WoW The Burning Crusade Classic Review

June 7, 2021

When I first started my World of Warcraft adventure in 2005, I asked my friend which class was the one with all the animals. “Hunter!” he replied, and so began my journey in vanilla WoW. In actual fact, I wanted to play the class that could morph into animals but didn’t realise the error until I was well invested in my Night Elf hunter, and never did end up playing as a druid. The Burning Crusade expansion was a big deal for me. I was prepared. PvP rank 12, in a Naxx raiding guild, my ZG raptor-mounted character was a sight to behold.

Due to TBC not launching in Australia until almost a day after America, I littered the entrance of The Dark Portal with horde skeletons, frustrating the lives of many players wanting to start the expansion. It was the end of an era, but also the start of something new. My hunter was the first to reach level 70 (sixth overall) on the server, but then everything changed. Raiding felt different, PvP felt different, it was no longer the vanilla WoW experience that my friends and I had invested so much time in. We were not prepared.

After fourteen years, we’re back. It’s time to relive history with the opening of the Dark Portal in Blasted Lands, leading to a shattered floating world known as Outland, formerly Draenor. Existing WoW Classic servers have been in a pre-expansion state for two weeks ahead of the launch, allowing players to level up the two ‘new’ races Blood Elf (Horde) and Draenei (Alliance), though fans of the base game can also migrate their level 60 characters to new WoW Classic servers to continue in the nostalgic original game. Though we reviewed WoW Classic at launch (Read Rocket Chainsaw’s full review of WoW Classic here), what better time to use the Dark Portal Pass to boost a Tauren druid to level 58 and prepare for a new chapter, this time as horde.

As the Dark Portal opened, it became clear that this expansion launch was going to be smooth. The server issues of WoW Classic last year had more than stabilized, with only some servers maxing out their occupancy rates. We also didn’t experience any stability issues, with no server disconnections to report. Last year’s retail expansion Shadowlands had a shaky launch, which leaves us thinking Blizzard is testing the layering system even more, or maybe there just aren’t as many people playing this expansion. Players that disliked the layering of WoW Classic will find that it’s just as prevalent in TBC Classic. Using an AddOn called ‘Nova World Buffs’, you can see how many layers there are in your area, and also see which layers guild members and friends are on. This can help with questing, and just like in WoW Classic last year, can also be used to your advantage to farm particular mobs.

For those new to The Burning Crusade, Outland has seven new zones to explore. Hellfire Peninsula welcomes you like a grand stage into the broken world, but quickly you’ll find yourself weaving through the huge mushrooms of Zangarmarsh. Terokkar Forest also provides for some picturesque gameplay, but once you’re truly advancing into the map you’ll reach the vast plains of Nagrand. These four zones, with capital city Shattrath at its centre, provide most of the grinding experience from 60 to 68, while the final three zones offer plenty of end-game level 68-70 and faction quests. TBC is all about flying mounts and the ‘new’ 10/25-man raid format still used in retail raids today.

Horde and Alliance both get a new race in The Burning Crusade. The Blood Elves join the Horde and give access to the paladin class for the faction, while the Draenei join the Alliance, giving access to the Shaman class. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that you can’t roll any combination of race/class that you want, and even more importantly, The Burning Crusade still uses the vanilla talent tree layouts and almost the same skills, with only a couple of new moves thrown in for each class. Jewelcrafting is also added in this expansion, which of course means your end-game gear now has sockets ready to be gemmed.

There have been some quality-of-life changes to TBC Classic with the best one being spell batching which should help with framerate and lag issues particularly in raids, though we have noticed some issues with buffs randomly disappearing long before their expiry. The other big change for end-game players is that the Drums of Battle buff from leatherworking can no longer be spammed in raids, giving everyone a two-minute de-buff preventing it from being permanently enabled.

Burning Crusade end-game content at launch offers Tier 4 and 5 gear and that sought after Ashes of Al’ar phoenix mount which we’re sure the hardcore TBC Classic players will be racing to get. Expect Tier 6 raids Black Temple and Mount Hyjal to drop by the end of 2021, while Zul’Aman and Sunwell Plateau will likely arrive in early 2022. Heroics make their first appearance, allowing players to do any of the 5 man dungeons at level 70 to better prepare for raiding. Lastly, the PVP honour system is completely revamped in TBC, with no more kill-count hoarding required, and more focus on a healthier PvP environment.

The visuals and audio of Burning Crusade Classic are exactly as we remembered them, though instead of playing on 17” CRT’s in an odd resolution, we’re now on 32” curved 1440p 1ms screens pushing the framerate beyond what early WoW expansions should have ever seen with graphics cards that are probably better used to mine crypto currencies than thorium deposits. All the same voice acting has carried over, bringing back fond memories of speeches and threats yelled by bosses throughout the dungeons and raids. Don’t expect to be amazed in these departments, this is designed to be a Classic experience.

Other than the core content that experienced WoW players have already played to death, TBC Classic unfortunately had anything but a classic feel to it. On one end of the community spectrum, there were level 60 Blood Elves and Draenei waiting at the Dark Portal, boosted by their guild members in as little as 15 hours of gameplay. On the other end there was outrage about newcomers being allowed to boost a new character to 58 (but not Blood Elf or Draenei), and that the new mounts would be the thing that ruins the classic feel for them. This community vibe left us feeling a little sour about the overall launch experience, we’re not sure exactly what the WoW Classic community wants at this point. With lots of players using AoE kiting of large groups, powering through quest guides, or just grinding dungeons to reach end-game content, we found that World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade Classic was quite different to the original experience in 2005, feeling more like it’s tailored towards MMORPG addicts craving their next elongated hit.

Rocket Chainsaw reviewed World of Warcraft The Burning Crusade Classic on Windows PC with a code provided by the publisher. For more information, head to the official Classic website.


- Smooth and stable launch with minimal maintenance
- Very nostalgic
- Lots of Classic game-changing features.


- Server layering spoils the authenticity
- Everyone knows everything already
- Community isn’t as friendly as it was last year in WoW Classic.

Overall Score: