Blizzard remains hard at work resurrecting World of Warcraft circa 2004, a return to the "vanilla" state of the MMO that waxes nostalgic for so many PC gamers. Only now it looks like Blizzard won't be targeting World of Warcraft from 2004, but rather World of Warcraft from 2006. In a developer update posted on Friday, Blizzard officially confirmed that World of Warcraft Classic will run on patch 1.12, better known as the "Drums of War" patch.
Patch 1.12 was the final major patch in World of Warcraft prior to the release of its first expansion, The Burning Crusade. Blizzard would go on to explain why this was the best starting point for World of Warcraft Classic:
"As many of you have noted, the classic period was two years long and full of changes. Core features like Battlegrounds were introduced in patches after WoW’s original launch, and class design similarly changed over time. After careful consideration, we decided on Patch 1.12: Drums of War as our foundation, because it represents the most complete version of the classic experience."
This decision is already resulting in mixed feelings within the World of Warcraft community. As Blizzard says, the "Classic" era of the MMO lasted over two years, which means that "Classic" World of Warcraft means a lot of different things to a lot of different players. The experience in 2004 was wildly different from the experience in 2006. Blizzard's point stands, however, that 1.12 will offer the most "complete" version of what it's planning to offer.
Blizzard would go on to describe what starting from 1.12 meant in terms of direction and development. Patch 1.12 allows Blizzard to retain core gameplay features like cross-realm Battlegrounds and objective-based world PvP, while also creating a foundation from which Blizzard can implement important server infrastructure that's been grown over the past 13 years. That means that World of Warcraft Classic will work with the modern Battle.net and will have modern security features, but will otherwise preserve the classic gameplay - no transmogs or achievements needed.
It sounds like Blizzard has its work cut out for itself from here on. The game is there, it's just a matter of bringing it to life. One big question Blizzard has left to answer is how it's going to roll out content. For example, World of Warcraft Classic could start with solely Molten Core accessible, or it could drop everything at once and let players figure it out on their own. Then there's just the matter of when World of Warcraft will launch. But everyone already knows the answer to that: when it's ready.
World of Warcraft is available now on PC, with the Battle for Azeroth expansion launching August 14.