World of Warcraft evolution guide

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Demon hunter in vanilla promotional art.

This evolution guide serves as an archive of anecdotes, trivia, and other interesting facts about the many game design shifts World of Warcraft had during the long years between its alpha stage and now. Some areas were cut before being released, game balance was completely overhauled several times, Cataclysm wiped the state clean on two continents.

The game itself started as a rescripted modification of the Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos engine,[1] and the project was already started in 1999, 3 years before the eventual release of Warcraft III itself. Before the game's release, RPG books such as Lands of Conflict had already mapped out and described part of the content that was to appear in World of Warcraft in the years after.

However, time has a tendency to warp memories and old websites can die down, and as such some of these facts can't be proven with references anymore, so take any "citation needed" statement with a grain of salt. Note that this list was compiled from the works of many persons, and each of them should be thanked for their efforts. Still, the topic is immense, and more researches/updates on this article would be warmly welcomed.

Contents

Game mechanics

Combat

While not necessarily harder, the combat system back then involved more number crunching than presently, with more secondary stats and less streamlined itemization.

Abilities

  • In vanilla, abilities originally had ranks. For example, you would have a [Life Tap] ability with up to seven ranks, each being unlocked every ten or so levels. The next rank in the ability usually consumed more mana but was also more powerful. This led some people to downrank their abilities for various reasons, such as managing aggro or preserving their mana.
  • More spells originally only worked on specific creature groups. [Exorcism] back then only worked on Undead and Demons, for example.
  • You also originally had to see a class trainer to buy your new class skills/spells. Since Mists of Pandaria they now automatically spawn in your spellbook as you level.
  • Spellcasting could be slowed down by each close-combat strike through pushback, making fighting melee enemies without kiting them hard for spellcasters. The formula was changed in Wrath of the Lich King to ignore all hits after the second one for each spellcasting.
  • The number of abilities has been steadily reduced over all the expansion packs. It wasn't rare for people before to have dozens more spells in their skill bars.
  • Prior to patch 6.0.2 there were several player disarm effects. Some were introduced back with Legion as Honor talents.

Buffs

  • You could not originally see the buffs placed on an enemy, only the debuffs placed by you or your friend. A mage could use [Detect Magic] to reveal these hidden buffs.
  • All characters (adventurers, mobs and bosses) had originally only 8 debuff slots and as such classes and items that added debuffs that were considered sub-par in effect were frowned upon. On the other hand, the slots limit made it so that the  [Disgusting Oozeling] pet enabled you to remove debuffs placed by bosses, and this originally permitted to cheese C'Thun!
  • Everyone used to have their own food for food buff. More generally, consumable buffs such as elixirs, oils, scrolls and sharpening stones used to be much more common due to the increased difficulty. There were also tons of zone-specific buffs that could be helpful.

Death

Health and mana

  • Natural regeneration for health and mana was at that time much slower and most people had to bandage, eat and drink after killing a few mobs.
    • It was originally impossible to eat and drink at the same time but this was changed in a patch after release.
  • Mana regeneration itself was affected by the five second rule until Cataclysm, which prevented a character's mana from regenerating five seconds after casting a spell. Healers often took turns at main tank healing so some could regenerate mana outside the rule.

Magic and resistance

  • In the very early days after release magic schools used to have a skill system similar to weapon skills. "Your skill in Fire has increased to 93", and so on. This was quickly removed.
  • There is an holy resistance stat, but it has been unused over the years.
  • At release [Curse of the Elements] and [Curse of Shadow] used to give negative resistance to the target you applied it to. Negative resistances also allowed negative resists. Instead of a chance of doing half damage you had a chance of doing double damage, and those could crit as well!
  • There were bosses that were completely immune to some schools of magic, and poisons. Mages had to raid Molten Core with Frost spec, and rogues lost quite a bit of DPS on poison immune bosses.
  • Before the spell power revamp for Wrath of the Lich King, some items had Spell Damage bonus on specific schools, for example + Fire Spell Damage or Nature Spell Damage.
  • Healing and Spell Damage were two separate stats. So leveling as a healing priest/paladin was a suicide.
  • You had to farm resist gear or buy sets from armor producing professions early on to survive some vanilla raid encounters. Nature resistance was notably useful between Zul'Gurub, Temple of Ahn'Qiraj and the original Naxxramas, and of course fire resistance was really valuable in Molten Core.

Mobs

  • At release mobs usually had comparatively more health and did more damage than now; you could fight a couple of them but pulling a whole group often meant death. Dungeons and elite areas usually required crowd control in order for the adventurers not to be overwhelmed.
  • Vanilla World of Warcraft was fond of adding elite level 60 mobs surrounded by bodyguards at the end of some quest chains, like the Twilight Prophet, Demetria and the Crimson Courier.
  • Though they still do in vanilla zones, mobs had the tendency back then to flee when low on health. While the idea may sound more player-friendly than a mob fighting to the death entirely, the fact is that these fleeing mobs often aggroed new enemies toward the player while running, making closed areas like caves and buildings harder.
  • Many elite areas previously existed until they got removed in patch 2.3.0. Andorhal, Hive'Regal, Tyr's Hand were among them, and after the patch the mobs inside these areas lost their elite status. Other elite mobs in normal areas, such as Mor'Ladim and the Sons of Arugal, were eventually nerfed as well.
  • Up until a later patch of The Burning Crusade, most mobs in front of dungeon entrances were actually elite as well. Getting inside a dungeon was already a task in itself.

Weapon skills

Inventory

During the early years of the game, inventory space was much more limited than now.

  • During the alpha, there were four trinket slots.
  • There were originally equipment slots for ammunition and thrown weapons, as well as slots for ranged weapons (bows, guns, wands).
  • The durability and repair bills difference between plate gear and cloth was much bigger.
  • Relics were introduced late in vanilla and later also removed.
  • Since classes like hunters, rogues and warriors could equip both ranged and melee weapons, there were some unusual weapons that could be found, like guns made for tanking warriors which had a huge stamina bonus. Relics were actually created in order to fix this imbalance between classes.
  • There were more combat statistics in the paper doll, such as armor penetration, parry rating, dodge rating, hit rating, spell power and expertise. When these statistics were removed from the game they were also removed from the items carrying them.
  • Keys were given a unique keyring bag in patch 1.11.0. The keyring and most keys were removed with patch 4.2.0.
  • Inventory space problems were extremely common in the early years of the game. Many items stacked by 5 instead of 20. Some professions already had their own bags in vanilla, but the concept was generalized to every profession in The Burning Crusade with toolboxes, mining bags and so on.
  • Mounts and Pets had to be carried in the inventory until Wrath of the Lich King. While they became learn-able spells, they weren't shared by all characters on the account.
  • The Collections tab was only introduced in Mists of Pandaria which included the previous mount and pet collections and also added toys which were still in carried in the inventory until them. The mounts, pets and toys also became shared between characters in this new system.
  • Up until Warlords of Draenor, quest items also had to be carried in the inventory. Currently most quest items no longer take up space in the inventory and can be accessed through the Quest Log instead.
  • The paper doll was updated in Legion to display much more streamlined information about a character's statistics.
  • Patch 7.3.5 increases the size of the initial backpack by 4 if you have an Blizzard Authenticator and SMS Protect added to your account.

Miscellaneous

At release, many "quality of life" features were yet to be implemented.

Achievements

Auction houses

  • During the beta, each major city had its own special auction house but due to technical reasons they weren't linked, instead of all of them being linked like today.
  • For the release, Blizzard decided to consolidate them: the only Alliance auction house was now in Ironforge, the only Horde one was now in Orgrimmar, and the only neutral one was in Gadgetzan.
  • In patch 1.9.0 Blizzard introduced the linked auction houses feature. All the capitals got back their auctioneers, but their item pools were still separated by factions. It wasn't until patch 6.0.2 that all of them were finally merged together.

Bank

Companions

Fashion

  • The dressing room was added in patch 1.7.0.
  • Even though the problem was already noticeable in vanilla, the gear in The Burning Crusade was often so mismatched in design that it led to the rise of the infamous clownsuits. Because of this, the leveling gear in Wrath of the Lich King was made with closer thematic design and muted color scheme.
  • Transmogrification itself was added in patch 4.3.0. It was then only in patch 5.3.0 that you could use items that are in the bank or Void Storage for transmogrification.
  • Up until patch 7.0.3 hiding your helmet and cloak was a game parameter, not a part of the transmogrification system. Patch 7.1.0 also introduced the ability to hide your Waist, Shirt and Tabard slots.
  • The Wardrobe was only introduced in Legion as well.

Flight paths

  • Green exclamation points showing a new flight master is nearby was only added in patch 2.3.0.
  • Flight paths were originally not connected, so you needed to pick the next stop each time you landed.
  • The flying mounts in mainland Quel'Thalas were giant bats instead of dragonhawks until patch 2.4.3.
  • Between patch 4.1.0 and 5.2.0, most flight paths were learned automatically when a character became the appropriate level to use them, but it was removed to encourage exploration.

Looting

  • You originally had to loot each mob manually instead of being able to loot all mobs at once in a radius like currently.
  • Looting a chest or a boss originally did not bring up the loot roll box when in a group and people used to /roll manually for the rights to one, though this was later changed since it was possible to ninja loot items when other members of a party needed them more.
  • Until loot rolling became restricted on class and specialization, it was very common for hunters to roll on everything because they were the class which could use the greatest variety of gear.
  • The UI couldn't originally tell to other players who was able to loot each mobs, so this led to many "Loot the core hounds!"-like yells.
  • Personal loot didn't exist until Mists of Pandaria.

Mail

Swimming

  • The breath timer was originally one minute instead of three. Quests that required you to go underwater didn't gave you water-breathing buffs as well.
  • Forsaken players originally had no breath meter, then they got one again but longer than other races, and [Touch of the Grave] eventually gave them back unlimited breath.

Quests

Quest design was less streamlined and cinematic than currently due to the lack of phasing and scenarios. The adventurers were originally treated more like anonymous mercenaries by NPCs, it was only in Wrath of the Lich King that they started to be recognized for their deeds. Cataclysm completely revamped the quests of the two original continents in order to bring them more in line with modern quest design.

  • Available quests were originally not marked on the minimap, as such, some quests remained largely hidden to many people.
  • Quest objects originally did not sparkle and had no specific outlines. There was also no quest markers, and it was very difficult to find some things like Mankrik's Wife without using an addon or an external map.
  • At release all classes had class-specific quests which rewarded certain important abilities and items, some of them requiring the player to travel to multiple very distant zones:
  • One particularly exotic quest was the H [30] Test of Lore, which if failed gave the [Mark of Shame] debuff. This made everyone in the Horde hostile to you, and some people used it to raid their own faction leaders and kill them.
  • There were originally no daily, weekly or world quests. However, there were originally much more group quests until Cataclysm removed most of them. Several of them were difficult escort quests. Before the mechanics of phasing and generic names were introduced, quests in which events (such as the aforementioned NPC escorts) had to happen often made the original NPCs temporarily disappear, and for example you had to wait until another played had finished his escort quest to start your own.

