World of Warcraft is adding official servers for this epic hardcore player-made game mode

World of Warcraft Classic
(Image credit: Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • In World of Warcraft Classic, players can experience the original three expansions from 18 years ago. 
  • WoW Classic doesn't have the same rapid seasonal content cycle as the modern verison of the game, leading to players to invent their own goals. 
  • World of Warcraft Classic "Hardcore" is an addon and Discord community game mode where players self-impose perma-death. One death, and the addon records your achievements and parses them on a leaderboard. 
  • The mode has proved so popular, that Blizzard is now even exploring adding it as an official server type in the future. 

World of Warcraft is an 18-year-old behemoth of a game, remaining the world's most popular subscription-based MMORPG. Thousands of players exist in a single server space, battling various giant monsters, dragons, and other cosmic horrors to defend the planet Azeroth and its citizens. 

The current expansion, World of Warcraft: Dragonflight, will likely be remembered as one of the game's best. Still, there are many who yearn to experience WoW as it was 18 years ago. Players were so eager to experience the original game, popular pirated servers sprang up all over the web, giving Blizzard's legal teams a headache. Eventually, they relented, and simply implemented their own version of WoW Classic. The "Classic" servers incorporate the original game, The Burning Crusade, and now, Wrath of the Lich King. WoW Classic largely follows the patch cycles of the original games, adding content every few months. However, unlike the retail version of WoW, the game remains largely static once all the content has shipped. Blizzard has attempted soft seasons for Classic, allowing players to start fresh and compete on new servers. Although, it doesn't exactly keep pace with the massive new dungeons and raids Dragonflight is getting on a speedy cadence. 

To fill in the gaps, some players have taken to creating their own game modes. The team at Classic Hardcore created an addon and a Discord community that tracks player's achievements and activities in-game, using Blizzard's addon APIs. Players can install the addon and sync it with the Discord servers. Upon death, a notification is sent out to other users of the app. Players are then held accountable to delete their characters that died, to continue participating. 

(Image credit: Windows Central)

The mode has proved popular for streaming and content creation, growing over the past year. Entire communities popped up around the mode. It's not dissimilar to hardcore in games like Diablo in essence, and creates a higher-stakes game where avoiding death becomes absolutely critical. Players in hardcore are also restricted on how they can acquire equipment to avoid over-gearing content, and also restricted on what levels they can undertake dungeons and participate in co-operative play. 

The difficulty adds a new dimension to the game, and Blizzard has taken notice. Speaking on a stream recently, Blizzard confirmed that they're working on a new season of content for WoW Classic, but also, that they plan to add official support for hardcore gameplay (via WoWhead). 

We’ve been working to bring official Hardcore Classic gameplay to WoW Classic. We’ve been very energized by the community’s enthusiasm for Hardcore, watching along with you, and doing a lot of Hardcore play ourselves. We’ll let you know much more about it soon!

Kaivax on the official WoW forums

Blizzard has explored hardcore gameplay mechanics previously in the last WoW Classic "Season of Mastery," but it sounds as though this new version will be far more robust. The latest information suggests that WoW Classic Hardcore mode will go into testing soon, and launch during the summer. Once a character dies, you will be stuck as a ghost, unable to resurrect. 

As part of this, Blizzard is adding a new dueling mechanic called Makgora, based on the in-universe battle to the death from Orcish culture. Naturally, the player who dies will also be permanently dead. WoW Classic Hardcore will also be entirely separate from the new WoW Classic Season, which will give players an opportunity to start fresh once again. 

As you can see from the video above, hardcore mode makes for some hilarious (and perhaps frustrating) situations for those participating. 

The way Blizzard has been embracing player feedback of late has been really refreshing. Even in WoW retail, the pace of updates and improvements to classes and other mechanics has been faster than I can remember, with revamps hitting underperforming specs and new systems arriving mid-season to keep the game feeling fresh. Should you play World of Warcraft in 2023? World of Warcraft is enjoying something of a renaissance right now, and it's honestly one of the perfect times to start playing. 

Jez Corden
Co-Managing Editor

Jez Corden is a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by tea. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his XB2 Podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!