of authenticity. However, there is an inherent issue with spell-batching creating latency for players. We’d end up with players reporting bugs with spells and abilities like Blink or Pyroblast not working properly when it was actually a result of latency causing those abilities not to cast as expected. For Burning Crusade Classic, it’s being removed to improve that overall experience.
The raiding community is also more experienced now, and we want to provide the challenges players expect when stepping back into their favorite raids. To do this, we want to provide more challenging versions of the bosses in dungeons and raids by removing the changes that were made to them later in the expansion cycle. However, there are some changes we are likely to keep when original boss designs proved far more frustrating than challenging. As an example: M’uru initially had a lot of spell pushback, which was causing players to exclude spellcasters from their groups. We fixed this issue pretty quickly, and it’s something we’ll still include as a change when this boss becomes available in Sunwell Plateau—but the decrease to his health will likely revert to its original state. Players have asked to engage with the initial versions of bosses so they can see if the benefit of experience allows them to defeat bosses they previously struggled with, and we want to provide them with that opportunity.
PvP and Faction Balance
We want to make sure we maintain faction identity, but also realize that there’s an imbalance between the Horde and Alliance paladin Seals, as Seal of Blood for the Horde is very powerful when compared to the Seal of Vengeance for the Alliance. To address this, the Horde and Alliance will still get their faction-specific Seals at level 64, but when they reach level 70, they’ll also be able to get the opposite faction Seal as well.
Another change we’re making is to the way players can fill out their Arena rosters. With the original release of Arena in Burning Crusade, players were only allowed to have the same number of players as the bracket they were in. If they were taking part in 3v3 Arena, they could only have three players in their list. That meant if someone couldn’t play for a while, then no one on the team was able to play either. With Burning Crusade Classic, we’ve expanded this to allow for rosters to contain twice the number of players for the bracket. This will allow teams to sub in players as they need to and continue taking part in Arenas.
We’re also planning to use the modern matchmaking algorithms to more quickly match players with equally skilled opponents, while still keeping the rating requirements on purchased arena gear in later seasons.
Blood Elf and Draenei Access
With the release of the Burning Crusade Classic pre-expansion patch, players will also get access to the Blood Elf and Draenei races early before the Dark Portal opens. This will allow players to get a jump on leveling so they can join their friends in Outland.
To allow players to stay on top of the latest content and gear up with their friends, we’ve set up a potential plan for additional content releases for Burning Crusade Classic to occur over 5 phases. As with anything in early development, these plans are subject to change and we look forward to player feedback.
Phase 1: Karazhan, Gruul’s Lair, and Magtheridon’s Lair Raids will open
Phase 2: Serpentshrine Cavern, Tempest Keep, and Arena Season 1
Phase 3: Hyjal, Black Temple, Arena Season 2
Phase 4 : Zul’Aman and Arena Season 3
Phase 5: The Sunwell and Arena Season 4
Meeting the Diverse Needs of Players
We want to make sure that we serve the needs of a variety of WoW Classic players. Whether it’s those who choose to move on into the Burning Crusade Classic content, or those who choose to remain in WoW Classic as it is, we want to provide players with a choice when the pre-expansion patch goes live for Burning Crusade Classic.
Going forward, current WoW Classic live servers will become progression servers with access to Burning Crusade Classic and its content updates. On patch day, players will be presented with a choice of where they want to play their characters. Do you want to continue into the content of Burning Crusade Classic? Or do you want to continue to experience WoW Classic?
You’ll be able to make a choice for each of your individual characters. This provides players a way to pick and choose the experiences they want to have, whether it’s with journeying into the next expansion with a max-level character that’s ready to go through the Dark Portal or creating a new draenei or blood elf to experience the new starting areas, or if it’s a mid-level character staying with the Classic Era realm to continue their progress and play with friends there.
For those who haven’t had the opportunity to play through WoW Classic or who are Burning Crusade fans looking to experience Outland right away, we’ll also be offering a way to boost to level 58. These boosts will be limited to one per account, won’t be usable on Classic Era realms, and won’t be usable on the new blood elf or draenei races. Boosted characters will be equipped with some basic dungeon blues, the level-40 mount skill, and a mount. Freshly boosted characters will not include any professions while existing characters will retain their chosen profession as it is.
If you decide to continue playing WoW Classic, you’ll be able to play on Classic Era realms, which will launch at the same time as the pre-expansion patch for Burning Crusade Classic.
We want to make sure that your choice is meaningful and know that some players may want to play a specific character on both WoW Classic and Burning Crusade Classic. We’ll be introducing an optional paid service to unlock a clone of your character in both clients so that you can continue your adventures in both eras. Read more in our World of Warcraft: Classic and Burning Crusade Classic Characters and Realms article.
Burning Crusade Classic Launching This Year
We know that the most burning question players have is when will Burning Crusade Classic launch? This year, 2021. We’ll be holding a beta test before long, where players will be able to head back to Outland and provide feedback on how it feels. We want to make sure we give plenty of time for the beta test so we can make the most of that feedback. We also want to make sure that those who are still progressing through Naxxramas or other content have time.
The community has been instrumental in making WoW Classic a success, we look forward to players joining the Burning Crusade Classic beta and helping us make it the best it can be too. We love working on WoW Classic and want to thank you all for helping us bring Azeroth to life. Stay classic and stay tuned for more information here on the official site!