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Release times, roadmap & rare chat with boss Ion Hazzikostas

WORLD of Warcraft is re-releasing one of its most iconic expansions – The Burning Crusade.

Find out all about WoW TBC Classic and the release date, or scroll down to read our inside look from legendary Warcraft Game Director Ion Hazzikostas.

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Warcraft Classic is returning to the beloved Burning Crusade expansion


Warcraft Classic is returning to the beloved Burning Crusade expansionCredit: Activision Blizzard

What is WoW Burning Crusade Classic?

World of Warcraft came out in November 2004, and has since become one of the world’s most beloved video games.

But the title has changed significantly in 16 years, so creator Blizzard re-released an early version of the game back in 2019.

It’s called WoW Classic, and faithfully recreates what it was like to play the game in around 2006.

Now WoW Classic is reaching the end of its storyline, so fans are now awaiting the re-release of The Burning Crusade expansion.

The Burning Crusade came out in 2007 and added loads of new content to World of Warcraft, including new playable races, zones, dungeons and raids.

A recreated version of TBC is now about to be re-released, letting gamers relive the epic expansion in the modern day.

You’ll be able to revisit (or visit for the first time) epic zones like Nagrand


You’ll be able to revisit (or visit for the first time) epic zones like NagrandCredit: Activision Blizzard

WoW TBC Classic release date – when is it out?

The official launch date for WoW TBC Classic is June 1, 2021.

Here are the global release times…

Los Angeles – 3pm PDT / Tuesday, June 1

New York – 6pm EDT / Tuesday, June 1

São Paulo – 7pm BRT / Tuesday, June 1

London – 11pm BST / Tuesday, June 1

Paris – 12am CEST / Wednesday, June 2

Moscow – 1am MSK / Wednesday, June 2

Taipei – 6am CST / Wednesday, June 2

Seoul – 7am KST / Wednesday, June 2

Sydney – 8am AEST / Wednesday, June 2

WoW TBC Classic – game boss Ion Hazzikostas reveals what to expect

We spoke to Warcraft’s game director Ion Hazzikostas exclusively in the UK to reveal more about Burning Crusade.

Is WoW Classic TBC accessible enough for new or long-lapsed players?

Ion said that Classic TBC simply doesn’t need the same level of tutorials as modern “retail” WoW.

“A part of the importance for greater tutorialisation has been in the increase of the pace and accessibility of the game over time,” he told The Sun.

“In 2004, it took months, hundreds of hours. In the modern game, we’re delivering content at a faster pace, and that requires more tutorialisation.”

Ion referenced the fact that in the Classic version of the game, you would get a new ability and have two hours or more to learn how it works – before eventually unlocking something else.

And he also said that there’s a mini tutorial system for players who boost their character to level 58, to remind them how core parts of the game work.

Was the plan to extend Classic to TBC there from the outset?

“I’d be lying if I said the idea didn’t cross our minds in some form when we set out to start the project.

“But no, it wasn’t a firm plan until after we launched Classic.

“Just recreating the Classic experience was a massive undertaking.

“Some folks thought it would be a flash in the pan, go check it out, recoil in horror and never return.

“But what we saw rapidly was that it developed a passionate intense community of its own.”

He added: “It has served to expand the larger World of Warcraft community.

“So we realised a few months in that we have a tonne of people here who are passionate about the game, enjoying the journey, looking forward to the next step – but that journey’s going to come to an end after Naxxramas.

“So we thought: what do we do now?”

And he said the natural next step was to move to Burning Crusade.

There are two new playable races: Draenei and Blood Elf


There are two new playable races: Draenei and Blood ElfCredit: Activision Blizzard

Is there anything different from the original TBC?

“Better performance overall, our servers have much larger capacities so we can fit more people into Azeroth or Outland.

“The game is more responsive. There used to be I think a 400ms delay on processing events; that’s now down to 10ms. So when you’re going to interrupt a cast, you’ll have a more responsive experience.

“We have given Paladins a new ability.

“Originally Horde Paladins had Seal of Blood as their capstone ability, and Alliance Paladins got Seal of Vengeance.

“These were different abilities with different mechanical impacts.

“What the community discovered back then at the end of TBC was that Seal of Blood was just better.

“So Horde was just better objectively. So if we let that stand, we would’ve seen a lot of competitive players feel like they had to go Horde even if Alliance was their faction of choice.

“So what we did was given Alliance and Horde Paladins access to both Seals.”

Ion explained that this would recreate the original design intent, viewed through the lens of a modern player base that knows better.

He said if WoW was still in Classic, the change wouldn’t have been made – but the philosophy has changed.

“There’s every reason to think the original development team would’ve made these exact same changes, had they seen the entire player population saying we all need to go Horde now because of this ability.”

Were there any major learnings from the game’s beta?

“The beta really is a chance for players to give us feedback, report things that feel like we’ve inaccurately recreated.

“Frankly we’re not listening to the feedback of ‘this dungeon is too hard’ or ‘my class isn’t fun’.

“Here the classes and dungeons are what they are. We’re not making changes to the substance of the stuff.

“We have the benefit of the original 2.4 reference client we can run internally.

“Our QA experts have really been invaluable in navigating and reconciling what is actually bug.”

