Rewind to those halcyon days of 2004, when cries of “for the Horde” and “for the Alliance” were still novel, with the return of World of Warcraft Classic on August 27. Blizzard announced the release date in a lengthy news post that also spells out a range of closed beta and stress-test periods over the next three months.
This release date will place the game’s launch nearly two years after Blizzard Entertainment confirmed it would release and maintain the game’s “vanilla” version as a live service. That decision followed years of fans doing the same “behind” Blizzard’s back, though their attempt to do so was an open secret—one that Blizzard battled aggressively.
“Select WoW players will be invited” to the classic version’s first closed beta period beginning May 15, though Blizzard didn’t confirm what makes particular WoW fans more eligible than others (perhaps the ones who signed certain petitions get bumped to the front of the list). Meanwhile, players who want to participate in a later trio of stress tests, taking place this May, June, and July, can opt in by flipping a toggle in their official Blizzard accounts.
And if you can’t wait to claim your favorite consonant-filled Tauren druid name on the WoW Classic server of your choice, mark the heck out of your calendar. Blizzard will open up a WoW Classic character name sign-up process on August 13 for active subscribers to the modern version of World of Warcraft.
The project’s official 2017 announcement came with a brief WoW Classic testing period for BlizzCon attendees, which Ars can report largely resembled WoW‘s oldest version. We can’t yet confirm how many quality-of-life improvements from later versions seeped into an otherwise pre-Burning Crusade version of the Blizzard mega-hit, though.