Looking for a WoW Classic guide to get you back up to speed with the vanilla release? World of Warcraft Classic players are likely to fall into one of three categories: those that play modern Warcraft and want to revel in the nostalgia of what it was like in the old days; those that played the original game and quit somewhere along the way; and those that have never played at all.
Regardless of which group you belong to, chances are that things in WoW Classic will be very different from what you’re used to. While Warcraft shares many similarities with other MMOs – frankly, it helped set the standards for the genre, so many since have imitated its customs – it still has some of its own unique quirks that may trip up new players unfamiliar with Warcraft.
For those playing the live WoW, many customs and game systems have changed substantially over time, meaning that things don’t work exactly the way they do in modern WoW. And finally, for those who have taken a break, here’s a reminder of how to set yourself up for success in Classic.
How to get WoW Classic and how much it costs
All current World of Warcraft subscribers have access to Classic as part of their regular subscription – there is no box to buy. If you’re trying Classic for the first time, you’ll need to set up a Battle.net account and add a subscription for World of Warcraft, which costs around £10 a month. You’ll then download the Battle.net client, which in turn will allow you to install the World of Warcraft Classic client. Do that by navigating to the World of Warcraft icon on the left, then clicking the drop-down above the Install/Play button and choosing World of Warcraft Classic.
You don’t need to wait until the game launches worldwide August 27 (Monday night at 23:00 BST, locally) to install it.
Find a friend
WoW Classic monsters are hard to kill, harder than current Warcraft by a sizeable amount, and not all classes are kitted out equally to defeat them. For most damage-dealing classes, tackling more than one mob at a time means either a close call or death. For classes that are primarily healers – and there are a few that fall into that category, in Classic, including most ‘hybrid’ classes such as druids – it may mean not being able to kill mobs at all in a timely fashion.
Monster kill experience is split equally among the party, so if you invite a friend, you might think you’d only level half as fast. And it’s true, if you’re gunning for 60 as quickly as possible (check out our WoW Classic leveling guide) then bringing a friend may not be a help. But it does make it a lot more pleasant, particularly if you’re new to the game.
Having two means less down time, particularly if one is a healer. Even among damage dealers, mana-users will appreciate not having to down a potion after every single kill. The caveat is that you may have to kill extra monsters together at the end of each level, because just completing quests may not make up for the lesser experience you’re getting for each creature that dies.
If you don’t already know people who will be playing Classic, hit the forums today or your favorite social media sites, where people in a multitude of Warcraft discussions are quietly grouping up to start the leveling grind.
Pick a server
We’ve written a whole separate guide to finding the right WoW Classic servers for you and the things to consider when you pick a server, so we won’t repeat that here. A host of new EU region servers have been released since then, so if you’re not already tied to one of the full or overcrowded servers and you want to avoid queues, you might pick one of the new ones (all in English): Flamelash, Gandling, Mograine, Nethergarde Keep (the only PvP server in this list), and Razorgore.
Pick a WoW Classic faction
Warcraft is divided between the Alliance and the Horde. Whichever one you pick, your character won’t be able to group with or (generally) communicate with the other side, so it’s important to pick the same faction as your friends.
Alliance characters frequently start on the Eastern Kingdoms continent (except for night elves.) They include humans, dwarves, gnomes, and night elves, which also tend to be the ‘cute’ races. Horde characters frequently start on the continent of Kalimdor (except for the undead). They include orcs, tauren, trolls, and undead, and they tend to look more ferocious than attractive.
Pick a race and class
If you’re leveling with a friend, you’ll probably want to pick the same race. In Classic, characters of different races aren’t eligible for quests in the same zone until they escape the starting areas (and frequently the areas after that), and unlike the live game, that can take a while. If you don’t take the same race, consider one that starts in the same area or close by (dwarves and gnomes, for example, or orcs and trolls).
Next, pick the class you’d like to play. We’ve written a WoW Classic classes guide about that, too.
Starting at the beginning
If you’ve never played Warcraft, but have played other MMOs, you’ll find Classic similar. Quest givers have exclamation points over their heads. They’ll send you out to collect things or kill things, and you’ll get experience towards leveling up when you turn in the quests. The act of killing things also yields experience. Most classes only start with a single spell or two, so learning as you go is easy.
Each person or group ‘taps’ a mob when they damage it, meaning only they will get quest credit and experience when that monster dies. In Classic, ground-spawned items that you pick up for quests are also individual taps, disappearing after the first player picks them up and rarely awarding credit for the entire group.
Your map will not tell you where the things are that you have to kill, so you’ll have to read the quest text carefully, or get used to using out-of-game database sites such as Wowhead Classic. As you gain levels, you’ll want to return to your class trainer – an early quest will ask you to seek them out – to learn new and upgraded spells.
