World of Warcraft: Classic screenshot of Ragnaros fighting against adventurers

As you're most likely aware, items in the classic World of Warcraft were not entirely static. Some of the most popular weapons and armor were added through later patches, various tier sets had their entire stat distribution changed, while a couple of items even went through significant reworks in order to address balance issues.

With World of Warcraft: Classic launching alongside the final Patch 1.12, the big question is how exactly the developers are planning to handle the various items and the changes they went through. The answer, I'm pleased to report, is in pretty much the best way they possibly could!

"WoW Classic will only include that last version of the item, as it existed in our reference version: 1.12," reads the official update. "Of course, this raises the question 'why?'. Why differentiate between adding new items along the way and making modifications to existing items?"

"The changing of existing items in patches often illustrated the original design team responding to how players played the game. Their primary goal at the time was to make rewards more relevant and exciting. Developers realizing that Spirit probably wasn’t an ideal stat for a warrior raid set helm was an example of this sort of change."

"Recreating, and then re-fixing every major progression-affecting bug wouldn’t account for what we think matters much more: the people playing the game. There were many unknowns in original WoW. The first guilds to reach Nefarian spent their initial pulls testing different ideas they had and trying to figure out what condition would get them past the first part of the fight (defeating 40 drakonids). That experience can’t be recreated, because the knowledge can’t be unlearned."

World of Warcraft: Classic screenshot of the reaper golems from Westfall

Even though I know it well, I can't wait to once again venture across the fields of Westfall!

While some people might disagree with this approach due to its lack of authenticity, I am incredibly happy that Blizzard has chosen not to repeat the mistakes of the past. Like they said, knowledge cannot be unlearned, so all they would really accomplish with the progressive changes is annoy people for a few months before a patch finally comes and makes their items work as intended. 

"So rather than try to recreate a specific experience from 2005 that can never fully be recaptured, our aim has been to accurately and fully restore the original game’s mechanics and stats to their final and most polished state from before The Burning Crusade," continues the update. "That mission has been a pillar of WoW Classic’s design from its inception."

"This means that while content will be unlocked progressively to allow for each raid tier to shine, systems such as class design, battleground mechanics, and stats on existing items will all be set to their final 1.12 conditions. That should take the pressure off players to be constantly figuring out what we might do next to remain exactly in line with how the game once played out, and we can all focus a little more on community building and enjoying the experience together."

As for World of Warcraft: Classic's release date, that is still set for "Summer of 2019", though no additional information has been given just yet. Once it gets announced I'll make sure to let you know, but until then you should go and read the full developer update over at the official forums as it really is interesting.