World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade is the first expansion set for the MMORPG World of Warcraft. It was released on January 15, 2007 at midnight in Europe and North America, selling nearly 2.4 million copies on release day alone and making it the fastest-selling PC game in those regions.
It was released on January 17, 2007 in Australia and New Zealand; in total, approximately 3.53 million copies were sold across these territories in the first month of release, including 1.9 million in North America, over 100,000 copies in Australasia, and nearly 1.6 million in Europe. It was also released in Singapore, Thailand, and Malaysia on January 15, 2007. It was later released in South Korea on February 1, 2007; in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau on April 30, 2007. The game was released in China on September 6, 2007.
The expansion's name refers to the return of the "Burning Legion"; a vast army of demons being one of the main antagonist forces in the Warcraft-universe and whose last invasion was defeated in Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos. This legion and its allies are the main enemy which players will fight against in The Burning Crusade. In addition to some new areas on Azeroth, this expansion mainly features the ravaged world of Outland which the Burning Legion and other powerful beings control.
The Doom Lord Kazzak reopened the Dark Portal to Outland, flooding Azeroth with the ravenous demons of the Burning Legion. Expeditions from the Horde and Alliance, reinforced by their new blood elf and draenei allies, passed through the gateway to stop the invasion at its source. On Outland's desiccated Hellfire Peninsula, the Alliance discovered several of their heroes who had crossed through the portal many years before, while the Horde made contact with the Mag'har — 'uncorrupted' orcs who had not participated in their race's original invasion of Azeroth. The expedition into Outland dragged Horde and Alliance armies further into conflict with the agents of the Legion and the lieutenants of Illidan Stormrage, who had claimed the shattered realm for his own.
The Black Temple
In his quest to reign over all of Outland, Illidan the Betrayer had established a mighty stronghold for his forces within the Black Temple, a former draenei citadel. Yet his influence began to wane after the defeat of his most trusted lieutenants, including the traitorous former leader of the blood elves, Kael'thas Sunstrider. The resulting window of opportunity permitted Akama, an elder sage of devolved draenei known as the Broken, to rebel against the self-styled "Lord of Outland." Along with Illidan's former jailor, the stoic night elf Maiev Shadowsong, Akama helped a group of heroes infiltrate Illidan's seat of power and put an end to the Betrayer's reign once and for all.
The Gods of Zul'Aman
Following years of battles alongside the old Horde, the troll warlord Zul'jin retired to the city of Zul'Aman, capital of the Amani trolls, where he called upon mysterious dark powers to rebuild his army. While the eyes of Azeroth focused on the fight against the Burning Legion and the expedition to Outland, treasure-seekers invaded Zul'Aman, rekindling Zul'jin's hatred of the outside world — particularly the high elves of Quel'Thalas. Upon hearing that these newly christened "blood elves" had become part of the Horde in his absence, the infuriated Zul'jin declared war on both Horde and Alliance.
Fury of the Sunwell
Fresh from his defeat in Outland, Kael'thas Sunstrider returned to the blood elf city of Silvermoon. Rather than lead his people to glory as he had promised, the disgraced prince betrayed them. Kael'thas plotted to use the legendary Sunwell, source of the blood elves' magical power, to summon the demon lord Kil'jaeden into Azeroth. Aided by a joint task force of blood elves and draenei, the Shattered Sun Offensive, Horde and Alliance heroes, with the help of a dragon Kalecgos and the Sunwell's mortal form, Anveena; narrowly stopped both Kael'thas and Kil'jaeden, purifying the Sunwell with the help of the draenei prophet Velen.
Two new playable races were added to World of Warcraft in The Burning Crusade: the Draenei of the Alliance and the Blood Elves of the Horde. Previously, the shaman class was exclusive to the Horde faction (available to the orc, troll and tauren races), and the paladin class was exclusive to the Alliance faction (available to the human and dwarf races); with the new races, the expansion allowed players to be a Draenei shaman or paladin (Alliance), and a Blood Elf paladin (Horde). The level cap was raised by ten, making it 70 (up from 60, established in the original World of Warcraft) in addition to that; a whole new planet, Outland, was released, with associated quests, dungeons, raids, zones, creatures, and cities.
In Player versus Player (PvP), a new battleground, Eye of the Storm was introduced with two brackets: one for characters between levels 61-69, and another for level 70 characters. Although this battleground was designed for level 70 characters, players are unable to summon flying mounts in this battleground. The Eye of the Storm battleground is only available to those with the expansion.
In addition, a new PvP Arena System was introduced as a way for players to fight in 2 vs 2, 3 vs 3, or 5 vs 5 death-match style battles. While the arena system allowed players without The Burning Crusade expansion to partake in skirmish matches, those without the expansion were unable to participate in rated matches, which yield rewards based on a point system. Ladder matches were only accessible by players who have reached level 70. Three arena stages were introduced in The Burning Crusade expansion, including The Ruins of Lordaeron in the Undercity, The Circle of Blood in Blade's Edge Mountains, and the Ring of Trials in Nagrand. Arena matches have taken a more prominent role in World of Warcraft's PvP content, and have developed into an electronic sport. One example of Arena matches as an electronic sport was the World Series of Video Games in 2007, where player teams competed in 3 vs 3 matches to earn cash prizes. Blizzard also holds its own seasonal tournament, the World of Warcraft Arena Tournament, which pitches teams from servers all around the world against each other. This tournament concludes with a 5v5 world final event, the first of which took place at BlizzCon ’07 and so ended season 1.
Additional "outdoor" PvP objectives were implemented, which are different for each zone in which they are located. Most of these outdoor PvP objectives involve "capturing" key points to reward players of the same faction in the area, usually with a temporary buff that adds a damage boost to player attacks or increases the rate players gain experience or faction points while the players are in the zone. For example, Terokkar Forest's PvP contest involves players standing near towers in order to capture them while defending the towers in PvP combat with players of the opposite faction that try to capture the objective. Other examples include Halaa in Nagrand and the Hellfire Fortifications in Hellfire Peninsula, where players compete for control to unlock quest and vendor access or gain factional reputation for rewards.