Reagents and ammunition
Some classes use reagents to cast some of their spells, and classes that use ranged weapons (including hunters, but also rogues and warriors) must purchase or make bullets or arrows using tradeskills. Reagents and ammunition are available from vendors in cities, typically, and players should stock up before leaving town – unfortunately sacrificing already-precious bag space.
Warlocks use soul shards for some of their spells, and they collect these shards by killing creatures and draining their souls as they die. Free ammo, sort of.
Finding a guild
Guilds will be slightly slower to spring up in Classic than they are in live Warcraft, in part because they’re quite expensive to set up and early players will be short on gold. Once created, guilds offer players an easier place to find groups for questing and dungeons, and a social chat channel where you can discuss what’s going on in the game. If you find players you like and they invite you to their guild, it’s worth joining for that reason. You can leave guilds at any time by typing /gquit; to join one, you must have an invitation, which will appear in the middle of your screen.
You’re given a hearthstone when you start the game, which will return you to the starting area from wherever you happen to be once an hour by right-clicking on it. You can reset your hearthstone so that instead of taking you to your race’s starting area, it teleports you to whatever area you happen to be in. Just find and speak with an innkeeper in your area to change it.
Your only other way to move quickly between areas is the Flight Master. You’ll ‘learn’ a flight point by talking to a new Flight Master once. Assuming that its flight point is connected to one you already know, you’ll then be able to fly from one point to the next. Flying takes coin, which can add up over time.
There are free boats (for Alliance) and blimps (for Horde) connecting major cities, and the Deeprun Tram also connects Stormwind and Ironforge for the Alliance. If you’re in a major city, you can talk with any guard to get directions to where you can find important people, such as innkeepers or class or profession trainers.
If you are in a rested area – typically, a capital city or an inn regardless of location – you’ll earn rested experience. This experience slowly builds up over real-world time, regardless of whether you’re logged in or logged out. It’s why you always want to log out in a rested area, because when you get back, you’ll have collected some of this bonus experience.
While rested, any monsters that you kill will give you double experience, but will drain that amount of rested xp. The bonus does not apply to quest rewards or exploration experience. If you know you want a lot of characters at 60, this makes leveling each of them a bit at a time a fairly efficient way to go; while one is playing, the others are in an inn earning rested xp.
Rested experience keeps on stacking over the course of about 12 days, to a maximum of a level and a half.
Buying and using mounts
When you hit level 40, you are eligible to train to ride a mount appropriate for your race, and to buy that mount. Mounts allow you to move faster than you could while running. At the level cap of 60, you can train and buy epic mounts, which run faster still. Both types cost a significant amount of gold, given your level, and are frequently some of the larger purchases characters make. Level 40 characters potentially sacrifice learning their spells for a few levels to make up for it.
Warlocks and Paladins get mounts from quest lines associated with their class, which are typically also not entirely free. And druids and shamans get travel forms at low levels, allowing them to run faster than normal characters but slower than mounts.
Quests in Classic WoW are centered around hubs, which can be cities or villages or even just a small collection of NPCs who happen to have gathered out in the world. You’ll typically find a collection of quests in a hub, and it’s worth checking for more each time you return to that area. Completing some quests opens up others, and unlike the live game, Classic WoW doesn’t always tell you when a new quest is available.
Not all hubs are obvious so it’s worth exploring, or opening up a zone so that its map is completely uncovered, to make sure you haven’t missed any. Quests do not show up on the world map, the way they do on live servers; instead, you’re going to be wandering around looking for NPCs with exclamation points.
The speed of leveling in WoW Classic
Leveling in WoW Classic was much faster than some of the MMOs that preceded it, but it’s still slower than modern WoW by a significant amount. We’ve written a guide with some tips for leveling quickly. What’s important to know is that it’s possible to level from 1-60 without ever having to grind, or kill random mobs, particularly if you take advantage of rested experience from time to time.
Doing WoW Classic dungeons while leveling
Unlike the modern game, there is no official ‘looking for group’ system that finds people to play with you and teleports all of you to the dungeon. Instead, you’ll look for party members in chat channels in major cities or in your guild, and you will all fly or run together to the dungeon you want to do. And you’ll all have to go there – in the early days of Classic, there will be no summoning stones at the instances themselves.
Quests for Classic dungeons come from outdoor quest lines, typically in the zones where the dungeons are located. In some later dungeons you’ll find quests inside, but that practice didn’t really begin in earnest until the LFG system was created. This means that if you want to do dungeons while leveling, you’ll often complete a zone first, then attempt to find a group for that zone’s dungeon.
If you’re new to, or jumping back into, the World of Warcraft experience, we hope this WoW Classic starter guide has been handy. Don’t forget to check out our other guides for more-specific tips on World of Warcraft Classic.