The Differences Between Classic WoW & Modern WoW 2020

The long-awaited Classic WoW is just about to be released. Finally, some of us will be able to experience some very deep nostalgia.

However, what about if you only started playing World of Warcraft just recently or yet alone a couple of expansions ago?

How big are the differences between Classic WoW and Modern WoW and will a new player enjoy it? 

That’s a question many new classic players will wonder. After all, World of Warcraft just turned 14 years old and earlier launched its seventh expansion. 

Luckily, we have created this infographic with the 7 biggest differences, that definitely will be a significant change for the current WoW player. 

Differences Between Classic WoW Modern WoW

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WoW has been around for about 15 years. The initial launch of the game was in 2004 and since then the game has been changed multiple times. Different systems were revamped in order to make things a bit more streamlined.

With all these revamps in place, there is a massive difference between the vanilla version of the game and the modern version of the game.

Some people would even say that these are two completely different games. Here we are going to look into some of the differences between Classic Wow and Modern Wow.

Classic WoW Vs Modern WoW

The following are some of the differences between the two games.

classic wow vs modern wow


How buffs work in Modern WoW is that they are permanent buffs and people automatically get the benefits. In some cases, you have to apply the buff once and the effects last for an hour for the entire raid.

In the vanilla game, you had to apply buffs to each person or to each party. This meant that if you were doing the raid then you would have to apply the buff multiple times in order for everyone to have it. These buffs used a lot of mana. 

This meant that mages would buff 2 groups and then drink a potion that would regenerate their mana. This would take a while. All this can get very frustrating if you need to wipe multiple times.

The buffs of the Paladins lasts 5 minutes. There is a group buff option as well but that lasts 15 minutes. So if you were doing a raid that was around 3 hours, then you would need to replenish that buff over and over again.


In the vanilla game, the map was pretty large but there were regions in the map that were not used. There were 2 islands in the center of the map that were unused. The islands on the top, north of the maelstrom were unused as well. The north most part of the Eastern Kingdom had nothing as well.

These are a few examples of places on the map that were not used or just had nothing on them. In the modern version of the game, much of these lands are now used. That was not always the case.

Something worth mentioning is that there is no dungeon finder in WoW Classic. You had to travel to parts of the map and the same goes for your teammates. Unless you have a Warlock that can summon you to a specific location.

wow classic map

Dual Specialization

Switching your spec cost up to 50 Gold in classic WoW.

This meant that if you wanted to go from a PVP build to a raid build then you would have up to spend 50 Gold.

When you wanted to move back to the PVP build again, you would have to spend 50 more Gold. That is not the case in modern WoW. In the modern version, you can change specialization with a click of a button. This is one of the features that should have been implemented right from the start.

You could not dual-spec or save multiple talent builds in the classic version of WoW. The classic game had hybrid roles. So, while the DPS was pretty low, you could change roles quickly. Many stats that were present in the classic version of the game that were crucial at the time have now been removed in the modern version to streamline things.


Classic WoW had fewer classes. Classes like Death Knights, Monks, and Demon Hunters that are playable now, were not available in the old game. The Paladin class was limited to the Alliance and the Shaman class was limited to the Horde.

Priests used to have unique racials based on race. Druids had three talent trees. In the modern game, there are four. Feral Combat was used for Guardian and Feral Druids. Rogues used to have the Combat specialization instead of Outlaw. Hunters used to have an elaborate Pet Loyalty system and Survival was a ranged DPS spec.

Talents and specializations were very different in the older game as well. You had to pick a class and the spec-flavored abilities from talent points. 51 points could be placed into different trees and more powerful abilities were further down each tree.

wow classic classes

Classic Talent System

The classic talent system features 51 points. These can be used in three different talent trees for each class. A player can split them into 3 different trees evenly or max out a single tree in order to get the final ability that is at the end of the tree.

Talents can improve different stats such as weapon skill and can even add new functionality to different abilities. These can also be used to teach the player new abilities. New abilities are unlocked after you spend 11, 21 or 31 points in a talent tree.

Much of this has been reworked in the modern version of the game. While the main system is pretty much the same, different stats have been changed and minor tweaks have been made in order to streamline the game and make it easier for the player to understand.

wow classic talent system

Class Roles

There are three main class roles in Classic WoW and the concept of a hybrid class role. The main class roles are Tank, DPS and Healer. The Tank class can take a lot of damage to protect the rest of the people in the party.

The healer is a spellcaster that focuses on healing the different people in the party. The DPS class focuses on dealing damage to enemies. Hybrid classes can deal some damage but the main focus here is on utility rather than purely DPS.

The following are the classes that can be used to play the role of the Tank in Classic WoW:

  • Druid (Feral Combat)
  • Paladin (Protection)
  • Warrior (Protection)

The following can play the role of a healer:

  • Druid (Restoration)
  • Paladin (Holy)​​
  • Priest (Discipline, Holy)
  • Shaman (Restoration)

The following can play the role of DPS:

  • Hunter (Beast Mastery, Marksman, Survival)
  • Mage (Arcane, Fire, Frost)
  • Warlock(Affliction, Demonology, Destruction)
  • Rogue (Assassination, Combat, Subtlety),
  • Warrior (Arms, Fury)

The following can play a hybrid role:

  • Druid (Feral Combat)
  • Paladin (Retribution)
  • Shaman (Enhancement)
  • Druid (Balance)
  • Priest (Shadow)
  • Shaman (Elemental)
It is worth mentioning that picking the race-class combination is very important in WoW classic as you cannot change it later on. So, once you have picked a combination you are stuck with it.
wow classic spells

Other Differences

There is no transmogrification in the classic version of the game and no achievements either. The game does not have any areas. The world map and the mini-map do not show quest objectives.

While the talent system is more detailed in the classic game, it is not as impactful as the modern one. BFA has secondary stats that were never present in the classic version of the game. Races are limited to Human, Night Elf, Dwarf, Gnome, Orc, Troll, Undead and Tauren in the classic game. Classes are limited to Warrior, Hunter, Rogue, Druid, Priest, Mage, Warlock, Paladin and Shaman.

In the classic game, you can get your first mount at level 40 and the epic mount at level 60. In the modern version, you can get the first mount at level 20 and the epic mount at level 40.

In the classic version of the game, you do not learn skills automatically. Skills have to be learned from class trainers and doing so is not cheap.
In the classic version, you need to have resistance gear for certain fights otherwise you die instantly. That is not the case in BFA and you can pretty much have the same gear.

Epic mobs can be very hard to fight in WoW classic and it is better to take them on when in a party. That is not true in the modern version of the game. Making money is pretty hard too. The economy does not exist when you get into the game and it will take a while for you to figure out how you need to farm money.

There are no flying mounts in the classic game which can be seen as a pro or a can. The plus side is that it makes the world much bigger and fun to explore.

Summing Things Up

WoW has kept fans busy for a very long time and it has changed over time. The game used to be very frustrating and confusing but much of that has changed. The game has been revamped time and time again.

The modern version is more streamlined, easy to understand and simpler as compared to WoW classic. The modern game has more races and classes to choose from. The mechanics have been changed to make life easier for the player and leveling up is not as hard as it once used to be.

In the modern game, players can deal more damage and the mana cost is not as high for spells when compared to the classic version of the game.

Let us know in the comments below what you think are the most significant differences for modern and Classic WoW.

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Mike Jones

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