World of Warcraft (commonly known as WoW) is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG). It is Blizzard Entertainment's fourth game set in the fantasy Warcraft universe, which was first introduced by Warcraft: Orcs & Humans in 1994. World of Warcraft takes place within the world of Azeroth, four years after the events at the conclusion of Blizzard's previous release, Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne. Blizzard Entertainment announced World of Warcraft on September 2, 2001. The game was released on November 23, 2004, celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Warcraft franchise. It is currently the world's largest MMORPG in terms of monthly subscribers.
The first official expansion pack of the game, The Burning Crusade, was released on January 16, 2007. During the 2007 BlizzCon event, Blizzard announced a second expansion pack called Wrath of the Lich King on August 3, 2007. The release date of Wrath of the Lich King has not been announced.
Unlike previous games in the Warcraft series, World of Warcraft is a MMORPG, not a real-time strategy game. As with other MMORPGs, people control a character avatar within a persistent game world, exploring the landscape, fighting monsters, performing quests, building skills, and interacting with NPCs, as well as other players. The game rewards success with in-game money, items, experience and reputation, all of which in turn allow players to improve their skill and power. Players can level up their characters from level one to level 60, level 70 if they have The Burning Crusade expansion. Upon release of the Wrath of the Lich King expansion, players will be able to attain level 80 after purchasing the expansion. In addition, players may opt to take part in battles against other players of an enemy faction, in PvP battlegrounds or in normal world zones subject to the rules in place on the particular server. Duels can also be fought between members of the same or opposing factions, although these do not provide tangible rewards. Many players also choose to join guilds. Short-term parties and raid groups can be formed to conduct raids against enemy territories and instances.
There are two types of characters in the game: Player Characters (PCs, or simply "characters") and Non-Player Characters (NPCs). A Player Character is an avatar in the game environment that is controlled by a player, whilst Non-Player Characters are controlled by the game software and can only interact with PCs through scripted events or artificial intelligence (AI). There are three types of NPCs. Friendly NPCs cannot attack friendly characters and vice versa. Hostile NPCs are either of the opposing faction or are mobs (enemies controlled by AI) and will freely attack any PC with whom they are hostile. Neutral NPCs will only attack if provoked. Some NPC interaction is affected by the reputation a PC has with them.
NPCs in major and minor cities can buy and sell merchandise, train class and profession skills, give quests and provide a large number of services that are needed in the game. While some will merely offer advice or further the story, others, such as city guards, patrol around set paths to keep cities defended against attacking PCs or hostile NPCs that may attempt to invade.
When creating a character in World of Warcraft, the player can choose from ten different races in two factions: Alliance and Horde. Race determines the character's appearance, starting location, and initial skill set, called "racial traits".
The Alliance currently consists of Humans, Night Elves, Dwarfs, Gnomes and Draenei.
The Horde currently consists of Orcs, Tauren, Undead, Trolls and Blood Elves.
Draenei and Blood Elf characters were introduced in The Burning Crusade, and require that expansion in order to be created.
In addition to the ten playable races, there are many NPC races including (but not limited to) Goblins, Ogres, Murlocs, and Naga.
The game has nine character classes that a player can choose from, though not all classes are available for each race. Each class has a set of unique abilities and talents. Abilities are general skills and spells available to the entire class, while talents allow players to specialize their character and further refine their role. Each class has a set of three talent trees. Depending on class, players may choose to build their character's talent trees for damage-dealing (also called damage-per-second, or DPS), healing, tanking, or a mix of these. Some classes, known as "hybrid classes," are able to perform different roles depending on a group's needs.
The nine available classes in World of Warcraft are:
Druid (Hybrid class)
A nature-oriented class capable of fulfilling the role of damage-dealer, tank, or healer. The druid can shape-shift into many forms to increase its combat or movement abilities, including a bear (for tanking), a cat (for melee combat), a sea lion (for water travel), and a Cheetah for fast land travel. Through specialization of the character, a Moonkin form for improved magical damage dealing and a "Tree of Life" form for improved healing are also available. In humanoid form, the druid can cast a variety of healing or damaging spells.
Hunter (Ranged damage class)
A combination of a marksman/archer and animal specialist, the hunter specializes in ranged damage dealt by means of a bow, crossbow, or gun with the help of an animal pet. The hunter also employs a series of traps for damaging or disabling enemies.
