Zul’Gurub is live in WoW Classic, but Corrupted Blood doesn’t plague Azeroth (this time)
No, the Corrupted Blood plague will not happen in WoW Classic once Zul’Gurub is live. Since WoW Classic runs off of code derived from patch 1.12, and the initial outbreak of Corrupted Blood was contained with a pre-1.12 hotfix that made it impossible to spread it via an afflicted pet once you left the raid. That means the plague will no longed be a threat to the cities and people of Azeroth once the raid goes live on April 15. You won’t have any Hunters or Warlocks accidentally — or even on purpose — summoning a plagued pet that will spread Corrupted Blood throughout Azeroth.
The Corrupted Blood incident, as it’s often called, has been studied for years for what it teaches us about human behavior in the face of a pandemic. It’s a topic of discussion right now, in fact, since COVID-19 became a worldwide pandemic there are quite a few researchers out there who’ve used what we learned from Corrupted Blood as a useful lens to discuss people’s behavior towards this epidemic.
How a disease from Zul’Gurub spread across Azeroth
For those of you who weren’t there, a debuff called Corrupted Blood was a major component of the Hakkar fight in Zul’Gurub. It was a damage over time effect that could be spread to any players close enough to an inflected character, and it did around 300 damage every 2 seconds — enough that it would kill the average level 60 in 30 seconds or less without healing. Despite being called a plague, Corrupted Blood was not a disease as such: it couldn’t be cleansed or removed, but it did wear off on its own and it didn’t persist through death.
However, when Zul’Gurub launched with patch 1.7, there was one way to spread Corrupted Blood outside the raid. A Hunter or Warlock pet could get the debuff during the raid, then it could be dismissed with the debuff still ticking away. This would pause the debuff, and when the pet was summoned again outside of Zul’Gurub, the Corrupted Blood would resume. It could — and did — then infect NPCs, such as the Stable Masters and Auctioneers. Now NPCs were infectious and because they were in high traffic areas, they would infect even more people who would then spread the disease.
Corrupted Blood was Azeroth’s own pandemic
Lower level characters were killed almost instantly by the 300 or so damage every time the plague ticked, but higher level characters could survive it, and thus, some players immediately began spreading it on purpose. This behavior is of interest to researchers looking into COVID-19 because it’s similar to the way some people, when presented with changes to their lives intended to prevent the spread, will instead refuse to make those changes. It’s not exactly the same motivation — while there are people who have gone around licking things on purpose or otherwise behaving in a manner deliberately designed to spread it, the behavior of players more accurately maps to that of people who ignored warnings and continued to spread the virus.
However, as fascinating and disturbing as the parallels between our current pandemic and this video game plague are, we won’t be seeing piles of dead bodies in our auction houses this time around. Patch 1.7 was hotfixed to prevent Hunter and Warlock pets from spreading Corrupted Blood, and WoW Classic will be running on that hotfixed code when Zul’Gurub goes live in April. Which is just as well, in my opinion — while players today talk somewhat fondly about the incident with the benefit of hindsight, at the time it was almost impossible to play the game, especially if you made use of the Auction House with any regularity or otherwise frequented Orgrimmar or Ironforge.
Some players have even said that Blizzard should release Zul’Gurub without those hotfixes so players can experience Corrupted Blood again, but I’m definitely not one of those. This is one experience better left in the past.
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