WoW Cataclysm Classic devs discuss changes coming to once-divisive expansion: ‘More accessible than ever’

In just five days, WoW Classic is taking the biggest step it ever has to date. 

Thrall battling Deathwing in the Dragon Soul raid in World of Warcraft Cataclysm
Deathwing’s arrival drastically changed the trajectory of WoW’s history. Image via Blizzard Entertainment

In the eyes of almost every WoW player who experienced Cataclysm as it was back in the early 2010s, that expansion was easily the most contentious and divisive in the game’s history up to that point. The fabled “breaking of the world” event, which completely altered the beloved zones and questing experiences players had fallen in love with since Vanilla WoW, left players in shambles at the start of the expansion. Then, the nearly year-long final patch of Cataclysm left almost everyone who stuck around through the end feeling entirely burnt out. 

While those last 10 months of Cataclysm were relatively boring and monotonous the first time around, the first 10 months were actually worth looking back on. 

“As players have looked back on Cataclysm and their time spent over the course of those months, we sometimes feel like things like Firelands and that [Bastion of Twilight/Blackwing Descent] raid tier—memories of those start to drift away when people remember ‘oh my gosh, I spent 10-plus months on the Spine of Deathwing,’” Stone said.

The most difficult line to toe for the WoW Classic devs throughout the entirety of the Cataclysm re-release’s timeline will most definitely be making the game more convenient and accessible for those who had obvious problems with it back when it was current content in 2010-12, while also managing to tap into the nostalgia elements for those who actually enjoyed their time with Cataclysm.

All of the expansion’s memorable content was jam-packed into several relatively brief periods that lasted seasonally throughout 2011, and the time spent in all of those “meaty” patches of early Cataclysm was overshadowed by one long (and for many, lower-in-quality) patch at the back-end of the expansion. 

This time around, Blizzard plans to remedy that by increasing the cadence at which Cataclysm’s patches are going to be released for the Classic version. It will take just over eight months to get from the launch to the final patch in Cataclysm Classic.

That’s not to say the Cataclysm Classic patch cycle will be milked—there’s no need, considering a large swath of WoW players have already experienced this stuff and don’t need to wax poetic for months on end in a mid-expansion raid tier—but the releases of each patch will be more equidistant and relevant to each other’s time frame. 

In addition to a more timely patch schedule that will wrap up by January 2025, Cataclysm Classic will bring with it plenty of quality-of-life changes that will undoubtedly make the experience far more convenient to play through than it was in 2010. 

Mechanics like having to discover the entrances of dungeons to queue for them and the barriers of completing Normal raids before getting to enter Heroic ones have been removed. Features like the Collections tab in the UI and the Transmog system have been added ahead of schedule for the sake of making life in Cataclysm easier. You no longer have to rack your brain and think back to where you put things such as your mounts, pets, or transmog outfits when you want to interact with WoW’s customization options. 

“These small quality-of-life changes are some of the changes that we’ve made that the contemporary player might think ‘oh, well surely that was in the original,’ but no, actually,” Stone said. “Back then, it was a bit more restrictive than it is now, and we’ve opened it up to make it more accessible than ever—whether it’s players jumping in for the first time or coming back to Cataclysm.”

Cataclysm Classic, and all of its changes, will go live on May 20.

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