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Dragon Fight Wallpaper

Demon hunter in vanilla promotional art.

Editor's note: This guide was largely written after the release of the Legion expansion pack but before the release of Battle for Azeroth and Classic. As such, some parts may be outdated or not be well covered anymore.

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 users, 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.

Game mechanics[]


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



  • You could not originally see the buffs placed on an enemy, only the debuffs placed by you or your friend. A mage could use Spell holy dizzy [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 Ability creature poison 05 [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.


  • According to Mark Kern, player characters weren't originally supposed to turn into ghosts when they died. Instead, they would go to the Emerald Dream, where they could meet characters who had died in the lore and who would give quests that could only be completed in the Emerald Dream. Players could either find a spirit guide to bring them back to the real world or stay in the Dream and complete quests.[2]
  • In the alpha, graveyards were not supposed to exist like today. Considering that altar of kings and troll Altar of Storms assets are present in the game files, it is possible that dead adventurers were meant to resurrect at altars like in Warcraft III instead.
  • At one point, Blizzard envisioned having "bind stones", which you would resurrect at on death. You could only bind yourself to one stone/place.[3] The shaman spell Spell nature astralrecal [Astral Recall] originally returned the player to their bind stone rather than their Inv misc rune 01 [Hearthstone] location.[4]
  • At one point, Blizzard considered including some special creatures in the world who would be able to see and attack players in ghost form.[5]
  • It was originally intended that players would be afflicted with Spell shadow deathscream [Resurrection Sickness] after being resurrected by another player's spell or Spell shadow soulgem [Soulstone]. Similarly, resurrecting at a Spirit Healer would cause the player to lose a certain amount of experience.[5] The World of Warcraft game manual, printed before the actual release, corroborates this.

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 Warlock curse shadow [Curse of the Elements] and Spell shadow curseofachimonde [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.
  • Many caster items had little or no bonus spell damage; Tier 1 and later sets would be revamped during patches to incorporate more.
  • 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.
  • Spell penetration was a stat until Mists of Pandaria. It was most commonly considered a PvP stat, used to overcome the resistance provided by Spell nature regeneration [Mark of the Wild]


  • 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[]


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


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


Auction houses[]

  • During the beta, each major city had its own special auction house but due to technical reasons they weren't linked like today.
  • At 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.
  • Linked auction houses were finally introduced in patch 1.9.0. All capitals got back their auctioneers, but their item pools were still separated by factions. It wasn't until patch 6.0.2 that they were merged together.



Burning Crusade clownsuit



  • 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.
  • Barbershops didn't exist until patch 3.0.2, and started out more limited than now: you couldn't change the face or skin color of your character.
  • 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.


  • 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 other players who was able to loot each mob, so this led to many "Loot the core hounds!"-like yells.
  • Patch 3.3.0 introduced the option to roll to Inv enchant disenchant [Disenchant] an item and receive the resulting materials, if an enchanter was present in the group.
  • Personal loot didn't exist until Mists of Pandaria.
  • Patch 8.0.1 made personal loot the default option for groups, removing all other loot systems (and with them the ability to roll to disenchant gear).


  • At release, most cities had only one mailbox. Sending mail to alts wasn't instant, and there was also of course no Achievement guildperk gmail [Guild Mail].
  • The ability to send Bind to Account items to alts on other realms was only introduced in patch 5.4.2.


  • The developers originally planned to include a way for players to obtain last names for their characters.[6]


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


Quest design was less streamlined and cinematic than currently due to the lack of phasing and scenarios. Furthermore, many high-level questlines forced players to travel back and forth all over the world in order to complete them, and before the addition of quest markers, some quests like H [20] Lost in Battle and N Hunter [60] The Ancient Leaf were notorious for their cryptic directions (or lack thereof). 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.

  • Blizzard's original intention was that quests would lead players to new areas and let them familiarize with their environment, and then players would have to grind mobs rather than follow a true storyline, as there wasn't supposed to be as many quests as now.[7]
  • Each playable race was originally planned to have an epic life quest which told the story of that race.[6][8] As they started implementing these life quests, however, the designers increasingly found that they felt canned rather than cool and individual since they gave the same backstory to every player character of a particular race. The designers ultimately steered in the direction of simply making epic high-level questlines with stories based around the NPCs, rather than trying to tell players what their character's life story is.[9]
  • During early development, quest text instantly appeared when talking to quest givers. However, Blizzard received feedback from their internal testers that there wasn't enough story in the game, which turned out to be because testers would simply skip the quest description and go straight to the objectives. To encourage people to actually read the lore, the designers made quest text appear gradually by "typing" across the quest interface instead of having it all pop up at once. An option of switching to the instantaneous quest text was later implemented.[10][11]
  • 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 Spell shadow auraofdarkness [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 player had finished his escort quest to start your own.


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.

  • One early idea during development was that players could specialize in mounts as a secondary skill. At higher levels, this would've allowed them to ride mounts normally only available to the opposing faction.[4]
  • 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.
  • Up until patch 3.0.8 several mounts were race-restricted, such as the mechanostriders which could only be ridden by dwarves and gnomes.
  • 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 Inv misc food 54 [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 Achievement zone draenor 01 [Draenor Pathfinder], which was implemented at the last minute. Legion followed up on that with Inv misc map06 [Broken Isles Pathfinder, Part Two], which was this time integrated in a more preventive way.
  • Achievement faction serpentriders [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 Inv moosemount [Reins of the Grove Warden] could be obtained only by killing Archimonde on Heroic or Mythic difficulty and loot the Ability felarakkoa feldetonation red [Remnant of Chaos] prior to the release of the Legion expansion. It was a big hint to the coming Emerald Nightmare storyline. Similarly, the Achievement reputation kirintor [Kirin Tor Summoning Crystal] could be obtained only by killing Argus the Unmaker on Heroic or Mythic difficulty and loot Inv misc crystalepic [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.
  • Learning and upgrading the riding skill required visiting a riding trainer and drop a total of 5,300g (without discount) to learn them all. This would change with patch 10.1.5 where upon reaching a certain level, the character will automatically learn the next riding skill.

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.


Main article: Leveling#Evolution
  • In very early layouts, it was shown that Blizzard originally counted on 70 being the level cap instead of 60.
  • According to Kevin Jordan, the level cap was set at level 60 because WoW was meant to appear to have more than Everquest, which had a level cap of 50.[12]
  • In beta patch 0.6, there were additional rested levels, including some that reduced the amount of experience you gained. The different states were "Well Rested" (200% XP), "Rested" (150% XP), "Normal" (100% XP), "Tired" (100% XP), "Fatigued" (50% XP) and "Exhausted" (25% XP).
  • Heirlooms didn't exist until Wrath of the Lich King, and leveling up required a higher amount of experience points than now.
  • The Character Boost function was initially introduced in Warlords of Draenor, with the Assault on the Dark Portal scenario serving as an introduction for everyone including boosted characters.
  • The zone scaling technology was already in place for the Broken Isles at the release of Legion, but it was only extended to the whole world of Warcraft with patch 7.3.5. Warchief's Command Boards and Hero's Call Boards were also updated, and Loremaster achievements were updated to require the completion of certain storylines instead of a fixed number of quests.
  • World of Warcraft: Shadowlands made multiple changes to better ease new players into the game and smooth out the leveling process, including...
  • Very early on in development for Shadowlands, 130 was inteded as the new level cap, as seen on unused template food items for level 125[13] and 130[14].


  • 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.


  • 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[]

User interface in Alpha

Alpha user interface.

Login screen World of Warcraft alpha

Alpha login screen with a different design for buttons.

