July 9 Update: The next and last stress test will take place from Wednesday July 18 to Thursday July 19.
Blizzard Entertainment announced that it was working on World of Warcraft: Classic back at BlizzCon 2017. But now that this highly anticipated expansion to the beloved PC game is right around the corner, what does this mean for recurring players and older players who want to go back to where it all began?
What is World of Warcraft: Classic?
WoW: Classic takes the open-world fantasy MMORPG back to the days before the expansions, so everything from The Burning Crusade to the Battle for Azeroth never happened. It won't be the Day 1 version necessarily, as the company is using Patch 1.12: Drums of War to build the game back up.
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How much will WoW Classic cost?
As for cost, Blizzard has said that this server option will be free as long as you have a subscription for the current game, which costs $15 a month.
WoW Classic Release Date: When is it coming out?
WoW: Classic is scheduled for August 27 (technically August 26 if you're in the Americas). The soonest that you can play it is starting in May, during Blizzard's scheduled stress tests. To opt-in you must have an active subscription on your Battle.net account. If you do, go to Account Management and select the Wow Classic beta. Keep in mind, there will be level caps during the test. The schedule is as follows:
- Stress Test 1: Wednesday May 22 - Thursday May 23
- Stress Test 2: Wednesday June 19 - Thursday June 20
- Stress Test 3: Wednesday July 18 - Thursday July 19
The level cap was previously level 30, but has since been raised to 40. Therefore, testers will be able to level up in zones like Stranglethorn Vale, Desolace and Arathi Highlands. Additionally, there will be a 99% reduction cost to respec, and Blizzard is also opening Arathi Basin for limited testing, which begins June 6.
To top it all off, Blizzard will be opening character creation on August 13, so players with an active subscription will be able to create up to three characters per account.
Community Manager Taepsilum revealed that the realm structure in Europe wouldn't be divided by language, but an exception will be made for the Russian language, so it'll have separate realms as well as a different game client.
However, Taepsilum made an announcement that the company will in fact be launching French and German realms in Europe along with the English and Russian versions. These languages will be available day one.
WoW Classic Beta's “Not A Bug” List
As the beta trials have started to kick off, players have been reporting bugs in the current state of the game, but a community manager, Kaivax, stated on the Blizzard forums that these are actually not bugs, but features. The list is as follows:
- Tauren’s hitboxes and their melee reach is slightly larger than other races.
- Being critically struck while using /sit to sit does not cause abilities like Enrage, Blood Craze, and Reckoning to activate.
- Using the “Automatic Quest Tracking” option does not auto-track newly accepted quests. (It instead will start to track an existing quest once progress towards an objective is started.)
- Warrior health Regeneration is working at the expected rate.
- Quests objectives and points of interests are not tracked on the map or minimap.
- Completed quests are marked on the minimap with a dot. (and not a “?”)
- Feared players and NPCs run fast.
- Standing on top of other players while facing away allows spells and attacks to be used.
- Creature respawn rates are much slower than in Battle for Azeroth.
- NPCs which offer multiple quests may inconsistently display them as a dot or a “!” on the available quests list. They were inconsistent in 1.12, and we’ve reproduced the exact inconsistency they had back then.
- Quests that are too low level for do not show up as a “!” in the game world.
- Available quests do not display a “!” on the minimap.
- On level up, the message: “Your skill in Protection increased to 15” was added in 1.12.1, and we’re intending to keep that.
- You are unable to Polymorph enemy targets that are tapped by players with whom you are not grouped.
- At all levels of player characters and enemies, aggro radius is set to the intended distance.
With all of these "features," it might be a little difficult to get back on the battlegrounds again.
What content will come to WoW Classic?
Despite using Patch 1.12, Blizzard wants to incorporate other vanilla World of Warcraft experiences, which will be released in waves. This is the current roadmap:
- Phase 1 (Classic Launch): Molten Core, Onyxia, Maraudon
- Phase 2: Dire Maul, Azuregos, Kazzak
- Phase 3: Blackwing Lair, Darkmoon Faire, Darkmoon deck drops begin
- Phase 4: Zul'Gurub, Green Dragons
- Phase 5: Ahn’Qiraj War Effort begins, Ahn’Qiraj raids open when the war effort dictates, Dungeon loot reconfiguration (Tier 0.5 Dungeon gear, Relics, drop rates and location changes)
- Phase 6: Naxxramas, Scourge Invasion
Kaivax, a WoW forum community manager, revealed that WoW Classic's class design, battleground mechanics and stats on existing items will be set to their 1.12 state, despite the game releasing content that expands beyond that. This removes "progressive itemization," so if the stats on a specific piece of equipment was changed during the original updates, that won't take effect in this version.
Additionally, any items that were added to a boss' loot table in Ahn'Qiraj will only appear once Ahn’Qiraj launches in phase 5.
Kaivax recently published a blog post revealing that the team is bringing the clock onto the minimap by default, so it's possible that Blizzard may bring other features of the modern UI to WoW Classic as well.
What's the PvP content going to look like?
Blizzard will also be rolling out the PvP content within the previously mentioned phases. This is the current roadmap:
- Phase 1 (Classic Launch): You can PvP one another in the world, but there is no tracking, and no formal rewards for doing so.
- Phase 2: Honor System (including Dishonorable Kills), PvP Rank Rewards
- Phase 3: Alterac Valley (version 1.12), Warsong Gulch
- Phase 4: Arathi Basin
- Phase 6: World PvP objectives in Silithus and Eastern Plaguelands
What's Different, and Why You Should Be Excited (According to My Mom)
One of the obvious differences between WoW: Classic and the WoW now is the level cap, which will drop from 120 to 60. But, as someone who has grown detached to the series itself, I decided to consult a veteran who can discern some of the more important differences: my mother, Lucia Tabari.
What'll be the biggest change for you if you play WoW: Classic?
"Vanilla was so time-consuming. There won't be a Dungeon Finder (the game's current matchmaking system), so you have to socialize and be involved more with guilds in a community in order to run dungeons. We had to walk [to dungeons] until level 40, which was when I got my first mount, but even then it was still slow."
If it's so much more slow-paced, why would people want to go back to it?
"Mainly for the feels. But it was also more challenging. You had to be more careful about what you chose to level up in the talent system and learn more about what you need for your spec. Now, you can just keep switching specs at any place, but back then you had to go to a trainer to reset everything. You actually had to work to make progress."
For people who've played the original and even those who haven't, what would they be missing out on in the new game?
"The zones were more creative. We would roam freely in the old zones, [but] they were left in ruins [because] of the disasters of the [Cataclysm] expansion. Darkshore was the most memorable one for me. We used to take boats from Auberdine (a town in Darkshore) to travel to the Wetlands and Darnassus."
And what do you miss most about vanilla that you're excited to see in WoW: Classic?
"The lore. And Varian Wrynn was our king!"
Is there something specific you miss from the lore?
"Yeah, my king was alive."
Well, there you have it, folks. WoW: Classic is dropping on August 27 in a server near you.