World of Warcraft Classic: Release date, news, and everything we know so far

Wow Classic screenshot

Blizzard said it would never happen, but it's happening: World of Warcraft is getting legacy servers that emulate Azeroth as it existed back in 2006. Called World of Warcraft Classic, this remake aims to rekindle that insatiable desire to grind that kept so many of us up late into the night. And it's coming soon.

World of Warcraft's vanilla launch—before expansion packs took players to far away locales and significantly changed the core game—is one of the most pivotal moments in PC gaming. But that also raises a lot of questions: Which patch will Classic be based on? How will updates work? What is the WoW Classic release date, and how much will it cost? 

Here's everything we know so far about WoW Classic, including its release date, update schedule, and more.

What is WoW Classic's release date?

Blizzard said WoW Classic will launch sometime this summer, and now we have a date: August 27. A closed beta will start on May 15. Sign up for that here if you're interested. 

How much will WoW Classic cost? 

Blizzard hasn't explicitly stated whether players will have to buy WoW Classic up front in order to play, but it has said that you won't require a separate subscription to play it. Those who already subscribe to WoW will have WoW Classic included in the price of their subscription. Those who don't actively play WoW will have to pay the usual $15 USD a month to play it. 

What's the latest news on WoW Classic? 

As we approach the summer release date, Blizzard is constantly revealing new information. More recently, it revealed how itemization would work in WoW Classic. Without going into too much detail, all abilities and equipment will function as they did in patch 1.12. While dungeons, raids, and PvP features will gradually roll out like they did during WoW's initial release, equipment and abilities won't constantly change to reflect the minor adjustments that Blizzard made with each patch. 

What is WoW Classic, exactly? 

World of Warcraft is practically a different game than when it first launched back in 2004. Through a continuous cycle of updates and expansions, systems have been changed, entire continents added, and character classes overhauled countless times. Many people like these changes (modern WoW is more accessible than ever), but a lot of people are nostalgic for Warcraft's days of yore and the way it used to play.

Until WoW Classic was announced, there were hugely popular private servers that illegally emulated World of Warcraft as it existed in 2004. But now Blizzard is creating an official version that it plans to support with continual updates.

WoW Classic will be an almost exact recreation of World of Warcraft as it existed in 2006, just before the first expansion, The Burning Crusade, came out. That means combat will be much slower and more lethal, quests will be less intuitive and dynamic, and getting around the world will take a hell of a lot longer. At the same time, WoW Classic will resurrect that hardcore breed of MMO that so many people originally fell in love with.

How does WoW Classic work? 

WoW Classic is built using patch 1.12, titled Drums of War, that released on August 22, 2006. The reason for this specific patch, Blizzard has said, is because this patch represents the vanilla version of WoW at its most feature-complete, stable, and well balanced. But, like modern World of Warcraft, WoW Classic won't be a static game that never changes. Blizzard wants to recreate the experience of playing WoW between 2004 and 2006 by releasing updates in Classic on roughly the same schedule as the original. The idea is that these updates will introduce new dungeons and core features but won't tinker with specifics like item or ability balance—which will stay the same over the course of WoW Classic's life, rooted in patch 1.12.

Once WoW Classic launches this summer, Blizzard has plans to roll out six phases of updates that will each introduce new raids, dungeons, items and equipment, and PvP features. These six phases are as follows:

Phase One: 

  • Molten Core
  • Onyxia
  • Maraudon
  • You can PvP one another in the world, but there is no tracking, and no formal rewards for doing so.

Phase Two:

  • Dire Maul
  • Azuregos
  • Kazzak
  • Honor System (including Dishonorable Kills)
  • PvP Rank Rewards

Phase Three:

  • Blackwing Lair
  • Darkmoon Faire
  • Darkmoon deck drops begin
  • Alterac Valley (version 1.12 869)
  • Warsong Gulch

Phase Four:

  • Zul'Gurub
  • Green Dragons
  • Arathi Basin

Phase Five:

  • Ahn'Qiraj War Effort begins
  • Ahn'Qiraj raid opens when the war effort dictates
  • Dungeon loot reconfiguration: Tier 0.5 Dungeon gear, Relics, drop rates and location changes

Phase Six:

  • Naxxramas
  • Scourge Invasion
  • World PvP objectives in Silithus and Eastern Plaguelands

The world events associated with these dungeons and raids, like the Opening of the Gates of Ahn'Qiraj, will also happen. So your dreams of being a fabled Scarab Lord can still be realized.

What comes after is anyone's guess, but I'm personally hoping Blizzard announces plans to also add The Burning Crusade and the other expansions that followed, similar to EverQuest progression servers.

One thing to keep in mind is that while WoW Classic will roll out updates in similar pattern to its original release, all equipment, items, and abilities will mirror their final 1.12 versions. For example, the Tier 2 Helm of Wrath won't undergo constant stat revisions like it did between patches 1.5 and 1.9. Instead, no matter what phase you finally get the helmet, its stats will always be derived from its 1.12 patch version.

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