World of Warcraft's user interface was designed to be simple and easy to understand, similar to Diablo II.[15] 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 for three Sunder Armor) were only available with specific add-ons, 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 Inv misc flower 02 [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.


  • Blizzard originally envisioned that players would be able to learn the languages of other races—including those of the opposing faction—though not easily.[3][6]
  • The in-game Calendar was introduced in Wrath of the Lich King.
  • Real ID and cross-game chat using was only introduced in patch 3.3.5. BattleTags were introduced in patch 5.0.4 and the ability to appear offline in was finally added in October 2017.
  • In addition to other perks for guilds, the developers originally planned to include "Guild Dungeon Instances".[6]
  • 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 other.

World bosses[]

World events[]


Highvale Ranger Classic

Highvale Ranger original model.


  • Some jokes were removed from the game for various reasons.
  • Blizzard originally planned for many more playable races in the original World of Warcraft than they had time to do. According to Mark Kern, at one point the team had "like 20 possible races or something ridiculous like that", with many subsequently getting cut during development.[16] Naga, demons and goblins were 3 of the 9 playable races originally planned, with demons planned to be shapeshifters.[17] Gnomes and trolls were added later in development.[18]
  • The division of the playerbase into two factions didn't exist during initial development of the game, and was inspired by the faction split in Dark Age of Camelot.[19]
  • 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.
  • A dance studio allowing players to customize their character's dancing animation was announced for Wrath of the Lich King but never implemented, and subsequently became a popular meme in fan discussions about scrapped features. The Auction House Dance Party and Darkmoon Dance Competition, likely inspired in part by the dance studio, were added in patch 7.2.5 and patch 9.2.0, respectively.
  • 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 was originally still possible to switch back to the old ones through a graphical option. Since Legion, however, even when the old models were activated, blood elves and night elves would 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.[20]
  • It is also in Legion that head tracking was added, meaning your character will try to look in the same direction as your current target.
  • Before Mists of Pandaria, the art teams tried to maintain 'unique silhouettes' for each race to keep members of the opposing faction easily identifiable even under armor models. This was also the reason for things like the orc's exaggerated slouch, which was rarely shown in prior media. With the introduction of pandaren, however, this notion 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, their language was called 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.[21]
  • At the release of the expansion pack blood elves had a racial ability called Spell arcane manatap [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 Spell shadow teleport [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.
  • Patch 8.0.1 introduced the possibility to have golden eyes as a character option.


  • Before Warcraft III really solidified, Chris Metzen envisioned demons as shapeshifters who used magical illusions and deceit,[22] and this version of demons was initially planned to be a playable race in classic World of Warcraft alongside naga and goblins.[22][23] According to Johnathan Staats, this was likely a relic from when the Burning Legion was planned to be a playable race in Warcraft III.[23] However, as Warcraft III developed, the demons got a lot more brutish, and on the development side, having a shapeshifting race proved too expensive as it would effectively entail making a whole additional race with its own animation sets in addition to the base race. Thus, playable demons were cut from classic WoW.[22]


  • 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.


  • In the original alpha, dwarves could already be mages (Dorfus Alphamage is a reference to that).[24]
  • 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, shaman or mages, possibilities only introduced in Cataclysm. Dwarves originally also had a passive racial trait named Racial dwarf findtreasure [Find Treasure], which was replaced by Inv misc map08 [Explorer] with the release of Cataclysm.

Forest trolls[]


Deathguard Lundmark

Deathguard Lundmark riding a nightmare.

  • The Forsaken almost didn't make the cut as a playable race in World of Warcraft due to the designers' animation workload and limited resources.[25]
  • The Forsaken racial mount was originally intended to be a demonic horse called a nightmare instead of the skeletal horse.[26][27] Even after release, Executor Zygand and Deathguard Lundmark rode felsteeds until their mounts got changed to skeletal horses in a later patch.
  • In the alpha they were simply known as "Undead" instead of "Forsaken".[24]
  • Forsaken player characters were originally classified as Undead instead of Humanoids, so they could be targeted by Spell holy excorcism 02 [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.[27]
  • In order to represent the political tensions within the Horde, the Forsaken originally started out as 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.



  • Goblins were initially envisioned to be a playable race for World of Warcraft but got cut along early.[22]
  • 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.[29]


Jungle trolls[]

  • Jungle 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".[24]
  • Before jungle trolls were made playable, all troll NPCs used a different model that was bulkier and similar to the Troll Berserker from The Frozen Throne. This model is still in the game and used by a few troll NPCs like Zanzil Mindslave and Chieftain Zul'Marosh.
  • 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 much more slouched like their male counterparts, then got a model that was more similar to the males and then finally got a model that stood straight.[1]
  • Up until Cataclysm they couldn't be druids or warlocks.


  • Naga were initially envisioned to be a playable race for World of Warcraft but got cut along early.[22] According to Mark Kern, the naga were Chris Metzen's favorite race and the one he regretted cutting the most.[16]

Night elves[]


  • The original ogre 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.


  • The iconic horned helmet of the orc grunt showed up in the earliest trailers, but was removed prior to the release of the game for reasons unknown and is no longer within the game's files.
  • One of the early trailers depicted a playable orc with a long full hairstyle. This hairstyle wasn't used in the full game for reasons unknown.
  • Up until Cataclysm, orcs couldn't be mages.
  • There exists unfinished assets for female fel orcs.[citation needed] 
  • Patch 8.0.1 introduced the possibility to have a straight back for playable orcs. The exaggerated posture of playable orcs was initially done for PvP silhouettes, but with the concepts being abandoned and the advancement of technology, it was decided to give players a choice to choose their orc's stance.


Pandaren The Burning Crusade BlizzCon 2011

Intended The Burning Crusade Alliance pandaren player race model, shown at BlizzCon 2011.

  • Originally the two The Burning Crusade races were supposed to be blood elf and pandaren.[7] 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 2005 to announce the draenei. See the History of pandaren in Warcraft.



Zandalari trolls[]


  • Blizzard have considered making drakonid a playable race, with Tom Chilton stating in 2009 that "We always looked at those and said, oh that would be a pretty cool player race - it would be cool to play as one of those guys. There's not a lot there as far as, where did they come from and what are they? But they are in the world and it wouldn't be completely inconceivable that a player would end up being able to play that, and we could continue to expand on the depth of that race and that sort of race."[30]
  • Before the introduction of the mastiff model in Cataclysm most dogs and hounds used hyena or even wolf models.
  • Before the introduction of the new eel model in Cataclysm, they used the mana wyrm model instead.
  • Before the Cataclysm revamp of Kalimdor, several silithid mobs used less-than-threatening models, like crabs or beetles, as was the case of the Silithid Protectors or Silithid Creepers.
  • Before Battle for Azeroth, saurid were called "compies" and used small red raptor models instead.