Riding

Mounts were originally handled by players in a more "personal" way, mainly because they were rarer and harder to acquire. Players usually kept to one mount and for a long time.

  • Originally, mounts were items carried around in your bag. They were also deletable.
  • There were no mounts until level 40, and they were also much more expensive. The level 40 mount cost 100g, and the 60 one cost 1000g. This was later changed so that the training instead inherited the costs, and mounts became much cheaper. Back then however, the prices were subject to faction discounts.
  • Normal mounts and epic mounts were strictly separated. Normal mounts always had a +60% speed bonus, and epic mounts always had a +100% speed bonus. This was later changed so that any mount had the maximum speed bonus enabled by your Riding skill.
  • Mounts used to have 3 second cast time prior to patch 3.2.0.
  • Players were originally always dismounted when touching any water. This was later changed in The Burning Crusade to dismounting you when you got so far in the water you started swimming, but it was still problematic for gnomes, who were easily dismounted by the shallow waters of Zangarmarsh and the Swamp of Sorrows. Now mounts can simply swim.
  • Back then almost everyone had a  [Carrot on a Stick], especially since good trinkets were rare when leveling up.
  • Flying mounts were introduced in The Burning Crusade with flying only enabled in Outland. As part of the revamping of old zones in Cataclysm, flying was enabled in the Eastern Kingdoms and Kalimdor. Blizzard intended to remove flying for new content starting with Warlords of Draenor, but this led to a huge outcry on the forums and flying was brought back through [Draenor Pathfinder], which was implemented at a last minute. Legion followed up on that with [Broken Isles Pathfinder, Part Two], which was this time integrated in a more preventive way.
  • [Cloud Serpent Riding] was also originally required in order to ride cloud serpents. This skill was learned per-character, rather than account-wide, so characters who acquired a cloud serpent mount on another character still needed to reach exalted on their alt to use the mounts.
  • The  [Reins of the Grove Warden] could be obtained only by killing Archimonde on Heroic or Mythic difficulty and loot the  [Remnant of Chaos] prior to the release of the Legion expansion. It was a big hint to the coming Emerald Nightmare storyline. Similarly, the  [Kirin Tor Summoning Crystal] could be obtained only by killing Argus the Unmaker on Heroic or Mythic difficulty and loot  [Blood of the Unmaker] while Antorus, the Burning Throne was current. This served as a preview of the incoming focus on Azeroth's blood.
  • Patch 7.3.5 eventually removed the need for any zone-specific flying licenses with its leveling overhaul, but the Pathfinder achievements are still required for their related continents.

Time and monetary investment

At release it usually took much longer to do things compared to now. Leveling up was longer, reputation grinding was harder, money was sparser.

Experience

Money

  • At release money was much less abundant than now, and as such gold sinks were rather different. As an example, it was almost universally impossible to immediately buy a new mount when you reached the required level cap if you were playing alone.

Specialization

  • At release you could respec your character for a monetary fee, but each time you respecced, the fee would become bigger and bigger, until it became capped to a 50g limit in a patch.
  • Dual speccing was introduced in Wrath of the Lich King to help with this problem, until Legion finally permitted players to freely switch between all their specializations.

User interface

Alpha user interface.

While already customizable, at release the UI lacked several features that now seem essential:

  • There were no additional skill bars, you had just the main skill bar and you had to flip pages. You had to use an addon to have more bars, before Blizzard added it.
  • There were no built-in Raid Frames, so the only way to see it was to use CTMod.
  • Some raid additions such as /raidwarning, the ability to mark mobs and Threat Meters (wait three Sunder Armor) were only available with specific addons, before Blizzard added them into the game themselves.
  • Originally it was only possible to inspect someone's gear, not his abilities, and the range to do so was about 10 yards. When people in epic gear stood in a capital city, there would be dozens of people around inspecting him. Since it was impossible to tell, many healers were also healing in a DPS spec to avoid respec bills.
  • All interactable NPCs, such as vendors, used to have flavor text in their dialogue window that you had to click through to get to their function. It even varied due to holidays. For NPCs with only one thing to say, this was hidden for convenience in Wrath of the Lich King, but the flavor text is still being added (an example being Tradesman Portanuus in alternate Nagrand) in the game. NPCs with at least two dialogue options still have their flavor text. You can see hidden flavor text by entering a script line in the chat panel.
  • Up until Cataclysm, you could only use a single type of tracking (like [Find Herbs]) at a time.
  • Patch 4.2.0 introduced the Dungeon Journal, which was later revamped into the Adventure Guide in patch 6.2.0 to cover more than just dungeons.
  • The What's New window was added with Warlords of Draenor.

Social

  • It was originally envisioned by Blizzard that you could learn the language of other races, though not easily.[2]
  • The in-game Calendar was introduced in Wrath of the Lich King.
  • Real ID and cross-game chat using Battle.net was only introduced in patch 3.3.5. BattleTags were introduced in Patch 5.0.4 and the ability to appear offline in Battle.net was finally added in October 2017.
  • Before Cataclysm, guild management was very bare-bone. No news feed, upcoming events, ability to search from the professions, etc. You also needed ten signatures to create a guild instead of five. The expansion pack also added guild advancement, which could reward many different guild perks as you leveled the guild up. Because of this, many smaller guilds had to disband, and alts were constantly bombarded with guild invites, so Warlords of Draenor removed guild advancement and trimmed down guild perks.

World content

  • There were originally no phasing, cross-realm dungeons/zones/battlegrounds, scenarios or sharding. If someone of the same server was in the same region as you, you were able to see him, and likewise, you could only see people of your servers running around. Because of this, worldwide content like bosses and events were more common, leading to massive instability and/or chaos in some cases.
  • Blizzard started adding cross-server content with the battlegroups in patch 1.12.0. They were groups of realms whose players could face each other in Player vs. Player matches. Battlegroups were eventually phased out so players from any realms in the same continental zone could play with each others.

World bosses

World events

Races

Highvale Ranger original model.

Common

  • Some jokes were removed from the game for various reasons.
  • In vanilla many heroes who are now unique had generic models, like Sylvanas Windrunner who used a pale night elf model, Anduin Wrynn who had a plain child model, or Magni Bronzebeard and Tyrande Whisperwind who didn't had really distinguishing features. Some others had at least some small unique thing, like how Thrall had a unique blue-eyed face or Cairne Bloodhoof wielded a totem.
  • Dance studios were originally announced content for Wrath of the Lich King. Years later BlizzCon footage showed a "Dance Studio" listed among the available small buildings for garrisons, however this was just a joke.[3] The Auction House Dance Party, likely inspired by the Dance Studio idea, was eventually added in Patch 7.2.5.
  • Before most of the playable races were finally updated in Warlords of Draenor, there were already some attempts at high-resolution models for some unique characters. Jaina Proudmoore, Thrall and Garrosh Hellscream notably went through three different models each.
  • Even after the new player models were added, it is still possible to switch back to the old ones through a graphical option. Since Legion, however, even when the old models are activated, blood elves and night elves will still be the new models, because of the modifications required for the inclusion of demon hunters.
  • In Legion Blizzard started adding unique combat animations to classes. Before the update, for example, all orcs would use the same melee animations, but now an orcish warrior and rogue each have some different animations. These animations are made by classes, meaning a night elf rogue will also use some of the same animations as the orc one. Patch 7.3.0 also added unique "ready" stances for casters, when before that casters went back to their "idle" stances after launching a spell.[4]
  • It is also in Legion that headtracking was added, meaning your character will try to look in the same direction as your current target.
  • Before Battle for Azeroth, each race had a unique silhouette that let it be recognized even when wearing full armor. With the introduction of allied races, however, the idea of having a unique silhouette per race was abandoned.

Blood elves

  • Many high elf and blood elf NPCs already existed at release, but they had different models, based on the ones night elves used instead.
  • In the The Burning Crusade alpha, they were known to speak Sindassi instead of Thalassian.
  • In the beta, the new blood elf models were still somewhat based on the night elf ones. Males were notably slimmer, and even today the Silvermoon City Guardians still use their model. Both male and females also had a different dance, based on the one in Pulp Fiction.[5]
  • At the release of the expansion pack blood elves had a racial ability called [Mana Tap] which drained a small amount of enemy's mana and "energized" the player. It could stack up to 3 times and when using [Arcane Torrent] it would restore mana depending on the number of stacks. In Wrath of the Lich King it was removed and Arcane Torrent was given a flat mana restore.
  • Up until Cataclysm they couldn't be warriors, the only race which didn't have the possibility because at release they already had access to six classes.

Draenei

  • Since the wait for the draenei race announcement was so long, Blizzard joked about wisps being the new Alliance race. The draenei leaked a few days before being actually finally announced, and their strange appearance led to some people thinking that they were wisps which had somehow possessed eredar bodies.
  • There exists unfinished assets for female Broken.

Dwarves

  • In the original alpha, dwarves could already be mages (Dorfus Alphamage is a reference to that).[6]
  • In the alpha, several NPC models that didn't use the standard dwarf model were created. Some examples of these models are still used, like Yarley.
  • At release, dwarves couldn't be warlocks, shamans or mages, possibilities only introduced in Cataclysm.

Forest trolls

  • Their original models were originally just reskinned jungle trolls, but they were updated in The Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King.

Forsaken

  • In the alpha they were simply known as "Undead" instead of "Forsaken".[6]
  • They were originally Undead instead of Humanoids, so they could be targeted by [Exorcism] and other such spells, back when it only worked on Undead and Demons.
  • Before the introduction of Gutterspeak in the beta, they were able to speak Common.
  • In order to represent the political tensions within the Horde the Forsaken originally started neutral instead of friendly with the other races of the faction. The blood elves broke that rule because of their shared friendship, and the goblins and pandaren also later ignored it.
  • Up until Cataclysm they couldn't be hunters.

Gnomes

  • Gnomes were made playable late in the development of the vanilla alpha.[1] This is why they didn't appear in the original cinematic and had their capital city lost to Sicco Thermaplugg.
  • Their associated reputation was originally called "Gnomeregan Exiles".
  • Up until Cataclysm they couldn't be priests, and up until Legion they couldn't be hunters.

Goblins

  • Many goblin NPCs already existed at release but they had different models. Both their male and female models could already be equipped with many different armors and weapons however.
  • Their addition as the next Horde race was leaked by Hallow's End masks.[7]

Humans

Jungle trolls

  • Trolls were made playable late in the development of the vanilla alpha.[1] This is why they didn't appear in the original cinematic and had their capital city lost to Zalazane. In the alpha they were also simply known as "trolls" instead of "jungle trolls".[6]
  • Jungle trolls couldn't originally become mage in the alpha, but this was changed in order to balance the number of available classes within the Horde.
  • The female trolls were notorious for having been revamped between alpha and beta - they originally looked much more feral and were slouched like their male counterparts.[1]
  • Up until Cataclysm they couldn't be druids or warlocks.

