What is the level cap in Vanilla WoW?






During their history Blizzard Entertainment and their games have evolved considerably, starting with an arcade game and developing several projects such as Warcraft, Heroes of the Storm, Starcraft, Hearthstone, Overwatch, Diablo and of course World of Warcraft. All these games went through years of development, improvements and expansions. In this article we are going to take a closer look at WoW classic. 


Vanilla WoW


Vanilla WoW was first released in November 2004. It quickly became popular, since it was one of the first MMORPGs and on top of that one of the better ones. Nowadays World of Warcraft has approximately 7 million players, easily doubling the player base of the second in line The Elder Scrolls Online, which has around 3 million people playing it. Imagine the whole population of Hong Kong or Rio de Janeiro playing WoW. Every. Single. Person. This is the scale of the game, that we are talking about.


Of course every beginning is hard. Vanilla WoW was buggy and the class balance was mostly missing. The level cap was 60. However, as we already mentioned, this game world became very popular very quickly. As a result, at later dates many private servers sprang into existence and some of them rapidly became crowded, due to them offering almost identical to the original experience. This has forced Blizzard to release their own server with Vanilla WoW, duplicating the original one and this way capitalising on the market demand. 


Since it is the exact same version of the game, WoW Classic has its character level capped at 60. The original nine classes are: warrior, priest, mage, warlock, rogue, druid, hunter and paladin or shaman. The rest, that are currently available in the retail version of Battle for Azeroth, were added in later expansions. The same goes with the races and race/class combinations. 


The official Blizzard Vanilla server will have its content released in the same manner as it happened fifteen years ago: step by step and patch by patch. So, unlike the private servers, in the official one you’ll get a taste of the way that things happened back then, especially if you were in primary school in 2006. If you, however, are a grizzled veteran, who have already played WoW Classic, then you can stroke your white beard and remember the following:


  • The level cap was 60 (most other MMORPGs had their level caps at 50, so kudos, Blizzard)

  • The content was released in stages (after periods of a couple of months new content was released, e.g. Dire Maul, Blacking Lair, PvP honour system, battlegrounds, etc.)

  • You shouldn’t stand in the fire (just avoid it, no matter your fire resistance gear)

  • The game has the most ridiculous raids prequests (even some of the prequests have prequests)


After a couple of years, a new expansion rolled out: The Burning Crusade. Then Wrath of the Lich King came out, then Cataclysm, and so forth. Let’s check out how the game changed during the alter expansions, so we can have a better understanding of Vanilla. 


Later expansions


In 2006, Blizzard released The Burning Crusade. The level cap was raised to 70. You were now able to fly over terrain on new flying mounts. The continent of Outlands was introduced, complete with a whole new set of dungeons, quest zones, raids and reputations to grind. Two new races also became playable: the Draenei for the Alliance and the Blood elves for the Horde. This gave birth to the immortal classic Hey, Blizzard, leave the Horde alone, since the Horde had blood elves paladins now and the Alliance had Draenei shamans, ultimately balancing the difference between the two factions class distribution. 


After defeating Illidan in the Black temple and Kael in Sunwell Plateau, you’d be able to say that you mastered TBC. Then Wrath of the Lich King was released in November 2008 with a new level cap of 80. It took the players to the frozen continent of Northrend with its ultimate boss Arthas. In WOTLK a new class became playable: the Deathknight, which complemented to the whole theme of the expansion.


Cataclysm was released in December 2010 and followed WOTLK. It was the first expansion to have only five levels increase and the level cap was 85. The talent trees were substantially reworked and this is the time they started looking like their present retail versions. Also, Cataclysm brought permanent changes to many levelling zones, due to its, ahem, cataclysmic nature and due to Deathwing being mad at everyone and everything. Lastly, two new races became available: the Worgen for the Alliance and the Goblins for the Horde.


In September 2012 Mists of Pandaria was released with a level cap of 90. It featured the new southern continent of Pandaria, the Pandaren race and the monk class. The interesting thing about the pandas was that they were, and still are, the only neutral race. If you play a pandaren, you’ll be asked to join either the Alliance or the Horde at level 10. The decision is irreversible. Due to the game world’s lore, having a monk as a playable class was only natural. 


Warlords of Draenor came into being in November 2014. The level cap increased again and became 100, continuing the older tradition of a 10 levels increase. The storyline developed in Draenor, the orcs homeland before they came to Azeroth. Many new things characterise this expansion: the Mythic dungeon difficulty was introduced, together with the Garrisons and the 25 men Raid Finder, similar to the previously existing Dungeon Finder. 


In August 2016 Legion was released with a level cap of 110, breaking the tradition of releasing the new expansion during the autumn or winter. In Legion the Mythic+ dungeon difficulty became available, making it possible to spam the same dungeon on a different difficulty over and over again. The Order Halls replaced WoD’s Garrisons. You no longer needed to visit a trainer in order to respec but could change your specialisation at will via your talent tree. 


Lastly, the Demon Hunter was introduced as a playable class available only to Night elves and Blood elves, due to its lore in the game world. Lastly, the artifact weapons were added, which essentially gave a weapon, themed after a certain class specialisation and rooted deep in the lore of that class, e.g. holy paladins got Uther’s 2-handed mace, The Silver Hand. 


The current state of the retail version of World of Warcraft, Battle for Azeroth, was released in August 2018 with its level cap of 120. It introduced the war campaign scenarios and most interesting of all, the allied races. The Mag’har orcs, Kul Tiran humans and many more became playable in BFA. The artifact weapons were replaced by the neck called The Heart of Azeroth, which work on the same principle. Apart from these changes, BFA saw very little difference from Legion. 




As we discussed, World of Warcraft changed dramatically over the years. Together with the gameplay, the level caps changed, too, essentially doubling the cap from 60 in Classic WoW to 120 in Battle for Azeroth. 


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