Old Raids, New Challenges

One of the hottest topics among the community throughout WoW’s history has revolved around the volume of content available to players at the end-game level. With our recent discussions about prospective Legion Timewalking raids, we feel that is prime time to discuss an age-old question: Why is most of the incredible content of this game essentially unused and forgotten?

It is no secret that WoW has produced a staggering amount of PvE content over the years. From Icecrown Citadel, to Throne of Thunder, to The Nighthold, there are so many instances in Azeroth that we've loved progressing on and visiting for mounts, transmog, or purely for the sake of nostalgia. Some players even venture into old raids to see what they were missing, but revisiting content from past expansions will always pale in comparison to its original glory. Blizzard has appeased us in part by giving us Classic WoW and Timewalking events, but could old content become an actual part of the current game? I (and let’s be honest here, anyone who has spent 7 seconds thinking about it) certainly think so.

In this article, I will be focusing on one particular implementation of the “revive old content” philosophy, as I propose ways that Blizzard could and absolutely should start bringing past raids back as current endgame content.

Table of Contents

“New Old Raids” - Oxymoron, or Viable Concept?

First off, let’s cut to the chase. It’s pretty obvious why an increased volume of current raid content would be to everyone’s benefit. Instead, let’s quickly talk about how this topic came about.

When working on my last piece about which raid should be brought back in Legion Timewalking, I researched Legion’s raid content extensively to refresh my memory. In the process, what struck me the most was the sheer amount of amazing raids and encounters this game has created over the years, and that many, MANY players simply never had the chance to experience these instances properly. Sure, you or I might have played through a lot of the old raids when they were current content, and most players take at least one run through each of the old raids for mounts, transmog etc. However, a great deal of newer players never had the opportunity to participate in many of WoW’s best raids over the years. It’s a huge shame.

Therefore, this article is my pitch for Blizzard to bring back old raids, but in a doable manner. I’m not talking about Timewalking either, as Timewalking is more of a curiosity to be casually enjoyed once during the event. What I’m proposing is for Blizzard to bring back old raids as proper, real endgame content that expands our available activities, and resurrects some true classics with a modern spin.

How it Could Work

The concept is simple: Bring back 1 old raid for each “.5” patch. Historically, .5 patches have been very light on actual content, and 9.1.5 is no exception. This way, .5 patches are the perfect moments to add in some refurbished content, which shouldn’t take as much development effort to bring up to current standards. The timing of a .5 patch also wouldn’t interfere or take away from the raids released in the major patches, as the new instances will already have been available for quite a while. The “new old” raids would have the same format as the most recent raid in that they’d offer achievements and all 4 raid difficulties. From a developer’s standpoint, the only real requirement would be an update to the “new old” raid’s tuning and some tweaks to the loot drops.

While this may be no small request of Blizzard, reviving old raids could also offer a nice load off of the current raid, as they do have a tendency to get stale after a while — especially for guilds stuck in Mythic progress at a particular boss. We also don’t want to obligate players to do two raids a week in order to progress, but we’ll dive into the details on how this could be handled a little later.

How Should Old Raids be Chosen for a Revival?

In terms of selection criteria, there are a couple of approaches that Blizzard could take. A standard option would be to choose raids that were considered the “best of the best” to get upgraded and implemented first, or there could even be an element of community voting involved. However, I actually have something perhaps more interesting in mind.

Since “new old” raids wouldn’t be a minor piece of content like a Timewalking event, there’s no reason not to make it a real part of the game instead of a small filler event. The way I would approach picking what raid comes with what patch would be thematic and lore-based. This way, the decision of which raid to upgrade in the .5 patch would be based upon the current story.

For example, a really easy one (and relevant to the current patch) would be Icecrown Citadel (ICC). ICC fits extremely well with Sanctum of Domination, as it’s almost physically connected to it, and has plenty of additional lore and story opportunities to offer. Another hypothetical example would be Patch 8.3.5 (which didn’t exist, but it could have), as N’Zoth could be connected to either Ulduar or Ahn’Qiraj, with the latter also having potential links to Patch 7.3.5, as Sargeras’ sword is pretty close there. Throw in some Infinite Dragonflight/Chromie shenanigans to tie it all up, and there you have it: A thematically linked, story-relevant entire “new” raid to tackle until the next major patch hits.

