World of Warcraft is a game which has consistently been upgrading as the years go by, evolving to keep the experience fresh for veteran players while attracting new players to the game with new features and updates. Not every player has agreed with the changes introduced by Blizzard over the years though, and some ended up creating private servers like Nostalrius which emulate earlier builds of the game. Come 2016, Blizzard took legal action against a few of these private servers and despite numerous conversations between both parties, never reached an agreement that benefited players across the board. Fortunately, there might be an answer to that hidden within the Timewalking events from World of Warcraft.
Added in patch 6.2.0 during the previous expansion for World of Warcraft, Warlords of Draenor, Timewalking is a week-long event which allows players to queue up for dungeons from previous expansions such as The Burning Crusade and Wraith of the Lich King. Instead of allowing players to storm right through at maximum level, Timewalking scales players down to an appropriate level for the dungeon by reducing their overall combat effectiveness, resulting in a more challenging experience that feels on par with the original dungeon runs in past expansions.
It’s not just a fun activity, but one complete with its own loot table and currency-based rewards. Players can pick up drops found in the original dungeon scaled up to their level and Timewarped Badges, which can be traded for valuables such as mounts by speaking to special vendors each Timewalking event is paired with. These each last for one week and are tied to a specific expansion, with 18 dungeons being available across the board.
As expected, the Timewalking system isn’t a perfect one. They’re relatively easy to complete even with the level reduction provided you have an organized group of friends, and the number of dungeons available is relatively limited considering how long the feature has been available in World of Warcraft. That said, Timewalking is currently the only way to experience previous World of Warcraft expansion content on official Blizzard servers, and that stands for something. If Blizzard were to expand Timewalking into more dungeons and raids, or even introduce an entire Timewalking difficulty setting altogether, it may just be able to bridge the gap that currently exists between fans of the old World of Warcraft while keeping players on official servers.
What’s interesting is that Blizzard has actually introduced something similar before during World of Warcraft’s 10th anniversary celebration back in 2014. Here, the development team brought back one of the game’s original raids, Molten Core, to the LFR matchmaking system and allowed groups of 40 players to tackle level 100 versions of each encounter. The results were, well, frustrating to say the very least as groups of complete strangers attempted to tackle content they had previously missed entirely. But, that said, it was a ridiculously fun experience to participate in.
While Blizzard could easily add Timewalking raids to the LFR matchmaking system, which would result in chaotic raid experiences, the better option would be to introduce a Timewalking raid difficulty that groups of organized players from guilds could tackle along with their regular current expansion raids. This would give players the option to form more organized groups required for the content and receive scaled-loot appropriate to the current max level of 110. Like Timewalking dungeons, they wouldn’t be perfectly identical due to the various class changes Blizzard has made over the years, but they would still provide a step back through time with a challenging and believable raid experience that current players could reminisce over with their friends. Sure, it may not solve the entire problem of World of Warcraft lacking dedicated legacy servers, but boy would it go a long way towards improving the overall Warcraft experience for players who are fans of older content without significantly altering the currently max-level experience in Legion for everyone else.