Blizzard’s ‘World of Warcraft Classic’ will send you back to 2004

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Whether you're a casual or hardcore gamer, chances are you've heard the name World of Warcraft. It's one of the most popular MMORPGs in the world, spanning seven expansions and 15 years' worth of content. Plenty has changed since Blizzard introduced said expansions, and nearly two decades of in-game time have shaped World of Warcraft so much that it's a massively different game than it was when it first debuted. That's where World of Warcraft Classic comes in.

Rather than a new expansion, it's a convenient way for fans to return to the way the game was when it first debuted, or for new fans to see the in-game world of Azeroth as it was once from the beginning. It's finally been dated for release, and you can finally get your hands on it this August. But what will World of Warcraft Classic contain, how much will it cost, and who's it for? All your questions and more are answered below.

What is World of Warcraft Classic?

World of Warcraft Classic, also referred to as "Vanilla WoW," is a new version of the MMORPG that takes players back to the days of the game before it was altered by any of is multiple expansions. This is the closest form of the game that's currently playable to how it was at launch, based on Patch 1.12: Drums of War. Essentially, anything from The Burning Crusade through Battle for Azeroth is invalidated in World of Warcraft Classic, which means any realms previously destroyed, rebuilt as new areas, characters lost in battle, or anything of the sort will be as it was in the earlier stages of World of Warcraft's life.

Who is World of Warcraft Classic for?

Anyone who wants to see what the game was like before its expansions or players looking for a nostalgia rush. For many who jumped into the game late into its life cycle beyond 2004, the mere existence of WoW's expansions meant they could no longer experience the game the way it was when it first debuted. World of Warcraft Classic will mostly eliminate these issues and give players a chance to see it all before the content in its expansions took place with the "base game." In short, it's a way to see WoW through fresh eyes – or return to it, if you've been there from the beginning.

What's different about World of Warcraft Classic from the game's original debut?

There are a few changes that have been made to the game you can expect to see, but you probably won't notice unless you're a veteran. For one, the game's level cap, meaning how far you can level up your character, will drop from the current game's 120 to 60. There will be no more Dungeon Finder matchmaking system for you to seek out friends or party members with, and the older game with all its vanilla content is a much longer, larger grind. Be prepared for leveling to take a lot longer than progress does in the current game.

When is World of Warcraft Classic releasing?

The game's official release date is August 27. However, right now Blizzard is holding a series of stress beta tests that you could potentially participate in. Beginning later in May, you can opt in with your account (if you have an active World of Warcraft subscription) to try the game ahead of others thanks to new Stress Test options.

Stress Test 1 will take place from May 22 through May 23, with Stress Test 2 scheduled for June 19 and June 20 and Stress Test 3 on July 18 and July 19. Following those tests, Blizzard will make the character creation portion of the game available so anyone with an active WoW subscription can jump in and create up to three characters per account to get ahead of the rush.

How much will World of Warcraft Classic cost?

Right now, the option to use the Classic server will be free with your subscription to World of Warcraft. It's about $15 a month to remain a subscriber, and you get access to most of the game's latest expansions if you're already paying. You can think of Classic as another "expansion" added to your account for more value.

Ready to go back to where it all began? There's not much longer to wait until World of Warcraft Classic is available. In the meantime, you might want to spend some time brushing up on your lore.