Blizzard Entertainment has developed a little game that perhaps you’ve heard of — World of Warcraft. World of Warcraft (or WoW to most players) is a massively multiplayer online role playing game, which is just a fancy way of saying that when you log on you’re playing with some 43 year old insurance salesman from Wichita. Sure, he looks like a lithe female elf on the screen and has the name “Toocute”, but don’t let that fool you. To date, there are some 11 million people playing WoW. Let me say that again. 11 million players worldwide. If you’re here reading this, you more than likely have some interest in gaming, fantasy, or computers, but for some reason you’ve just never gotten around to trying out WoW. If you are keen to try it out, read on for a quick rundown of what to look for (and look out for) as you jump feet first into Azeroth.
The first thing you will need is a copy of the game. If you’re just trying it out, places like Target and Best Buy have very cheap two-week trial versions of the game that you can update to a full version when you’re hooked. If you’re more the gung-ho type and want to hit the ground running, I would suggest the Battle Chest available online and at good old brick-and-mortar stores. The nice thing about the Battle Chest is that it contains the original release of WoW as well as the first expansion, The Burning Crusade. You will have to buy the second expansion (Wrath of the Lich King) separately, but it has come down in price steadily since release. If you’re going into this with both guns blazing, you should be prepared to put down $15 a month to play. This sounds bad, but when you think about buying other games, going to dinner, going to movies, $15 is a pretty cheap way to get a ton of entertainment. Right, so you have your game and you’re sitting through the installation and the enormous number of patches. This would be an excellent time to hit the ‘net and have a look at what’s available for new WoW players.
First of all, you’re going to want to bookmark Wowhead.com. Wowhead is an enormous online database of every NPC, quest, item, or spell in the game. If you’re stuck, Wowhead can get you unstuck. Secondly, you’ll want to visit Blizzard’s Getting Started forum. The sticky threads at the top of the page will give you a great place to start and if you have any questions, most people on this particular board are accommodating of “noob” questions. (Don’t think that will be true on other forums.) Sites like Curse.com and WoWInterface bring you addons for the game, everything you could ever need to modify the interface to work the best way for you. At this point, I wouldn’t go too crazy with addons. The regular UI that Blizzard supplies is great while learning to play.
So you’ve gotten the game up and running, you know where to go with your questions — what’s next? Well, you need to pick a server and create a character. There are four types of servers in WoW. PvE (Player v. Environment) servers or normal servers only allow players to fight each other in set situations or if the players both turn on their flags. PvP (Player v. Player) servers essentially flag you up from the minute you step into the game. That means that a level 80 pro can swoop into your starting area and beat down your level 3 hunter with no repercussions. But then you can return the favor, too, once you get to 80. RP (Role Playing) servers are exactly what they sound like: role playing servers. The people here tend to take their role play very seriously and, from my limited experience, most people that stick with it become very good at it. Finally, there’s a RP-PvP server which allows role players to have a PvP server of their own. In my experience, I prefer PvE servers simply because I want to play against other players on my own schedule, not on theirs. That’s just me, though. There are plenty of people that love the rush of random PvP battles cropping up out of nowhere.
Next up, you’re going to want to create a character. Picking a race and a class is a long conversation that we will get into next week. For now, pick something that sounds or looks cool to you and give him (or her) a name. Once you hit “Create Character,” your brand new WoW character will be standing there looking at you. Now you’re going to hit “Enter World” and you’re off to Azeroth.
Enjoy the racial cinematic and there you are, plopped in the world, ready for adventure. See the guy standing there with a yellow exclamation over his head? If you right click him, he will give you your very first quest. WASD moves you around, right clicking something interacts with it. If you right click a friendly NPC, you will open a dialog with them. If you right click an enemy NPC or mob, you will attack them. If you hover over something and the cursor turns into a gear, you can interact with that object. The bar at the bottom of the screen holds your talents and abilities. They are, by default, mapped to your number keys, 1 through =. Run around and whack on some low level mobs for a while.
Eventually, you will kill enough stuff to gain a level. The NPCs standing in the starting area can point you to a class trainer who will sell you new abilities. Once you get these abilities, pressing “P” will open up your spell book. Drag the new spell down to your action bar and you’re ready to use the new ability.
Right clicking on a dead mob will allow you to pick up anything on the dead body. Pressing “B” will open your bags so that you can see what you’re holding. White items are usually useful in some way and grey items are essentially trash. You can sell those to the vendors back in the starting area. You start out with a 16 slot bag but you will be amazed how quickly you can fill it up. Try to keep it cleared out when you run back to the starting area and try not to just throw anything away (by dragging it out of the bag and clicking it). Every single copper will help at this level, so try to sell things rather than just ditching them.
That should be enough to get you going for a while. Play around with different races and classes, find what suits you the best. I’ll be back next week with more World of What and we’ll talk about the classes, races, and the two factions that make up World of Warcraft.