Night elves

  • Up until Cataclysm they couldn't be mages.

Ogres

  • Their original model looked chubbier and slightly more inane, but they were updated a few months after release. Since then, new ogre models were created or updated in several of the following expansion packs.
  • They were announced as a joke race in 2004. The way Cho'gall is played in Heroes of the Storm is reminiscent of that joke.

Orcs

  • There exists unfinished assets for female fel orcs.
  • Up until Cataclysm they couldn't be mages.

Others

Pandaren

Pandaren "leak"
  • Originally the two The Burning Crusade races were supposed to be blood elf and pandaren. Blizzard eventually decided to scrap the idea because they thought it didn't really fit the concept of the expansion pack. This is why the The Burning Crusade announcement trailer only mentions blood elves and it took 6-7 months after BlizzCon to announce the draenei. See also History of pandaren in Warcraft.

Tauren

Worgen

Zandalari trolls

Classes

Common

  • Class design and raid balance was rather different than today. Mostly only warriors could tank, priests were by far the best healers, druids were there to innervate the priests, shamans were used mostly as out of combat ressers, and paladins were usually busy rebuffing the raid with 5 minute blessings. Hybrid classes usually dealt about 50% less damage than pure classes, and their itemization was quite strange. Paladins/druids/shamans had all stats on their gear, and rogues, warriors and some other classes also sometimes had spirit on theirs because it used to increase procs per minute.
  • Some classes didn't have any interrupt, or any crowd control, or any group buff, etc. In the same way, lots of classes, especially pure DPS, didn't have a single healing ability. Now almost every class has the same set of interrupt/CC/heal/group buff.
  • Spellcasting classes used wands much more regularly in order to let their mana replenish during fights and to not over-aggro. Some talent trees had talents that improved wand damage. However, there was originally no auto-shooting for wands, and you had to click each time you wanted to hit.
  • Talent trees existed.
  • The training dummies existed in the game since release, but they were made usable (targetable) only in Wrath of the Lich King.
  • While leveling on Draenor during Warlords of Draenor, players would unlock Draenor Perks every other level. In the test phases, you would unlock these perks every level, meaning the list of perks was even longer.

Death knights

The rune system's special frame.
  • The original concept for making a death knight was to have the player sacrifice a pre-existing high-level character in order to create the death knight.[8] The cut quest N [80] Kanrethad's Quest is presumably a remnant of that old quest chain.
  • Their rune system was originally intended to have a special frame but this never made it to live.
  • At release:
    • One could only roll a death knight if they already had a level 55 character or higher on that realm.
    • Death knights had access to three different presences that made them adaptable to different situations, regardless of their specialization: [Blood Presence], [Frost Presence] and [Unholy Presence].
    • They also had runes of different types: two blood, two frost, and two unholy. Depleted runes could become death runes under certain circumstances such as specific talents; death runes counted as any type of rune (blood, frost and unholy at the same time). For example, frost spells such as [Chains of Ice] required frost runes.
    • [Raise Ally] raised fallen allies as ghouls for a limited time and they gained new abilities.
    • Frost death knights were tanks. Blood was usually used during leveling as it provided sustained survivability, but was also used for tanking. Unholy has always been a pure DPS spec.
  • In Legion, the three presences were removed, as well as the rune types.

Demon hunters

  • A demon hunter was featured in Vanilla promotional art.
  • The addition of Telarius Voidstrider as early as Cataclysm could've been an early hint at the coming of playable demon hunters, but  [Writings of the Dark Herald] shows that the story for them might have originally been intended to be different.

Druids

  • They were intended to be able to shapeshift into storm crows as early as during the alpha. They were also apparently meant to transform into nightsabers,[6] and rabbits as a scout form.[2]
  • Druids had to leave their feral forms for several actions: drink potions, use trinkets, talk to NPCs, etc. They also couldn't cast for a few seconds after leaving a form, there was a talent to allow that. They could also not change freely between forms, but had to return to their humanoid form first.
  • Many of their spells originally did not function indoors, such as [Travel Form] and [Entangling Roots].
  • Balance druids would get mana back by hitting enemies with melee attacks, based on their attack power. As such, it was an effective tactic to bring a feral staff such as  [Terestian's Stranglestaff] (back when it increased attack power in cat, bear and moonkin form) during raids. Half a minute of meleeing would usually be enough to regen to full mana, allowing the druid's [Innervate] to be used on a healer.
  • In The Burning Crusade, they had a long questline to acquire [Swift Flight Form].
  • [Incarnation: Tree of Life] was originally a permanent form up until Cataclysm.
  • Up until Mists of Pandaria, the Travel Form transformed you into a cheetah instead of a stag.
  • Up until Legion, [Travel Form] was actually four different spells: Travel Form, [Aquatic Form], [Flight Form] and [Swift Flight Form].

Hunters

Before release
  • The Survival talent tree was named "Outdoormanship" at some point. Marksmanship talent tree had a different name as well – "Ranged Combat".
  • [Feign Death] was originally a rogue/druid ability.
  • Hunters were already using focus as their resource system, but it regenerated while standing still, and was very overpowered so they gave them mana instead.
Vanilla
  • Several of their abilities depended on Spell Damage, like [Arcane Shot], and once a hunter even stacked Spell Damage gear for [Mend Pet] and soloed Azuregos.
    • Hunters would usually go out of mana after 3 shots, so they were mostly auto-shooting in PvP. However in PvE, one could [Feign Death] + drink/swap gear.
  • Survival was already the "melee" tree and had a Lacerate ability which dealt less than 100 damage at level 60.
  • Pets originally functioned very differently than now:
    • Hunters started without pets, and gained their first one only after a low-level quest.
    • Pets had to be leveled. If a level 60 hunter tamed a level 20 pet, the pet would remain level 20 instead of jumping to 55.
    • Pets had an happiness and loyalty system before patch 3.0.2. If pets were not treated properly or dismissed too often, before the loyalty level had been raised, the pet might disobey orders or even run off. Feeding the right food to the pet was a good way to keep it happy and thus to gradually increase its loyalty level.
    • Pets also had training points. The higher level your pet, the more it had. You had to tame a pet with a certain rank of a certain skill, let it fight until you learned the skill from the pet, then use skill points to teach that skill for another pet. You had to repeat this process for each rank of each pet ability. This system was replaced by the pet talents in Wrath of the Lich King, which itself was later cut and merged into specialization-specific pet abilities.
    • Before hunter pets were normalized, all pets had different stats and attack speed. There was a rare cat mob in the Badlands called Broken Tooth which could be tamed by hunters. He was considered the ultimate hunter pet, because he had a 1.0 attack speed (before buffs), which made him a true nightmare for casters.
    • Hunter pets didn't scale with any stats of their masters at all.
    • If you were riding a mount, your pet would be running alongside you, and when you entered combat its speed would drop to normal speed, often leaving it behind and making it despawn. When The Burning Crusade first came out, you'd get on a flying mount and your pet would follow you through whatever mobs were in the path until it died.
    • Pets didn't automatically go behind a boss, leading to parry-haste, loss of DPS, or hunters whining at tanks over boss positioning.
    • Stable masters could originally stable only three pets.
  • Hunters couldn't lay traps in combat. It was changed in The Burning Crusade so you could do it, but with 2 second cast time.
  • Hunters had a dead zone under which they could no longer shoot at enemies.
  • Ranged weapons used ammunition, which had charges. Some ammunition were more powerful than others. To help with inventory problems, quivers and ammo pouches also existed, and some of them were even able to increase ranged attack speed.
  • They originally didn't have their ranged weapons displayed on their back, only their melee weapons.

Mages

Monks

Paladins

  • At release were originally Alliance-only, being restricted to human and dwarves.
  • Paladin blessings lasted 5 minutes. So by the time you buffed 40 raid members, the first ones you buffed would have 2-3 minutes left on their blessings. Paladins were essentially just rebuffing the raid all the time, so their length was extended and greater blessings were created.
  • When they started, paladins could wear mail armor but only gained access to plate armor after reaching level 40. For years the Protection and Retribution skills also scaled with spell power rather than Strength.
  • Had a long questline to acquire [Summon Charger]. Since it was a spell instead of a normal mount, it used to cost mana to summon.

Priests

  • During the early beta, [Inner Fire] could be cast on other people like in Warcraft III. It was later changed to be a self buff but even until patch 1.10.0 it kept an attack power bonus that was useless to priests.
    • Rumors are that the Discipline tree was originally supposed to be a melee tree, similar to how the shaman Enhancement tree originally had tanking abilities. This may explain why there were several old-school monks and mace-wielding priests among the ranks of the Scarlet Crusade at the time.
  • At release priests had racial spells, but some of them were turned into baseline priest spells and some others removed. Being a level 60 dwarf priest often meant instant raid spot because of [Fear Ward], no matter what your gear was.
  • Had a long questline to acquire  [Benediction] and  [Anathema].
  • During the early The Burning Crusade beta it seems priests were meant to be able to chose a Champion among their fellow players.
  • They originally had [Mind Soothe] in addition to [Mind Control].

Rogues

Shamans

  • At release were originally Horde-only, being restricted to orcs, trolls and tauren.
  • Shamans had a talent in the Enhancement tree that allowed them to equip two-handed axes and maces, but each time they did a talent respec from Enhancement they lost all weapon skills for them.
  • The Enhancement tree also had a couple of tanking talents/spells, although they were eventually nerfed and later patched out.
  • Totems played differently than now. There were many more totems, many of which were eventually merged, and there was no adapted UI to handle them. They eventually got a Totem Bar but lost it after. Shamans also had to physically carry the totems themselves in their bags until special relic totems were created.
  • When they started, shamans could wear leather armor but only gained access to mail armor after reaching level 40.
  • Shamans had weapon enhancements such as [Flametongue Weapon], [Rockbiter Weapon] and [Windfury Weapon].

