…Man oh man.
I still remember the first time I watched the reveal trailer back in 2007:
…Mind you, I had been playing WoW for almost two years at the time. My then level 68 Paladin and a level 64 Warlock (now level 105 currently) were my mains, both Alliance. By the time the expansion launched, I had 4 chars ready for Northrend.
Here’s a rundown of the stuff Wrath of the Lich King introduced to the game either at launch or when it was current:
- Northrend: Then a level 68 to 80 questing experience. As of the current expansion Battle For Azeroth, players can chose to level 58 to 80 on Northrend or Outland.
- Death Knight: The game’s first Hero Class. A Hero Class is so named because they start at a higher level first and at the time, you needed to have a level 55+ Character on the server you wanted to make one on. After the expansion, the existing level 55+ character requirement and server limit were both removed. At launch, Frost was a Tank Spec and Blood was a DPS Spec. The Specs were flipped with the first major content patch when it was realized Blood had more survivability talents than Frost. After that, Frost became a DPS Spec and Blood became a Tank Spec which is still the case today.
- Acherus: The Scarlet Enclave (Level 55-58 Death Knights): Newly created Death Knights have a separate intro quest experience regardless of race including Worgen and Goblins, who were added in Cataclysm. At the end of the quest experience, you will break from the Scourge and travel to Stormwind or Orgrimmar to officially join the Alliance or Horde. It is worth noting quest text is different in Northrend when you encounter NPC Death Knights especially in Icecrown and Zul’Drak.
- Inscription Profession: The last new Profession added to the game, the profession is no longer as useful as it was back then. Why? Because the core feature it was made for was removed in MoP: Run Slots. Today, Inscription is mostly for making cards.
- Rune Slots (Removed Mid-MoP): The Interface was added to go with Inscription. What it did was when you used Runes of moves from the Inscription Profession, it would change the way a move worked. Rune Slots were removed during MoP in favor of drastic changes to core moves being done via Talents. Runes are still around but they no longer cause major changes to the way moves work.
- Dual Spec (Removed in Legion): Added with the first major patch, this game-changing feature allowed players to run 2 Specs at the same time and switch between them at will while out of combat. This was HUGE especially when playing as a Paladin, Druid, Shaman, Priest, Death Knight, Warrior, Demon Hunter or Monk since all of them have a Tank or Heal Spec in addition to DPS. No longer were you prettymuch locked into one spec. Now, you could switch between two specs and when playing as one of those classes especially, you were more valuable for Dungeons and Raiding.
- Achievements: Clearly inspired by the Xbox 360’s achievements interface. At time time, Achievements Character-specific. In Cataclysm they became accountwide and more so given 2 or more characters or a character of both factions would be needed to get certain achievements or feats of strength.
- Dungeon Finder: The most controversial addition to the game since Battlegrounds at the time. The feature removed the need to manually travel to dungeons and matched you with 4 other players to do Dungeons at the normal or Heroic (Now Mythic and Mythic +) difficulties. The Raid Finder feature added at the end of Cataclysm would open up raiding to more players.
- Wintergrasp: If any feature opened up PvP to players who normally wouldn’t consider it, it was Wintergrasp. Why would PvEers care? The Raid inside Wintergrasp Fortress, Vault of Acheron could only be accessed by the faction that won the game’s first outdoor battleground for at least 2 and a half hours. Prior to the 240 (120 per faction) and then 80 (40 per faction) caps added to address server lag, you literally had the whole server of level 70-80 players queing or flying into WG. Win and your faction could raid for some gear. Lose, and you had to get away before players from the winning faction picked off stragglers.
- Strand of the Ancients (now retired): The Strand of the Ancients Battleground was introduced in Wrath of the Lich King. In this battleground, the Alliance and Horde would take turns on offense and defense for a few rounds. The battleground was retired after Legion due to its low popularity and use in Rated Battleground matches.
- Traveler’s Tundra Mammoth: The game’s first buyable multi-person mount. This bad boy is 20,000G which was alot at the time but if you are Exalted with the Kirin Tor, you could buy it for 16,000G. Mel Francis is the vendor who sells it in both the Northrend and Broken Isles versions of Dalaran. The mount comes with 2 vendors who can be ejected so two additional players can get on and ride with the owner.
- Mekgineer’s Chopper (Alliance) and Mechano-Hog (Horde): Not to be confused with the promotional mounts introduced during Cataclysm, the Chopper and Hog are mounts you can build with the Engineering profession. You need an Engineering Skill of 450 as well as must be Exalted with the Valiance Expedition (Alliance) or Warsong Offensive (Horde) to buy and learn the schematic. This is aside from getting the mats needed to build it. The Salvaged Golem Parts can be purchased for 3,000G from a Roxi Ramrocket at K3 in Stom Peaks, which is south of Ulduar. Don’t want to pay 3,000G? Down the Flame Leviathan, which is the first boss in the Ulduar Raid and Salvage it (Engineering profession is required to Salvage Mechanical mobs). Anywho once you craft the mount and learn it, you automatically gain access the the bike for the other faction at the same time and as a reminder, they ARE a 2-person mounts. It’s not Bind on Pickup so an Engineer can give it to someon or put it on the Auction House. Most (still) go for 20,000G or more but most Engineers will make you one for free as long as you provide the needed Mats. They are still rare mounts between the Mats and Exalted Rep needed to get the schematic though.
