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WoW ClassicAug 26, 2019 5:00 pm CT

Everything we know about WoW Classic, now live!

alterac valley fight

WoW Classic is now live, but whether you’re stuck waiting in a login queue or you’re trying to get a feel for the game before you get playing, here’s everything you need to know about this long-awaited blast from the past.

We’ll start with the most important piece of information: what the game costs. WoW Classic won’t cost anything extra if you’re already subbed to current WoW — there’s no client to buy, you simply need a subscription. If you aren’t a current subscriber, it will cost you $15 per month, and you’ll be able to play retail WoW as well (though you’ll need to buy the latest expansion to experience the latest content).

To start playing, download the game client through the Battle.net launcher and create a character. Go on and do it. We’ll wait.

And now that you’re waiting in the login queue, you might want to know a little more about the game you’re about to play. We have you covered.

Pick your realm

WoW Classic has 35 realms, including PVE, PVP, RP, and RP-PVP options. If you need help choosing a realm, we have a guide on how to do that, but if you’re just interested in the server with the coolest name, here’s the list:

  • Normal: Ashkandi, Atiesh, Azuresong, Mankrik, Myzrael, Old Blanchy, Pagle, Westfall, Windseeker
  • PVP: Anathema, Arcanite Reaper, Benediction, Bigglesworth, Blaumeux, Earthfury, Kirtonos, Faerlina, Fairbanks, Heartseeker, Herod, Incendius, Kromcrush, Kurinnaxx, Netherwind, Rattlegore, Skeram, Smolderweb, Stalagg, Sulfuras, Thalnos, Thunderfury, Whitemane
  • RP: Bloodsail Buccaneers
  • RP-PVP: Deviate Delight, Grobbulus

To manage server stability, the game will initially 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. You always stay on your layer (unless you join a party on another layer), so you’ll see the same players out in the world. Layering is only temporary and will be removed for Phase 2 (see below), which is when world bosses are added.

Get ready to play!

While you’re waiting in the login queue, read up on gameplay guides so you’re ready to get started as soon as you connect:

Content will be released in phases

The game’s version will be set to patch 1.12, so class balance and itemization will match the game’s later days. Content will be released in six phases to replicate content progression in the original WoW. Phase 1 will be open on release day, but subsequent phases don’t have a set timeframe yet.

  • Phase 1: Molten Core, Onyxia, and a long list of original game dungeons
  • 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

Additional content and phases could be added if the game is successful long-term, but are not explicitly planned.

Classic loot and itemization

While content releases replicate original progression experience, loot will work a different way. In the original WoW, Blizzard was constantly tweaking gear and itemization: instead of following that progression, gear in WoW Classic will be set to the final versions from patch 1.12. Gear will still be released with its appropriate phases — you won’t be able to get Ahn’qiraj gear when the game launches, for example — but everything will have patch 1.12 itemization.

In a change, WoW Classic maintains the modern two hour loot trading window for soulbound items in raids, but only there: it won’t be available in dungeons at all. During the original WoW, loot disputes were handled by Customer Service, but Blizzard is putting it in the players’ hands and Customer Service won’t transfer any items in WoW Classic.

And bear in mind that the stats in WoW Classic aren’t the same as they are today. Primary stats run are more or less the same, except for Spirit (which you’ll find on everything), but secondary stats are practically unrecognizable from the modern game.

Quality of life additions

WoW Classic isn’t a complete replica of the original WoW, just a replica of the original experience. As such, WoW Classic has adopts some modern technical conveniences, including:

  • Modern framework for data storage, using the system from patch 7.3.5 in Legion.
  • A modern macro and addon interface, though some modern addons may not work and some will be intentionally disabled.
  • Battle.net friends list integration, 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, though it may not be ready at launch.

How Classic differs from modern WoW

WoW veterans know the deal. But if you didn’t play back then, there are quite a few differences. First of all, WoW Classic is a completely separate game that isn’t linked to retail game at all: there are no extra bag slots from having an authenticator and any progress you make in WoW Classic won’t transfer to modern WoW.

Most notably, the game is missing a lot of the quality of life changes we’ve gotten used to over the years. There’s 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 Classic differs from vanilla WoW

While WoW Classic is trying to replicate the experience of the original game, some things are missing. The modern framework Classic runs on adds technical improvements, as well as some UI improvements.

  • Servers will have new names to prevent confusion between WoW Classic and modern WoW.
  • The original epic mounts will not be added. These “unarmored” versions of the current epic mounts were only in the original game for a limited time, and 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 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.

The Classic development philosophy

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 modern login servers or infrastructure, and every bug and exploit was still present. The developers fixed this by layering the original day 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 focused on replicating two important concepts: gameplay and aesthetics. Things that affect gameplay were kept, while things that didn’t affect gameplay were deemed not as important. This let them replicate the look and feel of the original game

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