World of Warcraft’s Classic Era realms could receive official “hardcore” servers in the future, if a since-deleted line of code found in the recent WoW 10.1 public test realm build is to be believed.
WoW Classic Era realms have seen a big uptick in players in the past few months thanks to a community “hardcore” challenge where dying even once in Blizzard’s old-school MMORPG means that character gets deleted. The challenge has had its popularity bolstered recently by various WoW steamers and content creators also getting in on the fun.
Two servers in particular, North America’s Bloodsail Buccaneers and Europe’s Hydraxian Waterlords, have been unofficially labeled as “hardcore” servers by the community, and have seen a large boost in their populations as a result. A casual look at the game’s subreddit features numerous posts about players accomplishing various hardcore feats or the classic MMO’s surge in popularity.
Currently, players use an add-on to improve the hardcore experience. The Classic Hardcore add-on notifies other players taking the challenge when someone dies and automatically uploads their progress to a leaderboard. However, the biggest part of playing a hardcore character, having to delete a character after death, is still done manually by players.
That could change if Blizzard introduced official hardcore servers, something that seems much more likely now thanks to a few lines of code Twitter user Meorawr (shared via Solanya on Twitter) found in the game’s most recent PTR build. Via PC Gamer, the code in question is for a “hardcore warning” pop-up on the game’s realm selection and character creation screens that would give players a heads-up that the character they are making only gets to live once. A few days after the discovery, Solanya posted that the code for the hardcore warning had been removed. Even though the code appeared on the PTR for the game’s current Dragonflight expansion, the two versions of Blizzard’s game share much of their infrastructure, meaning it’s likely that the hardcore warning pop-up was intended for WoW Classic Era realms.
It would certainly make sense for Blizzard to introduce official hardcore servers. WoW Classic recently concluded its Season of Mastery, an accelerated version of the MMORPG that made various aspects of the game more challenging. Having a “Season of Hardcore” which takes advantage of a demand that is already there in the community would be a no-brainer. There’s also the fact that Blizzard has acknowledged the game’s hardcore community before. In Season of Mastery, Blizzard introduced a NPC that grants players a buff called “Soul of Iron” that can only be applied to characters who have never died, giving players who don’t use add-ons an official way to show off their hardcore prowess to others in-game.
Official hardcore servers would come with their own sets of pros and cons. On the plus side, an official server would make it easier for the community to group together in a single place and avoid griefers who might not be participating in the challenge. On the downside, having Blizzard automate character deletion upon death means players would have to suffer through having their characters sent to the shadowlands permanently for technical reasons the community currently doesn’t view as legitimate, such as server disconnections or bugs.
Blizzard has not yet publicly commented on the matter. The developer has committed to more frequent content updates for WoW: Dragonflight in 2023, but Blizzard’s plans for WoW Classic in the months ahead outside of planned content patches for Wrath of the Lich King Classic is still unknown.
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