World of Warcraft (Abbreviated as WoW), is a Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (MMORPG), created by Blizzard Entertainment and is their fourth installment of the fantasy game, with the first as Warcraft: Orcs and Humans in 1994. World of Warcraft is set in Azeroth and four years after Blizzard's previous game, Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne. Blizzard announced on September 2, 2001 that work on a new game was taking place and on the 23rd of November, 2004, World of Warcraft was released the same day as the 10th anniversary of the Warcraft franchise. World of Warcraft has over 10 million monthly subscribers which makes it the largest MMORPG and therefore, holds the Guinness World Record for most popular MMORPG.
On January 16 2007 Blizzard released its first official expansion pack for World of Warcraft, The Burning Crusade. Later that year at the 2007 BlizzCon event (August 3 2007), Blizzard announced a second expansion pack to be released in late 2008 called, Wrath of the Lich King.
World of Warcraft is the first in the Warcraft franchise that instead of being a real-time strategy game it's a MMORPG. Like other MMORPGs you control an avatar within an ever changing game world where you can: explore the landscape, fight monsters, perform quests, build skills, and interact with NPCs, as well as other players. The main goal for the player is to get experience, reputation, items and money, therefore enhancing the skills and power their character has. Your avatar overtime when completing quests and killing monsters will gain levels from 1-60. With the 'Burning Crusade' expansion pack your avatar can reach 70, then with the release of 'Wrath of the Lich King' coming closer, it was announced that the level cap will be increased to 80. Players will also be able to fight others from the opposing faction, either through specific Battlegrounds, attacking enemy settlements or for simply choosing a specific server. Duels are another version of PvP where you can face the same or opposing faction, however there are no rewards. Players also choose to join Guilds, these are for helping each other, making friends or for raid groups against the opposing faction or at instances (dungeons).
In the Warcraft world there are two types of characters, Playable Character and Non-Playable Character (NPCs). A Playable Character is the character you can control, however, a NPC is control through the game software. There are also types of NPCs, Friendly NPCs who cannot attack you or vice versa, Hostile NPCs which are either a NPC of an opposing faction or a mob which will attack if near and there are lastly Neutral NPCs who will only attack if you attack them. You can change your interaction with the NPC by increasing your reputation with them.
The NPCs will have specific jobs set, for example, to buy and sell merchandise, to train class and profession skills, give quests and to provide many more services throughout the game. NPCs can also further the storyline or protect the settlement from attacking NPCs and Players and to also provide directions through the city.
When choosing a character for World of Warcraft, there are two opposing factions to choose between each with different races: Alliance and Horde. The races consisting of these factions have specific racial traits, appearance and starting location.
- The races currently within the Alliance are: Humans, Night Elves, Gnomes, Dwarves and Draenei.
- The races currently within the Horde are: Orcs, Tauren, Trolls, Undead (The Forsaken) and Blood Elves.
With the expansion of 'The Burning Crusade' came the two new races Draenei and Blood Elf.
With the expansion of 'Cataclysm'came two new races Worgen and Goblins
A player can also choose one of the nine character classes, which not may all be available to all races but each having it's unique abilities and talents. These abilities can be skills or spells for a specific class, while talents allow players to choose a specific role. There are three talent trees per class and each of these can be built upon for damage (or damage-per-second, DPS), healing or tanking, they can even try a mix of these. There are also some classes know as 'hybrid classes' which are adaptable to preform roles needed for a group they are in.
These are the nine available classes:
- Druid: (Hybrid Class)
A class based around shapeshifting into various forms to specilize their abilities, such as bear, cat, tree, and moonkin forms. These forms often allow the druid to use alternate sets of abilities which largely emulate other classes. In addition to being the best "heal over time" healers in the game the druid class also brings a number of buffs and debuffs which can greatly aid a group or raid.
- Hunter: (Ranged Damage Class)
Hunters are a combination of an archer and an animal tamer. They can use ranged weaponry in conjunction with their pet animal. They can also deploy traps as a form of damage or for stalling. Hunters provide a number of tricks and gimmicks that can aid their groups.
- Mage: (Spell Damage Class)
A high damage dealing class, Mages use arcane, frost and fire magic and can specialize themselves based on those. They can produce food and water for the group as well as teleport themselves and others. Their somewhat low survivability is a challenge to be compensated for. Mages also excel in dealing damage to crowds of multiple enemies.
- Paladin: (Hybrid Class)
In addition to being an excellent single target healer, the paladin is a heavily armored class that augments their physical damage with extra bursts of holy damage. They made excellent tanks when the situation calls for a larger number of enemies to be tanked at once, and can also be useful in groups as a damage role, especially in PvP. Paladins bring a wide range of auras, seals, and blessings to a group.
- Priest: (Healing/Spell Damage Class)
Though officially a healer class, a priest is an undercover hybrid, bringing both powerful single and area healing, a multitude of useful buffs, and a range of offensive abilities. Further, Shadow Priests are invaluable assets to a group or raid, having access to a number of shadow damage and fear abilities, in addition to restoring mana and health to groups while attacking.
- Rogue: (Melee Damage Class)
Rogues are masters of stealth, evasion, and melee-based damage. Formidable in PvE and especially PvP a rogue always seems to have an out to any sticky situation. Able to avoid most enemies and mobs, they can also pickpocket and brew a multitude of poisons to apply to their dual weapons.
- Shaman: (Hybrid Damage Class)
The spiritual doppelganger to the paladin class, the shaman is able to cast a wide range of totems in battle to aid their allies or harm their foes. An effective multi-target healer and magical damage dealer, they can also specialize to dual wield weapons and be a powerful melee combatant. The shaman also has a number of useful gimmicks and buffs that are revered in groups and raids.
- Warlock: (Spell Damage Class)
The Warlock is the magical equivalent to the hunter class; capable of summoning a wide range of demons that are possess a multitude of abilities, specialties and effects in addition to wielding powerful fear and "damage over time" abilities. The warlock is also able to convert life into mana, and to drain life through a number of means making them a class to be mastered.
- Warrior: (Tank/Melee Damage Class)
A heavy armor wearing class that excels at damage mitigation tanking. As more damage is taken the warrior's "rage" builds, which the warriors uses on abilities. Also armed for damage dealing purposes, a common nickname for such a warrior is a "plate rogue".
With the release of 'The Burning Crusade' the Alliance specific class Paladin was given to the Blood Elves (Horde) and the previous Horde specific class Shaman was to the Draenei (Alliance).
In the Wrath of the Lich King expansion the first of possibly many "Hero classes" is announced; the Death Knight. This class is unable to use a shield and uses a variety of rune-based abilities to provide tanking and damage to groups. It is speculated that Death Knights will be most effective against caster-type enemies. Players with a level 55 character or higher on a given server will be allowed to create a pre-levelled Death Knight of level 55 on that server of any acceptable race they choose.