Warlocks

Release succubus, updated a few months later.
  • In the alpha and early beta warlocks could wear leather armor. Since the original firestones also gave additional fire melee damages, this hints that warlocks may have originally been though of as a melee caster class.
  • Soul shards were originally items that had to be farmed by draining the soul of experience or honor-giving mobs. As such, when casting [Detect Invisibility] in the Ruins of Lordaeron or Raven Hill in Duskwood, warlocks could reveal passive and invisible level 50ish mobs so that they could quickly farm shards without having to go in a high-level zone.
    • Soul shards were required for many things: summoning your minion, summoning an  [Healthstone], summoning a player, etc.
    • Since they didn't stack, to help with inventory problems, soul bags existed, and soul shards were automatically placed in the bag when acquired.
  • Minions originally functioned differently than now:
    • Warlocks started without imps, and gained them only after a low-level quest.
    • Minions didn't scale with any stats of their masters at all.
    • If you were riding a mount, your minion would be running alongside you, and when you entered combat its speed would drop to normal speed, often leaving it behind and making it despawn. When The Burning Crusade first came out, you'd get on a flying mount and your minion would follow you through whatever mobs were in the path until it died.
    • Melee minions didn't automatically go behind a boss, leading to parry-haste, loss of DPS, or warlocks whining at tanks over boss positioning.
    • Warlocks had to upgrade their minion skills by buying grimoires at special demon trainers.
    • Soul shards were required to summon them.
    • Succubus minions used to have less clothes, but they added more in patch 1.4.0.
    • Infernal minions were originally summoned by [Inferno], which consumed an  [Infernal Stone] and was gained after a quest or a rare book drop. The infernal was much tougher and had to be enslaved before killing everyone, and even after that it was guaranteed to break the enslavement at some point and attack the group.
    • Doomguard minions were originally summoned by [Ritual of Doom], which required a whole party and killed one of the participants in the ritual, and was gained after a quest or a rare book drop. Like for internals, the doomguard was very strong and had to be enslaved quickly.
  •  [Healthstone] could be improved through talents, and if you had three different warlocks with three different ranks, you could have up to three healthstones in your inventory. Before the [Create Soulwell] spell was added in The Burning Crusade warlocks had to summon healthstones individually for each person.
  • Had a long questline to acquire a [Dreadsteed]. Since it was a spell instead of a normal mount, it used to cost mana to summon.
  • [Ritual of Summoning] didn't create a Meeting Stone-like portal, it was used to summon individual players. Warlocks sometimes had to farm up to 30 soul shards to summon a whole raid.
  • [Hellfire] was originally able to kill you, and it was common for warlocks to kill themselves that way in case of a wipe rather than lose durability.

Warriors

  • In the beta, warriors had a talent called Combat Endurance which allowed a percentage of health regeneration to happen in combat and which was based on their spirit.
  • When they started, warriors could wear mail armor but only gained access to plate armor after reaching level 40.
  • In vanilla it was somewhat-accepted for Fury warriors to wear some mail and leather pieces in order to maximize their DPS.

Professions

Torches and Survival Skills.

Common

  • Back in vanilla, a level 1 character could have maxed professions.
  • You used to be able to fail at the gathering professions. For example, you could try to pick an high-level herb but after the cast finished you would "fail" and would have to try again. As such, it was necessary to level up your gathering professions before getting to the next zone.
  • Some professions required ingredients that were way more exotic than now, for example  [Red Whelp Scale] which only dropped from a single type of mob in the world. Other examples are  [Blood of Heroes],  [Righteous Orb],  [Larval Acid], and  [Pristine Black Diamond]. Many recipes also required more crafting materials than today.
  • There were originally several more crafting specializations, for example you could be a dragonscale leatherworker, a hammersmith (which would grant you an upgradable forged weapon like  [Thunder]), a mooncloth tailor, and so on. These specializations were often associated to special quests and out of the way trainers. Alchemy specializations and Engineering specializations are still in place, however they are not updated much anymore and it is easier to switch between them than before.
  • Until The Burning Crusade the discovery mechanic didn't exist, you had to get all of your recipes at vendors, trainers or as drops, some of them being more or less rare: some recipes and patterns were limited to the Alliance or Horde, others could only be bought in limited quantities to out-of-the-way merchants, etc.
  • Profession trainers originally greatly varied in skills. Trainers in low-level zones would generally only teach up to the Journeyman rank, and the highest-level trainers would sometimes hide in instances or secluded areas of high-level zones. When The Burning Crusade was released Master trainers only existed in Outland. Patch 2.3.0 made it so that all primary profession trainers outside of capitals were changed to train up to Artisan level in their respective professions. Patch 4.0.1 later made it so that many profession trainers in capitals now train professions up to Grand Master. This was accompanied by a shuffling around of who taught what at each level, and most crafting shops now had a single trainer surrounded by apprentices instead of having a Journeyman trainer, then an Expert, then an Artisan... The shuffling around wasn't always logical though, as was the case of Nogg who was retrograded to an <Apprentice Engineer> when he is the owner of the shop, or Rotgath Stonebeard who is now still an Apprentice despite having dedicated his whole life to blacksmithing.
  • Starting with Wrath of the Lich King, gathering professions now gave buffs like [Toughness], [Master of Anatomy] and [Lifeblood]. These buffs were later removed for balance reasons, but [Cloth Scavenging] was kept. Some crafting professions also had unique bonuses during that time, like how leatherworkers could make Fur Linings.
  • Before the Reagent Bank was added in Warlords of Draenor, many reagents only stacked to 5, 10 and 20. You also needed the required ingredients to actually be in your bag in order to craft something.
  • In Battle for Azeroth professions will be split into expansion-themed categories, which means you won't have to grind Grand Master (Wrath of the Lich King) to be able to work on Illustrious Grand Master (Cataclysm), and so on.

Alchemy

Archaeology

Blacksmithing

Cooking

Enchanting

Engineering

First Aid

Fishing

Herbalism

  • Herbalism was originally one of the only gathering professions to not require a special tool (for example, a  [Mining Pick]). When these special tools were converted into skill-boosting items, the  [Herbalist's Spade] item was added in order to keep the profession on the level.

Inscription

Jewelcrafting

  • Jewelcrafters could originally create  [Mercurial Adamantite] only at an Alchemy Lab. Since the profession was introduced in The Burning Crusade, at that point of time the task was already made easier because of the Alchemy Lab in Shattrath City.
  • They also needed a  [Simple Grinder] for many of their best items, a requirement that was removed since even if a  [Jeweler's Kit] is still required.

Leatherworking

Mining

  •  [Mining Pick] were originally required to mine.
  • Mining took more than one cast to pick up everything from a node, but still only gave one skill per node.

Skinning

Survival Skills

  • During the alpha this was a profession used for making campfires (in basic and bright varieties) and torches. These torches were used for scouting - the graphical engine was a bit different, and darker area such as Duskwood were really "dark". Torches were used to increase visibility in those darker areas. Many NPCs in Duskwood still hold torches in their hands.
    • Up until Cataclysm, nights were darker than now, even if they were still brighter than during the aforementioned alpha stage.
    • The  [Inky Black Potion] introduced in patch 7.2.0 can bring back darker nights!

Tailoring

Items

Zones and storylines

Common (zones)

  • It was originally envisioned by Blizzard that using boats and zeppelins would have no instantaneous transportation or loading screens. Instead, there was supposed to be random attacks (by harpies, pirates, etc.) or minigames such as gambling in order to not get bored.[2]
  • Before release, boats and zeppelins were very unstable and buggy, so they disabled them for a short time until they fixed it. Blizzard added NPCs called Captain Placeholder and Captain Noteo which teleported players for some money. Captain Placeholder has since made several comebacks.
    • Boats and zeppelins originally had no crews or vendors, and even when they were added they had to be removed again due to instabilities.
  • At release, most zones had only one graveyard and one flight path.
  • Class trainers and profession trainers were originally placed with lore in mind rather than practicality. For example, at release the only engineering trainer in the whole of Mulgore was originally a goblin called Twizwick Sprocketgrind, located in a mine at a very distant spot, unlikely to be found by any new player without help. Similarly, there were originally very few druid trainers in the Eastern Kingdoms and very few paladin trainers in Kalimdor.
  • There were originally no guards at neutral cities, so most of them were slaughter fests.
  • Before Cataclysm many zones had a different level range and had different storylines than now. Since flying was unimplemented, many unfinished areas were also off-limits and were protected by Guardians of Blizzard, but that didn't stop people exploring by doing "wall jumping".
  • There still exists several inaccessible zones, such as Programmer Isle, Designer Island, and GM Island.
  • The Blue Child was missing from patch 1.10.0 to 5.0.4.
  • Weather effects were added in patch 1.10.0.
  • Before, Blizzard took more care in keeping coherent the appearance of various NPCs and quests. For example, when Rexxar moved to Outland, he was replaced by Rokaro, an entirely new character who assumed his previous role in order for Rexxar to be only at one place at a time. Similarly, despite its lore importance, the quest where Thrall first heard of the Mag'har was cut out when he left Orgrimmar to become a shaman. Nowadays it's possible for Thrall to ask High Overlord Saurfang to welcome the Bilgewater goblins despite it happening three warchiefs ago.

Common (dungeons and raids)

Caer Darrow during the alpha.
  • During the alpha, all instance portals used a Dark Portal model as a placeholder. There was one Dark Portal in underwater Azshara, which led some to assume that there was supposed to be an instance there later.
  • The maximum party size for dungeons and raids originally varied greatly. Initially, there was no cap on the number of players that could enter an instance; 40-man raids could be formed for any dungeon in the game, though this was still no guarantee of success. In patch 1.3.0, most dungeons were capped at 10 players while Upper Blackrock Spire was capped at 15. Though all dungeons were designed for 5 players, endgame dungeons such as Scholomance and Stratholme were typically run with 10 players due to their high difficulty. Molten Core and Onyxia were 40-player raids and Zul'Gurub, introduced in patch 1.5.0, was the first 20-player raid. Patch 1.10.0 finally capped all dungeons at 5 players, and Upper Blackrock Spire at 10.
  • Dungeon design was originally much different than now. Some dungeons were almost literal mazes, and many of them were revamped to have whole floors and sections removed. Crowd control was also a must back then.
  • Some raid buffs such as paladin auras and shaman totems were initially only group wide.
  • Potions could be used multiple times in a single boss fight, and the cooldown wasn't shared, so you could use a potion, then an  [Healthstone], then a quest item that gave you health, etc.
  • There was originally nothing besides using the "Looking For Group" channel if you wanted to meet other adventurers to explore dungeons together. Meeting Stones were then added in patch 1.3.0, but they only let you look for other people who queued for an instance. Patch 1.5.0 added the possibility to join queues through innkeepers, and patch 2.0.1 added the Dungeon Finder and the possibility for meeting stones to summon other people.
  • Right at release combat wasn't a zone-wide flag in raids, so a very common tactic was to have out of combat healers to resurrect people or have hunters using [Feign Death] to drop out of combat combat and use  [Goblin Jumper Cables] on people.
  • There were often optional bosses and rooms that required special items to be accessed, like the  [Blood of Innocents] that summoned Kirtonos the Herald, or the  [Roughshod Pike] that summoned Urok Doomhowl.
  • Up until patch 1.9.0, raid lockouts depended on when you saved to the instance instead of resetting at a fixed server time.
  • The number of items in armor sets varied. Tier 3 sets had nine pieces, including an epic ring.
  • Killing some vanilla bosses led to NPCs giving powerful buffs to every nearby adventurers, for example the Rallying Cry of the Dragonslayer and the Warchief's Blessing. This is why high officers like Field Marshal Afrasiabi and Overlord Runthak hung around the entrances of their capitals. The Herald of Thrall could even buff people into the Barrens!
  • Late vanilla introduced a long questline to upgrade your Dungeon Set 1 into a Dungeon Set 2. Despite its awesome lore, the set was of questionable usefulness since many people were already raiding. Though the sets have been removed, replicas with no stats can be purchased at the Darkmoon Faire for transmogrification.
  • Sets were originally a chore to farm because before Tier 3, armor tokens didn't exist and items often dropped when matching classes were not present for them.
  • Before Wrath of the Lich King, attunement was necessary for many dungeons, and as such a keyring feature existed to transport all these keys. Some of these attunement quests were very extensive, and as such it was not uncommon for people who had the right keys (or the right [Pick Lock] skill) to want payment for being there.
    • Parts of some dungeons could also simply be skipped by having the right key, like with the  [Crescent Key] of Dire Maul.
    • Locksmiths were available in case you lost some keys.
  • With the Cataclysm patch 4.3.0, all already-existing dungeons were revamped to include their dungeon quest givers inside the dungeons themselves in order to ease the level flow. Before this design shift, quests for many dungeons had to be taken all over the world. Sometimes however this broke the storytelling flow of some zones, as these dungeon quests were originally designed be an integrant part of the storyline of their main areas. For example, in Hellfire Peninsula, B [62D] Dark Tidings was found in Hellfire Ramparts and was the first hint that the Fel Horde were working with the Illidari, culminating in the chilling discovery that they had a pit lord chained up in the fortress.
  • There was originally no heroic, mythic, flex or scalable modes for dungeons and raids. Only one difficulty level to balance things around.
  • Timewalking was added with patch 6.2.0, and more and more dungeons were added to it ever since.

