This morning Blizzard announced their plans for World of Warcraft's 10-year anniversary. The anniversary will be marked by two new activities dripping with nostalgia.
For starters, they're bringing back the Tarren Mill vs. Southshore raids. These Horde and Alliance towns in the Hillsbrad Foothills are so close to each other that they were a popular spot for random PvP battles in vanilla WoW. One faction would raid the other's town, players from the other factions would converge to defend it, and pretty soon the ground was littered with skeletons.
Open-world PvP like this was all but wiped out by the introduction of cross-faction matchmaking, which allowed players to quickly find organized PvP battles in separate instances (Battlegrounds and Arenas). Also, the rewards for Battlegrounds and Arenas made them more worthwhile than raiding random towns.
The new Tarren Mill vs. Southshore battles won't be exactly the same as the old one. Instead, they take place in an instance. It'll still be huge, though, with 100 players on each side.
"We’ll be opening a Team Deathmatch–style Battleground based on that timeless struggle," Blizzard said today on Battle.net. "However, unlike the old days of Tarren Mill vs. Southshore, there will be a clearly defined victor, so you’ll need to work as a team or face crushing defeat."
Players who prefer PvE activities, meanwhile, can return to Molten Core. Molten Core was the first 40-man raid for WoW, pitting players against Ragnaros the Firelord and his minions in the fiery caverns deep below Blackrock Mountain. It was pretty boring compared to later raids, especially if you were one of the poor bastards who spent the whole time dispelling Ignite Mana or other DOTs. Still, MC's got nostalgia on its side.
"For the anniversary celebration, max-level players will be able to participate in a special 40-player Raid Finder version to relive the experience of hunting down Ragnaros and his minions within his fiery lair."
You'll get special rewards for killing Ragnaros, too: an Achievement and a Core Hound mount. Presumably everyone gets a Core Hound upon Ragnaros' death, instead of being forced to roll for one against 39 other people. As fun as an MC reunion sounds, I imagine most veterans will be sick of it after one clear.
Blizzard will also be giving out an exclusive item to anyone who logs in during the 10th anniversary event: a Molten Corgi pet. It's yours to keep regardless of whether you decide to raid Tarren Mill or Molten Core. Daww:
The dates of WoW's 10th anniversary event haven't been announced yet. Past anniversaries lasted a couple weeks. They're doing a lot more to celebrate this year, though, so perhaps the festivities will continue for a month or more. Furthermore, Senior PvP designer Brian Holinka indicated that the Tarren Mill vs. Southshore battle could return in later anniversaries:
Activision-Blizzard reported yesterday that subscriptions for WoW fell to 6.8 million, down from a high of over 12 million during 2009-2010. The game's likely to keep bleeding subscribers in the years ahead but nonetheless, it's impressive that it's endured for a decade. Also, even with all the lost players, it's by far the largest subscriber-based MMO in the world. It's rare to see that kind of longevity in gaming so Blizzard has every right to be celebrating.