  • When deciding on the original nine classes in World of Warcraft, the designers looked at both traditional RPG classes and Warcraft III units for inspiration.[31]
  • The original idea for hero classes was that once a player hit level 40, they could start specializing in skills to become similar to Warcraft III hero units, with a few choices based on their race and class. For example, dwarf warriors could fulfill the fantasy of a mountain king, night elf hunters or warriors could specialize in dual-wielding to become demon hunters, and undead warriors could become death knights. In this way, each hero unit from the RTS games was planned to be represented in WoW. The hero class idea was dropped when talent trees ended up accomplishing most of the goals the designers wanted out of the idea in terms of specialization and identity.[4][32][33][34]
  • 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, shaman 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/shaman 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. During the Warlords beta prior to August 2014,[35] you would unlock a perk every level, meaning the list of perks was even longer.
  • During the alpha stages of Legion, all classes gained a teleport spell to their order hall, with 4 remaining to full release: Spell arcane teleportstormwind [Dreamwalk], Spell arcane teleportundercity [Death Gate], Spell arcane teleporthalloftheguardian [Teleport: Hall of the Guardian] and Spell monk zenpilgrimage [Zen Pilgrimage], and 8 being removed: Ability warlock demonicpower [Gateway: The Fel Hammer], Call Eagle Spirit, Spell holy lightsgrace [Guiding Light], Naaru Lightshift, Extraction Point, Ability thunderking overcharge [Stormcall], Ritual of Return and Skyjump.
  • Patch 8.0.1 added back several castable buffs (such as Spell holy magicalsentry [Arcane Intellect] or Ability warrior battleshout [Battle Shout]) and dispels (Ability hunter beastsoothe [Soothe], Spell nature removecurse [Remove Curse]) that had been removed over the years.
  • When the Dragonflight expansion was announced the revamped talents system user interface showed diamond shaped abilities on the sides of the talent tree which were a mechanic that the World of Warcraft developers are not planning to include in the final version of the talent tree.[36]

Death knights[]


The rune system's special portrait frame.

  • Death knights were considered as a playable class as early as vanilla, along with necromancers.[31] During the development of Wrath of the Lich King, Blizzard considered many ideas for what the expansion's hero class would be, which they narrowed down to four front-runners: death knight, necromancer, runemaster, and monk. Necromancers and runemasters ended up getting rolled into death knights.[37][38][39]
  • 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.[40] 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 portrait frame but this never made it 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: Spell deathknight bloodpresence [Blood Presence], Spell deathknight frostpresence [Frost Presence] and Spell deathknight unholypresence [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 Spell frost chainsofice [Chains of Ice] required frost runes.
    • Spell shadow deadofnight [Raise Ally] raised fallen allies as ghouls for a limited time and they gained new abilities.
    • The design intent was that all three specs could be dedicated tank specs; tank talents were placed in the early tier of each tree. However, the higher stamina and self-healing of Blood made it a much stronger tank spec than the other two from a very early point.
  • In Legion, the three presences were removed, as well as the rune types.

Demon hunters[]

  • A night elf demon hunter was featured in vanilla promotional art.
  • Playable demon hunters were considered as early as The Burning Crusade, but the developers weren't ready to add any new classes to the game at that point.[41] They were considered again for Wrath of the Lich King, but it was decided that they wouldn't make sense with the theme of the expansion.[41][42] It was not until Legion that an expansion arrived with a story and theme which fit the class.[42]
  • The addition of Telarius Voidstrider as early as Cataclysm could've been an early hint at the coming of playable demon hunters, but Trade archaeology highborne scroll [Writings of the Dark Herald] shows that the story for them might have originally been intended to be different.


  • Druids almost didn't make the cut as a playable class since the lore in Warcraft III stated that only male night elves could be druids. Creative director Chris Metzen was especially insistent that the designers stay true to this portrayal of the night elves. However, as the designers discussed which classes to include in the game, they kept coming back to the druid and eventually decided to slightly retcon the lore to let tauren and female night elves be druids as well, allowing the class to be included in the game. The WoW version of druids was designed as a combination of the various druid units in Warcraft III: the Druid of the Claw, the Druid of the Talon, and the Keeper of the Grove.[31]
  • Druids were intended to be able to shapeshift into storm crows as early as during the alpha.[24][4] This would have allowed them to bypass obstacles like mountains, but it was scrapped as it was deemed to be too powerful of an ability at the time.[6] They were also apparently meant to transform into nightsabers[24] as well as have a "scout form" which transformed them into rabbits and other critters (depending on the environment). The scout form did not have any offensive abilities, but enemies would see it as a neutral critter and therefore would not attack it.[3][4]
  • 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 didn't function or had reduced functionality indoors, such as Spell nature stranglevines [Entangling Roots] and Spell nature spiritwolf [Feline Swiftness].
  • In The Burning Crusade, Balance druids had a passive effect that allowed them to restore mana by hitting enemies with melee attacks while in Moonkin Form. Since the amount restored was based on their attack power, it was an effective tactic to bring a feral staff such as Inv staff 55 [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 Spell nature lightning [Innervate] to be used on a healer.
  • In The Burning Crusade, druids had a long questline to acquire Ability druid flightform [Swift Flight Form].
  • Ability druid improvedtreeform [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, Ability druid travelform [Travel Form] was actually four different spells: Travel Form, Ability druid aquaticform [Aquatic Form], Ability druid flightform [Flight Form] and Ability druid flightform [Swift Flight Form].


Before release
  • Hunters were inspired by the Headhunter, Ranger, and Huntress units from Warcraft III.[31]
  • The Marksmanship and Survival talent trees were respectively named "Ranged Combat" and "Outdoormanship" at some point.
  • Ability rogue feigndeath [Feign Death] was originally a rogue/druid ability.
  • During the beta, hunters used focus as their resource system and played completely different from the release version of vanilla. Focus would regenerate whenever the hunter stood still, but while this made them very unique, it ended up not being particularly fun, especially in a game with a lot of emphasis on movement in both PvP and PvE. The designers eventually gave hunters a mana bar instead and relied on their ranged combat and pets to distinguish them from other classes.[31] The focus bar was eventually re-added in a different form in Cataclysm.
  • Several of their abilities depended on Spell Damage, like Ability impalingbolt [Arcane Shot], and once a hunter even stacked Spell Damage gear for Ability hunter mendpet [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 Ability rogue feigndeath [Feign Death] + drink/swap gear.
  • Survival was already the "melee" tree and had a Ability gouge [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. Not all pets could eat all the types of food, some had preference for fish, others for meat, etc.
    • 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.
  • When the timer of Ability rogue feigndeath [Feign Death] ended hunters really did die.
  • 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 items 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.
  • When they started, hunters could wear leather armor but only gained access to mail armor after reaching level 40.
  • Hunters had a Ability eyeoftheowl [Eyes of the Beast] ability which let them directly control their pet.
  • Until The Burning Crusade, Spell nature drowsy [Tranquilizing Shot] could only be acquired by looting a Inv misc book 11 [Tome of Tranquilizing Shot] and was necessary to kill Magmadar.
  • Had a long questline to acquire Inv weapon bow 01 [Rhok'delar, Longbow of the Ancient Keepers] and Inv staff 21 [Lok'delar, Stave of the Ancient Keepers].
  • They originally didn't have their ranged weapons displayed on their back, only their melee weapons.
  • There were originally much more Animal Aspects.



BlizzCon 2011 monk forces

Light force and dark force, as depicted at BlizzCon 2011.

  • At the time of BlizzCon 2011, monks had no auto attack, instead relying entirely on active abilities. Their resources consisted of chi (an energy-like resource), 4 light force, and 4 dark force (also called "light chi" and "dark chi" by players). Chi was used by Ability monk jab [Jab] and Ability monk roll [Roll]. Jab generated light and dark force, which were used for "everything else."[43]
    • By March 2012, monks had been given the ability to auto attack, and their resources were simplified. Chi was replaced with mana for Mistweaver or energy for Brewmaster and Windwalker; and the "two forces" concept was dropped in favor of modern chi.[44] This was partly due to consistent feedback from monk playtesters that the light and dark resources were confusing, and partly because monks already had many abilities with unique effects. The developers began to think that it might be more fun to allow monks' complexity to stem from their abilities rather than their resource system.[45]
  • Monks had access to three different stances depending on how they intended to fight: Monk stance whitetiger [Stance of the Fierce Tiger], Monk stance wiseserpent [Stance of the Wise Serpent] and Monk stance drunkenox [Stance of the Sturdy Ox].


