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World of Warcraft: Classic is an adaptation of the original World of Warcraft for modern server and personal computer hardware, announced by Blizzard Entertainment at BlizzCon 2017 on November 4, 2017.
The announcement came in the wake of private server Elysium briefly imploding in October 2017 due to a staff member embezzling funds, and another selling characters and gold for real currency to players. In April 2016, a cease-and-desist letter was sent to another private server, Nostalrius.
Prior to BlizzCon 2018, it was announced that both attendees of the convention itself as well as those who had purchased the BlizzCon Virtual Ticket would be able to try a limited demo of World of Warcraft: Classic. The download became available a few days before the convention started, and went live on the Battle.net Launcher at the conclusion of the Blizzcon 2018 Opening Ceremony at 19:30 CET (18:30 GMT). Several tens of server shards were available, and players were able to experience the game for sixty minutes at a time; after that, the player must wait 30 minutes before being allowed to log back into the demo. During the Opening Ceremony, it was announced that World of Warcraft: Classic would be released in Summer 2019, and access would be automatically included with the standard World of Warcraft subscription.
Months prior to Blizzcon 2018, Blizzard announced that they had decided to base World of Warcraft: Classic on the latest major patch version, 1.12.2, since this offered the best target. On the Battle.net launcher, the demo deployed with a version number of 18.104.22.168211.
Players on both factions, upon character creation, found themselves in control of a level 15 character of their selected race and class combination. Alliance players were allowed to explore Westfall, while Horde players explored The Barrens. Attempts to leave these areas were met with teleportation back into their respective zones.
Original World of Warcraft gameplay features had been implemented faithfully, including the old-style UI, quest journal and world map, spell levels, talent trees, and weapon levels. Players began with some weapon levels already having accrued experience in order to let the player jump instantly into combat with enemies. Quest markers for objectives and completed quest drop-off points do not exist, and the game defaults to fading quest text upon talking to an NPC with an available quest (although this could be turned off). Depending on the class picked, the player starts off with both a gathering and crafting primary profession, as well as the First Aid secondary profession.
As the game replicates the original class and race combinations, Horde cannot play as Paladins, and Alliance cannot play as Shamans, and there is no separate Guardian talent tree for Feral Bear druids (as this was added in Cataclysm).
In May 2019, players that had opted in via their Battle.net profile to be selected for beta tests started to be selected by Blizzard to participate in the World of Warcraft: Classic Open Beta. Scheduled to run until August 12, 2019, the version number as of August 10 was 22.214.171.124407; it was patched to 126.96.36.199446 just before the character creator screen was opened up for name reservation ahead of the August 27 release date. The name pre-allocation commenced at 0:00 CEST (23:00 BST, 22:00 GMT, 19:00 EDT, 18:00 EST). In the Open Beta, players start out in their race's starting area at Level 1, and can progress as normal through quests. Blizzard is attempting to achieve feature consistency with what is called the Reference Client, which is the original 1.12.2 patch from the end of the original World of Warcraft's patching cycle. This attempt at feature consistency is also deliberately replicating the inconsistency of some features; NPCs that offered multiple quests inconsistently displaying them with a dot or a "!" on the available quests list, for example. The game version as of August 26 was 188.8.131.52650.
As expected, the quality of life improvements added by World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade and later expansion packs are not present. Dungeon and Raid instances do not have meeting stones, there is no XP gained from mining or gathering herbs, and there is no AoE loot, to name but a few examples. Race and class combinations are also the exact same as the original World of Warcraft release, which means no Gnome Priests, Human Hunters, Dwarven Shamans or Tauren Paladins.
In early 2019, Blizzard revealed that content would become available to players across six stages, or "phases". Dates for phases 2 to 6 have not yet been confirmed.
Phase 1 (Launch)
- Molten Core
- Onyxia's Lair
- Dire Maul
- Honor system (including dishonourable kills)
- PvP Rank Rewards
- Layering system to be removed
- Blackwing Lair
- Darkmoon Faire (including Darkmoon Deck drops unlocking)
- Alterac Valley
- Warsong Gulch
- Green Dragons
- Arathi Basin
- Ahn'Qiraj War Effort starts
- Ahn'Qiraj raids open when the war effort dictates
- Dungeon loot reconfiguration: Tier 0.5 Dungeon gear, Relics, drop rates and location changes
- The Scourge Invasion (World event that heralded the opening of Naxxramas)
- World PvP objectives in Silithus and Eastern Plaguelands
- Wowpedia, a Warcraft-encyclopedia
- World of Warcraft: Classic Anouncement on the Official World of Warcraft Channel on YouTube