Everything we know about WoW Classic
WoW Classic is coming this summer, so here is a roundup of everything we know about how the game will work so far. The game won’t be exactly like we remember, but it will be close.
Release date and beta testing
WoW Classic is launching with a global release on August 26 at 3pm PDT. It will launch simultaneously around the world, so the specific release time depends on your timezone. For Europe, this is August 27 at 12am CEST, while in Australia it’s 8am AEST.
Players with active subscriptions can reserve up to three character names starting two weeks prior to launch. This is also a global opening — the official date is August 13, but a footnote states the Americas will see it earlier, likely in the afternoon of August 12.
The closed beta started May 15, with stress tests periods planned from May through July. There are no beta keys and the only way to get into the beta is through the opt-in settings in your account. Don’t hold out hope for an invite though: beta access is limited compared to expansion betas because feedback needs are different.
Blizzard is only looking for feedback for things that are broken or inaccurate compared to original WoW, not whether WoW Classic is fun or balanced. Stress test invites aren’t for previewing the game either. It’s meant to purposely overwhelm the game so expect plenty of issues with the login servers. The stress test periods last for two days each, and have a dedicated two hour timeframe at the start for official stress evaluation.
Stress test schedule:
- Stress Test 1: Wed, May 22 – Thurs, May 23
- Additional Stress Test: Wed, May 29 – Thurs, May 30
- Stress Test 2: Wed, Jun 19 – Thurs, Jun 20
- Stress Test 3: Thurs, Jul 18 – Fri, July 19
What will WoW Classic cost?
WoW Classic won’t cost anything extra if you’re already subbed to current WoW. You won’t need to buy WoW Classic separately, and the content is included with a regular WoW subscription.
How the game and content will work
The game’s version will be set to patch 1.12, Drums of War, including class balance and itemization. It will have six release phases to replicate the content progression in the original WoW. Phase 1 will be open on release day, but subsequent phases don’t have a set timeframe yet. They will be released when the community is ready for it, as Blizzard doesn’t want people to be pressured to play or grind fast in order to participate in the content. Additional content and phases could be added if the game is successful long-term, but are not explicitly planned.
- Phase 1: Molten Core, Onyxia, Maraudon
- Phase 2: Dire Maul, Azuregos, Kazzak, Honor System and Dishonorable Kills, PvP Rank Rewards
- Phase 3: Blackwing Lair, Darkmoon Faire and Darkmoon Faire Decks, Alterac Valley (patch 1.12 version), Warsong Gulch
- Phase 4: Zul’Gurub, Green Dragons, Arathi Basin
- Phase 5: Ahn’Qiraj War Effort, Ahn’Qiraj Raids, dungeon loot reconfiguration (Tier 0.5 dungeon gear, Relics, drop rates, location changes), possibly PVP vendor updates
- Phase 6: Naxxramas, Scourge Invasion, World PvP objectives in Silithus and Eastern Plaguelands
WoW Classic will open with fewer servers to gauge initial demand, and it will have at least one dedicated roleplaying server. To manage queue times and server stability during the first month or so of launch, the game will use a new technology called layering. It’s similar to sharding, but where sharding shunts players off into a new instance of that zone, layering will spin up new copies of the entire world and fill each one up as players log in. Layering is only intended to be temporary and will not exist by the time Phase 2 comes around, which is when world bosses are added. If server populations and demand stay high past Phase 1, more servers could be added.
The old character limits will be in place, which is a maximum of 10 characters per server and 50 per account. On PVP servers, you can only have a single faction per realm. The character limits won’t have any overlap with modern WoW — you can have 50 Classic characters and 50 Battle for Azeroth characters.
How items will work
While content will be released to replicate the progression experience, loot will work a different way. In the original WoW, loot had progressive itemization, where Blizzard was constantly tweaking gear throughout the game’s span. Instead of following that progression and making the many changes, the gear in WoW Classic will be set to the final versions they existed as in patch 1.12. Gear will still be released along the phase timeline — if it came out in a certain patch, it will be included in the equivalent phase — but the itemization will be static.
The modern two hour loot trading window will be present for soulbound items in raids, but only there; it won’t be available in dungeons at all. During the original WoW, loot disputes were only handled by Customer Service. Blizzard is making the option available by putting it in the players’ hands with a current game mechanic. Customer Service won’t be transferring any items in WoW Classic.