- Terrain Phasing: The then new tech caused permanent changes in Northrend as you cleared certain quests or quest chains. The biggest before Icecrown happens after the Wrath Gate cinematic in Dragonblight. Later on you will gain Flight Paths in Icecrown, Sholazar Basin and the Storm Peaks through quest chains in each zone. Someone who hasn’t progressed as far as you will not see the same changes you made until they do the quest chains themselves. The tech has been used in every expansion since so…yeah.
- King Varian Wrynn: Also called Lo’Gosh, Stormwind City’s long missing Warrior King returns at the beginning of the expansion. He would lead the Alliance during the Northrend Campaign, personally traveling to Icecrown to lend his assistence to Alliance Players. As is said after the Raid, No King Rules Forever. Varian dies on the Broken Shore at the beginning of Legion but his legacy lives on. Varian is also a playable character in the cross-series MOBA Heroes of the Storm. Varian was voiced by Chris Metzen, who also voiced Thrall.
- Muradin Bronzebeard: Missing since Warcraft III and presumed dead, it’s revealed Muradin survived and had been living in Frosthold with amensia. Alliance heroes first learn he survived his encounter with Frostmourne in northern Dragonblight. Later, you will encounter a Bronzebeard Dwarf who came to the Frosthold clan some time ago. It doesn’t take long for you to figure out he is the missing middle brother of the Bronzebeard royal family. His older brother Magni and younger brother Brann rush to meet him and the family is back together.
- Mal’Ganis: Here’s another blast from the past those who played Warcraft III might remember. The Dreadlord, who was dispatched by Arthas many years earlier makes an appearance in northwestern Icecrown. This time, he has followed in the footsteps of a fellow Dreadlord and infiltrated the Scarlet Onslaught in Northrend. After being exposed, Mal’Ganis vows to return again before making his escape.
I could go on but I think that’s enough for now.
Wrath of the Lich King was easily the biggest expansion in terms of just new content both at launch and over time. Ulduar, Trial of the Grand Crusader, Icecrown and the Ruby Sanctum were all added in content patches. This is aside from the stuff I mentioned above and even more I know I left out. It was also the expansion that showed players the Devs learned from what they did with The Burning Crusade: In Burning Crusade, the intro quest zone is Hellfire Penninsula and it is shared by players from both factions. Not only that, players from both factions shared questing areas in the zone. When Burning Crusade launched, the zone lagged for weeks due to the sheer number of players trying to just quest.
The Devs learned from that obviously. Northrend has two starting areas: Borean Tundra in the West and Howling Fjord in the East. Alliance Players can take a boat from Stormwind Harbor or Menethil Harbor in Wetlands while Horde players can take a Zeppelin from Orgrimmar (the Undercity also until BFA but that Zeppelin was moved to Orgrimmar). They are cross-faction zones but the two starting zones meant you didn’t have everyone in the same place at the same time. More so given questing is set so you deliberately don’t encounter players of the other faction until much later in the zone and only if you wanted to.
Cataclysm would continue the trend of 2 starting zones with Vash’jr and Hyjal. Mists of Pandaria would have Jade Forest as the sole starting zone but the factions started on opposite ends of the zone. Warlords of Draenor had a separate starting zone per faction while in Legion, you could start questing in any zone on the Broken Isles you wanted except Suramar, which is a max level zone. BFA, like Warlords of Draenor segregates players by faction until you reach level 120.
“….Tell them that the Lich King is dead and World of Warcraft died with him.”
Many players consider it to be the greatest expansion ever and mostly because of the Lore around the expansion’s main antagonist. First introduced in the RTS game Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos, Arthas went to the Dark Side when he took up Frostmourne. He returned home from Northrend only to murder his father and lead a grim campaign across Lordaeron and Quel’Thalas. He would then return to Icecrown and become the Lich King before disappearing from memory for two years lorewise. The Scourge Invasion pre-event marked his return to Lore as the Lich King.
Arthas was an iconic lore character and it’s easy to compare him to another Fallen Hero: Anakin Skywalker, later known as Darth Vader.
The Scourge was at their most powerful under the Lich King Arthas. They not only controlled the continent of Northrend but also the Plaguelands (formerly eastern Lordaeron), Stratholme, almost half of Quel’Thalas and even Razorfen Down in The Barrens. That’s aside from Naxxramas and Acherus as well. The current Lich King and Jailor of the Damned is nowhere near as powerful as his predecessor but clearly the groundwork was laid during the Death Knight Order Hall Campaign for the Lich King to make a comeback down the road.
A question often asked today is what if The Lich King prevailed at Icecrown? Well, we know The Cataclysm would’ve happened regardless so there’s that. Obviously the Scourge Champions who fell and were then raised by the Lich King at Icecrown would be sent to Stormwind, Orgrimmar and the other Faction Capitals to conquer them in the name of the Lich King. When the Cataclysm happens, the Lich King will direct his now even stronger forces to take the fight to Deathwing and the Twilight Hammer. With the Horde and Alliance defeated by the Scourge, the Lich King would direct his Champions to conquer Pandaria. Since Garrosh Hellscream never went to AU Draenor, the events of Warlords of Draenor and Legion never happen.
…All that said, it would be fair to say the Scourge will make a return sometime down the line. It’s just a matter of time.
If you have enjoyed this post or other posts I have made on this blog, please consider making a monetary donation via PayPal. Whatever amount you can provide would be greatly appreciated.