At BlizzCon, Blizzard announced that Warcraft Classic — the vanilla experience based on the game before any of its expansions — will go live next summer and be included in the standard Gold in WoW Classic subscription. Interestingly, the entire sweep of game content will not be available when the game goes live. Instead, players will have access to Molten Core and Onyxia, the two 40-man raids that Blizzard implemented first in the original 2004 title. The company isn’t strictly duplicating the original rollout timeline; Dire Maul, Lord Kazzak, and Azuregos will all be available to kill as well.
Stage 2 of the rollout will feature the 40-man Blackwing Lair and the introduction of ZG, while Stage 3 will introduce the Gates of Ahn’Quiraj and the opening of AQ as a major server event. After that will come Naxxramas and the Scourge Invasion world event. Did I mention I still have items from the original Scourge Invasion world event sitting in my bags on my primary character?
People often forget that what we call “Vanilla” in World of Warcraft was anything but static. Blizzard overhauled the functionality of every single class during the original base game. God knows it needed it. There were two basic ways for Blizzard to approach a vanilla server. The simple — “simple” — method would have been to simply dump all the “Vanilla” content as it existed the night before the Dark Portal opened again and call it a day. But that’s not what Blizzard is doing. Instead, the company is attempting to recreate the actual server-wide experiences people had with content, including major world events and new introductions.
This is an order of magnitude more complicated and it could help recreate the feeling of camaraderie that many people loved about the original game. I remember contributing to our server drive to unlock the gates of Ahn’Quiraj, although the actual launch event was a disconnect-driven disaster (I died when the gryphon I was riding despawned in mid-air due to extreme server lag and ultimately couldn’t even enter the relevant zone). This time around, that shouldn’t be a problem.