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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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