Mage (Spell damage class)
The wizard-esque damage-dealer of World of Warcraft, the mage employs spells of the "arcane", fire, and frost elements. They have minimal armor. Mages can also conjure food and water to replenish group members, and teleport themselves and others to most major cities.
Paladin (Hybrid class)
A heavily armored holy warrior. Like druids, paladins can specialize to fulfill each of the three major roles in World of Warcraft. (See also: Paladin (character class).)
Priest (Healer/Spell damage class)
A lightly armored class that can protect and heal allies (with "Holy" spells) or bring harm to enemies (with "Shadow" spells).
Rogue (Melee damage class)
A shadowy assassin that can "stealth" to avoid being seen by enemies (providing near-invisibility). The rogue deals damage by dual-wielding small mêlée weapons, and also provides traditional thief skills like lock-picking, pickpocketing, and poisoning.
Shaman (Hybrid class)
Unlike other hybrid classes (paladins and druids), the totem-wielding shaman's tanking abilities are quite limited. However, they can specialize to become effective healers, or damage dealers using either mêlée weapons or spells.
Warlock (Spell damage class)
A sinister combination of the mage and the hunter, the warlock deals magical damage like a mage, but also has demonic "pets" (called minions) like hunters. Depending on their specialization, the warlock's damaging spells can come chiefly in the form of "damage over time" spells that, after being placed on an enemy, slowly deal damage, or in the form of direct damage spells that deal damage all at once, as those of a mage or shaman do.
Warrior (Tank/melee damage class)
A heavily armored class, the warrior is a general mêlée fighter who can wield any non-magical weapon in the game.
The Paladin class was previously only available to the Alliance, and the Shaman only available to the Horde. Now, with the release of The Burning Crusade, the Draenei (Alliance) are able to be shamans and the Blood Elves (Horde) are able to be paladins, removing the previous faction exclusivity. In the Wrath of the Lich King expansion, a tenth class known as the Death Knight will be added, which will also be the game's first Hero class.
Items and equipment
Player characters can acquire various items in the game. Items can vary from resources such as herbs or raw ores to items to be retrieved for quests. Player characters can also equip different weapons and armor, either to customize their character or to improve abilities (such as better attack or defense skills). Item rarity is classified by the color of the item name: grey denoting "poor", white for"common", green for "uncommon", blue for "rare", purple for "epic" and orange for "legendary".
A mount refers to an item or spell that, when activated, summons an animal or machine for the character to ride upon. Characters of certain levels and skill ability can acquire these mounts in order to increase their movement speed on land. Mounts can be acquired via reputation with certain factions, completion of quests, through special items produced via professions, or as very rare loot drops obtained by defeating bosses in instances. In the expansion pack The Burning Crusade, the ability to purchase or acquire flying mounts became available in the expansion areas.
Each playable race enjoys a certain mount type strongly associated with their race. Trolls have access to raptors, Tauren ride kodos, Undead have skeletal steeds, Orcs ride Wolves, Night Elves ride Saber Cats of all kinds, Humans ride horses, Dwarves ride rams, and Gnomes enjoy a mechanical ostrich donned the Mechanostrider. With the release of The Burning Crusade, the Blood Elves acquired a large bird, the Hawkstrider, and the Draenei gained the Elekks (Elephant-like mammals).
During the course of playing the game, players may choose to develop side skills for their character(s). These non-combat skills are called professions. Professions are divided into two categories, primary and secondary.
Primary professions are skills related to the creation and enhancement of weapons and armor, and can be subdivided into gathering and crafting professions. The gathering professions in WoW are Herbalism, Mining, and Skinning. Crafting professions include Blacksmithing, Leatherworking, Tailoring, Alchemy, Engineering, Enchanting, Jewelcrafting (added in The Burning Crusade expansion), and Inscription (to be added in the Wrath of the Lich King expansion). Crafting professions also have specialization categories that when trained, allow for more diverse items to be created, depending on the character's direction in the game. There is also the Enchanting profession, which allows a character to enchant weapons and armor, and also disenchant magical items in his or her possession. A character is limited to two primary professions.