  • The inspiration for the paladin came almost straight from the Warcraft III Paladin. It was originally intended to be one of the easier classes to play since the designers found that new players tended to gravitate towards hybrid classes, which were typically easier to play than other classes in other MMORPGs at the time.[31]
  • At release, the paladin class was originally Alliance-only, being restricted to human and dwarves.
  • Paladins originally had auras and seals. Seals were originally planned to be abilities that created fixed buff areas on the ground, rather than simple self-buffs.[4]
  • Paladins had about a dozen seals removed, namely Spell holy sealoffury [Seal of Fury], Spell holy holysmite [Seal of the Crusader] and others. They also had Spell holy crusaderstrike [Crusader Strike] and Ability thunderbolt [Holy Strike] in beta.
  • The paladin Spell holy righteousfury [Judgment] spell worked a bit different. Each Seal had a different effect when unleashed, and casting Judgement also consumed the seal. For example, Spell holy holysmite [Seal of the Crusader] used to increase Holy damage taken, and Spell holy sealofblood [Seal of Command] (which was the most used seal) dealt Holy damage, and that damage was 3x higher if the target was stunned. In Wrath of the Lich King the Judgement spell was split into three different abilities instead: Ability paladin judgementred [Judgement of Justice], Spell holy righteousfury [Judgement of Light] and Ability paladin judgementblue [Judgement of Wisdom].
  • 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.
  • Spell nature timestop [Divine Intervention]: Removed in patch 4.0.1, this originally gave the paladin the ability to give their own life in order to protect an ally with an impenetrable shield for 3 minutes. Spell holy divineshield [Divine Shield] also originally lasted for 12 seconds, which gave them the possibility to "Bubble Hearth".
  • 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 Ability mount charger [Summon Charger]. Since it was a spell instead of a normal mount, it used to cost mana to summon.
  • Protection paladins had no taunt ability until the prepatch for The Burning Crusade, and would not gain a single target taunt until Wrath of the Lich King.
  • Offensive abilities for Protection and Retribution paladins were based on spell damage instead of Strength until Wrath of the Lich King.


  • The priest was based on the Warcraft III Priest unit. The designers wanted to portray the World of Warcraft priests as a caster class to separate them from the more traditional armored clerics seen in other roleplaying games. This also allowed them to give priests more damage potential than a typical cleric.[31]
  • During development, Spell shadow shadowworddominate [Mind Control] was an instant-cast Holy or Shadow Word called "Dominate". There were also two cut Holy/Shadow words called "Confusion" (stopped enemies from attacking) and "Fumble" (caused enemies to miss).[4]
  • During the early beta, priest's Spell holy innerfire [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 Spell holy excorcism [Fear Ward], no matter what your gear was.
  • Had a long questline to acquire Inv staff 30 [Benediction] and Inv staff 12 [Anathema].
  • During the early The Burning Crusade beta it seems priests were meant to be able to choose a Champion among their fellow players.
  • They originally had Spell holy mindsooth [Mind Soothe] in addition to Spell shadow shadowworddominate [Mind Control].


  • Unlike most other classes, rogues do not have a direct Warcraft III equivalent (except perhaps the Warden) and originate more from traditional RPG classes. Rogues were called "assassins" early in development. While this was arguably a cooler name, it ended up feeling overly narrow and limiting in terms of what the class could do and led to the class being renamed.[31]
  • Early on in development, rogues had a problem similar to warriors (see below) in that they felt monotonous to play as players would simply wait for their cooldowns and use their abilities whenever they became available. The designers wanted rogues to feel especially frenetic to play and introduced the energy bar and the combo point system to remedy this.[31]
  • During the alpha, rogues were planned to be able to learn disguises.[46][47] They all required linen or wool plus another item. The Stonesplinter trogg disguise required Inv shirt 05 [Stonesplinter Rags], the Dalaran wizard disguise required a Inv chest cloth 36 [Dalaran Wizard's Robe], the South Seas pirate disguise required a Inv shirt 12 [Deckhand's Shirt], the Defias footpad disguise required a Inv misc bandana 03 [Red Defias Mask], the Dark Iron dwarf disguise required Inv chest leather 10 [Dark Iron Leather] and the Syndicate disguise required a Inv jewelry talisman 05 [Mark of the Syndicate].
  • At release elite capital city guards such as the Thief Catchers originally didn't exist and were only added to counter rogues. Orgrimmar and its rooftops were still an easy target, so the Troll Roof Stalkers were added in The Burning Crusade.
  • Prior to Legion, the Outlaw specialization was named "Combat".
  • Rogue energy used to regenerate 20 every 2 seconds.
  • Ability stealth [Stealth] originally had levels and came with a movement speed penalty. Items like Inv boots 05 [Nightscape Boots] were even made to help.
  • Rogues had to spend 5 points in the Subtlety tree, to make sure their Ability sap [Sap] would not break stealth (20/40/60/80/100%).
  • Spell nature moonkey [Pick Lock] and Spell shadow grimward [Disarm Trap] required Inv misc gear 03 [Thieves' Tools]. Lockpicking itself was a profession that had to be leveled up by opening locked chests and lockboxes. Inv gauntlets 05 [Dark Leather Gloves] were made to help.
  • Rogues also had a poison brewing profession along with the related ingredients. Poisons had stacks that were spent on attacking, and rogues had to refresh poisons on their weapons during boss fights.
  • There was also a Ability spy [Detect Traps] ability with a "Swirly Ball" animation that they loved to spam.
  • During Legion, Outlaw rogues had a Inv misc coin 17 [Bribe] ability which convinced an appropriately-leveled humanoid NPC into fighting at their side for 5 minutes, giving the player control over them similar to a pet or minion.


  • The shaman was a combination of the orc caster units from Warcraft III: the Witch Doctor, the Shaman, and the Far Seer. The designers struggled somewhat with the previous lore's portrayal of orc shaman as powerful warriors who wielded shields and weapons, since they wanted shaman to stay distinct from World of Warcraft's warriors but not be as powerful. They settled on portraying World of Warcraft's shaman as "mage fighters", with the emphasis on "mage" first and "fighter" second.[31]
  • Shaman originally didn't have totems at all. This made them less interesting to play than mages and other casters, so the designers incorporated the totems from the Warcraft III Witch Doctor. One early approach was that each totem spell could be cast separately, but this led to players using up to 8-10 totems in every single combat and leaving them everywhere they went, which became a problem especially when there were multiple shaman in an instance group. Another approach was to have only a single totem, but this was too far in the other direction and made it feel like the class only had a single spell gimmick. The designers finally settled on basing the totems around the four elements, which felt like a right mix between the two approaches and also fit with the existing shaman lore.[31] At release, shaman had access to many more totems, many of which were eventaully merged, and there was no adapted UI to handle them. They eventually got a Totem Bar but lost it after. Shaman also had to physically carry the totems themselves in their bags until special relic totems were created.
  • At release, the shaman class was originally Horde-only, being restricted to orcs, trolls, and tauren.
  • Shaman 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.
  • When they started, shaman could wear leather armor but only gained access to mail armor after reaching level 40.
  • Shaman had weapon enhancements such as Spell fire flametounge [Flametongue Weapon], Spell shaman unleashweapon earth [Rockbiter Weapon] and Spell shaman unleashweapon wind [Windfury Weapon].


Succubus Old

Release succubus, updated a few months later.

