The leaks were correct. World Of Warcraft: Burning Crusade Classic will launch on June 1st, letting players with a nostalgic bent experience the long-running MMO's first expansion.
Unlike the first time around in 2007, Burning Crusade doesn't replace the original game in any way. You can continue to play the base World Of Warcraft Classic if you prefer, and from May 18th you'll be able to clone an existing character in case you want to play simultaneously in WoW Classic and Burning Crusade Classic.
May 18th is the launch of Burning Crusade Classic's pre-expansion patch. At that point, WoW Classic players can progress to Burning Crusade, remain on the new Classic Era realms which will never advance, or clone. Cloning is an "optional paid service", however, and costs around $35 if you want to do it.
If you want to dive in to Burning Crusade Classic, from May 18th you'll be able to create Blood Elf and Draenei characters - the two new races added for the expansion - and start playing their starter areas. The rest of the game will unlock on June 1st.
Burning Crusade Classic is included in a World Of Warcraft subscription, but you can of course also purchase a Deluxe Edition that includes mounts, special visual effects and 30 days of World Of Warcraft game time.
I played World Of Warcraft at release, but stopped early and never ventured into its expansions. I'm fascinated by Blizzard launching and maintaining multiple different versions of their old game, but it's unlikely that'll start playing them. I'd be more interest if they instead took World Of Warcraft Classic and then spun it off in its own new direction, Old School RuneScape-style.
Do you know what else originally launched in 2007? Rock Paper Shotgun, that's what. I went looking in the archive for something Burning Crusade-shaped and didn't find much, and so instead here's some Graham trivia. The first piece of games journalism I was ever paid for, in 2005, was an article which compared and contrasted the political and philosophical systems of World Of Warcraft and EVE Online. It was full on "I'm 20 years old, let me prove to you I've read a book", and no one should ever have commissioned it. Luckily it's trapped forever in an old magazine.
You can find more about Burning Crusade Classic over at its official site.