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WoW ClassicAug 24, 2023 10:00 am CT

WoW Classic will officially get Hardcore realms on August 24

Blizzard has released the official Hardcore ruleset detailing what players can expect from the Hardcore experience in World of Warcraft Classic when it goes live on August 24 at 3PM PDT. Back in May during a stream of Hardcore All-Stars, Blizzard’s Senior Game Producer Josh Greenfield (Aggrend) announced Hardcore realms were in development for WoW Classic, and we’re right on track for the rough estimate given then, that they would be coming in the summer.

The official Hardcore realm ruleset stems from the community-oriented no-death/no-buff commitments and honor system in WoW Classic. When Aggrend first announced hardcore realms, he explained Blizzard would take care to preserve the social experience of the Classic/Vanilla world while balancing the logistical challenges of implementing their own ruleset without it becoming “prescriptive.”

To that end, certain aspects of the game have been adjusted to function alongside the Hardcore ruleset and reduce the amount of punitive consequences and gameplay disruptions, allowing players a fair chance at surviving.

Hardcore realm rules of engagement

Here are the rules you’ll be playing under on Hardcore realms.

Hardcore permadeath

Character death is permanent — you can not resurrect yourself nor be resurrected by class abilities or items. Your ghost will be active on the Hardcore realm to allow you to communicate with your friends, for example, if you need to handover guild leadership. After dying, your character will be allowed to freely transfer to a non-Hardcore Classic Era realm where you can resurrect as normal and continue adventuring as normal

Duel to the death

Another of the teased features when Hardcore was announced, players will be able to challenge each other to a Duel to the Death. To issue the challenge, simply right-click the target and request the Duel to the Death option or similarly select the target and type “/makgora” in the chat window. A pop-up will appear informing players of the challenge, to which they must both agree to, before combat commences. Permadeath is in effect here so the losing character will die permanently while the winning character will receive a trophy and cosmetic buff, String of Ears. This buff will go up by 1 for each victory and represents the total number of opponents you’ve defeated in Duels to the Death. The String of Ears buff was originally earnable at Level 10 but after hearing community feedback, Blizzard will change it to Level 19.

PVP flagging, battlegrounds, and quests

PVP functions have been altered all over the game to allow for it to exist alongside the Hardcore rules in the least invasively, punitive way. You won’t be automatically flagged for PVP when you attack another character. Instead, you’ll need to type “/pvp” as a command to flag yourself for PVP at which point you will take hostile actions. PVP quests that caused PVP flagging in Classic no longer do so, while quests that originally required player death can now be completed without dying. Additionally, escort quests have been adjusted so the NPC escort target can not be attacked by players of an opposing faction. PVP battlegrounds are completely disabled overall while players can engage in premade Wargames, no honor can be earned and death is still permanent.

Danger leashing and kiting

The ability to lure or “kite” high-level monsters to lower-level areas will be unavailable on Hardcore realms. Most of the creatures present in a zone are tied to that zone and when they leave the allowable range, they will disengage and return home, effectively resetting. Blizzard is keeping on eye on how far monsters are going to travel and will adjust the range as necessary.

Longer dungeon lockouts

Blizzard wants to encourage random, in-game interactions and power leveling through repeatedly running dungeons is counter-productive to that so all dungeons will have, at minimum, a 24-hour lockout timer for players below level 60. Conversely, players at level 60 wont be able to enter lower-level dungeons with players below level 60 for any reason. The Season of Mastery group restrictions will also be in play — players who are significantly higher level than the creatures in a dungeon will cause the other members of their group to earn trivial experience.

No more buff and debuff cap

The 16 debuff limit and the 32 buff limit will be removed on Hardcore realms. Originally a technical limitation of early WoW, these limits were also imposed when Classic released in 2019 to maintain a level of authenticity. Blizzard has decided that these limits would be a detriment to build and class diversity and has opted to remove them entirely, uncapping the buffs and debuffs you can receive.

Paladins and Hearthstones

Paladins will not be able to use their Hearthstone while under the effects of Blessing of Protection, Divine Protection, or Divine Shield while on Hardcore realms. Shamans also get a nod here and have been notified their Reincarnation ability inherently opposed the design of Hardcore.

Real life honor system

Blizzard is placing a zero-tolerance policy on gameplay disruption, zone disruption, and malicious player killing/interaction outside of consensual PVP including kiting as covered above but also includes intentionally causing a wipe in a dungeon or raid group, report bombing a player, or attempting to manipulate the ruleset in order to enforce action on a player’s account. PVP is not the goal of Hardcore and the deliberate hampering of players from enjoying the Hardcore experience will be subject to disciplinary action that has yet to be communicated.

Hardcore realms won’t be Seasons, but Seasons are returning

Originally, Aggrend clarified that Classic Hardcore realms will be separate entities from Classic Seasons, the next of which the team is working on. The implication is that Classic Hardcore realms won’t be on a timer the way the first Classic Season of Mastery was — so they’re likely here to stay. Curiously, Aggrend confirmed Blizzard is working on the next Classic Season but he didn’t call it Season of Mastery, hinting that it may be called something else, perhaps with a brand new format.

Originally published May 19, 2023. Updated August 24, 2023.

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