  • Warlocks were one of the first classes designed for the game. Rather than stemming from traditional RPG classes or Warcraft III units, the class originated more from Warcraft's lore about orc warlocks. The designers especially thought it'd be interesting for Alliance races to have access to warlocks since it would allow even the more "good" or friendly races to play a more evil class.[31]
  • 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.
  • Spell shadow antimagicshell [Anti-Magic Shell] was originally intended to be a warlock spell during the alpha.[24]
  • The idea for warlock minions came about early on in development but went through a few iterations. The designers wanted to avoid simply having a progression system where players unlocked more powerful minions as they leveled up, since it'd mean that players would only use their most powerful minion and the lower-level ones would become obsolete. One idea was that every minion would be extremely powerful and only summoned for a limited time before disappearing and going on cooldown, meaning players would cycle through them and summon a different demon for each fight. One problem with this concept was that players preferred being able to pick which minion to use depending on the situation. Another was that fights could last for any variable of time and it'd feel bad for a group if the warlock's minion disappeared mid-combat. This led to the iteration seen in the release version of the game, where the different minions are designed similar to player classes in that each has a specific purpose that works best in specific situations.[31] 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 fewer clothes, but they added more in patch 1.4.0.
    • Infernal minions were originally summoned by Spell shadow summoninfernal [Inferno], which consumed an Inv stone 05 [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 Warlock sacrificial pact [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.
  • Warlocks originally had access to more curses, such as Spell shadow unholystrength [Curse of Recklessness] and Spell shadow curseofachimonde [Curse of Shadow]. They also had banes, which worked similarly.
  • Soul shards were originally items that had to be farmed by draining the soul of experience or honor-giving mobs. As such, when casting Spell shadow detectlesserinvisibility [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 Warlock healthstone [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.
  • Warlock healthstone [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 Spell shadow shadesofdarkness [Create Soulwell] spell was added in The Burning Crusade warlocks had to summon healthstones individually for each person.
  • Firestones and spellstones were items that were used in offhand slots (and later in wand slot).
  • The Felsteed mount was originally called the "Nightmare", and was intended to be the Forsaken racial mount in early alpha.[26]
  • Had a long questline to acquire a Ability mount dreadsteed [Dreadsteed]. Since it was a spell instead of a normal mount, it used to cost mana to summon.
  • Spell shadow twilight [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.
  • Spell fire incinerate [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.
  • Similar to the now-removed mage armors, warlocks had Spell shadow ragingscream [Demon Skin]/Spell shadow ragingscream [Demon Armor] and Spell shadow felarmour [Fel Armor].
  • Before the introduction of demon hunters in Legion and starting from Wrath of the Lich King, Demonology warlocks had a Spell shadow demonform [Metamorphosis] ability that transformed them. Inv glyph majorwarlock [Glyph of Demon Hunting] even gave them Spell shadow metamorphosis [Dark Apotheosis], which let them become tanks. Warlocks were the only non-tank class that could finish gold level tanking Proving Grounds because of it.
  • Up until Legion all three spec used to have a different resource system with Inv misc gem amethyst 02 [Soul Shards] for Affliction, Ability warlock eradication [Demonic Fury] for Demonology and Ability warlock burningembers [Burning Embers] for Destruction.
  • Up until Legion warlocks could also summon a wider variety of demons through the Warlock grimoireofcommand [Grimoire of Supremacy] talent.


  • Moreso than other classes, warriors were inspired by traditional character classes from Dungeons & Dragons and other roleplaying games. While there are many warrior units in the Warcraft RTS games, there was no single unit the World of Warcraft designers used for inspiration.[31]
  • During development, warriors originally didn't have a rage bar, which made them very uninteresting to play since players would just press the button for each ability whenever they came off cooldown with little decision-making involved. The designers looked to other genres for inspiration and eventually got the idea for the rage bar from fighting games.[31]
  • 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.
  • At release warriors had access to three different stances depending on how they intended to fight: Ability racial avatar [Berserker Stance], Ability warrior offensivestance [Battle Stance] and Ability warrior defensivestance [Defensive Stance].
  • 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.
  • With the original iteration of Ability defend [Shield Block], warriors were the only class that could push crushing blows off the combat table, making them the default raid tanks.


  • Necromancers were considered as a playable class in vanilla, alongside death knights.[31] According to Kevin Jordan the only reason necromancers weren't a class in WoW is because Everquest had necromancers and the development team didn't want to do what they did so they did warlocks instead.[48] They were considered again for Wrath of the Lich King and were envisioned as ranged casters who used abilities like "corpse explode", but ended up getting rolled into death knights.[37][39]
  • The runemaster was a planned class that was scrapped early in vanilla's development.[39] According to John Staats, the runemaster was replaced by the druid,[49] while according to Kevin Jordan it was replaced by the warlock in the role of a "freak class" that deviated from standard RPG tropes.[32] Runemasters were considered again for Wrath of the Lich King and were envisioned as a rogue- or monk-type melee class who wrote runes on their bodies to give them different physical powers. A lot of the runemaster's features ended up getting rolled into death knights and later, monks.[37][39][50]


WoW Town Hall Duskwood 7

Torches and Survival Skills.

During the game's original development, the designers made a distinction between professions and "minigames" like Fishing. While professions were planned out early on, minigames had to be implemented using extra code, and as a result there were several planned minigames that didn't make the cut to the final game.[51]


  • In the alpha, tradeskills were directly linked to level – you couldn't buy one of the three levels in a tradeskill (which each unlocked how far your skill could advance in the tradeskill) without skill points, which were earned by leveling.[27]
  • 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 a 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 Inv misc monsterscales 02 [Red Whelp Scale] which only dropped from a single type of mob in the world. Other examples are Inv potion 33 [Blood of Heroes], Inv misc gem pearl 03 [Righteous Orb], Inv potion 22 [Larval Acid], and Inv misc gem 02 [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 Inv mace 2h blacksmithing 01 [Thunder]), a mooncloth tailor, and so on. These specializations were often associated with 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 a <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 Ability golemthunderclap [Toughness], Inv misc organ 01 [Master of Anatomy] and Spell nature wispsplodegreen [Lifeblood]. These buffs were later removed for balance reasons, but Inv fabric soulcloth [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 are now split into expansion-themed categories, which means you won't have to grind to be able to work on Cataclysm content in order to use recipes from later one, for example. The four Classic stages of Apprentice, Journeyman, Expert, and Artisan were merged. The next ranks were previously Bc icon Master, Wrath-Logo-Small Grand Master, Cataclysm Illustrious Grand Master, Mists of Pandaria Zen Master, Warlords of Draenor Draenor Master and Legion Legion Master.







First Aid[]


  • Fishing wasn't originally slated for inclusion in World of Warcraft, as it wasn't considered a profession but rather a minigame. It was added to the game after Mark Kern requested it as a gift for his wife, who loved fishing both in real life and in Japanese RPG games. Kern approached Eric Dodds, who together with Sam Lantinga put together a working prototype after a couple of days. Kern showed the build to his wife, but she hated it since it was too passive and lacked the action component of JRPG-style fishing. Nevertheless, the WoW developers subsequently decided to include the activity in the final version of the game. (Kern's wife did later come around to liking the minigame.)[52][53][54][55]
  • Fishing poles were originally required to fish.
  • You had to buy the Inv misc book 08 [Expert Fishing - The Bass and You] book in order to gain the level of expert.
  • The Stranglethorn Fishing Extravaganza had a few more intended rewards, such as the Inv helmet 31 [Worn Fishing Hat] meant to be rewarded after turning in the Inv misc fish 31 [Pale Ghoulfish].
  • There was a Kalu'ak Fishing Derby until it was removed and its rewards were merged into the Stranglethorn Fishing Extravaganza.
  • Fishermen could summon two unique bosses in Vanilla and The Burning Crusade: Gahz'ranka and the Lurker Below.