What’s the internal view on useful modern mechanisms like Dungeon Finder or LFG? Is Blizzard dead against it in TBC Classic?

“Honestly, yes. I think it’s a double-edged sword.

“Those philosophies are part of the difference of ethos that separates Classic WoW vs Modern WoW.

“There is this direct relationship between social friction and social bonds.

“In the old game, you had to spam trade chat for 30 minutes to find a tank for your dungeon.

“And that was pain, and it actually excluded many people from playing the content – if you didn’t have the time or patience to do that.

“The flip side is that when you found a good tank, you’re more likely to add them to your friends list.

“If someone made a mistake, you’re maybe a little bit more forgiving, and not as quick to kick them out of the group – because you had to go back to Shattrath and spam trade chat for 30 minutes looking for someone else.

“The modern game, obviously it’s the other side of that double-edged sword.

“Yes at times things can feel more asocial…but the flip side is you can play the game on your lunch break.”

TBC Classic begins on June 1/2 globally


TBC Classic begins on June 1/2 globallyCredit: Activision Blizzard

Blood Elves were obviously wildly popular, and still are. Are you worried about a major shift to Horde?

“We expect Blood Elves to be very popular. I don’t know that we are worried.

“I think the game can very healthily support some faction imbalance – just not extreme faction imbalance.

“Even if we see some shift in direction to Horde – as was the direction in 2007 – I think the game’s design is resilient enough to support that.”

“That’s part of the fun of what Burning Crusade is: a lot of Blood Elves running around everywhere.”

I noticed that the character boost can’t be used on Blood Elves – is that why, or because you’re keen for people to have the starting zone experience?

“It’s a bit of that.

“The boost unlike the modern WoW and Shadowlands boost is limited to one per account.

“And it’s there really primarily for people who wouldn’t otherwise be able to play Burning Crusade. People who skipped Classic.

“People who don’t have a character ready to go into Outland, but really want to join their friends on this journey.

“And so the boost is positioned: it’s not level 60, it’s level 58.

“You have just basic quest gear, simple bags. We’re trying to not undermine the accomplishment and time investment of players who played Classic for the last two years.

“While giving people a foothold to enter into the new world.

“But no one could’ve had a level 58 Blood Elf. That wasn’t possible until last week, and so really the point of the boost is to catch people up to where they could have been a couple of weeks ago – not to feel like a shortcut.”

Can you share some idea of how TBC Classic will be paced? Is it a similar schedule to the original game?

“Probably not so much the original game.

“One of the flaws of Burning Crusade was much less-than-ideal content pacing.

“There were two raid tiers available right at the start, even though the second one was very challenging and had some bugs that turned many players away.

“By the 2.1 patch just a few months into the game, Black Temple and Hyjal were there.

“And so the players that were on the cutting edge, they cleared Black Temple, defeated Illidan, and then had to wait a year for a few more bosses in Sunwell.

“Everything was very frontloaded.

“We’re looking to do something more like we did in WoW Classic, where we pace out the tiers.

“So at launch, the initial tier will have Arena Season One starting a couple of weeks in. We’ll have Karazhan, Magtheridon’s Lair, Gruul’s Lair and you can assemble your Tier 4 sets.

“And that is our end-game.”

Ion explained that the next step would be a new arena season, with Serpentshrine Cavern and Tempest Keep – called Tier 5.

He also said that the pacing would be guided by the community, following the rate at which content is being completed.

“We know that rushing people ahead into the next tier too soon is frustrating and makes you feel like you’re falling behind,” he told The Sun.

“If you’re too slow then people are bored.”

TBC also introduces flying mounts for the first time


TBC also introduces flying mounts for the first timeCredit: Activision Blizzard

On a personal level, what captures the expansion’s magic for you? Any iconic moments or places?

“This may be an odd pick, but I’m gonna say Zangarmarsh.

“As a player, it was unlike anything I’ve ever seen in Warcraft – and it was a reminder that this is an alien world.

“Hellfire Peninsula frankly looked a lot like the Blasted Lands, and the Badlands. You’d seen that general terrain, and I think that was deliberate.

“But going from the high fantasy world of Azeroth in which I could spend thousands of hours as a player in the first few years of World of Warcraft into the crazy mushroom swamp with all of its odd inhabitants and mushroom people and the Broken, it was like, ‘OK, I’m not in Kansas anymore’.”

“It built the universe beyond the humbler high fantasy settings of Azeroth.

“Burning Crusade was also my last expansion as a player since I joined Blizzard right at the end of TBC for Wrath of the Lich King development.

“And those were for me as a player, that was the most memorable era for me.”

A lot of people look back at WoW’s history and see the following Wrath of the Lich King expansion as the pinnacle. It had that change of switching to Dungeon Finer, but people love the raids etc.. Are you looking forward to that on the WoW Classic team? Is that a natural endpoint? Has it crossed your minds? Is there anything you can say?

“Right now, we’re looking six days ahead of us.

“The launch of Burning Crusade Classic, and making sure it’s the best experience it can possibly be for everyone who is looking forward to it.

“Beyond that, as we did with figuring out where to go after WoW Classic, we’ll be listening to our community and trying to figure out what makes sense for their characters and their ongoing journey.

“But that’s as far as our plans extend right now.”

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