So, you want to join World of Warcraft (WoW) and you want to enjoy all the things you’ve heard about and seen in the videos. Well, today is your lucky day because I’m going to give you the kind of advice that new players rarely get. The kind of advice that can help you become a decent player and access all the content available to you.

  1. It’s possible to approach WoW as just another game. However, I will steer you away from this because the fun is really to be found in the cooperative and social aspects of the game. This is true of all Massively Mutliplayer Online (MMO) games.
  2. WoW is a Role Playing Game (RPG). This means you can progress and develop you character as play through the world questing and gaining experience. You can join three types of game servers:
    1. Normal (PvE or Player vs. Environment). This is the server type I recommend to most players unless you’re really sure you want to do PvP or Role Play. In PvE you take on quests and complete them alone or in a party with others, essentially it’s you (solo or cooperatively) against the game. You can play in special areas and do PvP against other real life people, but out in the ‘world’ it’s mainly you against roaming monsters.
    2. PvP (or Player vs. Player). “Out in the world” you not only have to contend with roaming monsters (mobs) and NPC (Non-Player Characters) you may come across members of the opposing faction who will very often try to kill you too. If you like the idea of just logging and doing a few quests, PvP servers are not for you as you might find your whole play time taken up fighting other players who are try to kill you for the quest mob you are interested in or simply to prevent you from progressing.
    3. RP (or Role Playing) – WoW is an RPG you can play as a Human or perhaps an Orc, Troll or Night Elf. However, RP goes a step further with developed lives and back stories where you are expected to play and interact in character. If you like this kind of total immersion join an RP server. If this sounds like something that would not appeal simply choose PvE or PvP.
  3. You’re a new player: newbie, newb, n00b. This is not a good thing for a lot of players. To be good at WoW takes some considerable investment. Most people start with no advice of this kind. Struggle to learn the unspoken rules, take a lot of abuse and then treat n00bs the same way once they get a little experience. This guide is intended to break that cycle by explaining as much as possible and showing you how to get sound advice you can trust. Don’t be put off, a lot of great, fun, friendly people play WoW. However, a very obvious and vocal minority will berate for nothing worse than being new.

If PvE sounds like it’s for you read on! If not go search the Interwebs for information about WoW PvP and PvP realms (servers) or Role Playing in WoW.

I’m assuming that you a) bought the game, b) have game time so you can play and c) have the game installed and you’re ready to start. If you need to cross any of the these bridges you can go to Battle.net in Europe, or here if you reside in the States. I recommend purchasing the World Of Warcraft Battle chest, this bundles the full original game and the first two expansions: The Burning Crusade and  Wrath of the Lich King. This will save you some money and allow you to play through to level 80. If you are then sure you like the game you can add the Cataclysm expansion (content levels 80 – 85) and the current expansion, Mists of Pandaria.

Realm Selection screenThe first time you log in you’re asked to choose a Realm. Honestly unless you have friends who play already this choice is pretty trivial. If you have friends already playing find out which server they are on and which faction they play: Horde or Alliance. Choose any ‘Normal‘ Server If one server appears marked for New Players or as Recommended go with that. Or simply jump onto somewhere with a Medium population.

The next screen is the Character Creation Screen. Your first character can be key to shaping your perception of the game, but remember if you don’t like playing a class particularly, create another until you find something you really like.

The Character Selection Screen

Gender.

Gender selectionStarting at the top, and why not, select your gender. Just because you’re a girl you don’t have to play female characters. All my chars are female. That’s not me on the screen that’s my playing partner. I make the decisions and she gets to get killed experience the world, Azeroth, and do the fighting and take all the damage for me. It’s not me. I’m not role playing a female Undead, she’s not me, my in game avatar, she’s the character I direct. If you want you can imagine yourself into the game and see your character as yourself (a bit RP for me): whatever gives you the most enjoyment.

Faction.

It used to be argued that younger (and American gamers) preferred the pretty Alliance characters and older Europeans like the Horde (demographic analysis showed that the Japanese for example would not play Horde). I don’t know if this is still the case if it ever was. Horde have pretty races now (Blood Elf and arguably Goblins) and Alliance have more challenging race models (Draenai and Worgens) so you can play ugly or pretty with both factions. If you’re over 18 I recommend Horde, my experience has been good. I found many other miserable old gits more mature gamers to join up with.

Race.

You are now limited because of you faction choice to seven races. If you picked Horde you can be an Orc, Troll, Tauren, Undead, Blood Elf or Goblin. Either faction can be Pandaren. there are some racial abilities that make certain races marginally better at playing certain class but there’s not enough in it to really worry. Maybe on later chars when you more adept and skilled and desire to maximise your potential. I have never picked a race class combination in seven years of playing. My only advice is that if you’re going to be a hunter don’t be Blood Elf…you’ll see why later. I wrote this guide as an Undead so it wouldn’t hurt if you want to follow closely, but the general tips  hold true for all races so if you see something you like (even Blood Elf) pick it play it.

Class.

ClassFor my own part Feral Druids and Rogues seem impossible to play, while warriors and warlocks are straightforward to me. You might find the reverse. When you get to max level and start thinking about raiding with a regular group of people it will be desirable and somewhat expected that you’ll focus on one ‘main’ character. When you begin the game it’s possible, even preferable not to concentrate on one thing but dabble and try as much as you can. If you’re unlucky and you start off playing a character class that you just don’t like and try to focus on this and level all the way through to maximum it might just put you right off the game.

Customize buttonCustomization optionsClick the Customize button and on the next screen you can select the facial features, skin colour and hair of your character. There aren’t that many option but you can individualise your Undead Hunter to a degree have fun with it.

Create your character nameFinally select a name for your first World of Warcraft character. Here is the only potential sticking point many of the best and funniest names are already taken so you may actually have to spend some time and thought choosing a name. It may seem trivial now but after six years of playing Warcraft I’m glad I name my first char Fleetfoot…I had to live with that. Click Finish!

You may find it fun to try levelling three or four characters of different classes up to say level 20. I suggest a warrior. Get in close and hand-to-hand with things, melee, and hit them with a big two handed sword. Try ranged, a Hunter, with a ferocious pet. The pet fights melee close with the enemy as you stand-off at a safe distance shooting arrows. Finally give a ranged spell caster a try. A mage stands back and fires burning or freezing spells,with slowing spells to keep hand-to-hand fighting mobs as faraway as possible for as long as possible casting fire bolts and raining down destruction. You may enjoy all play styles or as you level higher and more spells and attacks become available one particular style might begin to really appeal to you.

Whether you decide to try out World of Warcraft with one character or more, one of them will have to be the first. For the very first character I recommend a Hunter. Hunters are universally considered as being fairly easy to play fairly averagely. New players often roll (create) hunters, there’s no shame in it. Will you get some stick? Yes. What should youdo? Get used to it, ignore it and grow a thicker skin, you’re going to need it.

Enter World button...

Having now picked a Realm, Gender, RaceClass and a name. It’s time to enter the world!

Once you’ve entered the world move on to The Basics.