  • Herbalism was originally one of the only gathering professions to not require a special tool (for example, a Inv pick 02 [Mining Pick]). When these special tools were converted into skill-boosting items, the Inv misc shovel 01 [Herbalist's Spade] item was added in order to keep the profession on the level.
  • The Inv misc herb chamlotus [Chameleon Lotus] was removed from the Warlords of Draenor beta.





  • In the alpha, Spell nature earthquake [Find Minerals] only lasted for a minute, and could be upgraded to last for five minutes.[27]
  • The following mining materials were never released: Froststeel, Blacksteel, Azurite.
  • Mining took more than one cast to pick up everything from a node, but still only gave one skill per node.
  • Mining Picks were originally required to mine.


Survival Skills[]

  • During the alpha this was a profession used for making campfires (in basic and bright varieties) and torches.[27] 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 Inv potion 132 [Inky Black Potion] introduced in patch 7.2.0 can bring back darker nights!
  • Jiming reuses an unused ID originally called World Survival Trainer <Survival Trainer>.
  • Survival Skills were intended to use fewer of the aforementioned skill points than other professions.


Other professions and minigames[]

  • Brewing, Cartography and Foraging were planned at some point, leaving no information behind besides some datamined trainers and vendors. They were removed when the alpha ended.[6][27]
  • The developers originally had a list of tradeskills they wanted to add "as soon as possible" after the game's initial release, one of which was the ability to craft bows and arrows.[28] No dedicated tradeskill for this was ever added; craftable arrows were first introduced with the addition of the Inv crate 03 [Adamantite Arrow Maker] in The Burning Crusade, and the first craftable bow (the Inv weapon bow 60 [Overpowered Chicken Splitter]) wasn't added until Cataclysm.
  • Aside from Fishing, another minigame that Mark Kern really wanted to include in World of Warcraft was an in-game trading card game. Cards were supposed to drop from mobs and be redeemable for physical cards so the game could be played in the real world as well. The game would be playable anywhere in the game world, but ranked play would only be accessible in inns, boats, and zeppelins, as a way of making those places feel more meaningful and encouraging players to gather in them.[51][56] It's unknown to what extent this idea influenced the later World of Warcraft Trading Card Game and Hearthstone.
  • Soul Cyphering was intended as a way to combat the hardships of the Maw in a manner of different ways, either through stat increases or other quality of life upgrades. It was scrapped in early alpha, but parts of the system was used for the anima powers in Torghast, Tower of the Damned.
  • Blizzard Entertainment also planned to add a feature called "The Wild Hunt" in early World of Warcraft patches, that would have been a scavenger hunt taking players to various locations around all of Azeroth.[57] No relation to the Wild Hunt faction that ended up added in Shadowlands.


Whistle of the Ivory Raptor

Ability mount raptor [Whistle of the Ivory Raptor].

Zones and storylines[]

Common (zones)[]

  • Early in development, the in-game day/night cycle was much faster, with an entire in-game day lasting only 4 to 5 hours. However, Allen Adham insisted on having a 24-hour cycle reflecting the real time of day, inspired by Animal Crossing. In addition, he wanted the game world to change at night—such as by having vendors close their stores in the evening and force the players to come back the next day—in order to enhance immersion. The other developers agreed to the idea and decided that they wanted the world to feel significantly more dangerous at night, but the only remnant of this that made it into the final game was Pyrewood Village and its shapeshifting worgen inhabitants.[59]
  • Boat and zeppelin rides were originally supposed to take between 20 and 30 minutes in order to give players more of a sense of world, similar to in EverQuest.[60] Instead of having instantaneous transportation or loading screens, players would see the ship physically travel to its destination.[3] To help players pass the time, the ship rides were supposed to have activities like random attacks (by harpies, pirates, etc.) and minigames such as gambling[3][60] and the planned in-game card game.[56] This is the reason for why ships and zeppelins have interior spaces.[60]
  • 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.
  • 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, starting with patch 2.0.3, Blizzard took more care in keeping only one instance of various NPCs in the world at a time. 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. Hemet Nesingwary abandoned his camp and was replaced by Hemet Nesingwary Jr., having already left them for Outland. Similarly, despite its lore importance, the quest where Thrall first heard of the Mag'har was cut out entirely when he left Orgrimmar to become a shaman. Nowadays and for example, while Garrosh Hellscream isn't present in Orgrimmar anymore, most of the quests in which he appeared in the world are still accessible. The intent seems to have been to keep coherent the appearance of various NPCs throughout time, so that each area moves forward with the rest of the world, but it has always varied whether a moment is “stuck” in time or not.
    • Relatedly, it appears NPCs could not share the same name and function differently. Tirion Fordring was an NPC named Lord Tirion Fordring for his role in N [60G] In Dreams. Marshal Windsor becomes Marshal Reginald Windsor when he regains his gear and Reginald Windsor when he reached Stormwind. Unlike Tirion coming to terms with his role as a paladin, there is no lore reason why Windsor's name change needed to happen. As a borderline case, Nexus-Prince Haramad existed alongside Image of Nexus-Prince Haramad, despite both of them being holograms, but a combat-focused NPC also called Nexus-Prince Haramad was able to exist for a brief moment after turning in N [25-30G] Full Triangle.

Common (dungeons and raids)[]

Scholomance Dark Portal

Caer Darrow during the alpha.

  • The original plan for World of Warcraft was to have copypasted, public micro-dungeons instead of instanced dungeons.[61]
  • 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 (though other developer comments suggest that an actual new Dark Portal would have been built there).
  • 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. Molten Core and Onyxia were 40-player raids. In patch 1.3.0, most dungeons were capped at 10 players while Blackrock Spire was capped at 15. Patch 1.5.0 later introduced the first 20-player raid, Zul'Gurub. 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. Patch 1.10.0 finally capped all dungeons at 5 players, and Blackrock Spire at 10.
    • Upper Blackrock Spire and Lower Blackrock Spire were originally a single instance, with the Upper section tuned for 10 players and the lower section tuned for 5. The instance portal was located in the Hall of Blackhand, and the door into Upper Blackrock Spire could only be opened with a key. As a result of containing areas tuned for two different group sizes, Lower Blackrock Spire was for a long time the only dungeon that could be run with a larger group than intended. Patch 4.0.3a retuned Upper Blackrock Spire for 5 players and capped the instance at 5 players. The two sections were eventually split into separate instances in Warlords of Draenor.
  • 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 the 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 Warlock healthstone [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 Ability rogue feigndeath [Feign Death] to drop out of combat and use Inv misc enggizmos 10 [Goblin Jumper Cables] on people.
  • There were often optional bosses and rooms that required special items to be accessed, like the Inv potion 24 [Blood of Innocents] that summoned Kirtonos the Herald, or the Inv spear 01 [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 player in a wide radius; for example, the Inv misc head dragon 01 [Rallying Cry of the Dragonslayer] and the Spell arcane teleportorgrimmar [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! More are listed at the signs of victories page.
  • 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 Spell nature moonkey [Pick Lock] skill) to want payment for being there. The key mechanic and the keyring were removed in patch 4.2.0.
    • Parts of some dungeons could also simply be skipped by having the right key, like with the Inv misc key 10 [Crescent Key] of Dire Maul.
    • Locksmiths offered the ability to restore some keys in case the player lost them. These NPCs remain in the game even after 4.2, but they no longer serve any gameplay function and instead simply lament the fact that they've been run out of business.
  • 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 to 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 was 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.
  • During Legion you could obtain an item from a dungeon-type mission, which in turn offered a dungeon quest. Examples are 70 professions scroll 02 [Black Rook Missive], Inv misc bone skull 03 [Head of Thar'zul] and Creatureportrait illidancrystal01 [Sanguine Argunite]. They were removed and Achievement garrison horde pve [There's a Boss In There] was made a legacy achievement before the release of Battle for Azeroth.

