January 2007 — nearly eleven years ago now — and excitement over World of Warcraft’s first expansion was at an insane height, both personally and among the community. We had been kicking around Vanilla (which we weren’t calling “vanilla,” of course) for over two years and itching to move on. We wanted to see where the game was going to go from here, and Blizzard had a whole bunch of tricks up its sleeves.
It’s hard to understate how much of a revolution The Burning Crusade was when it arrived. While we kind of look at it as an outdated, ancient, and creaky expansion that nobody wants to play in these days, it was hot beyond hot that January. I actually waited outside a game store at midnight with a bunch of people arguing over Horde vs. Alliance, grabbing my copy and then rushing home to install and play. That night, my Warlock Syp crossed through the Dark Portal and into a realm that was really unlike anything we had seen before.
Out of all of the changes that The Burning Crusade brought, I think its best was double-downing on the quest system. It was the expansion that refined and perfected the notion of “quest hubs” with plenty of missions so that you wouldn’t have to comb through an entire world just to find enough quests to actually level. I remember always breathing a sigh of relief to get a character to 58 (pre-Cataclysm), because that meant that I could actually level at a decent pace from there on out.
Burning Crusade had more than that, of course. There were the Draenei and the Blood Elves, Alliance Shamans and Horde Paladins, flying, dailies (which were a new thing back then), bombing runs, and 10 more levels of skills and talents.
Outland itself was hit-or-miss. Hellfire Peninsula was ugly beyond belief, yet the dimensions, the sky, and the angled ground still made it pretty exciting. Nagrand was my favorite, followed by Zangarmarsh. I spent DAYS trying to farm that firefly pet in Zangarmarsh — all in vain, I might add.
There are all sorts of small memories tied up with this expansion. Falling off the elevator to my death in Shatt… well, that was a rite of passage, was it not? Spending two years mostly in these zones, forgetting what Azeroth looked like. That awesome feeling of finally getting a flying mount and soaring. There were some great new pets to tame, and I never got sick of creating new Draenei alts to level up through those intro zones.
With Warlords of Draenor’s revamp/prequel of the Outlands and now Patch 7.3.5 allowing players the option to skip TBC entirely to focus on Northrend (or vice versa), The Burning Crusade has kind of become buried in World of Warcraft history. It’ll be interesting to see if WoW Classic servers ever end up expanding into Burning Crusade and beyond, and how the community will take to it when and if that happens.
What are some of your Burning Crusade memories? Let me know in the comments!