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WotLK Classic Features

The original WotLK brought major changes to the MMORPG. They ranged from a multitude of relatively minor gameplay and balance tweaks to groundbreaking features like a unique class and a sprawling continent to explore. When discussing the implementation of all those features, WotLK Classic developers have pledged to stay as true to the original as possible, though they have also mentioned some changes. This section serves as a refresher on WotLK’s most prominent features, while also providing information about how they may differ in WotLK Classic if available.

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Leveling Extension

WotLK raises the Classic level cap from 70 to 80. The minimal leveling requirement for new content is 68, though many quests and bits of content like Heroic dungeons require higher levels still. Thankfully, leveling up to that point will be easier than before due to certain balance changes and increased quest rewards. This extension also introduces new talents and ten additional talent points. Last but not least, the Dual Talent Specialization will be available from the outset (rather than in a later patch as in the original). By spending a thousand Gold, heroes at level 40 or higher can gain the ability to switch between two talent builds for free when not engaged in combat.

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Death Knight Introduction

Death Knights were implemented back in 2008 as the first among WoW’s hero classes. Such heroes initiate play at a higher level and undergo a unique initial scenario. Death Knights may be generated as level 55 characters of any race and finish an introductory questline in separate zones before being let loose upon the world. Their combat loop involves spending Runes to activate certain abilities and acquire Runic Power, which can then be spent on more advanced abilities. While complex, their powerset allows Death Knights to fill Tank and DPS roles with great effectiveness. They also possess a unique Runeforging ability that allows them to attach exclusive upgrades to their gear.62e8d2d271241 - WotLK Classic Features

Back in 2008, a player could only create one Death Knight in a realm, and then only if they have a level 55 adventurer on that server already. WotLK Classic has streamlined access to those iconic characters by waiving the latter condition for each player’s first Death Knight. It is retained for subsequent Death Knight heroes on the same account and also for Fresh Start servers. Additionally, Death Knights and their starting experience will become accessible during the pre-patch. Fans of the class will no doubt enjoy the opportunity to start playing Death Knights early and level them up before the main part of the expansion arrives.

Northrend Zones and Reputations

One of the expansion’s chief highlights is the new continent of Northrend itself. Found in the north of Azeroth, it is the setting for most of WotLK’s quests and instances. It has more and larger zones than the Outland featured in the Burning Crusade. While much of it is defined by ice and snow, there is a great variety to the continent. Adventurers will get to explore not only fjords and tundras, but also a dragon graveyard, a jungle, and assorted ruins. Unlike elsewhere in Azeroth, mounted flight could be unlocked for this continent for a thousand Gold. The magic city of Dalaran will teleport to Northrend to serve as a neutral hub where many unique goods could be acquired.

There are numerous factions for heroes to befriend during their visit to Northrend. The Alliance and the Horde each have a faction with four sub-factions. Dalaran’s Kirin Tor, the Argent Crusade, and native groups are also represented. Raising their reputations would grant access to all sorts of exclusive endgame recipes and items. Fortunately, the reputation grind is less severe than in the preceding expansion. Several of the factions allow heroes to equip tabards that let them earn their reputations while running any of the Heroic dungeons and also some Normal dungeons. That provides players with some flexibility in how they choose to befriend the groups in question.

Iconic Dungeons and Raids

WotLK reinvented WoW instances. It did away with attunements, redesigned raids around 10-player and 25-player versions, and allowed members of several classes to fulfill the same roles. Thanks to both those basic design considerations and inventive ideas, the dungeons and raids featured in WotLK still occupy prominent places in fan lists of best instances. Icecrown Citadel, the instance involving the final showdown with the titular Lich King, is one such fan favorite. The spectacular presentation and many secrets of Ulduar are rightly famous as well. Among dungeons, The Culling of Stratholme is particularly praised for its unique time-travel premise and challenging wave combat.

The Classic development team decided not to fix what is not broken. In contrast to Burning Crusade Classic, which reproduced the gradual nerfs applied to its instances after the first few weeks, WotLK Classic instances will not change over time. The main changes announced so far apply to the Emblem currency system. Unlike the more confusing and staggered system in the original WotLK, this version will let players earn Emblems from the start. One type of Emblem will be from the newest available raid tier, while the other will be from earlier raids and give access to somewhat inferior items.

Other noteworthy changes concern Naxxramas. Just as originally, it will move to Northrend, probably during the pre-patch, and return as a 10-player/25-player raid. However, the raid will be noticeably more challenging this time, which the developers say is in line with the original plan for the instance. It is unclear if any other instances will get this treatment. Another area of uncertainty has to do with the release schedule for instances. While they will almost certainly be staggered out in stages like in previous Classic titles, the actual contents of each stage or its length has yet to be revealed.

Arrival of Achievements

It might be difficult for non-Classic players to believe this, but there were no achievements in WoW before WotLK. Accordingly, there were none in WoW Classic either – until now. WotLK Classic will introduce Achievements for all categories, including exploration, quests, collections, and kills. Most heroes would likely be able to claim at least some achievements retroactively after the update, depending on what the game could track until then. Speedrunners will also have a new incentive in the form of Realm First! achievements. They cover accomplishments like leveling up heroes of specific classes, mastering professions, or clearing endgame instances before anyone else on the server.

Profession Additions

The highest professional skill levels adventurers can reach have been raised from 375 to 450. There are many more crafting recipes and rare materials, some of which become crucial in WotLK’s endgame. The list of professions has been expanded with the addition of Inscription. Its practitioners use herbs to create Glyphs, Vellums, and Darkmoon Cards, all of which can strengthen heroes in various ways. Also, all professions now give out passive bonuses. For example, heroes with Skinning gain a boost to their critical strike rating. That adds both flavor and another interesting consideration for builds.

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Changes to PvP

Even though PvP is not the main focus of this expansion, it still received numerous adjustments and fresh content. Siege weapons feature prominently in the two new Battlegrounds as well as the Wintergrasp open world PvP zone. The faction that takes over the latter gains access to the Vault of Archavon raid until dislodged. This raid enables raiders to claim Honor by defeating bosses. Together with tweaks to Battlegrounds rewards, that makes it much easier for everyone to gather Honor and acquire specialized equipment. There are two new Arenas, the Dalaran Sewers and the Ring of Valor, the latter of which is no longer available in the retail version.

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