The last official patch for the original World of Warcraft Vanilla was patch 1.12.1 in North America on September 26, 2006. At least the last one before The Burning Crusade — with the exception of Europe only (which got 1.12.2) and the Traditional Chinese localization only (Patch 1.12.3).
The Burning Crusade expansion was launched in the United States on January 16, 2007.
At that point in time, the Warcraft lore was in flux. Between Vanilla’s end with Drums of War (1.12) and the launch of World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade expansion, new lore had been brewed by the Creative Team.
Wildstorm Comics (later under the DC Comics label) launched the World of Warcraft comics series issue #1 on November 2007. Written by Walter Simonson (Known for his Thor, X-Men, X-Factor, Fantastic Four, and other works).
For the lore in the Comics to have been published on November 2007, that means the lore had been in development for at least a year — which coincides, precisely, more or less with Patch 1.12 (Drums of War).
The comic book picked up where the Duswallow Marsh’s “Missing Diplomat” questline ended.
The Vanilla closed beta (which I participated with as a tester) used to have a placeholder model of King Varian Wrynn until Patch 1.9, imprisoned beneath Alcaz Island by the Naga. But that turns out to have been the twin copy or split personality of Varian. The second half we never saw in-game until Cataclysm being Lo’Gosh (from the comics). So it is no surprise that this lore had been brewing internally for a while; but Blizzard couldn’t manage to introduce it in-game, and instead came out as a comic book.
As I played in WoW Classic’s Westfall story I came across the quest “An Audience with the King” which sends you to talk to King Varian Wrynn. When you get there, you encounter Lady Katrana Prestor, Bolvar Fordragon, and Prince Anduin Wrynn instead.
The version of World of Warcraft Classic we will play in when the game goes Live, will be Patch 1.13. I honestly do not know what Blizzard’s plans are for World of Warcraft Classic going forward. I have far more questions than answers at the top of my mind.
Will the game be eternally World of Warcraft Classic for many years so that people who prefer that era continue to play?
Will it have new additions to the story, but never transition into Burning Crusade?
Will King Varian Wrynn eventually return to claim the throne in Classic, instead of Cataclysm?
Sure, technically, King Varian Wrynn was who killed Onyxia in the DC Comics World of Warcraft #14, and after Onyxia’s demise, King Varian Wrynn returned to Stormwind.
So… you see… there is a sort of disturbance in the flow of lore between the in-print and the in-game story. We never got to see the return of King Varian in Stormwind until Cataclysm, but the Onyxia raid will be opened to players in Phase 1 after launch. Phase 1 will include: Molten Core, Onyxia, and Maraudon.
So, what exactly will happen here? Will Blizzard go the Vanilla route, or will they implement and set the lore correct — merging the comics and the in-game story in such a way that King Varian will participate in the Onyxia raid, and claim the throne in-game?
Or will they keep Vanilla intact the way it was, in its outdated and erroneous form?
That’s the question.
Blizzard has an opportunity in World of Warcraft Classic to fix the in-game lore, to match what is out there in novels, short stories, comics, and manga — by adding new questlines and content. Maybe not at launch, but eventually.