Blizzard Releases New Trailer, “Journey”, For Wrath of the Lich King Classic

Blizzard has released a new trailer for Wrath of the Lich King Classic, and this one is not like the others! Check the trailer below, followed by a deep dive into what makes it special and one-of-a-kind:

A New Trailer Type is Born

After watching that trailer, you may have noticed one of several things:

  • It is not a full-CGI trailer, like the ones used to announce expansions.
  • It’s also not an in-game cutscene, or a pre-rendered in-game cutscene (like the ones you see at the end of a zone or a raid).
  • It is much cooler than any other WoW trailer because it shows so much of Northrend in a visually pleasing way.

This trailer, while official, was commissioned by Blizzard from none other than Hurricane, an extremely talented YouTuber who has been creating high-quality trailers such as this for years. You can check his channel here (I highly recommend the re-imagined trailers for Naxxramas, the Black Temple and Ahn’Qiraj). It is also noteworthy to mention he’s made juicy trailers for private servers as well! He’s basically as professional as you can get when it comes to fan-made WoW cinematics.

What makes this trailer special, aside from the absolutely gorgeous visuals, is the care that went into making every shot as high-quality as possible with what are, in their essence, in-game assets. Now, calling them ‘just in-game assets with extra coats of paint’ is a great disservice, of course – check out the VFX breakdown for the Black Temple trailer to see just how much work goes into a single scene. The stats at the end are mind-blowing, especially for a one-man team. Now, count the amount of unique scenes in the Journey trailer. They’re a lot.

Raising the Bar

The biggest takeaway from this amazing trailer, in my opinion, is how much can still be done with epic pre-rendered cutscenes in World of Warcraft. Journey has raised the bar for basically every time of cutscene and cinematic at Blizzard, bar their full-CGI cinematics (like the Battle for Azeroth Saurfang ones) and animated shorts (such as Shadowlands’ Afterlives).

What this trailer achieved, for me at least, is bringing life back into the game. It’s no secret the actual world of Warcraft is essentially static once you’re done levelling, aside from the occasional [insert enemy faction] invasion dropping over a post-WOD zone. This trailer paints a picture of how WoW should feel playing, not just the image it inspires in the player’s head.

Back in the day, before the game turned into a long list of things to do, there were lots of little things that made the world feel closer to how it was depicted in the Journey trailer. One small example were raid boss heads. Kill a raid boss, it drops its head. Take it to your capital city, hand it in, and not only would that trigger a zone-wide yell congratulating you by name, it would also put the head on a spike for all players to see.

The last major event I remember making me feel the world was alive came in the Legion invasion. First, with opening the sky up to Argus in 7.2, changing the sky for the remainder of the expansion (and, given that bright red spot that remains, for the rest of the game). Second, Sargeras stabbing his sword into Azeroth, a ridiculously huge sword that is still there to this day, waiting to cause some expansion-starting event.

The game doesn’t need even bigger swords to emulate a living world, though. It needs a robust system of player interaction that leads to temporary environmental changes across the whole server. Imagine if players defeating Jaina in Mythic Battle for Dazar’alor would leave a frozen spot of sea near Zuldazar for a day. Defeating the Jailer could make the Maw less gross and dusty (why can’t we fly there yet?). It shouldn’t all be relegated to raid efforts, of course. Take weather, for example. Weather is barely even a concept in modern WoW. Last time I saw rain in the game was a few months ago in Zuldazar. Why not have players automatically summon snow if, say, enough Mages cast Blizzard in the Storm Peaks?

This trailer has re-ignited my desire for a world that feels alive in this game. If the sense of community is gone and never coming back, courtesy of servers being combined into a cross-realm mess and LFR existing, then at least the environment should still work to provide a sense of movement.

What did you think of the trailer? Did it evoke the same feelings in you? Let us know in the comments below!