Original alpha/beta zones[]

The game was originally planned to launch with around 6 major continents.[15] This was eventually downscaled to only two: the Eastern Kingdoms and Kalimdor.

Goblin area situated on the map

Original planned continents, including Kezan (originally labeled as Undermine) and Nazjatar.

Dragon Isles

Emerald Dream

Main article: Emerald Dream (unreleased)


Vanilla zones[]

Arathi Highlands and Arathi Basin



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 going to be cut,[1] as it did not appear that it would be ready in time for release. The developers managed to finish the instance in a single week to ensure that it would be playable at launch.
  • The Molten Core raid entrance was originally in Blackrock Depths,[63] 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, Inv jewelry amulet 04 [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 Inv potion 76 [Aqual Quintessence] sold by the Hydraxian Waterlords, and the reward for being revered with them was a permanent, non-consumable Inv potion 83 [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.[63]

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 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.[66]
  • 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.
  • There was originally to be a questline to reveal the fate of Keanna through her facet.
  • 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

Old Ironforge floors

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 the game because it had two floors instead of one; the one that exists today is smaller than the original version. 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 spot for explorers despite being inaccessible.
  • Before Cataclysm, a major event happened in Dun Morogh so the gnomes could retake Gnomeregan: Operation: Gnomeregan. This led to Gnomeregan becoming the new gnomish starting zone instead of Coldridge Valley.

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.[67]
  • 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. This led to the Echo Isles becoming the new troll starting zone instead of the Valley of Trials.
  • 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.


Dustwallow Marsh and Theramore Isle


Varian Wrynn at Alcaz Island.

  • 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.[68]

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.[63] 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.
  • Inv potion 33 [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 a 45-minute timer to Stratholme for the quest N [60D] Dead Man's Plea. Many players considered beating the timer to be a sort of "hard mode," though succeeding provided no benefit beyond completing the quest.
  • 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.[69]
  • 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.[3]
  • 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.[70]
  • 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 Inv misc flower 02 [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

Old dalaran

Dalaran dome.

  • During the original beta, Garona was an NPC in Ravenholdt Manor.
  • At release the Hillsbrad Foothills were two different zones: Hillsbrad Foothills and Alterac Mountains.
  • Southshore and Tarren Mill were both very different-looking than now. Hallow's End originally involved a stink bombs battle between the two cities.
  • Instead of the Dalaran Crater, the ruins of Dalaran were still there, being rebuilt under an opaque dome.
  • Purgation Isle was populated only by purposeless elite ghosts.
  • Helcular was originally a mob summoned after completing H [33] Helcular's Revenge. He was originally very weak compared to the Southshore Guards, but when their elite status was removed in The Burning Crusade he became able to wreak havoc quite effectively.
  • Back when it was released in patch 1.5.0, Alterac Valley was bigger and more complex than now:
    • It had several now inaccessible areas such as Wildpaw Ridge and Winterax Hold, populated by Syndicate, gnoll and ice troll mobs. One of these trolls was named Korrak the Bloodrager and he was the objective of the quest that rewarded Inv weapon crossbow 07 [Bloodseeker] and Inv spear 04 [Ice Barbed Spear].
    • There were more Alliance and Horde troops, with many more officers similar to the Frostwolf Warmasters and the Stormpike Marshals, and NPCs were generally more powerful. Mine layers were laying out explosives on the battlefield. Although they still exist, the various summons such as Lokholar the Ice Lord and the Wing Commanders were also used more often because there was no reinforcements resource mechanic and as such the only way to finish the battleground was to kill the opposite general; the battles could rage on for days. You could even get Inv gizmo 08 [Zinfizzlex's Portable Shredder Unit] to help by turning in enough components.
    • You could loot grisly trophies on the bodies of your enemies, such as Inv misc bone 03 [Dwarf Spine] and Inv misc bone 08 [Orc Tooth]. This system was later partially reinstated in Ashran.
    • The low level rams and wolves in the battleground were added so that lower level players who joined the battle could kill them to level up as well as upgrade friendly troops with turn-in items.


  • During the conception phase for the game, the area was originally meant to be called "Aerie Peaks".[71]

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 other, with even guild groups, spectators and bets being planned.[3]
  • During the alpha, Booty Bay was named Blackwater Cove and was designed differently. However, with the way boat transportation was going to work (with boats needing space for their travel arc), change was needed. Booty Bay was one of the first areas that got textured in-game and was used as a proving ground for many of WoW's frame rate issues.[72]
  • 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 Ability mount jungletiger [Swift Zulian Tiger] and the Ability mount raptor [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 fewer 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 Inv misc gem emerald 03 [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 a 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 closed, he was originally 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. The Stone Watcher of Norgannon there told he required the Plates of Uldum.
  • 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.[3] It seems that now the island has taken the same name as the tree and there is no distinction between the two anymore.
  • 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 map

Old Scarlet Monastery before being 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.[73][74] 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 a non-instanced elite area,[61] 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.


The Burning Crusade zones[]

Outland was originally planned to be accessible from level 54 and above,[76] which later got changed to level 58.


  • It was originally said that the various dimensional gateways in Outland would eventually be opened to explore other planets, and maybe find Turalyon and Alleria Windrunner.[66] A similar idea was finally implemented a decade later, with the Invasion Points and patch 7.3.0.
  • The initially planned setting for WoW's first expansion was not Outland, but rather the South Seas on Azeroth. However, due to server limitations, the developers were unable to add more zones to the existing Eastern Kingdoms and Kalimdor and instead decided to use Outland for the expansion, as it would be on a separate realm.[77]

Blade's Edge Mountains

Eversong Woods and Silvermoon City

Ghostlands and Zul'Aman

Hellfire Peninsula and Hellfire Citadel


Concept art of a Hellfire Peninsula battleground

  • 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.[79] The goal was to have many warlock players recreate the Book of Medivh.[67]
  • 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 Spell arcane blink [Blink] through the Deadmines portal and glitch it, then cast Spell magic featherfall [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.[66] According to Computer Gaming World, this battleground was part of the Caverns of Time and would take players back to when the humans and orcs fought here 30 years earlier, before Draenor was ripped apart.[80]
  • 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-minute 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.[81]
  • 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.


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[]



Borean Tundra

  • There was originally supposed to be a storyline here about the naga melting the ice caps.[85]

Crystalsong Forest


Dragonblight concept map

Dragonblight concept map.

  • An early concept map of the zone shows many differences with the end result: a camp of "ice pirates" and their frozen fleet, Icemist Village being an actual Horde settlement and not a quest area, New Hearthglen being absent (but possibly denoted as a "Coastal Fortress"), an entrance to the Azjol-Nerub zone beneath Icecrown, the dragon shrines being arranged differently, a flooded town of evil vrykul and another settlement of vrykul dragon hunters.
  • Blizzard said that we might one day see more Sanctums in the Chamber of Aspects.[86]

Howling Fjord and Utgarde Keep

Icecrown and Icecrown Citadel

Grizzly Hills

  • While more speculation than anything, it seems the objective of the A [15-30] 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 [30R] All Is Well That Ends Well was removed while N [30R] 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.


  • 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.

Mount Hyjal Archimonde skeleton

Archimonde's skeleton at Mount Hyjal.


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).


