World of Warcraft Classic continues to speedrun history with Cataclysm launching next month

World of Warcraft Classic has officially looped all the way back around to the very expansion that, in many ways, sparked the desire for it to exist in the first place. On May 20, Cataclysm Classic will release and move WoW Classic into a new era that is ironically similar to the live version of WoW.

This, of course, comes as WoW is about to enter its own new era with the War Within, and after Dragonflight, which set the foundation for the next trilogy of expansions. WoW Cataclysm essentially did the same for old WoW, moving it far away from the stereotypical MMO where you kill seven wolves for gold. That game still exists, but Cataclysm piled big story arcs and set piece moments on top. Cataclysm is when WoW wanted to have storytelling in its leveling experience and an endgame that wasn't just about running 40-player raids.

Cataclysm Classic won't fully resemble the original expansion, however. Blizzard has repeatedly manipulated the timeline of updates to accommodate modern expectations. At one point, the WoW Classic community was convinced the dungeon finder matchmaking tool wouldn't appear as it did in the original Wrath of the Lich King expansion. It eventually did and people are still upset about it removing the joy of spamming a chat channel an entire day looking for a tank. 

Cataclysm Classic will have faster leveling to match its condensed update roadmap and armor transmogs you collect will be available to any characters on your account—something that didn't come until way later originally. Deathwing will still be responsible for destroying the planet players have lived on for years, transforming familiar locations and erasing others. Tons of old quests, stats, and systems, like weapon skill, will be gone—as they were with the original expansion launch—too. 

Classic players can opt out of all of this by playing on one of the WoW Classic servers frozen in time with a particular expansion or by playing Season of Discovery, a popular spin-off game that remixes just about everything in the old game. Otherwise, Cataclysm Classic might feel like playing an underbaked version of modern WoW. Everyone I know says Mists of Pandaria ruled though, and, at the rate WoW Classic expansions come out now, it'll probably be here sooner than you think. 

Associate Editor

Tyler has covered games, games culture, and hardware for over a decade before joining PC Gamer as Associate Editor. He's done in-depth reporting on communities and games as well as criticism for sites like Polygon, Wired, and Waypoint. He's interested in the weird and the fascinating when it comes to games, spending time probing for stories and talking to the people involved. Tyler loves sinking into games like Final Fantasy 14, Overwatch, and Dark Souls to see what makes them tick and pluck out the parts worth talking about. His goal is to talk about games the way they are: broken, beautiful, and bizarre.