Original alpha/beta zones

Original planned continents.

Dragon Isles

Emerald Dream

Kezan

Vanilla zones

Arathi Highlands and Arathi Basin

Azshara

Vanilla Azshara map.
  • In vanilla, Azshara had very little quests because Blizzard had designed it with a terrible layout, and they realized that too late. They thought most people would hate it so much, so they just didn't bother and left it for future expansions.
  • The scrapped Azshara Crater battleground was originally intended to be there, at Forlorn Ridge. It was a big battleground, similar to Alterac Valley, with opposing night elf and orc bases facing each other among giant dragon statues.
  • Hippogryphs in Azshara used to drop more money than any other mob in the game, so it was usually farmed by bots 24/7.
  • While the wreck still exists, there were a few NPCs and quests related to the Horizon Scout.

Badlands and Uldaman

  • The Badlands were originally a landlocked area that was quite empty. Kargath, however, was the Horde base closest to Blackrock Mountain, and as such was used as a travel hub for raiders.
  • Blizzard stated at BlizzCon 2010 that they planned on splitting Uldaman in two, with the first half ending in the Ironaya encounter, and the second half beginning at the back door where the Obsidian Sentinel is located. This plan never came to fruition.

Barrens, Razorfen Kraul and Downs

Blackrock Mountain, Molten Core and Blackwing Lair

  • Molten Core was originally meant to be cut before release.[1] It could not be released in time for their expectations, but developpers managed to finish the instance a few nights right before release.
  • The Molten Core raid entrance was originally in Blackrock Depths,[12] with a shortcut that involved jumping out a window into a portal over a pool of lava. However, when instance servers were full, the 40 people jumping through the raid portal inevitably fell into the lava below while getting an "Instance servers are full, try again later" message, so Lothos Riftwaker's teleport was added instead.
  • Before the release of Blackwing Lair, tier 2 sets dropped in Molten Core and had different graphics.
  • The very first legendary item,  [Talisman of Binding Shard], dropped once in Molten Core and was removed the same day from its loot tables.
  • Some warlocks used to dismiss their pets once they got the Living Bomb debuff on Baron Geddon and resummoned them in crowded places such as the Ironforge auction house. The following explosion could kill tens of people at once.
  • Behind Golemagg the Incinerator there was a furnace that dealt a lot of damage (around 3-4k per second) when you got close to it. Raiding guilds often used to trick new players, telling them they could see Ragnaros by looking into it.
  • You originally had to extinguish runes of warding to summon Ragnaros. These runes were unique to each boss and denoted the first letter of the boss name. Upon extinguishing them they would light up inside the roof of the cavern Ragnaros is summoned into. Extinguishing the runes required a consumable  [Aqual Quintessence] sold by the Hydraxian Waterlords, and the reward for being revered with them was a permanent, non-consumable  [Eternal Quintessence].
  • In 2008, Blizzard announced a console game called World of Warcraft: The Molten Core as the April Fools joke.
  • The Blackwing Lair raid entrance was originally in Upper Blackrock Spire.[12]

Blasted Lands

Darkshore and Blackfathom Deeps

Deadwind Pass and Karazhan

  • In the vanilla alpha Karazhan was originally planned to be a vanilla dungeon named "Medivh's Tower". It also had a different appearance.
  • The then-unnamed crypt behind Karazhan has been here here since the vanilla release, but was only made partially accessible in Legion.
  • When The Burning Crusade was originally announced, Karazhan was then intended to be released in a patch before the expansion pack as a prelude to the events that would lead to the opening of the Dark Portal. It was to have 10-players and 20-players raid elements.[14]
  • The The Burning Crusade Karazhan raid was supposed to have a flight path on the upper levels of the tower. There are actually gryphon roosts on one terrace, but they serve no purpose besides being a reference to the The Last Guardian novel.
  • When you stand inside Karazhan you can see an abandoned village near the tower, but the village doesn't exist in Deadwind Pass. Since instance maps are usually made from older outdoor maps, it means that village existed at one point but was removed from the game's world.
  • Up until patch 7.1.0, there was a quest chain to summon Nightbane in Karazhan.

Desolace and Maraudon

  • At release Rexxar originally roamed Desolace and Feralas, but he was replaced by Rokaro when the beastmaster left for Outland. Rexxar was often hard to find because of his roaming, so Rokaro was put in Shadowprey Village.
  • Maraudon was added in patch 1.2.0 and was the first dungeon to be added in a content patch.
  • Before Cataclysm the area was completely barren of plant life except for a bit of grass on the coasts.
  • The area was originally home to the Gizelton Caravan, which was removed in patch 5.0.4.

Dun Morogh, Ironforge and Gnomeregan

Ironforge with multiple floors.
  • Just near Dun Morogh is Newman's Landing, which (anecdotally) was used as an area where Alliance characters were dropped upon creation, before the intro video started. If you stood at a certain spot you could notice level 1 characters appearing for a brief instant before they disappeared.
  • Ironforge was in the alpha by far the largest city in game, because it had two floors instead of one, and the one which exists today is smaller than before. Old Ironforge was also already visible in-game as a basement that also included the Deeprun Tram.
  • Instead of being the gnome starting zone like today, Gnomeregan was originally just the tram station of Ironforge, accessible through an elevator, but Blizzard turned it into an instance in the beta and separated it from the dwarven city. Since the dungeon was hardly accessible for Horde players a goblin called Scooty could build a transponder to teleport there.
  • There was originally a funny quest in Gnomeregan called A [30D] Data Rescue which involved collecting punch cards, each of them having a secret message in binary.
  • From vanilla up until Cataclysm Ironforge Airfield was a popular spots for explorers despite being inaccessible.
  • Before Cataclysm a major event happened in Dun Morogh so the gnomes could retake Gnomeregan: Operation: Gnomeregan.

Durotar, Orgrimmar and Ragefire Chasm

  • The Ring of Valor building has been in Orgrimmar since before release and was originally intended to be like the Gurubashi Arena, where you can fight players of your own faction.
  • Back at release the Hall of Legends used to be an instanced building which only Rank 6 or up people could enter.
  • When the Ring of Valor was finally implemented in Wrath of the Lich King, it was originally very buggy and Blizzard had to disable it for some time. It also was a bit different: there were flame walls which dealt fire damage, and you didn't start on an elevator but behind a wall instead.
  • Before Cataclysm a major event happened in Durotar so the trolls could retake the Echo Isles: Zalazane's Fall.
  • In Cataclysm Orgrimmar was completely overhauled, with many new metal buildings. Before that almost every building in the capital was made of wood and stone.
  • The events of the Darkspear Rebellion and the following Siege of Orgrimmar provoked many changes in the city. After the victory of the rebels, many Kor'kron NPCs were removed, and now Darkspear Guardians as well as Thunder Bluff Protectors patrol the streets alongside the grunts.
  • The Orgrimmar Embassy was added in patch 7.3.5, replacing part of the Goblin Slums.

Duskwood

Dustwallow Marsh and Theramore Isle

  • At release, the zone was much emptier. Varian Wrynn was a prisoner of the naga in Alcaz Island, and it wasn't until patch 2.3.0 that the zone was revamped with more quests and quality of life features such as roads.
    • Varian was removed from his prison in the same patch, but a big quest chain was added to investigate his original disappearance from Stormwind. The quest chain was updated in Wrath of the Lich King when Varian was added back to Stormwind Keep, but wasn't updated again in Legion despite Varian now being dead.
  • Alcaz Island was later planned to be made into a scenario. Some doodads and buildings of the Twilight's Hammer were found there.
  • The Dustwallow revamp was worked on since The Burning Crusade beta.[15]

Eastern Plaguelands, Stratholme and Naxxramas

  • In the alpha Naxxramas was originally a much smaller necropolis, intended to be accessible through the Slaughter Square raid portal at the end of Stratholme, similar to the Molten Core raid portal in Blackrock Depths.[12] Carefully using a flying mount to approach Stratholme from the outside shows that an old version of that necropolis is still flying near Slaughter Square even thought it was never made visible from the instance itself.
  • At release Tirion Fordring was only an old paladin living in a shack near Thondroril River. He was involved in a long chain leading to N [60G] In Dreams, a sad quest about his son Taelan.
  •  [Blood of Heroes] littered the area. When touched, they summoned one or two 60 elites Fallen Heroes with 9000 health, very deadly to leveling adventurers.
  • Patch 1.10.0 introduced an hard more for Stratholme known as the "45 minute Baron run". It was linked to N [60D] Dead Man's Plea.
  • Patch 1.11.0 introduced Naxxramas and a few other things, like a force of neutral scarlet crusaders at Light's Hope Chapel which desired to help against the Scourge Invasions and offered Naxxramas quests. More Argent Dawn soldiers were generally added to the zone in order to fight against the Scourge.
  • In patch 1.12.0 the A Game of Towers world PvP objectives were added to the Eastern Plaguelands.
  • Even after it moved to Northrend, Naxxramas was still physically present in the Eastern Plaguelands until Cataclysm. There was no way to enter it or see it because it was invisible. If you logged off your character in old Naxxramas before Wrath of the Lich King was released, you would appear in Eastern Plaguelands Naxxramas with portals to Northrend.[16]
  • During the Wrath of the Lich King beta, Acherus was bigger and more confusing, having more floors than now.
  • The Scarlet Enclave originally didn't exist, and was only added to serve as the death knight class starting zone.

