WoW 'hardcore' players currently use an addon to prove their runs are legit, but may be getting official servers soon

World of Warcraft Paladin character
(Image credit: Activision Blizzard)

World of Warcraft Classic is already a harder, more punishing version of modern WoW, but a whole community of players like making it worse.

WoW Classic hardcore players try to reach max level without dying, an outstanding feat for an MMO originally released in 2004. Normal enemies hit like trucks, resources are scarce, and quests are a pain to finish. One misclick on an ability or a misstep off a cliff and you're dead. That's it. "Death = delete," as they say.

Right now, there's no built-in WoW Classic hardcore mode: players just commit to deleting their characters if they die on their own. However, after many, many requests from the Classic hardcore community for official hardcore realms, or servers, Blizzard might finally do it. Twitter user Meorawr (tweeted by Solanya) found code in the WoW patch 10.1 PTR (public test realm) that looks like a warning message for someone about to make a character on a hardcore realm.

WoW Dragonflight and WoW Classic share a lot of behind-the-scenes infrastructure, so the code showing up on the modern version of the MMO doesn't rule it out for the retro one. WoW Classic is considerably more difficult than modern WoW, which is why most people would prefer hardcore servers for the old MMO.

The hardcore Classic community generally plays on the Bloodsail Buccaneers and Hydraxian Waterlords servers, and use an addon that tracks their run's legitimacy. Runners can earn custom achievements and grab a place on the Classic hardcore leaderboards. The rules are broadly simple: don't die and don't get help from other normal players.

You can, however, group up with hardcore players to complete single runs of pre-approved dungeons. With official hardcore servers, finding other hardcore players would be much easier to do, and it would cut down on normal players messing with their runs.

Some Classic hardcore players have concerns over how much Blizzard would control over the runs. "I'm glad that we might get official HC servers but at the same time I feel like I can’t trust Blizzard to do 'em right," Reddit user Yejmo said. "If I died at [level] 40+ to a flight path disconnect and had to reroll or wait 2 months for a ticket to be answered I’d be big sad lol, but I’ll be playing ‘em regardless."

Unintended deaths from things like disconnects and glitches are a real issue, and the Classic hardcore community will let you continue your run as long as you have proof that you died for technical reasons. 

Nobody knows how Blizzard will handle hardcore servers if they end up being real. It's possible that, by making them official, it will lead to more players making characters purely to end other people's runs. Every player on these servers would theoretically be at the risk of dying and losing access to their character, but that probably won't stop the most devoted griefers. It could be chaos or it could be a reasonable alternative to doing it all with a mod and the honor system.

Blizzard hasn't made an official comment on hardcore servers, but PTR code usually becomes legitimate not long after it's been datamined. Dataminers also uncovered a possible third specialization for the Dracthyr Evokers on the patch 10.1 PTR, too.

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.