Blizzard ruined my intro. I was going to talk about how appropriate it was that patch 5.1 included a scenario for warlocks that took them to the Black Temple. Then they pushed it to 5.2. So fine. I'll just fall back to something generic.
In terms of sheer content and changes, patch 2.1 was truly massive -- one of WoW's biggest patches of all time. It arrived in May 2007, five months into The Burning Crusade. Let's dive in!
Illidan shouts at us in person
We were ready, if not perhaps entirely prepared. After an ad campaign and a trailer that prominently featured Illidan, many players expressed disappointment that WoW's first expansion didn't launch with the Black Temple raid. In retrospect, those concerns seem silly today. If anything, the Black Temple released too early in the expansion, forcing Blizzard to add the ultradifficult Sunwell Plateau raid to fill the gap between expansions.
The Black Temple was an enormous raid, and one of the game's most beloved. No matter where you went, everything was big and scary. In some areas, even clearing the trash felt epic. Nine bosses populated a vast indoor/outdoor instance. Many of them are still remembered fondly. Supremus and Reliquary of Souls were highly memorable encounters, the latter partly due its unforgiving awareness checks. Teron Gorefiend and Illidan were major lore figures able to be vanquished in WoW for the first time.
BT wasn't the only raid that 2.1 introduced, however.
Mount Hyjal was also patched in, and the two raids comprised (at the time) Tier 6. Despite the amazing lore behind it, players didn't take to Hyjal like they did Black Temple.
The waves of trash -- released on a timer if you didn't kill the previous wave -- were incredibly annoying and had to be repeated for every boss pull. The original version had twelve(!) waves of trash prior to bosses, but this number was eventually reduced to eight. I don't think it's exaggerating to say the original Mount Hyjal had the worst trash of all time in any game ever.
Bosses came on a timer too, and rogues would have to Distract them while the raid healed up and got mana. Boss resets were based on the death of NPCs who could sometimes take forever to go down. None of the bosses seemed particularly inspired. Worse, bugs plagued the early version. Overall, the place just felt like a hassle. Blizzard hasn't returned to this style of raid for good reason.
Both raids, as was customary for the era, required attunements to access.
As Archivist covered a few months ago, 2.1 also gave us WoW's first daily quests, and they were legion. The patch added the Ogri'la, Skettis, and Netherwing dailies for their associated factions. The Ethereum Prison area also added content in the Netherstorm and Blade's Edge zones that could be done once you reached Honored with the Consortium.
A match made in Outland
PvP players had reasons to be excited for 2.1 as well. The Ruins of Lordaeron arena debuted in this patch, as did the battleground matchmaking system.
The system attempted to form teams with similar gear and "organizational level" -- that was Blizzard-speak for whether or not players were queueing up together. Previously, fully formed BG teams could nearly always get matched up against groups of random players and roflstomp their way to massive amounts of honor. The system was a partial answer to this issue. Blizzard, however, designed the matchmaker to favor quick queues over quality matches, but the stompings weren't quite as frequent.
Yay, more orphans! Wait...
All of the above was already a ton of content, but Blizzard had even more in store for us. Children's Week got an upgrade. Players could embark on quests for new draenei and blood elf orphans by visiting the orphanage in Shattrath's lower city. The quest lines came complete with two brand new pets, including one of my personal favorites, Sleepy Willy.
Druids get epic
Back in 2007, class quests were still very much a part of the game. Paladins and warlocks had quest lines in vanilla WoW to get their epic mounts, so Blizzard decided to continue that tradition and create one for druids to get their epic flight form.
The quest chain took you to Moonglade and all over Outland, defeating powerful opponents so you could use their essence against the raven god, Anzu, in Sethekk Halls. Anzu could only be summoned by a druid with the quest. Unlike the pally and lock quests, players actually wanted to help with this one because of the chance for a Raven Lord mount. Defeating Anzu was not easy -- you had to adjust which essence you were using on the fly to help your party win. If you beat him, you got the flight form, a trinket, and a relic with helpful bonuses for every druid spec.
The quest line was a fun and heralded addition to the game. Because Anzu dropped loot, other classes also benefited from it. (Just don't mention that flight form physics nerf that Blizzard eventually reversed.) Unfortunately, the quest line eventually went the way of the dodo and the form is now merely trainable.
The patch also came with the surprising return of the Looking for Group channel. Prior to the dungeon finder, WoW had an LFG tool with drop-down menus you could use to select up to three dungeons/raids/BGs/quests you wanted to run. Players could then search for those who wanted to run the same thing. The tool wasn't used very much, partly because it was limited to players on your server, so Blizzard made using it mandatory to access the LFG channel.
Elixirs, cauldrons, and goggles
Professions received a lot of love in the patch, too. The fishing timer was reduced to 20 seconds, down from a more tedious 30.
Blizzard redesigned alchemy's elixirs to the "one battle, one guardian" system so that raiders didn't have to load up on every possible elixir for every boss attempt. In addition, the patch added the first cauldron recipes.
Engineering got its first round of epic goggle recipes -- a tradition that Blizzard has maintained in every expansion.
Changes, fixes, and overhauls
The new content was only part of what 2.1 offered. The patch also featured
- A complete overhaul of level 70 epic itemization so that epics were more of an upgrade over rares
- Streamlining the entire flight point system in both Azeroth and Outland by adding points and making flights more direct
- Tuning and fixes for every Outland dungeon and raid
- Dozens of class changes
The patch also rectified one of the strangest imbalances that WoW has ever seen. The Black Morass dungeon featured shallow pools of water and a lot of moving around. Every other race could run through the water, but gnomes -- with their stubby, spindly legs -- had to swim. It took them far longer to move through the pools that any other race, which was a significant disability for an already quite challenging dungeon.
How does 2.1 stack up?
You can click on the link at the bottom of the page to see just how vast and all-encompassing the notes for this patch were. Very few patches in WoW's history can compete with all of the awesome that 2.1 contained. When you consider the incredible amount of content, and all of the ideas that have gone on to become perennial aspects of the game, this patch was a resounding success. WoW simply would not be the same game without it.
After months of surveying, WoW Archivist has been dug back up! Discover lore and artifacts of WoW's past, including the Corrupted Blood plague, the Scepter of the Shifting Sands, and the mysterious Emerald Dream.