Video games come and go. Sequels replace the old, and franchises vanish into the gaming pantheon. One game, however, has stood the test of time for over 17 years. World of Warcraft is a classic amongst Massively Multiplayer Online Role-playing Games (MMORPGs), it even got a Classic release of its OG form just two years ago.
Today, we’ll focus our attention on the current “retail” version of World of Warcraft, how to play it, the factions, races, and classes, along with some basic tips.
What is World of Warcraft?
WoW is an MMORPG, though often just referred to as an MMO for short. Simply put, it’s a massive online world where players control a character of their creation as they adventure around the game’s many worlds and locations. Players will create a character, by selecting one of the two faction’s many races and class combinations (more on these later). Once you’ve decided that, and what you want your character to look like, and you’ve picked a unique name, it’s time to head out into the world.
From here, you’ll be given the options of your race’s starting location or Blizzards new “new player” leveling area, Exile’s Reach. If you’re playing your very first character in WoW, however, you’ll need to play through this new experience at least the first time. It’s advised that you do it anyway, as it provides a fairly quick way of leveling up and gives you some unique armour sets.
From there, the game leaves you mostly to your own devices, giving you hints along the way via the “Command Board” in your capital city, or via the new “Crome Time” level;ing experience.
Factions of World of Warcraft
WoW is split into two distinct factions, the Horde and the Alliance. While the names aren’t original, the racial variety among the factions creates a great “them v us” situation among the player base.
The Horde: While depicted as the Red = bad faction, it’s not really the case in WoW. While the faction now includes a large variety of races, the original idea was simply that the Horde was a collection of misplaced factions, looking to join forces against the evils of Azeroth (the home planet in which most of WoW takes place). While no factions “rule”, the Orcs are often considered the de facto lead faction of the Horde, up until recently the leader of the Horde had always been an Orc.
The Alliance: Full of the most “Tolkien” esk races, The Alliance are seen as the “good guys” of WoW, though it’s rarely that clear-cut. The Alliance has always been ruled by a Human leader, out of the faction’s capital city of Stormwind. Typically seen as the less “gritty” of the two options, the Alliance has tended to have a reputation for attracting players who want to play as the “pretty” races, rather than the more ruthless factions seen on the Horde.
While the two factions look incredibly different, there’s not any advantage or disadvantage to playing either. The difference is purely based on the individual races that you want to play, and the general aesthetic and story of the faction.
Classes of World of Warcraft
All classes can be played by either faction, however, classes are limited to certain races. Classes are divided into specialisations, with most classes having three. Druids (4) and Demon Hunters (2) are the exceptions to this rule.
Warrior – Tank, DPS: Pretty much the standard melee front line class. Warriors are able to tank and DPS, and are basically the “cookie-cutter” melee, heavily armoured class.
Paladin – Tank, Healer, DPS: If you took a Warrior, added in the ability to heal with “Holy Light” and a much more “religious” vibe, then you’ll find the Paladin.
Hunter – DPS: The Hunter is a ranged class that has a focus on survival tactics and pets. Primarily using bows, guns, and crossbows, the Hunter excels at keeping their target at range and using their pet to close distance.
Rogue – DPS: A melee class focused around stealth, and fast attacking. Rogues have always been seen as the PvP class, due to their ability to hide in the shadows.
Priest – Healer, DPS: Priest is like Paladins, if you removed the heavy armour and massive hammers. Priests are to healing, as Warriors are to tanking. They’re easy to learn and worth mastering.
Shaman – DPS, Healer: Focused on harnessing the elements of the world to cast magical spells and healing their allies, Shamans are a staple of WoW lore, and a key identity of the Horde.
Mage – DPS: Able to harness the elements of Fire, Frost, and Arcane, Mages are WoW’s “wizard/witch” class. With high mobility and burst damage, Mages are one of WoWs most consistent ranged DPS.
Warlock – DPS: A combination of the Hunter and the Mage, with the use of Shadow magic and summoned demons as companions. Warlocks are a favourite of many, due to their three varied play styles.
Monk – DPS, Healer, Tank: Originally announced as an April Fools’ joke in 2002, the Monk class came to WoW alongside the Mists of Pandaria Expansion. Monks are still one of the least played classes in the game, due to their hard to master play styles for their three specialisations.
Druid – DPS, Healer, Tank: Able to shape-shift into a number of animal forms depending on the situation. Druid’s are one of WoW’s many “hybrid classes” able to fill all of WoWs four role types.
Demon Hunter – DPS, Tank: WoWs most recent class, is also the game’s most restrictive. Only playable by Night Elfs on the Alliance, and Blood Elfs on the Horde, Demon Hunters are also unique in that they only have two specialisations to choose from.
Death Knight – DPS, Tank: The first new class added to WoW, the Death Knight added to the game’s roster of Plate Armour wearing classes. Able to DPS and Tank, Death Knights have been a popular class ever since they were added.
Races of World of Warcraft
As mentioned above, the races of WoW are divided into their respective factions (Horde and Alliance), with one exception that’s able to decide which faction they wish to join (see below).
Dark Iron Dwarf
Pandaren – after completing your introduction scenario with the Pandaren you will be asked to pick what faction you wish to fight for.
World of Warcraft has a full breakdown of each race for new players here.
How to Play World of Warcraft
WoW is played exclusively on the PC, and can be played via Windows, MAC or Linux. Players use a mouse and keyboard to play the game and interact with the game. WoW can, and has, been modded to use other input devices, however, only a controller scheme was recently implemented at a basic level.
World of Warcraft Basic Tips
Here is a selection of links to other guides that might be helpful as you start out in WoW and reach the end game.