In our eighth installment of our weekly World of Warcraft Wisdom feature I continue in looking back at various expansions and their patches – today the Burning Crusade.

I have to admit, when World of Warcraft: Burning Crusade first came out, I was both excited and perplexed. I was excited to make a Blood Elf (I went with a rogue), but was not too sure about the idea of another planet. Of course, the game is fantasy oriented, so anything is possible, right. But, then I read the lore and was looking forward to what the story had to offer.

I remember adventuring through Hellfire Peninsula and that feeling of dizziness. The angles often had me leaning in my seat, worried I might roll off the terra and into the vastness of space. Like many, I had to see what would happen should I take a leap of faith and jump off the edge. Like many, I learned that you die.

Regardless, the land had obviously been the site of some sort of catastrophic event which caused the upheaval and the awkward angle. I might be showing my age here, but if any of you are familiar with the original Batman TV series and the weird camera angles they used, that is exactly how I felt. But, what Blizzard seems to do really well (and they did it here), is establishing the setting. They let you know immediately that you’re not in Kansas anymore – this world is in war and the monsters are serious.

As the story goes, the Burning Legion has pushed the Draenei out of their homeland. The Dranei ship, the Exodar, which has come from another dimension, has crashed on Azeroth and they are seeking aid from the Alliance to force the Burning Legion out of Outland, the last fragment of the Draenor world. With the Dark Portal open, both factions make their way through and the battle between the Horde and Alliance ensues, a battle between each other, as well as against the Burning Legion.

World of Warcraft: Dark portal outland side

As expected, Blizzard delivered on the setting. There are many zones to be explored in Burning Crusade – all with nice variety, textures, and places. And please, how much did we all love Shattrath? Come on, now, portals to all major cities? Shattrath provided a lot of eye-candy for the wandering. From the Lower City to whichever faction’s tower you joined, there was so much to see and do in that area- and it all fit with the lore of Burning Crusade. The city is full of those lost and suffering from the Burning Legion’s attack on Outland.

Shattrath is set in the midst of a war, there are orphans running about, as there are all around Azeroth, but here, with both the Alliance and the Horde sharing space, there’s a feeling that (while the two factions are opposed) there are moments when they can come together. While there are times in pre-Burning Crusade that we see both factions together without fights, never before has this happened on a scale the size of Shattrath. I remember wandering about Shattrath for the first time after getting the tour and explanation, and like my first time in Iron Forge, Orgimmar, Under City, and other major locales, I was in awe at the expanse of the place, the attention to detail. How a city in the throes of war, on land that is on the verge of total destruction, can maintain order and beauty on this scale is wonderful and inspiring.

A while back I wrote about the need for reality to adopt to the manner in which games motivate us to keep on going. When we are in Shattarath, we are reminded of the beauty that is in all of life, and that when the cause is great enough, it is easy to set differences aside and live together. Games let us do this, they remind us that many of the world’s problems are better solved through cooperation than through blaming the opposing side. All through Shattrath, there is evidence that both factions live independently of each other but can, at times, work together to push the Burning Legion out. Throughout Shattrath, there is a sense of both urgency and of optimism. We see this cooperation throughout all of Azeroth when it comes to end game content, but with Burning Crusade, it seems that it is a bit more present throughout.

Speaking of cooperation, now’s a good time to talk about dungeons. I have said before that I usually don’t spend much more than two hours at a time playing, it seems that Blizzard had players like me in mind when they created the dungeons for Burning Crusade. Upon my first foray into Hellfire Ramparts, through all of the dungeons, along with heroics, Burning Crusdae found a wonderful balance between the right amount of content to keep it interesting, and the time it takes to get through it. As well, it gave us a variety of raids, both short and long, and nice room to grow with the daily quests in Isle of Quel’Danas with the “Fury of the Sunwell” patch for daily grinding, and other areas for grinding for epic rewards. Once again, Blizzard shows that it knows how to keep players interested and motivated to explore an expansion.

World of Warcraft: Isle of Quel'danas

Unlike Wrath of the Lich King, Burning Crusade never got so easy. At all times instances, heroics, and raids were just difficult enough to keep players interested and motivated to play. Once hitting 80, one could easily move into Nazzaramas, but if you were not geared enough, it was impossible to get into Karazhan.

Right now I have two characters running around in Outland: One in Zangamarsh, the other in Hellfire Peninsula. As they move about, I remember what it is I liked so much about it. Now that we can fly at 60, it is so erie to fly above those giant mushrooms and zoom about the sloped landscape in Hellfire. Last character I leveled with heirlooms and was able to breeze through Outland, but with these two, I have decided to do it the old fashioned way, just so I can take my time through those forgotten places and face those forgotten demons of the Burning Legion.

As you think back, what did you enjoy most about The Burning Crusade?

For the reminder, enjoy the original trailer:


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