Elwynn Forest, Stormwind City and Stormwind Stockade

  • Elwynn Forest, Stormwind City, Westfall and Duskwood were some of the first zones that Blizzard made back before 2001. Goldshire was then a lot bigger and it resembled a real village, but Blizzard realized that they couldn't make other starting zone hubs that big, and thus they removed a lot of buildings in Goldshire so that it would be even for all zones.
  • In the alpha, the Vault in Stormwind City was planned to become a dungeon and was even given lore in the Warcraft RPG.
  • It was originally envisioned by Blizzard that you could go to the Cathedral of Light and rent the area for player weddings.[2]
  • At release Stormwind City originally didn't have a harbor, and Stormwind Keep had a different design. Without the harbor, low level night elf players had to run through Wetlands, Loch Modan, Dun Morogh and Ironforge to reach Stormwind for the first time.
  • There was a blocked off portal close to Old Town which back then was supposed to be one day used for player housing.
  • Defias Rioters sometimes tried to escape from the Stormwind Stockade.
  • The Champions' Hall used to be an instanced building which only Rank 6 or up people could enter.
  • In Elwynn Forest, Echo Ridge Mine was originally open for exploration and contained kobolds.
  • Alliance players flying between Ironforge and Stormwind flew over a part of the Northshire river that was accessible from the Burning Steppes. This part of the river was special, because it had a fishing pool with an unlimited amount of  [Peacebloom]. While not exclusive to Alliance players, there were no indications by which to find the area as Horde player, as no flight paths went over this area for them.
  • Stormwind was originally home to one of the most epic quest chains of the game, known as The Great Masquerade, which was a culmination of every plot lines humans fought for during their leveling experience. During that time Varian Wrynn was missing, and his son Anduin, still a young child, was advised by Regent Lord Bolvar Fordragon and Lady Katrana Prestor. But not everything was it seemed, and Marshal Windsor had to be broken out of his cell in order to reveal the truth...
  • From patch 1.4.1 to 1.5.0, Archbishop Benedictus was actually the leader of Stormwind, having staged a temporary coup against Bolvar. This was mostly for PvP purposes.
  • Stormwind was originally home to a Park populated mainly by night elves, which was destroyed by Deathwing right before Cataclysm. Only the Old Barracks remained of the destroyed area, until Lion's Rest was built over the ruins in Legion.
  • The Stormwind Embassy was added in patch 7.3.5, replacing part of the Stormwind City Outskirts.

Feralas and Dire Maul

Hillsbrad Foothills and Alterac Valley

Dalaran dome.

Hinterlands

  • During the conception phase for the game, the area was originally meant to be called "Aerie Peaks".[17]

Loch Modan

Searing Gorge

Silithus and Ahn'Qiraj

Silverpine Forest and Shadowfang Keep

  • There were level 25 elite mobs called Sons of Arugal, which had a much higher level than Forsaken players in the area, and were a real threat to them.
  • Pyrewood Village was originally inhabited by the Moonrage pack of worgen. During the day they were human and friendly to Alliance adventurers, and during the night they were worgen and hostile to everyone.
  • The Greymane Wall originally had a different model, and many Lordaeron refugees were blocked there. Among them, Wallace the Blind could sell his wares to both Horde and Alliance, presumably because of his blindness.

Stranglethorn Vale and Zul'Gurub

  • In the alpha there were two big islands off the western coast of the Vale: Island of Doctor Lapidis and Gillijim's Isle. They were eventually removed, but even in the release build if you went far enough with a mount and water walking, you could reach the area where they were once and switch to the according zone channels.
  • It was originally envisioned by Blizzard that you could go to the Gurubashi Arena, buy tickets and fight dragons, hydras and even titans there. Multiple teams could fight against a single monster or against each others, with even guild groups, spectators and bets being planned.[2]
  • In the beta the statue at Janeiro's Point was originally that of a human, and there was a Statue of Liberty-like statue at Jaguero Isle.
  • N [40] The Green Hills of Stranglethorn was originally much more extensive and grindy than it is today.
  • In the same patch that introduced Zul'Gurub, Yojamba Isle was turned into a Zandalari quest hub.
  • Shortly after Zul'Gurub was released, some hunters dismissed their pets once they got the Corrupted Blood debuff on Hakkar the Soulflayer and resummoned them in crowded places such as Stormwind City. This resulted in gigantic plagues, as the debuff was transmissible from NPCs to players even though it was originally intended to be limited to the raid area.
  • In the raid there were originally two rare epic mounts, the  [Swift Zulian Tiger] and the  [Swift Razzashi Raptor]. There were known for being the first time that Horde players could get a saber cat and that Alliance players could get a raptor.
  • In Zul'Gurub you could also get unique Zandalar Tribe sets with very interesting lore about the trolls.
  • The Burning Crusade was to introduce the Gurubashi Catacombs arena before scrapping the idea. It was geographically supposed to be situated under the Gurubashi Arena.
  • Cataclysm split Stranglethorn Vale into two different zones: Northern Stranglethorn and Cape of Stranglethorn.

Swamp of Sorrows and Temple of Atal'Hakkar

  • Before The Burning Crusade, the draenei of the Harborage were actually Lost Ones instead of Broken.
  • The Swamp of Sorrows had originally less villages and outposts. Before Cataclysm, the Alliance had notably no presence in the area and the Harborage was neutral, with only an Alliance Exodar emissary trying to talk to the Broken.
  • The Temple of Atal'Hakkar had originally several more bosses and floors that were cut in Cataclysm. To summon the Avatar of Hakkar, players had to complete a long quest chain initiated by Yeh'kinya, a precursor to the Zul'Gurub quests.
  • The quest started by slaying the Shade of Eranikus in the Temple of Atal'Hakkar was abruptly cut at N [55] In Eranikus' Own Words, and was only finished with the  [Green Scepter Shard] questline for the Gates of Ahn'Qiraj world event.

Tanaris, Zul'Farrak and Caverns of Time

  • In the original World of Warcraft alpha, Zul'Farrak was supposed to be an non-instanced elite area, but the developers made it so big and good that they decided to make it an instance instead.[1]
  • Since Anachronos was involved in several questlines (some of them related to Ahn'Qiraj) despite the Caverns of Time being still closed down, he was standing outside of the Caverns. He could be attacked but he couldn't be killed.
  • The Black Morass instance (without the mobs and bosses) was in the game files since 2004.
  • Uldum was originally just a big gate in a mountain south of Tanaris, hinting that it was meant to be a titan facility like Uldaman instead of an outdoor region.
  • Up until Cataclysm, there were two islands south of Tanaris.

Teldrassil and Darnassus

  • The island upon which the world tree Teldrassil was built was called "Kalidar" in early concept art and advertising.[2] It seems that now the island has taken the same name as the tree and there is no distinction between the two anymore.
    • There also exist an unused battleground map called Kalidar. The area has a MOBA-style design, with three separate lanes in a forested area. There are some neutral buildings, such as a scout tower, a goblin laboratory, three mine entrances and several forest troll huts.
  • Until the return of Malfurion Stormrage in Cataclysm, Fandral Staghelm was the regent of Darnassus in his absence, and was considered a racial boss in certain patches during Vanilla (like Archbishop Benedictus).

Thousand Needles

  • Before the area was flooded there was a very unique area here, the Mirage Raceway. There were goblin and gnome pit stands, and drag cars that were racing against each other.

Tirisfal Glades, Undercity and Scarlet Monastery

Old Scarlet Monastery before split into four instances.
  • Before release, all wings of the Scarlet Monastery were once a single instance, but they were split into four because it was too big. The wings were again changed in Mists of Pandaria, this time to two.
    • Up until a first Cataclysm rework, the Monastery still was one instance, it was just that you couldn't get to the other sections from one another.
  • At release, the Bulwark area was only a measly barricade, with plaguemist tinting the sky like in the nearby Plaguelands.
  • Undercity was originally meant to be a ruined human city, but the designers at Blizzard eventually decided to create an undead-themed toolkit and to use it instead.[1] It was also originally called "Necropolis" in early concept maps for World of Warcraft.[18][19] The quest H [10] Delivery to Silverpine Forest mentions a Necropolis while talking about Undercity, which may be a remnant of the alpha stage considering the ID of the quest.
  • The city originally had a second floor but it made things harder to navigate, so it was eventually left unused. The second floor can still be accessed with a flying mount however.
  • Similarly, the Ruins of Lordaeron area was originally mostly inaccessible before Cataclysm and served only as a reference to the Warcraft III campaigns.

Un'Goro Crater

Western Plaguelands and Scholomance

  • In the original World of Warcraft alpha, Scholomance was apparently supposed to be an non-instanced elite area, but the developers made it so big and good that they decided to make it an instance instead.
  • Andorhal at release was originally an elite area shaped more like its Warcraft III incarnation, with walls and denser building placement.
  • Before Cataclysm the area was more similar to the Eastern Plaguelands, with plaguemist tinting the area with a yellowish-gray color. The farms were all abandoned, Andorhal was only Scourge-held ruins and Hearthglen was a bastion of the Scarlet Crusade.

Westfall and Deadmines

  • Moonbrook was originally occupied by the Defias Brotherhood. It is noteworthy because of the infamous Defias Pillagers, which for a long time were statistically the standard mobs which were killing the most adventurers. The Defias Messenger was also roaming a huge part of the area, and when someone saw him it was common courtesy to warn other players who were looking for him.
  • In the original concept for the Deadmines, Ironclad Cove was an open air area instead of a cavern.[1] Blizzard finally went with an enclosed area, and added an exit gate for the boat north of Yojamba Isle.

Wetlands

The Burning Crusade zones

Storylines

Blade's Edge Mountains

Eversong Woods and Silvermoon City

Ghostlands and Zul'Aman

  • Zul'Aman was home to a timed event, the rewards being superior loot and the  [Amani War Bear]. Many more NPCs could also be saved with the  [Amani Hex Stick].
  • Ghostlands was to have flying allowed. During the patch 4.1.0 PTR it gained several new subzones along the zone's borders but it was eventually scrapped. The subzones are still there.

Hellfire Peninsula and Hellfire Citadel

  • Hellfire Peninsula was originally supposed to be a high-level vanilla zone instead of being released in The Burning Crusade.[1]
    • Way before even the vanilla beta, Blizzard pondered on the idea of having a massive ritual led by multiple warlock players in order to open the Dark Portal.[22]
  • This original Hellfire Peninsula resembled the The Frozen Throne version a lot more, with more mushrooms, etc. That area was even used in some promotional screenshots.
  • Mages could originally [Blink] through the Deadmines portal and glitch it, then cast [Slow Fall] off an unfinished tunnel, and reach a very early version of Hellfire Peninsula.
  • Old concept arts show that a battleground was planned for Hellfire Peninsula at some point.[14]
  • There exists an Omenai reputation in the game files, which implies that they may be a reputation faction that was cut before release.
  • B [70H] Imprisoned in the Citadel existed in the heroic Shattered Halls instance but was removed. You had to save a group of NPCs from execution within a 50-minutes timer.
  • There are several cut quests and quest-lines that appeared only in the beta, such as the one starting with B [61] The Citadel's Reach.

