Launching August 26th / 27th 2019
What is WoW Classic?
On November 4th, 2017, at that year’s Blizzcon, Blizzard announced the release of WoW Classic. Classic refers to the base version of World of Warcraft, or vanilla as it’s commonly known. This version of the game is vastly different to the current iteration, and long-term fans have been asking for the ability to go back for many years. Finally, Blizzard have answered our prayers.
Why would I want to play an old version of WoW?
Many veteran players agree that World of Warcraft has seen a steady decline in quality over the course of its lifetime, with most agreeing that this began somewhere during the game’s second expansion, Wrath of the Lich King. Blizzard’s vision for the game shifted from an expansive, connected massively multiplayer world full of adventure, difficulty, challenge, rewards and community, to a theme park of instant gratification, ease of access, handouts and shortcut taking where everyone is a winner and nobody talks to each other.
Can’t I just play a private server?
You can! Most people (other than Blizzard, of course) have nothing against the use of private servers. However, these are fan-run servers that have never quite been 100% accurate and faithful to the original game, though some have come close. Many offer cash shops and gameplay modifiers that a lot of potential players find offputting, and even the best private servers have bugs that simply cannot be fixed without the full source code. There is also always the potential that Blizzard will shut down these servers, meaning you could potentially lose hundreds, if not thousands of hours of progress. Blizzard aren’t just creating their own private servers; they have a dedicated team working on the development of WoW Classic. Their idea is to integrate the old assets and database values into the modern WoW client, meaning that the game will be functionally identical, while retaining some more modern implementations such as Battle.net chat and support systems. More than that, because they're official, the servers won't be going away any time soon.
From what we’ve seen, hopefully, very little. There are many aspects of vanilla that will completely turn off players who joined later in the game, and that’s fine – Classic is probably not going to be for those people. Classic fans want the game as close to the real thing as possible. However, there are some exceptions. For example, the ability to automatically retrieve an item from a piece of mail by control-clicking was added after vanilla. But there is no meaningful impact on gameplay by including this quality of life change, so this feature is making it in. Anything that remotely compromises the integrity of vanilla WoW seems to be excluded. Dungeon finder? Nope. Cross-realm? Nope. Achievements? Nope. For more on this topic, I strongly suggest watching the Blizzcon panel in the links below.
What will stay the same?
Again, the team seems to want to make the experience as close to true vanilla as they can, within reason. Some key aspects of vanilla compared to the current game include:
- 8 races, 9 classes, 60 levels, 2 Continents, 20 dungeons, 7 raids, 3 battlegrounds
- Leveling is a long, slow process that will take people weeks, probably months, to finish
- Without resorting to addons and guides, you have to find quests and read the text to find out what to do and where to go
- The minute-to-minute gameplay is much more difficult and enemies are a constant threat
- The sense of community is much greater; people work together on quests, buff each other, save one another from death and ganking, and generally communicate much more
- Dungeons and raids are challenging, vast, lengthy and greatly more rewarding
- The economy is much more balanced and make more sense – gold is actually important and requires time and effort to make, no more level 6 greens to 20g
- Raids require up to 40 people, and good teamwork is essential
So will this be the very first version of the game?
WoW Classic will use version 1.12 (the final vanilla patch) of the base game as the client version, meaning that many bugs found in the original version will be fixed. Many other aspects of the game changed between version 1.0 and 1.12, mostly class and item balances, and these will also be present. However, Blizzard plan to stagger the release of raid content – this means that all raids will not be available from the start, and will be gradually rolled out over the months following the game’s launch.
Sounds great! So when’s it out?
So far, our window of release is “Summer 2019”, meaning that if development the game is on track, it could be out somewhere in the next 3-6 months, roughly. In a recent post on the WoW forums, Blizzard promised more information soon (not soon™) , and finished the post with “get ready for a classic summer”, implying that development is going well! The game will be included as part of the standard WoW subscription, meaning you will have to pay to play Classic, but will also have access to the current retail experience.
Will The Burning Crusade, Wrath of the Lich King etc. servers come later?
We don't know yet. Right now, people are mostly glad that we're getting vanilla, and it makes sense to get that right first. However, it's not unreasonable to think that down the line, TBC and maybe WotLK servers will be a thing. TBC/WotLK is widely regarded as the peak of World of Warcraft, as is also when the player base reached its peak. It's also not unreasonable to expect the classic experience to stop after that, as Cataclysm is when some huge, irreversible changes were made to the world, and most players consider Cataclysm as the start of what we know as modern WoW.
Got any links for more information?
Official Announcement Trailer
March 2019 Update Post
Classic WoW Reddit
"Restoring History" Blizzon Panel (Fascinating, all eager fans should watch)
Esfand's Classic WoW Podcast
Dev Watercooler Post
Find people you used to play with
All of this is very overwhelming. How do I prepare for Classic?
The main reason I wanted to start this OT, and start it now, was so that anyone interested can prepare for Classic in plenty of time. Even if you're a returning player, there's a lot you might not have thought about, and no-one wants to log in on launch day and stare at menus for an hour. Here's a checklist of things you should consider if you're serious about returning to Azeroth, or visiting for the first time.
- PvE vs. PvP servers: some find the prospect of world PvP at all levels exhilarating; others find it a nightmare. Make sure that if you choose a PvP server you're prepared for what the decision entails. Some areas will quickly become all-out warzones, including some mid-level places like Redridge and Ashenvale.
- Do you plan on playing with friends? You'll need to all choose the same server and faction. Regardless, are you going to be an Alliance or Horde player?
- The above will dictate which of the 4 races you can choose. Those races then dictate which classes you can play, though your class should be your top decision making priority.
- After that, what spec will you play? Dual spec is not a viable option in Vanilla. Are you ready to level as a healer and sacrifice some damage outside of dungeons? What will you play at end game? Remember that in Vanilla raiding, the viable specs are far more limited than at retail. You will likely not be tanking Naxxramas as a Paladin, nor DPSing as a boomkin.
- What professions will you take up? Do you want to make buckets of gold by farming, or craft the best gear possible?
- Do you have the time to play? Leveling alone will take hundreds of hours. Then you'll spend hundreds more gearing up, farming materials, and raiding. Most raid guilds raid 3 nights a week for 4 hours or so. Can you commit to that?
- Are you going to plan a leveling route for getting to 60 quickly, or are you going to take your time and decide where to go on a whim?
Whatever you want to do, however you want to play, we're all in it together. Please feel free to ask any questions you have in this OT, pre-organise guilds and battleground groups, find other players in your timezone, post your character, launch and progression plans, whatever you like.
We're going home.
We're going home.