“New old” raids have great potential for fresh story elements through smaller questlines, as we could easily uncover some additional knowledge about Arthas (The Lich King) or even the Jailer through an ICC revamp. Maybe we could even see that fateful meeting between Sylvanas and Mr. Jailer, or we could discover the exact nature of the influence that Arthas was under with the Helm of Domination. There are many new lore details related to the current major patch that could be revealed through a remake of ICC, and this is just one example of the vast possibilities.

To make the concept of raid revivals a long-standing prospect, utilizing the Caverns of Time could be a shortcut for developers. They wouldn’t need to worry about updating or reimagining the original zones of the old raids, and the Caverns of Time is lore appropriate. In WoW, there’s often a “problem in the timeline.” For example, if the idea of “new old” raids had launched with Patch 9.1.5, we could be in Oribos when Chromie sends us a message:

"Anduin's possession by the Jailer has caused a rift in the timeline, and we need you to go back and make sure Arthas doesn't succeed in Icecrown Citadel! Meet me in the Caverns of Time at once!"

If there’s anything we’ve learned throughout the vast history of WoW lore, there is always a way to creatively reposition us in the timeline.

Now sure, some raids could be harder to update or connect lore-wise than others, as perhaps Battle of Dazar’alor or Heart of Fear wouldn’t be as easy to fit with an upcoming major patch or raid theme in Shadowlands. Ultimately though, I believe that there are ways around all of this, and Blizzard is a creative bunch. I have utmost confidence that they could find a way to make “new old” raids happen.

Honestly, is there really anything more compelling than being able to fight the Lich King once more atop the Citadel at the Frozen Throne? With a real Mythic progression of ICC in the present day, it could also potentially offer another Race to World First (RWF). Even seeing some lesser-known old raids re-tuned and given a second chance, the possibilities truly range far and wide.

How Would the Loot Work?

This is where we’d likely run into some complications, as making an entire new raid’s worth of loot requires significant effort, and bringing back existing items could interfere with itemization plans for the new expansion and its related features. For example, how would upgraded ICC items interact with Shards of Domination?

Regardless, there is a simple solution: Keep the existing major-patch loot (in 9.1.5’s case that would be Sanctum of Domination loot), and have the same lockout rules as when there is only 1 endgame raid available. You would get 10 chances at boss loot per difficulty and that’s it. It doesn’t matter if you down the Lich King in the newly refreshed ICC or Sylvanas in the Sanctum; that would count as the “endboss” kill for the reset.

There’s plenty that can be worked with here in terms of loot placement, including some new thematic items from the old raid, potential old transmog/mount rewards, and so much more. If the “new old” raid concept is developed alongside a new raid, it would be easier to incorporate any cool new items that would come with the refurbished raid ahead of time. This would allow developers to achieve a better balance for when both raids will be live simultaneously.

The concept of "new old" raids could also serve as a way for players to acquire comparable gear that makes the revitalized content viable while allowing current content to remain the optimal method of gearing. By slightly lowering the item level of loot dropped by refurbished raids (such as 243-250 being the highest item level drops from a “new old” raid compared against 252-259 item level drops in the current raid), players would have multiple opportunities to obtain gear suited for PvE content that is similar yet not identical in power.

Therefore, there are at least 2 strong options when it comes to loot: Either there could be new items and upgrades to attain that make the .5 Patch more worthwhile, or the “new old” raids could award slightly lower item level loot than the major patch’s raid (e.g. Sanctum). Regardless of whichever loot method works for Blizzard in the end, it is an exciting prospect to have additional ways to obtain gear from PvE content.

The Pros and Cons

No concept is without its issues, so here we will propose solutions to each of the following “cons”.

