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Blizzard Talks Itemization for Classic WoW Servers

  • Gear and class mechanics set to 1.12.
  • Incremental progression system remains.
  • Devs want to focus on community building.


To this day, that trailer still stands my hair on end. Community Manager Kaivax recently made a post detailing Blizzard’s plans for itemization and content progression on vanilla WoW servers. In it, he explained one of the recurring challenges of recreating an authentic vanilla experience–namely that vanilla itself was not a static entity, but one made of many, many changes and fixes. In the case of gear, this meant that certain items had multiple stat values throughout the course of vanilla’s lifespan.

Here’s an example of progressive itemization. The Tier 2 warrior Helm of Wrath originally had Spirit and Agility on it, as well as critical strike chance. In Patch 1.5.0, the helm’s stat budget was changed to Stamina, Strength, and Defense, along with elemental resistances. Then in Patch 1.7.0, the amount of Defense on the helm was reduced. In Patch 1.8.0, the 5-piece set bonus that included the helm was fixed to work with Whirlwind, and in 1.9.0, it got a better look with an art update. WoW Classic will only include that last version of the item, as it existed in our reference version: 1.12.

Kaivax then goes on to say that, while all items will be given their version 1.12 stats and aesthetic, they will still remain gated behind the same content progression that they were in vanilla. The major distinction here is that all content will incrementally unlock according to its original timeline in order “to allow for each raid tier to shine,” but the stats on these items, as well as class mechanics and battlegrounds, will “all be set to their final 1.12 conditions.”

The reasoning for this decision, according to Kaivax, is twofold. For one, the developers don’t want players bogged down in spreadsheets, trying to min/max when best-in-slot gear is going to change values. Instead, the developers want the focus of vanilla WoW to be more about community building and the gameplay itself. The second reason for these itemization and mechanics decisions is best summed up in the following quote:

Rather than try to recreate a specific experience from 2005 that can never fully be recaptured, our aim has been to accurately and fully restore the original game’s mechanics and stats to their final and most polished state from before The Burning Crusade. That mission has been a pillar of WoW Classic’s design from its inception.

Regardless of what you think of these design decisions, there is a pang of sadness to read the words “can never be fully recaptured” coming from someone at Blizzard. Kaivax is right though. Chromie was wrong. You can’t go home again. But you can build a pretty close replica. Maybe I’ll see you there one day.

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  1. Heathet on May 3, 2019 at 3:43 am said

    Glad they’re working with a focus on the community, because in the long run the community is what will keep WoW going

  2. Sigilstone17 on May 3, 2019 at 12:10 pm said

    They left out the part where Classic is available only on mobile devices. What? You guys don’t have phones?

  3. Ricardo Otero on May 3, 2019 at 2:55 pm said

    To be honest I’m coming back for the community. The rest is not so important to me since I can get it on current WoW.

  4. Bloodaxe on May 5, 2019 at 4:04 pm said

    I never got a chance to play WoW Classic, so I’m excited to see what WoW used to be like back in the days 🙂 The legendary community is one of the things I’m most excited to experience, and I’m glad they’re putting focus into this.

  5. No progressive item stats is a bit of a letdown but at least the content rollout looks decent.

  6. Griffiths on May 7, 2019 at 7:35 pm said

    This is the one game I have been waiting for all year. I originally played WoW at the very end of Vanilla right before BC came out. I never really got to raid in Vanilla

  7. Destruct0Dan on May 7, 2019 at 8:00 pm said

    Really wish they would leave everything along in Classic. With maybe 5 servers max to start, it would help make it more simple to find people to run instances with and raids as well. But I know there is way more to it.

  8. aaro.j.salo on May 7, 2019 at 9:23 pm said

    Really loving so far how Blizz is handling the upcoming launch and development of Classic. This itemisation news was a good piece.

    Looking forward to trying the game again after all these years!!

  9. still keeping an eye on this

  10. jirving1993 on May 7, 2019 at 9:40 pm said

    Yessssss! I’m probably overhyped for this release, but I can’t help it. WoW Classic is what consumed my 12-year-old life and turned me into a gamer.

  11. Infamousuk on May 7, 2019 at 10:39 pm said

    Makes sense that they would focus on the community .. the people coming back (like me) are only coming back because they went and gave us what we’ve been asking for for some time.

    Not too sure about updating the GFx to be honest I kinda hoped that vanilla would look how it did way back in 2012 or whenever it was for that authentic feel .. but I do understand why they did it and am appreciative .. anything is better than what wow has become.

  12. srkuse82 on May 7, 2019 at 10:59 pm said

    WoW has outlived it’s potential, they need to innovate to bring back loyal fans. It’s just not the same anymore.

  13. Franky Fathands on May 8, 2019 at 12:29 am said

    More hyped about this than any other release this year.

    • absolutfreak80 on May 8, 2019 at 2:06 pm said

      Going to have to agree with that. I’m checking back constantly to see if the Classic forums have a release date mentioned yet.

  14. Im cata baby myself since during vannila i was broke kid with no funds for retail server, i was playing bunch of private servers myself. Now tho if things stay ad they are, that we will be able to play classic as long as we are subbed – i’ll definetely make character or two just to acrub around in between tiers during downtime in current game.

  15. William Wallace on May 8, 2019 at 10:51 am said

    Sorry, but I’m still playing Warcraft III off-line.

  16. erick_sg92 on May 8, 2019 at 11:13 am said

    I wont come back for this, blizz will ruin it again

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