Blizzard has announced the ship date for WoW Classic, a 15-year-old game that is, by virtually every measure, a more inferior version than the WoW that exists today. I’m both excited for it and genuinely annoyed at how excited I am. Facts first, wangst to follow.
On August 26 at 3 PM PDT, WoW Classic will go live on a staggered schedule across the world. Blizzard writes:
Beginning May 15, select WoW players will be invited to participate in a small-scale, focused closed beta test. Players will also get a chance to help put our servers and technology through their paces in a series of stress tests running from May through July—you can opt in now through Account Management and select the WoW Classic beta. Subsequent stress tests will extend the opportunity to even more players. Level caps will also be in place to ensure we’re emphasizing the “stress” in “stress test.
Players will be selected for beta based on a range of criteria, including having an active WoW subscription. Opting into beta via the WoW Account Management page is the primary way to register, but other factors, like how long you’ve played the game, may also be taken into account. There will be three stress test periods: May 22-23, June 19-20, and July 18-19. Players will be able to reserve character names beginning on August 13 (or slightly ahead of that time, if you live in the Americas) with up to three reservations per WoW account.
We’ve already covered Blizzard’s plans for introducing content over time, but the basics are this: Initially, the game will roll out just like it did at server launch. Over time, content will be added, including events that played out in vanilla like the opening of Ahn’Quiraj. The company’s plan for introducing content over time looks to be a solid one and will allow new Classic players to experience the game the way we did back in 2004. There are still a lot of things we don’t know about Classic, but what we do know is genuinely interesting.
In Which I Complain
I am not, generally speaking, a conflicted or complicated gamer. I do not buy tons of titles. My Steam library is not stuffed with hundreds of games I’ve paid for but never played, apart from the ones I use for benchmarking. Hilariously, this means I have thousands of hours logged in a few games I’ve never actually started, but relatively few that I purchased for the purposes of playing and didn’t play.
I’m used to either wanting to play a game or not wanting to play a game. But WoW Classic… WoW Classic is different. Maybe I’m just falling victim to nostalgia. Maybe I’m conflating the people I played with in 2004-2006 with the game I played in 2004-2006. Nostalgia is a hugely powerful motivator, after all, and even us jaded reporters are susceptible to it. I’m not sure how I’m going to feel about stepping back into a game that was genuinely slower, jankier, and less well-balanced than the WoW that exists today. I do know I’m looking forward to it more than any other launch I expect this year. Some friends of mine have already started planning for a return. I’m going to join them. It’s annoying to find myself pulled back to a game version I genuinely don’t think is as good, in many ways, as what exists today — and yet, here I am.
Hopefully, Blizzard manages not to replicate the server disasters that often characterized WoW patches and original launch day. Pretty much everything else seems to be on tap.
PS – I’m still not Pally healing in Molten Core. I’m not serving as a Cleansebot, either. Some things change… and some things don’t.
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