WoW Wrath of the Lich King Classic (or WoTLK) has been circulating in beta form for some time, but now that Blizzard have nailed down a September release date, we’re reflecting on our amazing deep dive back into one of World of Warcraft’s best ever expansions.
My World of Warcraft adventure began with Shadowlands; yes, you read that right, Shadowlands. Initially, the glittering, azure-bathed world of Ardenweald and Revendreth’s gothic paradise were everything that I ever wanted, but as my journey continued I was left with a sense of longing. Shadowlands was great (emphasis on was), but as I fell in love with WoW’s colourful cast and twisting plotline, I just wanted more.
Of course, I did what every budding Azerothean does – Google ‘what is the best World of Warcraft expansion.’ The debates were fiery – almost battles in themselves – but two in particular emerged as frontrunners; Legion, and Wrath of the Lich King.
Given that I am one of those Sylvanas Windrunner apologists (I hate me too, don’t worry), Wrath of the Lich King was the more logical choice. Not only did it come before Legion, Sylvanas’ eternal conflict with The Lich King and Arthas Menethil ensnared me; I wanted to learn more about the Scourge and the formation of the Forsaken, the class I had ultimately settled on playing. “Oh my God,” I said, as my bony feet touched down on Northrend for the first time. I knew that Wrath of the Lich King was going to be great – and boy did it deliver.
So, when Blizzard announced WoTLK’s Classic iteration, a part of me was excited whilst simultaneously sceptical. One question was on my mind: could they do it justice?
Wondering the same thing? Well, I’ve got the answers below for you – you’ll just have to keep on reading.
Familiar yet different
There’s an unmistakable sense of foreboding in Northrend, and I was genuinely so excited to see that, when I landed there in WoW WoTLK Classic, that sense of hopelessness was still there.
The Ebon Hold has never looked so gruesome, its in habitants still had quirky names (Siouxsie the Banshee never fails to amuse) and the Lich King himself has an aura of grandeur that never ceases to take my breath away.
Icecrown remains a glistening temple of terror amid the whispering blizzard winds, and the Borean Tundra still remains barren and devoid of any colour other than white, brown, and grey.
While despair rules this desolate place, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t in my element. This is what World of Warcraft Wrath of the Lich King felt like the first time I played it.
This is what I was looking for.
Being dead never felt so good
As likely expected, I immediately chose to run Death Knight, the class that was released alongside the iconic expansion. For the first time ever, I picked up a Draenei (I have always been a servant of the Horde) and thrust myself into undeath, hacking and slashing anyone The Lich King deemed unworthy – so basically everything.
I’ve never played Death Knight before, so not only were the abilities fresh and fearsome, but the entire questline was an absolute joy. From bowing to The Lich King’s whim to autonomous being with a thirst for vengeance, the tale of these fallen warriors is equal parts woeful and intriguing.
The gameplay itself is smooth, you can easily work out when to use each ability to deal the most amount of damage, and you can acquire the absolutely stunning Acherus Deathcharger, whose mournful cries echo into the beyond as a stark reminder that your character’s life is at an end, and their unlife has just begun.
Of all the classes I’ve played (and I have played far too many), the Death Knights may just be one of my favorites. Trading in my holy priestly ways to become the literal embodiment of corruption was an absolute joy, and it goes without saying I recommend you try this class out when you dive in all over again.
Back, back, back again
While Classic buffs will likely want to cast my undead soul into the depths of the Maw for even bringing this up, I must admit that WoW WoLTK Classic is by far harder than its retail comrade; so you’re in for a shock if you think things will be easy.
There are no objectives on the map to easily complete quests, meaning that, if you’re anything like me (I hope you’re not, for your sake), you’ll be traipsing around the smog-ridden Eastern Plaguelands in search of the legendary Nathanos Blightcaller (champion and lover of Sylvanas herself) for multiple hours.
For many, WoW is already grindy enough, but I actually thoroughly enjoyed not having a particular path to follow all the time. The thrill of the hunt is very real, and I found myself exploring all of the little nooks and crannies I could.
While it’s nice to have something tell you where to go, it does somewhat hamper the sense of adventure. Classic is a full-blown journey, and you’ll probably die once or twice (or thrice, or more than thrice) – but for some reason it just feels worth it.
World of Warcraft Wrath of the Lich King Classic is everything I wanted it to be. It’s nostalgic, it’s difficult, and, most importantly, it’s the perfect iteration of one of WoW’s best expansions.
As we draw ever closer to release I can’t wait to dive in all over again – maybe as another Alliance character, only time will tell. Until then, though, you’ll find me checking out all of the best WoW Classic addons and rewatching old cinematics in preparation – after all, there’s something so sweet about watching The Lich King’s fall over and over again.