It’s almost as if we called it: World of Warcraft Classic Hardcore servers are going official. In an announcement released by Blizzard at the end of June, the company revealed the rules that will govern these new servers, with some substantial changes being made to the fan-made game mode that caught many players’ attention earlier this year.
A few months ago we looked at just what makes Classic Hardcore such a unique experience, and highlighted how fan-driven initiatives are often picked up by gaming companies to be made official, or at least by those that listen. Blizzard has done it again, but the framework will differ slightly this time around. For one, these will be standalone servers and not just an add-on for players to download. This allows for some interesting changes and more permanent-feeling consequences that the add-on itself could not provide.
Death will be truly permanent this time, with the player’s character not able to run back to their body to resurrect. The character will remain as a ghost so that one can get their “final affairs” sorted before the player will have the option to move their character to a non-hardcore realm free of charge. It’s a nice touch by Blizzard to ensure that the character themselves is not entirely lost while keeping the stakes high enough to keep the game mode interesting.
Another quality of life change that players will likely be happy about is that with the official hardcore servers, players will be able to run a dungeon more than once, unlike the rules that came with the add-on, which strictly stated each player could run any given dungeon or instance once per play-through/life. This time around, players will be timed, with the ability to run any given dungeon re-setting every 24 hours. Players will also not be limited to playing with their duo or trio either, meaning their groups can be much bigger in size.
Blizzard have also deemed it appropriate to add what they call a “duel to the death” feature, allowing players to initiate single combat. Winning one of these duels will result in the victor receiving a buff called “string of ears”. The buff will show the number of kills a given player has racked up, and there will be physical stack of ears their inventory that will account for the number shown by said buff. The buff and trophies are available only after a player reaches level 10. In addition to this, battlegrounds are completely disabled, but pre-arranged war games are available but do not yield rewards or honor. Death is of course still permanent when it comes to these “war games”.
While a full list of rules and changes is available online, Blizzard have done a comprehensive job of making this game mode feel quite high stakes and entertaining. The addition of a duel to the death feature is something that I find intriguing; It makes testing one’s prowess in PVP far more risky, even with those from your own faction. In addition, the feature to be able to run dungeons a day is also a welcome one, with player’s less limited in terms of their ability to obtain level appropriate drops and more capable of farming necessary resources for crafting and quests. That being said, it will also allow more room for error, and inevitably, perma-death as players will be able to tempt fate on more than one occasion. I for one am extremely excited to take a deeper dive into this high risk-high reward version of Azeroth that Blizzard is concocting.