World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade Review

When you have an online game with over 8 million players, any expansion is by definition a big expansion. In the case of The Burning Crusade it actually delivers on this, providing plenty of new content for high level characters and for players looking to start a new character in the game. There’s not as much new here for players with mid-level characters who want to stick with these characters to the end, but for everyone else picking up The Burning Crusade is basically a no-brainer.

Does this race look evil to you?
The Burning Crusade adds two new races to the game: the blue satyr-like Draeni join the Alliance and the impossibly beautiful Blood Elves join the Horde. The Draeni have come to Azeroth from another world and have made quite the entrance, arriving in a massive starship that exploded before landing and came down in a scattering of pieces over a newly discovered chain of islands to the west of Kalimdor. Some players may look at the introduction of a SciFi style backstory into the game with a wary eye, but in reality the Draeni are a more typical fantasy race than the tech-happy Gnomes. The Blood Elves were originally a race of good High Elves that were nearly decimated in the war with the Burning Legion. They have since become obsessed with the acquisition of magical power and their deep desire to take their revenge on the Legion has drawn them into the folds of the Horde. The Draeni easily fit in with the races of the Alliance, but the Blood Elves with their blond hair, fair skin, and toned physiques stand in marked contrast to the monstrous races of the Horde. One can’t help but wonder if they were added to the game to draw more players to the Horde since not everyone wants to play a green-skinned or rotting-fleshed character.

With the two new races the game makes the Shaman class available to the Alliance and the Paladin class to the Horde for the first time. Adding a “good” witch doctor and an “evil” holy warrior to the game may chafe the hides of the purists out there, but it doesn’t seem to have negatively affected the balance of the game in the PvP battles and it has given exclusively Alliance or Horde gamers the opportunity to try out a new class.

Each race is given a starting area consisting of a few islands off the shores of one of the two continents in the game. These areas are packed with quests and the respawn rates for the mobs appear to be much higher than that for other areas in the game. The high respawn rates have been countered with lower drop rates, though, so sometimes it can take a lot of killing just to collect ten doohickeys for your latest quest. The content-rich starting areas help characters to reach level 20 pretty quickly – much more quickly than the starting areas for the original races. Once you hit 20, though, it’s back to the normal grind of the areas that you’ve leveled your characters through before.

The downside to the new areas is that they’re a bit isolated in relation to the game’s other areas. There’s no flight path from the continents to the new areas so returning to one of the new race’s home city can be a bit of a trek. Furthermore, if you choose to play as a Draeni Shaman or a Blood Elf Paladin, it is very difficult to find class trainers anywhere but back in your home city. Every time you hit an even numbered level it means a long journey back home to pick up your skills and then another to return to the area in which you’re currently questing.