Isle of Quel'Danas, Magisters' Terrace and Sunwell Plateau

  • Sun's Reach was captured by the forces of the Shattered Sun Offensive over a lengthy, one-time quest chain.
  • On the original raid layout of Sunwell Plateau, there was supposed to be Scourge buildings and mobs during a part of the raid.[23]
  • Sunwell Plateau's original loading screen had a Wrath of the Lich King watermark, indicating that it might have at first been planned for the next expansion pack.
  • Sunwell Plateau was the first raid to have locked gates which opened over a set period of time on all servers.

Nagrand

Shadowmoon Valley and Black Temple

Terokkar Forest and Shattrath City

Zangarmarsh and Coilfang Reservoir

  • Inside the Underbog, there was a naga called Overseer Tidewrath. When you'd reach the top of the staircase and were able to see him, Ghaz'an would start climbing up the platforms to go and eat the Overseer. If you reached him in time and killed him yourself instead of Ghaz'an, you would be rewarded with nice loot.

Wrath of the Lich King zones

Early layout.

Miscellaneous

Azjol-Nerub

Borean Tundra

  • There was originally supposed to be a storyline here about the naga melting the ice caps.[27]

Crystalsong Forest

Dragonblight

Howling Fjord and Utgarde Keep

Icecrown and Icecrown Citadel

Grizzly Hills

  • While more speculation than anything, it seems the objective of the A [74] Close the Deal quest was intended to be the  [Scythe of Elune], but the story surrounding the Scythe was eventually fleshed out in the next expansion pack instead. This could be similar to the story of Ashbringer being hinted at in Vanilla but then completely retconned later.

Storm Peaks and Ulduar

  • Before the patch that added the raid, Thorim used a frost vrykul model.
  • Ulduar was the first raid with official hard modes for its bosses. It was done via in-game action and you had to do trigger specific things during an encounter instead of just doing it through a menu.
  • Patch 7.3.5 removed the 10 and 25 man Ulduar options when adding Timewalking. Only the 25 man version of quests were kept, and as an example N [80R] All Is Well That Ends Well was removed while N [80R] Heroic: All Is Well That Ends Well was kept. Both titles for defeating the two versions of Algalon are also now received at the same time.

Wintergrasp

  • The area was supposed to have aerial combat, which was removed before release. Promotional screenshots about aerial combat can still be seen on the Wrath of the Lich King box.

Zul'Drak and Gundrak

  • The main keep of Gundrak is never visited. The presence of a huge snake tail at the Tomb of the Ancients led to people speculating that it was meant to be part of another wing.

Cataclysm zones

Early layout.
Archimonde's skeleton at Mount Hyjal.

Storylines

Darkmoon Island

Deathwing Scar

  • Below Dun Morogh and above Elwynn Forest there was an unclickable and completely empty area. Before Cataclysm was released, Blizzard intended this to be the area from where Deathwing would enter Azeroth from Deepholm, but shortly before the release they decided Deathwing would enter from the Maelstrom instead. Today this area is just filled with water. It is possible that the Scar of the Worldbreaker is a remnant of the Deathwing Scar area concept. Initially, Deathwing would emerge here and have made his way to Grim Batol, where he would bisect the mountain (currently seen from within the dungeon, but not externally).

Deepholm

  • The zone was originally internally named "Deephome", like in the Warcraft RPG.[20]

Gilneas and Gilneas City

Mount Hyjal

  • From vanilla up until Cataclysm this zone was one of the most popular for explorers despite being closed down. There was notably Archimonde's skeleton at Nordrassil, what looked like a dragon cave entrance similar to Onyxia's Lair and three humongous craters, presumably the remnants of the bases destroyed by the Legion during the last battle of the Third War.
  • Darkwhisper Gorge was originally part of Winterspring and was full of elite demons who stayed there after their defeat during the Third War.
    • There was also originally a raid portal in Darkwhisper Gorge, presumably intended to be used for the Battle for Mount Hyjal.

Twilight Highlands and Grim Batol

  • Blizzard originally intended the Alliance to have a true introduction to the Twilight Highlands, similar to the one the Horde eventually got. Rear Admiral Hartley was involved, having been given strict orders by Varian Wrynn not to engage the Horde. He was to be among the fleet that Garrosh Hellscream ordered attacked by his Air Guard. While the Air guard was destroyed, they were to claim one ship. In an act of vengeance, Hartley was to order a retaliatory strike on the Horde naval fleet. The result of the naval skirmish would have mortally wounded the Rear Admiral and he was to order Lieutenant Fawkes to get the player to safety.[34] This intro was eventually scrapped and replaced by another one.
  • During the beta, Husk of Sor'getha was in the Twilight Highlands instead of the Crucible of Carnage.
  • During the beta, skardyn could be found in Grim Batol instead of troggs.
  • On release, the Alliance introduction to the zone was quite longer than what it is now. A [84] My Son, the Prince had you uncover a Twilight's Hammer plot alongside Anduin Wrynn, but when his father King Varian was removed in Legion, the quest chain was made shorter.

Vashj'ir and Throne of the Tides

Mists of Pandaria zones

Early layout.

Storylines

Isle of Thunder

Jade Forest

Krasarang Wilds

Timeless Isle

Townlong Steppes

  • There exists files for an unused battleground called "Defense of the Alehouse". The layout - three lanes, two bases, etc. - was extremely reminiscent of a MOBA map. Each base housed a pandaren brewmaster that was to be killed in order to secure victory. There were a few boss NPCs scattered around different parts of the map which gave buffs when killed: a sha monster, a tiger, a mogu and a sprite.

Vale of Eternal Blossoms

Wandering Isle

Warlords of Draenor zones

Early layout.
The Draenor satellite map during alpha.
The Draenor world map during beta.

Miscellaneous

  • Prior to April 2014, it was planned for players to be able to choose the location of their garrison with a number of possible zones, and the ability relocate their garrison if they changed their minds. This was eventually changed to the current system, with a fixed garrison location and several outposts all over Draenor.
  • In the early maps of Warlords of Draenor, there was to be more islands: Farahlon, an unnamed ogre island and a large continent at the south. As of today, all three are removed from the map.
    • The unnamed ogre island south of Nagrand might have been related to seafaring ogres claiming the south of the zone,[38] but this plot point was removed during development.
    • The large continent southwest of Draenor's main continent was described at BlizzCon 2013 as a "mysterious ogre continent" from which the Gorian Empire originated and where their main seat of power was still located, with their influence having spread to Draenor's main continent over time.[39] High Centurion Tormmok still mentions having campaigned on two continents.[40]

Storylines

Ashran

  • During the alpha Stormshield and Warspear were only intended to be PvP outposts instead of capital cities. The Ashran island itself was way smaller and had a Colossal skeleton.

Farahlon

  • The zone was planned to appear in alternate Draenor until it was eventually merged with Gorgrond during the beta.
  • It is known from lore that the Laughing Skull Orcs should have been dwelling here instead of Gorgrond.
  • Concept arts for creatures called the Farah and the Fara exists, indicating that Farahlon was probably named after them.
  • The zone still appears on maps being depicted in-game, such as at the Lunarfall Shipyard, except its location is usually covered with an item like a hat or a spyglass.

Frostfire Ridge

  • Bladespire Citadel (previously known as Bladespire Fortress) was originally intended to be the Horde capital for this expansion pack.

Gorgrond

  • The region was originally more arid, with more Blackrock clan presence all over the area, including extensive Grimrail train tracks. When Farahlon was canceled during the beta, the assets for both areas were merged up into the current Gorgrond area. This is why there seems to be two incomplete storylines in the same region.
  • The background and ideology of alternate Orgrim Doomhammer was to be explored further here, which is why in live the character betrays the Iron Horde without reasons. The ideology of Maraad and his reckless vengeance were also going to be explored further during the fight against the Blackrock clan.
  • Broken Horn Village was presumably intended to have a use at some point.
  • Helga Nesingwary, daughter of Hemet Nesingwary was to appear in Gorgrond. She would go insane and the players would help her regain the sanity.[47]

Nagrand and Highmaul

Concept Nagrand map.
  • The original concept for Nagrand had more main-universe locations such as Kil'sorrow as an ogre fortress and what would become future Garadar.
  • In the beta, Kargath Bladefist was set to survive his encounter, with him kneeling in defeat before fleeing away with a hand gushing of red blood, his bladefist removed.

Shadowmoon Valley

  • Karabor was originally intended to be the Alliance capital for this expansion pack. Its theme song was finished and is barely heard in the game outside of the temple and very very few parts of Shadowmoon Valley.
  • During the alpha an Iron Horde port and military base was in Shadowmoon, launching a full-scale assault on Karabor. The assault was to be repelled in a scenario called "Purge of Grommar".
  • Lunarfall's location has changed before live, during the alpha it was next to Karabor.
  • During the beta there was a quest called A [91] The Plight of the Worgen, which dealt with the worgen succumbing to a feral state and needing a plant that existed in Outland but was too corrupted to cure them. This was changed to Fiona's quest chain about healing her friend. Tess Greymane was to be a character in the questline. She would be accompanied by the worgen guards Hemma Beringer and Kadus Arkadian.
  • Karabor was to be besieged at the start of the leveling experience and was to be defended by Velen, Yrel, Commander Alyun, and Alliance heroes as well, such as Taylor, a worgen and a gnome character.
    • Velen would comment on a young promising priest, Akama.
    • It was initially planned to actually start the leveling experience in Karabor. The player would then continue to the west to an observatory. Taylor would assist Velen there.

Spires of Arak

Talador

  • Shattrath City was originally intended to be a raid area,[48] maybe the "missing tier" between Blackrock Foundry and Hellfire Citadel. Since Hellfire Citadel was retooled[49] to feature demons instead of the Iron Horde because the Foundry was already about them, the Shattrath raid could have been the "demon" raid that was originally intended to close the gap.

Tanaan Jungle

  • Earlier concept arts indicated that there was supposed to be an area called the Chronal Spire which would have been located in this zone as the original gateway to Draenor, but ultimately this idea was replaced by the Iron Horde creating their own Dark Portal and connecting it with Azeroth's one. The spire's location was replaced by Zangarra even though some elements there remain.
  • Tanaan Jungle was originally planned to appear at release instead of in a later patch. Pre-6.2.0 assets indicate that the zone was also originally intended to be released pristine instead of fel-corrupted.

Zangar Sea

Legion zones

Storylines

Azsuna

  • As stated by the developpers, the Broken Isles regions were intended to be done clockwise, Azsuna was thus originally intended to be the starting zone. This is still nowadays evidenced by the fact that this the only zone that introduces the player to the Burning Legion - the main foe of the expansion - their first objective in Azsuna being to face them in Faronaar. It is also the first zone to mention the player's artifact directly and multiple times, when Archmage Khadgar asks the hero to "put that artifact of [them] to use" since they just retrieved it from an acquisition scenario, and when the yelling demon Mortiferous exclaims "That weapon will not save you. How can such a tiny thing prevail against the might of the Burning Legion?". Azsuna is also where the players are first introduced to the Illidari, the newest faction introduced in Legion, who have just escaped from the Vault of the Wardens, Azsuna being thus a direct sequel to the demon hunter introduction scenario. Azsuna accomplishes its goal of being an introductory zone by presenting the good variety of enemies that are to be encountered later in the Broken Isles: are thus encountered for the first time the naga, the nightborne, the withered, the enemy faction (Alliance or Horde), and the demons. It's also the reason why all profession quests start with sending the hero to Azsuna, even though one can choose to start questing elsewhere. Finally, players can find the letter announcing Sylvanas' soon arrival to the Broken Isles during Azsuna questing which proves that the events of Azsuna couldn't have happened before those of Stormheim, since there she has already landed and set a base of operations.