Secondary professions are skills that serve to enhance the player's experience and self-sufficiency. The secondary professions are First Aid, Cooking and Fishing. Characters can learn all three secondary professions. The Rogue class has two unique secondary professions: Poisons and Lock Picking.
Upon defeating another player of the opposite faction in player versus player (PvP) combat the victor earns "Honor Points". Some servers allow for unrestricted PvP in most areas of the game, while others restrict this so-called "world PvP" to voluntary action only. All players also may choose to participate in the Battlegrounds - areas designed for multiplayer combat. In addition to honor points, a loss in a battleground awards the losing team 1 "mark of honor", while a victory awards the winning team 3. Honor Points and marks may be spent as currency to purchase various rewards like armor, weapons and mounts. Prior to patch 2.0.1, significant PvP achievements would allow charcters to display various titles. After the patch new titles are no longer available, however previously earned titles can still be displayed.
The Arenas, added in The Burning Crusade, offer gladiator-like combat in a World of Warcraft setting. The Arenas have a separate system from the Battlegrounds. Instead of honor, the Arenas give "Arena Points" which can be spent to purchase items in a manner similar to Honor Points. Only level 70 players can participate in rated arena matches. Lower level players can participate in pratice arena matches, or "skirmishes", but no arena points are awarded.
The Arena system is broken into seasons. At the end of each season the best Arena teams in each category (2 versus 2, 3 versus 3 and 5 versus 5) are rewarded with titles. From highest to lowest these ranks are Gladiator, Duelist, Rival and Challenger.
The current virtual world consists of two planets, Azeroth and Draenor (also known as "Outland"). Azeroth consists of two main continents, the Eastern Kingdoms and Kalimdor. Located to the northwest of Kalimdor are the Azuremyst and Bloodmyst Isles, and Teldrassil.
Kalimdor contains the starting areas for the Orc, Troll, and Tauren races of the Horde. The Night Elves and Draenei of the Alliance both begin in areas off the coast of Kalimdor (Teldrassil and Azuremyst and Bloodmyst Isles respectively). The Night Elves have the capability to move to the mainland fairly early as well. The Eastern Kingdoms contain the beginning areas for the Undead and Blood Elves of the Horde, as well as the Humans, Dwarves and Gnomes of the Alliance.
Draenor, added with the release of The Burning Crusade, is only accessible to those who have purchased and activated the expansion pack. It is reached through the Dark Portal in the south of the Eastern Kingdoms or through in-game teleportation. Draenor was the original home of the Orcs and was also inhabited by the Draenei for over 200 years.
The Wrath of the Lich King expansion will add the continent of Northrend in the northern region of Azeroth and will be available exclusively to those players who purchase and activate that expansion pack.
In an effort to further players' enjoyment and create common goals for large groups to accomplish, game developers added World Events into the game. The first world events were outdoor raid bosses that could be challenged without entering an instance. These bosses were the blue dragon Azuregos of Azshara and the Burning Legion demon Lord Kazzak in the Blasted Lands. These were followed by four green dragons corrupted by the "Emerald Nightmare." In addition, certain areas of Azeroth experience an "elemental invasion" where waves of elemental-class monsters will run rampant for a time or until they are destroyed.
Blizzard has also implemented holiday content. Valentine's Day, Easter, Independence Day, Oktoberfest, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, as well as New Year's and its lunar counterpart all have their Warcraft-themed counterparts. During these week-long events players partake in holiday-themed quests usually involving humorous references to real-world pop culture surrounding the holiday. For example, one of the Winter's Veil (Christmas) quests involves fighting a creature known as the Greench (a parody of the Grinch) and rescuing a kidnapped reindeer named Metzen (styled after lead designer, Chris Metzen). Some world events are designed to repeat themselves on a regular basis such as the Darkmoon Faire. Others have been a one-time event that marked a large change in the in-game world like the opening of the Gates of Ahn'Qiraj, the Scourge Invasion and the opening of the Dark Portal which signaled the beginning of The Burning Crusade expansion, along with other less notable events.
As you can see, Blizzard has put alot into this game. Unfortunately, most people see it as a pathetic life sucking pastime for nerds and losers. The way I see it is, I can entertain myself for $15 a month. As far as entertaining yourself today goes, thats pretty damn cheap. I enjoy the game and hopefully others who read this do to.
I played World of Warcraft for 2 weeks straight and I died from not taking a crap!