World of Warcraft Launched Seventeen Years Ago Today on November 23, 2004

World of Warcraft Launched Seventeen Years Ago Today on November 23, 2004

Seventeen years ago, what sort of experience did the players have? Here are a few facts for you to compare to today’s experience.


The level cap was Level 60, the same as it is today! Each expansion raised the level cap all the way through Battle for Azeroth. In Shadowlands the level squish returned us right back to where we started, at level 60.

Title Year Level Cap
World of Warcraft 2004 60
The Burning Crusade 2007 70
Wrath of the Lich King 2008 80
Cataclysm 2010 85
Mists of Pandaria 2012 90
Warlords of Draenor 2014 100
Legion 2016 110
Battle for Azeroth 2018 120
Shadowlands 2020 60

There were only two continents, Eastern Kingdoms and Kalimdor. This made the world map so much more manageable than it is now.

Then and now – today’s map goes beyond the planet.

There were 88 realms in the US at launch. Of those, 43 were PvP, 40 were PvE, and 5 were RP. Compare that to 226 in the US now, with a distribution of 203 PvE and 23 RP. PvP servers no longer exist, replaced by War Mode which can be activated on any realm.


Character models, actually almost everything models, were significantly lower quality. The customization options back then were significantly poorer than they are today.

The Horde and the Alliance were already established and had 4 races each, compared to 12 races each now. Alliance could be Human, Dwarf, Night Elf, or Gnome while Horde could choose between Orc, Troll, Undead, and Tauren.

There were 9 classes: Druid, Hunter, Mage, Paladin, Priest, Rogue, Shaman. Warrior, and Warlock. Only Horde players could be Shaman, and only Alliance players could be Paladins. Nowadays there are 12 classes, and no faction restrictions.


There were no flying mounts. No flying. No. Flying. Very expensive mounts could be purchased at level 40 and even more expensive epic mounts could be purchased at level 60. Before level 40 you had to jog everywhere. Also, there were no 2 person mounts, and your mount occupied a bag space. Ground mount speed was a 60% increase, an epic ground mount, if you could afford it, could increase your speed by100%. Nowadays there is no distinction between mounts and any mount will increase your speed by 100% on the ground.


Technology is barely recognizable 17 years later. Here is a look at what your experience may have been like in 2004, courtesy of Wowpedia.

The average computer a player was using in 2004 to log in:

  • Many were still using a 4:3 CRT monitor (LCD existed but was not popular yet) and a desktop computer to play. Most laptops didn’t have enough power to run the game smoothly.
  • Processor speeds were 2.0 – 3.4 Ghz
  • Memory: 1 – 4 Gigabytes of RAM
  • 3D cards had 256 or 512 megabytes ram
  • People were using Windows XP, but some were still using Windows 2000 or earlier
  • The game had to be installed via CD/DVDRom drive. The game was on 4 CDs (5 for the “Game of the Year” edition) which needed to be installed, and then patching had to happen. You could not download the initial game, and initial patch downloads could take an hour or more.
  • Some players played via dialup modem, and this made their characters jump around as they walked when viewed by other players

World of Warcraft: Classic offers a fun trip down memory lane, but the full experience included an element of wonder that will never be recreated. In 17 years, this little game has come a really long way, and so have we.

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