Despite shouts of “Classic Plus!” coming from the crowd at BlizzCon, Blizzard resolutely pushed forward the more predictable path for World of Warcraft Classic: a return to 2010’s controversial Cataclysm.
Coming in the first half of 2024, Cataclysm Classic will take the standard Classic servers into the third expansion with the comprehensive world overhaul, Worgen and Goblin races, new class/race combos, transmog, rated battlegrounds, the Archaeology profession, and a “faster content cadence.”
The studio said that it was listening to fans’ desire for Classic to take it to “Cataclysm Classic and beyond.” Some of the changes and adjustments that Blizzard is making to this version of Cataclysm include additional dungeon difficulties and rewards, guild progression, account-wide transmog, and a much faster leveling path than was present in the original.
But for those who prefer a fresh start or the Classic Era, there’s this month’s Season of Discovery, which kicks off on November 30th without any sort of PTR preview. In this mode, Blizzard will send players to explore the world for secrets, go on raids, participate in zone-wide PvP events, and beat “level up raids,” such as the 10-player, seven-boss Blackfathom Deeps (with new loot!).
The tentpole feature of this season is the discovery and use of runes. These runes, which you’ll start getting at level 10, are meant to “shake up the meta” without losing the “Classic feel.” Runes unlock special abilities so your vanilla characters could do very uncharacteristic things, including using spells and talents from future expansion packs and plugging holes in class builds (such as giving Paladins or Shamans a taunt so that they can tank for real).
Season of Discovery is level-gated over time, which is intended to keep the community together without latecomers feeling left out. The design here sounds a lot like a worldwide scavenger hunt that’ll encourage the community to work together to find runes tucked around the world. The goal here is to make “new additions that feel at home in the original WoW” that will make “everyone feel OP.”
“It’s everything we love about Classic… ‘plus’ a whole lot more,” a dev said cheekily, going on to dangle reduced respec costs, dual talent specs, and possible future raids in Karazhan Crypts, Gnomeregan, and Scarlet Monastery.
As for those Classic Plus proponents, they may be mollified to hear that Blizzard is “leaving the door open” to exploring future raids and dungeons, including previously unreleased or unfinished original content.
Classic Hardcore got some discussion during the panel as well. An optional “self found” mode is coming to the game in 2024 that will block users from trade and using the auction house. The team also provided an updated death chart: