UPDATE: Check our new article about WoW emulators in 2021.
Are you looking for a World of Warcraft emulator? Would you like to open a private server, or just create a LAN server and play with your family or friends?
We are going to help you to select the best WoW emulator according to your needs! Here are some questions that you should ask yourself before reading this post:
- What game version is your target? Do you look for a specific WoW version (e.g. latest, classic, wotlk, etc…) or it doesn’t really matter for you?
- Is it more important for you to have a more recent WoW expansion or the game quality?
- Are you planning to introduce custom content and features?
- What is your experience with WoW emulation? Are you a beginner or an experienced server administrator?
- What operating system are you planning to use?
We will give an overview of what the WoW emulators’ ecosystem has to offer in 2020, hoping it will help you to choose one!
AzerothCore (AC) is a TrinityCore-based project (originally created as a continuation of SunwellCore) supporting version 3.3.5 (Wrath of The Lich King). One of the most important features of AzerothCore is the modular system that allows private-server owners to make customizations without directly patching the core source code. This makes it easy for servers to keep their source version updated and reuse custom code. There is even a public collection of modules created by the community.
The project has a big community compared to other emulators and you can always find someone to ask for help on their Discord chat. This probably makes it the best wow emulator for beginners. Furthermore, AC has a good amount of active developers and a decent quality assurance mechanism (they test all changes before moving them to the master branch).
Installing AC is quite easy and user-friendly. You can install it in every operating system thanks to the Docker Setup.
AzerothCore grew a lot in 2019 according to its GitHub stars count (source):
Choose AzerothCore if:
- game quality is important to you
- you prefer a project with an active community
- you might add some game customizations
- you need a production-ready server
Do not choose AzerothCore if:
- you want a WoW expansion that is newer than WOTLK
Official website: https://www.azerothcore.org
Official source repository: https://github.com/azerothcore/azerothcore-wotlk
TrinityCore (TC) is a very popular emulator. A lot of servers and other emulators out there are based on it. Originally created as a fork of MaNGOS, with time it outclassed its father.
However, TC has no longer the same amount of active developers and community members as it used to have. It targets the latest WoW version (currently Battle for Azeroth). The community of TrinityCore has split into several projects that target different WoW versions:
The above picture shows the number of contributions since its creation (source). Since 2017, the development activity of the master branch significantly dropped.
From a gaming perspective, it is not completely playable because the post-WOTLK expansions have not been properly implemented yet.
Also, within TrinityCore some developers split (some are working on the latest WoW version, some others to 3.3.5, other to 4.3.4).
Choose TrinityCore if:
- you would like the latest version of World of Warcraft
- you are a developer and you would enjoy implementing the missing contents
- – OR –
- you would like to use the 3.3.5 version (as an alternative to other projects such as AzerothCore, CMaNGOS-wotlk, etc…)
- you would like to use the 4.3.4 version (as an alternative to other projects such as ArkCore, etc…)
Do not choose TrinityCore if:
- you aim to have the best game quality
- you want a production-ready server that is playable from day 1
Official website: https://www.trinitycore.org
Official source repository: https://github.com/TrinityCore/TrinityCore
C-MaNGOS means Continued-MaNGOS and it’s the direct continuation of the original MaNGOS project. According to the GitHub stars count of the official repositories, it is the most loved for its WoW Classic repository.
Choose CMaNGOS if:
- you want to have a Classic WoW server with 1.12 WoW client version
- you prefer MaNGOS-style over TC-style
Do not choose CMaNGOS if:
- you prefer SmartAI over EventAI to handle your scripts
Official website: https://cmangos.net/
Official source repository: https://github.com/cmangos
AscEmu is a project based on ArcEmu that offers a different flavor of WoW Emulation, compared to the majority of other projects that are typically MaNGOS/TrinityCore based. We talked about AscEmu in a previous blog post.
It supports a different variety of WoW versions:
Choose AscEmu if:
- you are interested in targetting different WoW versions with the same emulator
- you prefer an ArcEmu/Antrix-based project
Do not choose AscEmu if:
- you want a MaNGOS/TrinityCore-based emulator
Official website: http://www.ascemu.org/
Official source repository: https://github.com/AscEmu/AscEmu
Supported WoW versions: Cataclysm (4.3.4)
ArkCore is another TrinityCore-based project which supports Cataclysm. It has been around for a long time, but it doesn’t have a big community behind.
Choose ArkCore if:
- you want to have a Cataclysm server
Do not choose ArkCore if:
- you want to have a project with an active community behind it
Official website: http://gpn39f.spdns.de/forum1/
Official source repository: https://github.com/Arkania/ArkCORE-NG
Supported WoW versions: The Burning Crusade (2.4.3)
OregonCore is a TrinityCpre-based project with a valuable history that supports TBC, however not much active in recent times.
Choose OregonCore if:
- you want to have a TBC server
- you prefer SmartAI over the EventAI offered by CMaNGOS TBC
Official website: https://oregon-core.net
Official source repository: https://github.com/OregonCore/OregonCore
SkyFire is a TrinityCore-based project that has been around for a while. It doesn’t have a big community though.
Choose SkyFire if:
- you’d like to have a Pandaria server
- you want to have a project with an active community behind it
Official website: https://www.projectskyfire.org
Official source repository: https://github.com/ProjectSkyfire
Based on MaNGOS, this interesting project aims to provide a progression system between one WoW version and another (unlike most of the other projects that just support the last patch of every expansion). They have a chat on Discord.
Choose vMaNGOS if:
- you’d like to have a Classic WoW server
- you’d like to have a patch-progression WoW server
Do not choose vMaNGOS if:
- you want a WoW expansion that is newer than Classic
Official source repository: https://github.com/vmangos