Wrath of the Lich King Classic Overview: Content Highlights, Design Changes, Important Dates
This page acts as a primer covering all important information about the Wrath of the Lich King Classic branch of World of Warcraft, which released on September 26th, 2022.
Wrath of the Lich King Classic Release Dates
Wrath of the Lich King Classic released on September 26th, 2022, with its pre-patch having arrived on the weekly reset of August 30th, 2022. At this time, Fresh Realms were also made available to players. Phase 1 content will fully unlock on October 6th, 2022.
As with other branches of World of Warcraft, you only need one subscription to access all versions of the game, including Wrath of the Lich King Classic! However, for players that are interested in unique cosmetic items as well as access to a one-time character boost to Level 70, there are two separate "upgrades" of Wrath of the Lich King Classic that can be obtained:
- Northrend Heroic Upgrade, which includes
- Northrend Epic Upgrade, which includes everything in the Heroic Upgrade
in addition to
- Kalu'ak Whalebone Glider mount for all Wrath Classic characters you create
- Tuskarr Shoreglider mount for your retail mount collection
- 30 days of game time
You can learn more about these optional Upgrades and purchase them in the Blizzard store, linked below.
Wrath of the Lich King Classic is currently expected to have 5 Phases along with a pre-patch period, which will include the following content per phase:
- Phase 1 — Naxxramas, Eye of Eternity, Obsidian Sanctum;
- Phase 2 — Ulduar;
- Phase 3 — Trial of the Crusader, Onyxia's Lair, and the Argent Tournament;
- Phase 4 — Icecrown Citadel and additional Heroic Dungeons;
- Phase 5 — Ruby Sanctum.
Note that this list is tentative, being based upon the original patch structure of the expansion, and may be adjusted for Wrath of the Lich King Classic over time.
Leading up the official release of Wrath of the Lich King Classic, there was a pre-patch event. This event officially began on September 6th, 2022. During the pre-patch, players immediately had access to the Death Knight class so that they could already get them to Level 70 in time for the official launch of Phase 1 content.
Transferring TBC Classic Characters
When Wrath of the Lich King Classic launched, players with characters on existing TBC Classic realms automatically had their characters migrated into Wrath of the Lich King Classic. Unlike the transition from Vanilla Classic to The Burning Crusade Classic, there was no character clone service or any remaining "era" realms for players to stay exclusively in the old expansion.
Transferring Classic Season of Mastery Characters
In addition to TBC Classic characters automatically being migrated to Wrath of the Lich King Classic, characters currently experiencing the Season of Mastery in WoW Classic (aka "Vanilla") will be given the option to migrate their characters to Wrath of the Lich King if they so choose. This option will be available once the Season of Mastery concludes, which is set to be anywhere between October and December of 2022.
Class Balance and Development Philosophy
As with previous Classic releases, Wrath of the Lich King Classic is using the final patch of the original expansion for class balancing. In this case, classes are at the state they were in for Patch 3.4. However, other features may not be in the same state as this patch, as detailed in further sections below.
Like The Burning Crusade Classic, Blizzard is adopting a philosophy of "some changes are okay, if necessary" for Wrath of the Lich King Classic. In particular, Blizzard is aiming to limit the inclusion of features that were, in retrospect, harmful to community interactions between players. They may also choose to include some quality of life features from later releases.
New Class: Death Knight
One of the most memorable parts of the original release of Wrath of the Lich King was WoW's first new class: the Death Knight. In addition to being the first new class added since Vanilla, this class is a "hero class", meaning that freshly-created Death Knights start at Level 55 instead of Level 1, have a unique introduction to the game, and are given other small benefits such as having flight points already unlocked and a full set of level-appropriate gear.
Along with wearing Plate armor, utilizing unique weapon enchants known as Runeforges, and having access to a variety of skills — including a combat resurrection — Death Knights are capable of talenting into three specializations:
- Blood — A tank specialization harnessing Shadow magic to reduce damage taken, heal themselves, and debilitate their foes.
- Frost — A melee DPS specialization focusing on Frost damage and powerful critical strikes to obliterate their enemies.
- Unholy — A melee DPS specialization that focuses on Shadow damage, diseases, and summoning minions.
It should also be noted that unlike the original expansion, players do not need to already have a max-level character to create a Death Knight. New players can immediately make one if they so choose, though you may only have one Death Knight character per realm.
Read more about the Death Knight class on our full guides to its specializations below.
New Profession: Inscription
A new profession in Wrath of the Lich King, Inscription allows players to make pigments out of various herbs and use them to create combat-enhancing Glyphs, buff scrolls, new trinkets, and even special enchantments for shoulders!
Character Service Changes
During the original Wrath of the Lich King, players could purchase appearance changes for their character that offered more options than the in-game barbershops had at the time. In Wrath of the Lich King Classic, this service has been removed and all of its additional options have been made available through the same barbershops instead.
New to Wrath of the Lich King Classic is a character boost service, allowing you to immediately set a character's level to 70 (out of the level cap of 80). This will allow you to jump right into the leveling experience of Northrend as you explore the numerous zones of this new continent. However, Death Knight characters cannot be boosted in this way. Newly-created Death Knights do start out at Level 55 to begin with, fortunately.
Other character services, such as Race and Faction Changes, will still be included, but are not going to be available until some point after the expansion's launch. Character Transfers are immediately available, however.
As an example of the "some changes" development philosophy, PvP rating is not tied to Arena teams in Wrath of the Lich King Classic. Instead, players will make use of the individual rating system seen in later versions of the game, allowing them to more freely play with others as they climb the ranks.
As a later patch of Wrath of the Lich King allowed players to create both an Alliance and Horde character on the same PvP realm, this feature is enabled immediately in Wrath of the Lich King Classic; players may have characters from both factions on one PvP realm simultaneously.
Finally, although they were removed in the original release of Wrath of the Lich King, this time around there will still be achievements and titles rewarded through the 2v2 Arena Bracket.
Dungeon Finder Removal
Although it was a feature originally added in Wrath of the Lich King, the dungeon finder was a controversial inclusion that a number of players believed harmed the social interaction of finding their own groups for content. Blizzard agreed with this conclusion, and as such, has not put the Dungeon Finder system in Wrath of the Lich King Classic.
Raid Lockout Adjustments
Due to the tension of feeling forced to run multiple versions of the same Raid for chances at loot — a problem especially common in the Trial of the Crusader — Wrath of the Lich King Classic will be sharing some lockouts by difficulty. In other words, lockouts will be shared between Heroic and Normal versions of a raid, but NOT between 10/25-player versions of a raid. This change will only be relevant for the previously mentioned Trial of the Crusader raid, in addition to Icecrown Citadel when it is eventually released.
In addition to this change combining Normal and Heroic instances into the same raid lockout, trinkets that have both a Normal and Heroic version of themselves will no longer be simultaneously equippable. Players familiar with the modern version of World of Warcraft will recognize this change as the "Unique-Equipped" tag found on most items.
Later Phase Loot Adjustments
A new feature of Wrath of the Lich King Classic, Blizzard will be adjusting the loot tables of Heroic Dungeons and older raids to keep them compelling throughout the entirety of the expansion. What this means is that when Phase 2, containing the Ulduar raid launches, 10-player versions of Phase 1 raids — Naxxramas, Eye of Eternity, Obsidian Sanctum — will instead have the drops of their 25-player counterparts! As for the previous 10-player items, they will be moved into the loot tables of Heroic Dungeons, allowing players to more reliably catch up in gear over time while also allowing the dungeons to stay relevant long-term.
In addition to shifting old raid items into Heroic Dungeons, Blizzard is looking into adding further challenges to Heroic dungeons, with additional rewards being obtainable in the process. This will also include some form of bonus for players in the tank and healer roles that may provide access to a variety of mounts and pets.
- 27 Sep. 2022: Revised for post-launch; added Blizzard's plans for Dungeon and Raid rewards in later phases.
- 29 Aug. 2022: Updated for pre-patch.
- 13 Aug. 2022: Updated with new clarifications from Blizzard.
- 22 Apr. 2022: Page added.
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