The Cons

  • Old raid tuning: This would be the big one, as it would basically require a completely new set of numbers to account for the current power of players in the expansion — not to mention some potential legacy systems that the old raids accounted for.
  • Splitting the player base: This would mostly apply to PUGs and LFR, as guilds would simply choose which raid to do, or do both. The player pool would be split between the major patch raid (e.g. Sanctum) and .5 patch “new-old” raid (e.g. ICC). Guilds on a tighter schedule may not be able to do both raids, or split their own inner player base with some guild members preferring one raid over another (such as when Kael’thas/Vashj or Archimonde/Illian were active at the same time).
  • Confusing new loot rules for players: What drops where, how many attempts do I get at a boss’ loot, and at which difficulty etc.? The new loot tables would need to be well-planned and communicated clearly to the player base.
  • Difficulty variations: There are bound to be easier and harder bosses when looking at the two raids in comparison. For example, perhaps The Lich King in the new ICC is much easier than Sylvanas in Sanctum of Domination, and players could basically ignore Sylvanas forever in favor of the easy kill. This is pretty easily solvable though by additional tuning and some smart loot placement.
  • Redesign Challenges: Some old raids are just not up to par with new ones and could not be revived without nearly redesigning them completely. However, Blizzard could choose to avoid those raids for this new system, and perhaps they could place those raids in a Timewalking event or micro-holiday instead.

The Pros

  • More relevant raid content per patch: This idea would bring us two full raids with all difficulties available to play in .5 patches. For raiders who may have already fully cleared the current content at the highest difficulty level, bringing back old raids could give them more content and challenges to enjoy outside of the RWF. In fact, this could encourage community building and inter-guild play by removing the competitive nature that often surrounds high-end PvE.
  • A refresh to the major patch cycle: We’d have new content available mid-way through patches.
  • A potential new RWF event: For professional players in the RWF scene, there could be more RWF events with these mid-patch raids (perhaps lighter/fun ones at that). Considering that the RWF is the biggest WoW community event to date, why wouldn’t we want more of it, in whatever form?
  • New and expanded storylines: We could see compelling new lore that connects the two raids and eras.
  • Transmog farming could be unaffected: As the old armor would not be dropping from the “new old” raid, transmog farming could still be prevalent and available. However, for the revitalized raids, there could be new rewards with either recolored armor variants of the old armor sets/weapons for defeating the endboss on Mythic, or other incentives along that vein.
  • Doing justice to old raids: We could breathe new life into amazing older raids so that new players can experience them closer to the way they were meant to be played. As it stands now, the experience of running through an old raid is just, well, empty. If you want to get a true feel for Blackrock Foundry, Siege of Orgrimmar, or any other once-great raid, you really don’t have an option to right now. Sure, you can get your transmog and one-shot some bosses (or get stuck on them in the case of a few Mythic fellows), and even get a rare mount or weapon, but you just are not in the actual raid as it once was. There’s currently no way to recapture the history of these places...or at least, there isn’t…yet!


In this new WoW era we’re heading into with the World of Warcraft Community Council and increased interaction between players and developers at large, Blizzard seems to be taking much more care towards implementing community feedback. “New old” raids could be the ultimate player-pushed feature that would improve WoW PvE forever. There is simply a vast amount of incredible content in the game’s history that is not being utilized, and many of the amazing old raids will take numerous years to reach the Classic WoW stage.

Slowly reimplementing old raids and even dungeons into current content would be both great for players, and seemingly doable from a developer’s standpoint. Getting to play Elisande, Kil’jaeden, Lei Shen, or any of the best of the best raid bosses of all time once again as real challenges should be any raider’s dream even if you’ve played them before — especially with some of the rougher parts being ironed out, as old raids have already received plenty of “PTR” testing. With the new expansion in the works and Patch 9.2.5 being a potentially great “test” case for this concept, it is the perfect time for a push like this from the community! So, unless I’m missing something major that would make this either an impossible or unattractive implementation to the game, let’s get it done!

What do you think of this idea? Please let us know on our Twitter poll!


About the Author

Starym is an old-school raider with a wide history of World Firsts under his belt. He is a long-time news writer and interviewer for Icy Veins and formerly Manaflask. Having raided in the Race to World First (RWF) until the end of The Burning Crusade, he has been covering the events since Cataclysm and the RWF has become his greatest passion in WoW. A (Tauren, obviously) Warrior main at heart, when pushed, he will admit to loving Diablo more than WoW and, thus, should be punished.