Broken Shore and Tomb of Sargeras

  • The original concept for the Battle for the Broken Shore had a pristine elven Tomb, surrounded by a city now in ruins and populated by elven priest spirits. Tyrande Whisperwind was supposed to fight dreadlords and the scenario was 3 hours long.[51] Concept art also showed Lor'themar Theron participating.
  • Concept arts for the area also show that it was originally intended to be covered in dried coral, like in The Frozen Throne. Because there was next to no Burning Legion influence and the Shore looked just like Azsuna, Blizzard felt that it didn't communicate the Legion's threat strongly enough, so they decided to char the land and remove all signs of previous civilization there, making the Legion's influence extremely imposing.
  • While already accessible, prior to patch 7.2.0 the area had no quests, no towns and only a few loot-less world bosses. Prior to the patch the area also had the same geography as in the Battle for the Broken Shore scenario.
  • There was a scraped Legionfall Mage Tower challenge for stealth classes in which Sicco Thermaplugg had allied with the Burning Legion, and the adventurer had to travel to Gnomeregan in order from stopping him to launch a missile to the Broken Shore.[52]
  • Maiev Shadowsong had gossip text planned for the aftermath of Kil'jaeden's death.
  • The Sisters of the Moon encounter originally featured Naisha instead of Huntress Kasparian. This could have led to some special dialogues with Maiev.

Dalaran and Violet Hold

  • The Violet Hold dungeon was originally described as featuring secrets never before uncovered, origins of the Kirin Tor and the world. The in-game dungeon offers nothing of the sort. However, the version of the Violet Hold displayed during N Hunter [110] In Defense of Dalaran features an underground cavern that can be reached through the breached floor of the Hold, breach that could potentially have been left from the original designs for the updated dungeon.
  • When Argus appeared in the sky, scared citizens and doomsayers were added to Dalaran. Reinforced guard patrols and many animations were added all over town to react to the event, such as terrified citizens running around, draenei citizens rejoicing at the possibility of finally seeing their homeworld back, vendors being scared of looters, long lines at the banks for withdrawals, the city's clinic being overwhelmed by sick patients... These events were removed a few weeks after the release of patch 7.3.0.

Highmountain and Thunder Totem

Thal'dranath still appearing on in-game maps.

Suramar and Suramar City

Stormheim

  • Geographic assets for the area are in a folder called "araknashal," hinting that the zone may have been intended to be called Arauk-Nashal like the The Frozen Throne location.

Thal'dranath

  • It was originally supposed to be a future zone to be introduced in a later patch, but Blizzard felt that yet another zone riddled with ancient night elven ruins and corals was boring. Thal'dranath was scrapped and its name was reused as the original lore name for the Broken Shore instead.
  • The zone still appears on maps being depicted in-game.

Battle for Azeroth zones

Storylines

Player vs. Player

Battlegrounds

  • To join a battleground, you needed to be at the entrance portal of that battleground, because there were no battlemasters in capital cities. After the introduction of battlemasters, Blizzard stopped adding entrance to battlegrounds in the world. After long years of service, most battlemasters were finally removed in Warlords of Draenor.
  • Battleground groups weren't formed automatically upon joining, so it was a "INV PLZ" spamfest during the first minutes. If you were not grouped you could help kill enemy players yet get no honor kill from it.
  • Before it was changed, hunters and warlocks would resurrect without their pets in battlegrounds, so they had to resummon them each time they died. There was also no buff that reduced mana cost of your spells after you resurrected.
  • In battlegrounds, the range of "participating" in kills was much larger. You could earn credit for kills made in the middle, whille still at the spawn area.
  • Battlegrounds originally did not award experience at all. When Blizzard introduced experience gain in battleground, twinks complained.
  • Marks of Honor were rewarded for participating in battlegrounds.

Reputations

  • At release you could mark yourself "At War" with several otherwise friendly factions, such as Stormwind.
  • If you wanted a mount from another race, you had to turn in tons of  [Runecloth] at Cloth Quartermasters to get exalted. There was also no reputation spillover at all from quests.
  • Theramore, Silvermoon Remnant, Wildhammer clan and Revantusk tribe were minor factions added in patch 1.5.0 and 1.6.0, but they were never fleshed out and were removed in the following patches. A faction called the Moro'gai was also implemented but abandoned before release.
    • The Wildhammer clan reputation was re-introduced in Cataclysm.
    • It was already possible to grind to exalted with the Wildhammer clan in vanilla although it was a long and tedious task. There were no rewards, and the faction was, for the time, removed with patch 2.0.1. Players who had previously attained reputation with the dwarves, did not earn any achievements or favours when the faction was reintroduced.
  • Since daily quests didn't exist yet and the existing quests only rewarded 50 rep, some factions required an insane amount of raw grinding, such as the Wintersaber Trainers and the Timbermaw Hold reputations.
  • The Horde had no counterpart to the Wintersaber Trainers until mid-Wrath of the Lich King, when the Ravasaur Trainers were added. Mor'vek, the representative of the faction, was actually in-game in vanilla, removed in The Burning Crusade, and re-added in Wrath of the Lich King.
  • In The Burning Crusade, upping reputations was mostly done through grinding heroic dungeons and exchanging special drops at the factions' representatives.
  • In Wrath of the Lich King, it was done by running dungeons while having the tabard of your chosen faction equipped.
  • Early in the Legion development, a reputation faction called The First Responders was planned to be associated with the First Aid quests.[53] The quests were still kept, and are required for the [Is There a Medic in the Zone?] and [Field Medic] achievements.
  • It seems that a few more factions were planned for Legion besides the First Responders, like the Gilnean Survivors (possible the Bradensbrook people) and the Moon Guard.[54]

Realms and connecting

  • At vanilla release and in the following months, due to overcrowded servers, players very often experienced the infamous loot lag. You would get stuck in the loot position from looting pretty much anything, even using gathering professions.
  • If you disconnected, there was a high chance you could not log into your character straight away. Instead, you would get an error message stating "A character with that name already exists", because your character was not yet logged out. It could take several minutes before you were allowed back into the game on that character. If you would log into another character, you could see 'yourself' still online.
  • You couldn't initially have both Horde and Alliance characters on a PvP server.
  • There was no paid character transfer service, so if you wanted to play on another server, you had to reroll, no matter how geared your characters were.
    • It was initially not possible to transfer a character from a PvE server to a PvP server. Blizzard said many times that they wouldn't make it possible, but they eventually caved in.
  • You could originally just straight-up launch the game like any other executable. You had to patch the game through the Blizzard Downloader, and the Blizzard Launcher was only added in patch 1.8.3, being eventually replaced by the Battle.net Desktop app in August 2013.
    • There was originally no unified Battle.net account.
    • In vanilla and for some time after, it was also possible to manually install patches.
    • The Battle.net brand itself was retired on March 23, 2017. The desktop Battle.net software was renamed Blizzard App and things such as the Battle.net Shop were renamed from Battle.net to the Blizzard name format.
    • On August 14, 2017 however, Blizzard announced that after listening to feedback from their players they had decided to retain the Battle.net brand and incorporate it into their logo as "Blizzard Battle.net".

Videos

Gallery

Miscellaneous
2015 #WoWHistory Event

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g ..:: King of Dragons patch notes ::.. on Reddit
  2. ^ Muffinus 2014-03-25. Twitter / Muffinus.
  3. ^ MMO-Champion
  4. ^ Blood elf Pulp Fiction dances
  5. ^ a b c d e f g The World of Warcraft Townhall/Classes
  6. ^ a b MMO-Champion Hallow's End masks
  7. ^ Eurogamer WotLK interview
  8. ^ Knowledge: Dalaran Wizard Disguise on Wowhead
  9. ^ Knowledge: Dark Iron Dwarf Disguise on Wowhead
  10. ^ Warcraft Interview: Dave Kosak - 2 NERDS, 1 LORE (Patch 5.4 and beyond)
  11. ^ a b c Ion Hazzikostas on Twitter
  12. ^ Kalimdor early development map
  13. ^ a b c Medievaldragon 2008-01-16. Blizzcon: Day One—World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade. Retrieved on 2013-03-15.
  14. ^ Wowhead
  15. ^ Old Naxxramas in Eastern Plaguelands
  16. ^ World of Warcraft: Looking for Group
  17. ^ File:ABE - Lordaeron and Khaz Modan map.jpg
  18. ^ File:WoWCE - Lordaeron.jpg
  19. ^ a b c World of MapCraft
  20. ^ File:Tor'Watha.jpg - The raid portal was behind the wooden door.
  21. ^ Behind-the-Scenes DVD
  22. ^ File:Sunwell Plateau design.jpg
  23. ^ World of Warcraft: Looking for Group
  24. ^ Anub'arak#Statements of a bigger role
  25. ^ Stockton of Blizzard
  26. ^ User:Mordecay/Archive/WotLK/Zones#Borean Tundra
  27. ^ Rushster 2008-05-09. Jeff Kaplan Video Interview Transcript. World of Warcraft: IncGamers. Retrieved on 2010-02-19.
  28. ^ MMO-Champion: Pre-cata world event
  29. ^ The Cutting Room Floor Baine Bloodhoof yells: I will not let a single human step past me into Mulgore! My people will not be harmed!
  30. ^ WoW PTR : C'thun says Hi!
  31. ^ Wowhead
  32. ^ Tom Chilton Gamescom
  33. ^ Wowhead
  34. ^ Wowhead
  35. ^ Wowhead
  36. ^ Wow Secrets - WarlockArea
  37. ^ Official Warlords of Draenor site. Retrieved on 2017-03-26.
  38. ^ WoW: Warlords of Draenor, the entire Blizzcon WoW panel. (13:23) (2013-11-10). Retrieved on 2017-03-26.
  39. ^ N [93] A Centurion Without a Cause
  40. ^ WoW Source: Warlords of Draenor (6:30) (2013-11-21). Retrieved on 2017-04-13.
  41. ^ The Characters of Warcraft/Yrel
  42. ^ Demo report
  43. ^ Blizzplanet
  44. ^ Wowhead
  45. ^ Wowhead
  46. ^ Wowhead
  47. ^ File:Draenor early layout.jpg
  48. ^ As evidenced by pre-patch Tanaan Jungle maps being pristine jungle and intact Citadel
  49. ^ Dave Kosak on Twitter
  50. ^ BlizzCon 2016 - World of Warcraft: Legion - Design Retrospective
  51. ^ Wowhead
  52. ^ Wowhead
  53. ^ Moonguard, Moon Guard

External links