World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade


“You are not prepared!” Illidain challenges as the opening cinematic plays. I wasn’t prepared, either, for the gameplay changes anyway. As for Illidain himself, he’s not even in the game yet. By the time Illidain shows himself, everyone who plays WoW seriously will be ready … and waiting in line to take a swing at him.

As a softcore raider, I lived in a dungeon with my guild on weekends. After a few months, my gear was shiny and, dare I say it, 133t. Not the best of the best, but that was for the hardcore raiding guilds who threw themselves into dungeons on a daily basis. So imagine my surprise when I venture through the Dark Portal and am greeted with scores of quests that give me better gear than I could find in the most dangerous instances back on Azeroth!

The Burning Crusade is a new game. Forget your old dungeons and gear—those will be quickly replaced by quest rewards and the new dungeons just waiting for level 60’s fresh out of the Dark Portal. Outlands will challenge the new players and hardcore raiders alike. And the quests are fun: air raids, giant demons to be slain, spirits to be sucked from tortured bodies and set free. The new areas are beautifully designed and displayed, from rugged mountains to peaceful rolling plains, to a swamp of giant mushrooms hundreds of feet tall.

The instances in Outland are easier to get to than they were back on Azeroth. Improved meeting stones makes getting your group together at the dungeon easier as well, though Blizzard’s solution to the Looking for Group function has fallen through yet again. New dungeons have some old elements and some new. New types of bosses make things interesting, while bringing back some of the infamous old boss tricks. The dungeons are certainly not too easy. Some are considerably shorter, too, a welcome change for most people who don’t have time to play for two and three hours at a time; 45 minutes to an hour can get you through the short dungeons now, with good loot plundered to show for it.

One thing the expansion addresses is that each class has three talent trees. Previously, warriors were expected to tank, druids were expected to heal, as were priests. Not anymore; new gear gives every talent tree a chance to shine. Starting with all new green magic items that have more specialized enchantments than the old style of base stats, and going all the way to the top: Vendors in the main city in Outland have the raiding sets on display for your class, showing six—count them—six sets. Gone are the days when the best armor was the one and only set for your class. It looks like Blizzard is making good on their claim that every specialization is meant to be playable.

The expansion is, of course, not without faults, mostly just programming bugs. Even after pushing back the release date, some quests and elite demons still had to be patched to work at all, but most have been. Suffice to say that the Dark Portal’s reopening has changed World of Warcraft, I think for the better (if leaving the old dungeons and their bosses rather lonely).