estimated phases content timeline for wotlk classic & considerations featured image

It stands to reason that WotLK Classic will follow a similar phase progression system as Classic & TBC Classic did, with each phase broadly representing a major Wrath of the Lich King patch. Based on the patch history of the game, as well as general item level progression, we can expect WotLK Classic phases to look something like the following table.

Phase #
Raids
Dungeons
Vault of Archavon
PvP Content
Misc
1
Naxxramas
Eye of Eternity (Malygos)
Obsidian Sanctum (Sartharion)
All leveling dungeons
Archavon
Season 5
Wintergrasp
Strand of the Ancients
2
Ulduar
Emalon
Season 6
Argent Tournament
3
Trial of the Crusader
Onyxia’s Lair
Trial of the Champion
Koralon
Season 7
Isle of Conquest
New Argent Tournament quests
4
Icecrown Citadel
Ruby Sanctum (?)
Forge of Souls
Pit of Saron
Halls of Reflection
Toravon
Season 8

Looking at this table however, it is clear that Blizzard will likely face some issues with this content cycle. For one, there’s only 4 phases here, compared to Classic’s 6 and TBC Classic’s 5. Assuming Blizzzard wants to stick to a 2 year per expansion lifecycle, this would mean that they would have to stretch phase to last 6 months — which would put off a lot of players.

Alternatively, they might opt for a similar content release timeline to the original WotLK, wherein the first 3 phases / patches were released during the game’s first year, leaving us with 11 months of Icecrown Citadel — which was only offset by the release of Ruby Sanctum, 7 months after ICC’s release, possibly coming on its own in a possible Phase 5 featuring no other content. This means that the previous phases are spaced out better, at 4 months each, but many players where underwhelmed by Ruby Sanctum as a raid, as it featured only one boss, and Blizzard may not want to repeat this mistake.

estimated phases content timeline for wotlk classic considerations naxxramas
Did you miss Naxxramas? Well, have I got good news for you!

Furthermore, Blizzard originally got away with re-releasing Naxxramas as a launch raid for WotLK with the excuse that very few players had managed to clear it — indeed, only 138 guilds managed to clear Naxxramas before the original release of The Burning Crusade. This is not the case in Classic however — many of us cleared Naxxramas weekly for 7 months straight, prior to the release of TBC Classic. Something which will make having to clear it weekly for several months, yet again, very painful, and likely drive many to quit the game upon hitting level 80, at least possibly until the release of Ulduar.

Blizzard could of course mitigate this issue somewhat, either by including Ulduar as a launch / phase 1 raid, or by making phase 1 shorter than other phases. Both of these solutions will only exacerbate the 11 month Icecrown Citadel problem mentioned above however, so it will be interesting to see how they go about solving this issue.

estimated phases content timeline for wotlk classic considerations ulduar
Ulduar is widely considered to be one of the best raids in World of Warcraft’s history, with many players citing it as their favourite raid. No doubt, there are many players eagerly waiting for WotLK Classic so they can do Ulduar once again.

Besides that, WotLK also poses a lot of smaller but interesting questions that Blizzard will be called to answer:

  • Patch 3.3, or phase 4 in this table, originally brought the Looking for Dungeon tool. Many players absolutely hate this tool, believing it was the beginning of the end for WoW. Will Blizzard bring it back in phase 4, will we get it from the start, or will Blizzard scrap it in favour of the improved LFG tool they introduced in TBC Classic?
  • WotLK saw raids being split into 4 different modes: 10-man, 10-man heroic, 25-man and 25-man heroic. This has caused a lot of issues over the game’s history and Blizzard has had to consolidate modes in the past. How many of these modes will players be able to do weekly?
  • Gladiator titles, awarded to the highest rated PvP players, became exclusive to the 3v3 and 5v5 modes starting with season 7. Will Blizzard replicate this change by making it occur in phase 3, will they make it right at the start, or will they perhaps elect to allow 2v2 modes to continue giving the Gladiator title?
  • There were several changes to professions over WotLK’s duration, the most notable of which being a major buff to the Jewelcrafter-exclusive Dragon’s Eye gems during patch 3.2 (phase 3), allowing them to keep up with the new epic gems introduced during the same patch. If Blizzard continues the tradition of releasing items in their final patch state, this will result in Jewelcrafting being better than other professions by a landslide for the first 2 phases, which does not match how things were back in original WotLK. Will they release professions in their finalized states, or will they change them over time again?

It will be very interesting to see how Blizzard handles content phases in WotLK Classic & how they choose to answer some of these questions. Their answers can have very large impacts on how the game ends up playing out, potentially making the game significantly different to what people are familiar with after experiencing it through WotLK private servers, which historically have been extremely popular.


What are your thoughts on this topic? How would you answer some of these concerns if you were Blizzard? Let us know in the comments below!

About the Author

Pride

Classic WoW is my jam, with a passion for PvP. Most know me as Baranor, the ret paladin guy, but I'm secretly a druid main, don't tell anyone. In my free time I play Switch games, particularly JRPGs. Some day I'll be making my own games and I humbly hope you play those too!

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Punny
Punny
27 days ago

I would probably just cut it into smaller pieces. Something like
P1 Naxx+Eye+Obsidian
P2 Ulduar
P3 Onyxia + the whole Torunament Setup Phase
P4 Trials
P5 ICC
P6 Ruby

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