  • The zone was originally internally named "Deephome", like in the Warcraft RPG.[75]

Gilneas and Gilneas City

Mount Hyjal

  • In the early alpha, Hyjal was concepted to be "an ultra high-level raid zone", filled with demons and dragons battling each other. The challenge would have been to re-purify the Well of Eternity, with a "familiar skeleton chained to a rock" nearby.[98]
  • 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.

Early Twilight Highlands' layout, with Deathwing's scar.

Twilight Highlands, Grim Batol, and Bastion of Twilight

  • When concepted, the Twilight Highlands were originally meant to be where Deathwing went after emerging from the Deathwing Scar, with the black dragon starting below Dun Morogh, going through the Scar of the Worldbreaker and then ending up bisecting Grim Batol's mountain. The only remnant of that is the Scarred Terrace in the Grim Batol dungeon, where something humongous cut half of the city down, exposing molten stone.
    • It is as such possible that Grim Batol was once concepted as a raid rather than a 5-man dungeon. As said above Deathwing originally sought something beneath its halls. Wowhead records at least one weapon with "Grim Batol Raid" in its name. The files for the dungeon's minimap are also called "GrimBatolRaid". Given that Night of the Dragon originally said that Sintharia dwelt beneath Grim Batol, the Bastion of Twilight (in which Sintharia is the last boss) might have been originally intended to be either geographically under Grim Batol, or to consist of concepts that were originally created for the tentative Grim Batol raid.
  • 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.[99] This intro was eventually scrapped and replaced by another one involving Fargo Flintlocke.
  • 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.


  • The Twilight's Hammer cult was initially concepted to be present in Uldum, having three camps there.[100] In the live version of the game, the cultists have no presence in the zone.

Vashj'ir and Throne of the Tides

  • There was supposed to be an Abyssal Maw raid for patch 4.1.0, which got cut along with the end of Neptulon's storyline due to a lack of time. A third Vashj'ir ancient was to appear here.[7] Speculations are that Nar'jira was supposed to appear there as well.
    • The end of Neptulon's storyline could have been related to the potent weapon that allows its owner to control the seas of Azeroth mentioned on the original Abyssal Maw official page.[101]
    • A lengthy quest-line from the 4.1.0 PTR which took place in the Steam Pools of Feralas was cut and could've potentially led to the aforementioned Abyssal Maw raid.
    • Greg Street believed that even if it had launched, the instance would have turned out close to the Ruby Sanctum; a quick experience with reused content.[7]
  • The B [30-35] Call of Duty quests originally had a longer scripted event where a kraken was involved.
  • The B [30-35] Defending the Rift quests originally had a longer scripted event where submarines were involved.

Mists of Pandaria zones[]


Early layout.


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 a 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.
  • There was also another cut battleground, "Heroes Through Time".

Vale of Eternal Blossoms

Wandering Isle

Warlords of Draenor zones[]

Draenor early layout

Early layout.

Draenor alpha map

The Draenor satellite map during alpha.

WorldMap-Draenor beta

The Draenor world map during beta.


  • 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. A fouth level was also planned for the garrisons, further increasing the number of building slots.
  • In the early maps of Warlords of Draenor, there were 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,[103] 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.[104] High Centurion Tormmok still mentions having campaigned on two continents.[105]
    • The Inv misc book 09 [Waterlogged Journal] mentions the ogres taking orc slaves across the sea.
  • Operation: Aardvark is an unreleased faction.



Ashran BC 2013 - zone3

Early Stormshield.

  • 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.


  • 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.
  • There was to be a mine area called Blightstone Quarry.
  • 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. It can also be seen on a strategic map at Skysea Ridge.

Frostfire Ridge

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


  • 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 seem to be two incomplete storylines in the same region.
  • The background and ideology of alternate Orgrim Doomhammer were 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.[113]
  • A qiraji prophet called The Thing in the Cave was meant to appear.

Nagrand and Highmaul

Nagrand Artcraft 6

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 a military base were in Shadowmoon, launching a full-scale assault on Karabor. In the overworld, Lusia Moonwhisper a SI:7 agent and the adventurer sent by Khadgar and Mathias Shaw would sabotage its reinforcements as part of A [100] A Threat We Can't Ignore. A bonus objective to kill the orcs would also occur here. The assault was to be ultimately repelled in a scenario called "Purge of Grommar". Vindicator Maraad would assist here and all the orcs including Orrok the Spearmaster and Commander Vorka would be killed.
  • Among the removed alpha locations are Akama's Scar, Gar'mak Quarry, Grommar, the Iron March, and the Shadowmoon Overlook.
  • 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


  • Shattrath City was originally intended to be a raid area,[114] maybe the "missing tier" between Blackrock Foundry and Hellfire Citadel. Since Hellfire Citadel was retooled[115] 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.
  • One idea for destroying the Dark Portal was originally to use a mana bomb, as seen in N [90] Tanaan 01: Front of the Portal.

Zangar Sea

Legion zones[]

Broken Isles concept art Jimmy Lo

Concept map by Jimmy Lo.



  • As stated by the developers, 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 [theirs] 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.[119] 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.[120]
  • 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.
  • The Image of Aegwynn and Velen were originally to help purify the Maiden of Vigilance.[121]

Class Halls

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 [45] 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 map

Thal'dranath still appearing on in-game maps.

Suramar and Suramar City


  • 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.


  • 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[]



Island expeditions

Stormsong Valley

  • Crestfall was seemingly going to be added in Battle for Azeroth as a subzone of the valley,[122] but was later renamed "Storm's Watch"[123] and eventually Stormwatch Peak.[124]
  • Early screenshots showed Brennadam covered in quilboar thorns instead of under Horde attack,[125] and the Horde plot-line was a late rewrite of the zone.[126]
  • In early previews, the naga aimed to destroy the levee holding back the sea at Fort Daelin, in order to plunge the fertile valley (back) into the naga-infested depths.[127] While the final battle with the Pride of Azshara takes place at the levee between the fort and Deadwash, this is not mentioned in game.


  • In the PTR for patch 8.3.0, an early version of the zone was accidentally added. This early version reveals that N'Zoth's gigantic body was supposed to appear in the zone, behind the Eternal Palace. Some of this was reused for Ny'alotha.[128]



Shadowlands zones[]

  • Ardenweald was originally planned to be part of Bastion, thus splitting the zone between a light, heavenly side and a dark, celestial forest side. However, the developers eventually decided that the latter idea was unique and interesting enough to deserve its own separate zone.[129]
  • The end section of the N [60] The Highlord Calls questline got removed in patch 9.1.0, starting at N [60] Explore Torghast and ending at N [60] The Captive King.

Dragonflight zones[]

Forbidden Reach

Player vs. Player[]


  • 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 physical entrance portals 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 an "INV PLZ" spamfest during the first minutes. If you were not grouped you could help kill enemy players yet get no honor to 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 the 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, while still in the spawn area.
  • Battlegrounds originally did not award experience at all. When Blizzard introduced experience gain in the battleground, twinks complained.
  • Marks of Honor were rewarded for participating in battlegrounds.


Realms and connecting[]

WoW Launcher New

Blizzard Launcher.

  • 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 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 Desktop app in August 2013.
    • There was originally no unified account.
    • In vanilla and for some time after, it was also possible to manually install patches.
    • The brand itself was retired on 23 March 2017. The desktop software was renamed Blizzard App and things such as the Shop were renamed from to the Blizzard name format.
    • On 14 August 2017, however, Blizzard announced that after listening to feedback from their players they had decided to retain the brand and incorporate it into their logo as "Blizzard". However, the brand was reverted back to just "" on 1 April 2021.


Promotional images
ECTS 2001 Preview Materials
E3 2002 Press Kit
2015 #WoWHistory Event