Mike Salbato
World of Warcraft 4.2 is Live, Goes Semi Free-to-Play
While we're at it, The Burning Crusade expansion is free now, too.
06.28.11 - 9:06 PM

Quite a day in World of Warcraft news! The big obvious news is something that most serious players already know: The game's latest major update, aka Patch 4.2: Rage of the Firelands is now live, featuring a new raid, legendary weapon (in the form of a glorious staff), new raid tier and PvP armor sets, and a really, really unhappy Fire Lord, as Ragnaros returns. As usual, Blizzard created a dramatic trailer for the update:

Along with this release, Blizzard has adjusted the way trial accounts work on World of Warcraft: Previously, trial accounts were limited on both time (14 days) and a level cap, meaning trial players could only progress to a certain point before ponying up some money. The time limit has now been removed, leaving only a level cap of 20. This means anyone can play the game free as long as they want, but won't be able to progress any higher than level 20. This could be great news for both newcomers and Blizzard, as without the time pressure, new players can get used to the game easier and might be more willing to pay to play. There's of course a few other restrictions on trial accounts, detailed in this Blizzard Support FAQ.

Last up is... Burning Crusade news? Blizzard has previously offered the World of Warcraft Battle Chest before, but as of today, it's now available as a download. That means for $19.99 USD, you can download both the original game and the first expansion without having to leave your house. The new digital Battle Chest is available now in the Blizzard Store.

While they're at it, Blizzard has made The Burning Crusade content (most notably the blood elf and draenei races and the continent of Outland) accessible to anyone who's purchased the original World of Warcraft (regardless of when they made said purchase). This essentially merges the first expansion into the core game, which is another good move, as until now, new players who wanted to take advantage of all that WoW has to offer would have had to purchase the original game, and each of the three expansions (The Burning Crusade, Wrath of the Lich King and Cataclysm). It's only one less purchase now, but it still makes the game in general more accessible.

Now go log on and start doing those new Firelands dailies!