Quality of life additions
WoW Classic won’t be a complete replica of the original WoW, but it’s meant to recreate the experience in a modern format. As such, WoW Classic will adopt some modern technical conveniences.
- Modern framework for data storage. It will use the system from patch 7.3.5 in Legion instead of the original file system.
- Modern macro and addon interface, though some modern addons may not work.
- Battle.net friends list integration to stay connected, though players won’t be able to add opposite-faction friends from the right-click interface. However, communication won’t be limited between Battle.net friends who play on opposite factions.
- Right-click to report players.
- Better 4:3 widescreen visuals.
- Colorblind support.
- Amory support is planned, but may not be ready at launch.
How it’s different from modern WoW
WoW veterans know the deal. But if you didn’t play during the original WoW and only know how WoW is now, there are quite a few differences and a lot that will be missing. First of all, it will act as a completely different game as far as content goes — it’s not linked to live game data. The extra bag slots from having an authenticator are exclusive to the modern game and any progress you make in WoW Classic won’t transfer over to modern WoW. You also won’t be able to play both games at the same time, since they’re technically on the same WoW license.
Most notably, it will be missing a lot of the quality of life changes that we have gotten used to over the years. This means that there is no flying, no transmog, no AOE loot, no map objectives or quest directions, no Dungeon Finder, no Raid Finder, no dual specs, no reagent bank, no instant mail, no mob tagging, no achievements, no account-wide anything. Phasing won’t be present, nor any cross-realm zones. Running into water will dismount you. Pets and mounts will be physical items you have to carry around, so I hope you have bag space.
How it’s different from original WoW
While WoW Classic is trying to replicate the experience of the original game, there are some things that will be missing, whether from outdated technology or modern constraints. The modern framework adds technical improvements, as well as some UI improvements like taking mail from the mailbox.
- Servers will have new names to prevent confusion between WoW Classic and modern WoW.
- The original epic mounts will not be added. These were the “unarmored” versions of the current epic mounts. Since they were only in the original game for a limited time, Blizzard does not want to make players rush through leveling to get them.
- The old mount system, with cheap training costs but expensive mount costs, will be the only system used in WoW Classic. It won’t ever be updated to the newer system introduced in 1.12.1.
- Wall-jumping will not be possible, due to the propensity for exploits and some of the modern game’s movement enforcement and exploit detection code.
- Mailboxes will auto-complete the recipient’s name based on your friends list, since it doesn’t affect gameplay.
- There will be no balance changes for the game. All tuning is set to patch 1.12.
Some things aren’t different at all but were being reported as bugs or inaccuracies. Blizzard’s humorous “Not A Bug” thread highlights how our memories of original WoW can differ from what the game actually was like.
Development and philosophy
Development on the game has been going for over two years. The devs were able to reconstruct the game by finding a very old backup of a backup on a backup. The game data couldn’t communicate with login servers or infrastructure, and every bug and exploit was still present. They fixed this by layering it with patch 7.3.5, which provided a workable base for WoW Classic. To recreate certain elements of the game, they’ve had to work backwards — such as undoing modern WoW‘s smaller spell batching window, which is how the game servers process actions, and adjusting the priority system to process actions at a different frequency.
In deciding what to keep and what to change, they stuck with two important concepts — gameplay and aesthetics — to replicate the look and feel of the original game. Things that affect gameplay were kept, while things that didn’t affect gameplay were deemed not as important.
Community and fan additions
WoW Classic will have its own section of the forums. Right now there is a section for discussion about the game’s development. Fans also put together a site to connect players with their old friends to play with in WoW Classic. Just go to Vanillafriends.com, fill out your character information and contact information, and your old friends will be able to look you up.
Wowhead, of course, has a WoW Classic hub and a talent calculator for the Classic talent trees. Thottbot was the original database for WoW and eventually spawned the Wowhead we know now. It will be making a comeback in the form of Wowhead’s new database: Classic Wowhead. They even have a Thottbot theme for ultimate nostalgia. If you were an Allakhazam fan, you’re not left out either. One of the more helpful aspects of current Wowhead is the user comments on item pages detailing important information. Wowhead has also added that into its Classic database, importing over 237k Allakhazam comments and replies.
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