10 years ago the Dark Portal was reopened and the forces of the Horde and the Alliance, bolstered by their new Blood Elf and Draenei allies, made their way to the Hellfire Peninsula as they sought to stem the tide of the Burning Legion. The Burning Crusade was the first expansion to World of Warcraft, which was originally released in 2004, and introduced a whole new planet as well as races, dungeons and more over the course of nearly 2 years. Burning Crusade (along with "Vanilla" World of Warcraft) has been a point of nostalgia for much of the game's population since the end of the expansion, with many looking back quite fondly upon the expansion and its content.
Blizzard took what they learned in the many years of Classic World of Warcraft, and refined it into an even better experience when they released The Burning Crusade. It wasn't perfect, but it added a number of new features that have persisted, and been improved or augmented, all the way up to the most recent expansion - Legion. World PvP objectives, daily quests, arena PvP, new races, and flying mounts were just a few of the changes that were added with the expansion, among a new world that players could explore.
Personally, raiding Burning Crusade is what I look back upon the most, as it allowed smaller guilds to put raids together - no longer requiring a full 40-man group that could span an immense amount of time to complete. There's nothing more fun that getting into a Ventrilo server with 10-25 people and tackling challenges you face with bosses every week, and you really get to know people during that. Karazhan may be the raid dungeon that World of Warcraft Veterans will remember the most from Burning Crusade since it was essentially the "entry" raid, but it had enounters that are truly memorable, such as the Attumen the Huntsman (with its super low mount drop rate!), the Curator, Moroes, Netherspite, and everyone's favorite: the Chess event:
If you weren't into Player vs. Environment gameplay, then Blizzard also introduced some new Player vs. Player features in The Burning Crusade as well - Arenas and World PvP Objectives! With the addition of new reputations and zone, Blizzard was given the chance to introduce World PvP objectives - timed events that should a faction win, would grant faction or reputation rewards for a period of time. A new battleground, Eye of the Storm was added, but what really changed up PvP was the addition of Arenas - 2v2, 3v3, or 5v5 matches that have great rewards should your team do well. Arenas caught on fast, and could be fun even if you weren't at the top of your ladder, primarily because you had the opportunity to earn better gear without a huge time commitment. Since their addition, arenas have become a part of Blizzard's eSport repetoire, with the 2016 championships having a purse of $100,000.
If you are anything like me, and have to collect or achieve as much as you can in a game, you're familiar with "grinding" out reputation, items, or materials. Burning Crusade had no shortage of things to grind, and with the release (and later patching of) of the expansion, players were introduced to Daily Quests. At this point, most games include this feature if they have some form of a questing/grinding aspect to them, but boy oh boy did the grind for reputation in Burning Crusade go on forever. If you were into professions at all, they were just as much of a task, and since Burning Crusade there hasn't been as much value to crafting weaponry or armor since.
With that said, I will say that out of all the grinds I've ever done in World of Warcraft or any other game, the completion of each was incredibly satisfying and you really felt like you accomplished something due to the amount of effort it took to complete. The best example of this would be the grind for Exalted with the Netherwing, which granted the Netherwing Drake flying mount - a mount that many would fly with great pride. What made this so satisfying was the fact that there were limited quests, and then you could speed it up by finding eggs in the faction's quest area - no easy task! After doing that for a few weeks/months (yep), you'd be granted your mount that you could fly with great pride, and many still do!
I mentioned professions earlier, and just have to touch on why they were so unique in Burning Crusade. Professions have had an important purpose in every expansion that Blizzard has released thus far, but when it comes to really awesome things that could be created, I truly believe it hasn't been as great since Burning Crusade. My character has been a Blacksmith since Vanilla WoW, and I used to run with a single 2-handed Axe, Bloodmoon in Burning Crusade. Without boring you on the details, to create the axe you had to create two smaller axes, then meld them together to make the final product. This took probably a hundred hours or more of "farming" materials from monsters across Outland, and gave you an incredibly powerful weapon to use throughout the expansion. Nowadays, blacksmiths create weapons with the sole purpose of levelling up their skills to be able to create smaller items that enhance weapons and armor, as opposed to the specializations that would allow you to create amazing weaponry - something that I always look back at with fondness and frustration.
Honestly, I could gush about this expansion for hours and thousands of words, and maybe one day I will in a video - but for veteran World of Warcraft players there is a lot of nostalgia to this expansion pack. It's been 10 years since it was released, and many of us miss the challenges we encountered, and especially the people we used to play with. From Gruul's Lair all the way to the Fury of the Sunwell, raiders will remember the incredible encounters we had the opportunity to complete, and the people we completed them with. Alliance players will remember the first time they played an Alliance Shaman, and Horde players will remember their first Horde Paladin, just as we remember our first time exploring the Eversong Woods and Azuremyst Isle. As with every game that has so much content to bring to the table - there is so much to reflect back upon with fondness - and The Burning Crusade is no different.
In many respects, The Burning Crusade set the foundation of what World of Warcraft would continue to change into. Daily Quests became a staple of your character's "chores" to complete each day with factions, Arenas became a new regular way to PvP, and raids have continued to become refined - although with the introduction of the Looking for Raid system, guilds have become lessened in power when it comes to experiencing raiding content. With each expansion, Blizzard has made changes that make World of Warcraft play differently, but for many of us the systems and experiences of The Burning Crusade will forever be our favorite.
Did you play World of Warcraft during The Burning Crusade? What are some of your fondest memories, or biggest frustrations? Sound off below, we'd love to hear from you!