For the past 17 years, World of Warcraft has been a mainstay in the gaming world, and to this day, there are still new players joining in on the hugely popular MMO. With its long history and wealth of content, it’s not always easy for new players to join without feeling intimidated by just how much there is to explore and discover. With that in mind, this is a guide for new WoW players that can help you get ready for the adventures ahead.
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1. Play for free! (at least for a bit)
A game this size can be intimidating, so it’s a good thing you can try it out for free first.
WoW’s starter edition is a stripped-down version of the full game with certain features restricted, such as sending mail or any guild-related functions. You’ll be able to make as many characters as you’d like and raise them to level 20, with access to a great amount of content before needing to put any money into the game. But why should you use this free version first?
Put simply; you might not like it. It’s not a game for everyone, and it can be quite a costly mistake if you decided it’s not for you. That’s why it’s worth giving this version a try first and testing the waters, seeing if it clicks. If you enjoy it, you can start a subscription to get full access to this huge and varied world (of Warcraft).
2. Researching and choosing your realm
Before even jumping into the game, you’ll have to pick which realm you want to call home.
A realm is an instance of the WoW game world, with each realm housing thousands of players and their characters. These realms are a complete version of the game world, but there are a few differences between them that can affect the kind of players you find and how busy they are. These can be faction ratio, population, and language, to name a few.
So, what realm should you pick? That depends on what kind of player you want to be. Picking a new player or low population realm is a good bet if you plan to play solo, as you’ll often find plenty of players willing to help. If you want to play with friends, be sure to all pick the same realm, otherwise you can’t play together. Those wanting to have more role-play similar to games like D&D should check out the RP realms. It’s worth checking WoW forums or sites like WoWProgress to find more detailed breakdowns of each realm to help you pick the one that’s right for you.
Regardless of the realm, you still have access to all the game’s content. Just pick whatever realm best caters to your wants, and you’ll never go wrong.
3. Picking what to play
Now you are set up and ready to play. It’s time for the most difficult but fun part of starting WoW: Making your character. There is a lot to consider when making your character; what role do you want to fulfil in a group? Which faction will you fight for? What race and class will you play?
It can be a daunting process, so let’s break it down piece by piece and get you ready to begin your adventures in Azeroth.
First, you’ll have to align yourself with one of the two factions in the game: the Alliance and the Horde.
These factions are both distinct in a multitude of ways. Each has its own races, storylines, philosophies, and variations, as well as major characters and history throughout the WoW universe that give them their own flair and identity. Your faction also affects certain areas of gameplay, like which zones you can play and quests you can take. Similar to realms, players in opposing factions cannot play or interact with each other. So if you are playing with friends, make sure to pick the same faction to play together.
Now you have chosen your faction; it’s time to decide your race. There is a choice of 7 races to play for each faction.
The Alliance has:
- Night Elves
The Horde has:
- Blood Elves
There are an additional 5 allied races that can be unlocked for each faction by acquiring certain achievements. Each race has its own looks and cosmetics you can customise to help make them your own. Additionally, each has unique racial abilities that can grant a bonus to certain stats, give you an extra ability, or provide a useful utility.
This is easily the most difficult decision you’ll make when you start playing. WoW has 12 classes to choose from right off the bat, and each has something unique they bring to the game.
These classes are:
- Demon Hunter
- Death Knight
These classes each have unique playstyles thanks to specializations (commonly called “specs”). Upon reaching level 10, you’ll have an option of two to four specs, depending on the class. Each houses a different array of spells, abilities, and benefits that plays completely different from each other. These specs also fall under one of three distinct roles that affect how you play with other players, with some classes able to swap between these roles depending on their spec.
Here is a breakdown of each role:
- Tank – Players taking on the role of the tank are essentially a brick wall and are often seen as the group leader. With high health and armour, a tank’s job is to protect their allies from enemies by getting up close and keeping their attention (often called “aggro”) whilst absorbing all the damage they can.
- DPS – Those playing a DPS (damage per second) role are tasked with killing enemies in melee and ranged by dealing as much damage as possible, as quickly as possible. It may sound simple, but those in this usually are given some additional tasks to manage whilst they fight. These can include interrupting spellcasters or using crowd control abilities to prevent certain enemies from engaging in the fight.
- Healer – Players who fall into this role are the guardians of the group. A healer’s job is to keep players alive by using spells and abilities that help prevent, mitigate, or heal damage other players take. Healers also have some supporting abilities and a few damage spells they can use when needed to help the group.
It can be an intimidating prospect making your character, but I’d recommend simply going with what you think looks and sounds cool to you. If you like how your characters look, the lore or the type of role you’ll be playing, then going with what sounds fun to you will likely be what you stick with. Even so, you’ll be able to make multiple characters if you want to try something new. Truth be told, most players have a few characters they play. Plus, levelling up is now much easier and enjoyable, so if you find you aren’t liking a class or race, it’s easy enough to try a new one. Go with what you like, and you’ll never go wrong.
4. Use Exile’s Reach to teach you the game
You’ve done it! Now you have your characters made; it’s time to start your adventures! But what do you do? How do you play the game? How does it all work? All this and more are explained and taught in Exile’s Reach.
Introduced in the Shadowlands expansion, Exile’s Reach is a new levelling zone that is designed to teach new players the mechanics of the game, showcase some of its variety, and help better understand your class. Tooltips and pop-ups teach the game’s controls, and each quest does a great job of explaining aspects of the game without being too overwhelming. You’ll want to read the tutorials and quest text to make sure you get the full experience and benefit of this areas tutorials and guidance. It just helps that it’s got humour and charm too.
It is easily one of the game’s best new features. Plus, it’s a fun area with some humour and great quests, so you’ll have a blast.
5. Play With Others: It’s far more fun
This one might seem a bit obvious for an MMO, but playing with others is where WoW shines. Finding players who are also new can make levelling up a much more enjoyable experience as you learn from each other and tackle the game’s many activities. Additionally, there are plenty of experienced players who will be more than willing to lend a hand or offer advice if you ask for it.
One of the best ways to do this is by joining a guild. These are collections of players who form together to make certain aspects of the game easier, like grouping up and dungeons. They are also an excellent way to make new friends and play with like-minded people. There are also communities you can join and events that take place that can be just as rewarding and helpful.
There is a huge community filled with some great people, so get out there and meet them!
6. Check out guides and databases
WoW is over 17 years old, and It’s perfectly natural to get stuck or confused at certain times whilst playing. Thankfully there are plenty of options to help you understand the many aspects of the world.
Websites like Wowhead and Icyveins are some of the best places to find information, with guides ranging from tips and ways to play your class, achievement guides, and everything else in between. There is also a huge amount of content creators and players who make videos on just about every aspect of the game too. If you are struggling with the game, there is no shame in looking up guides to help you. Trust me; even veteran players still use them when they need to.
There we are, now you are ready to take on the World of Warcraft, so get out there and start your adventures!