Decided to write this as a little helping hand to the people who don't want to sift through lots of needless information elsewhere to get the basic facts about how to start in World of Warcraft. I'm writing this assuming you don't have a fucking clue how World of Warcraft works.
What you will need to start playing.
First of all your going to need to create a Battle.net account, which can be done from here. Your Battle.net account will serve as a kind of hub from which you can manage anything and everything to do with your Blizzard games.
While not all the rumors surrounding World of Warcraft are entirely true, you will have to invest alot more time into this game to progress at a steady rate. While questing and leveling up is for the most part good fun, alot of the games content is intended for players at the maximum level. Don't be discouraged as reaching the maximum is not as impossible as you may have heard.
What do I buy first?
First and foremost you need to buy the original World of Warcraft, this is the foundations on which the rest of games go off in their respective tangents. You can either buy it retail or download it from the Battle.net website.
Is their a demo I can play before buying the game?
Yes, once you have created your Battle.net account their is an option to download the client for a free 10 day trial. Once you have bought first game, you will get a months worth of free playtime, plenty time to decide whether you want to subscribe or not.
I bought the first game. What now?
You need to register the game on your Battle.net account, once you have logged in, under the "Summary" tab there is a big green button on the left of the screen that says "Add Game" follow this link and you will be prompted to "Enter a game key". In the box there should be a key just like every other PC game. Enter it into the box provided and the game should now be tied to your account.
Do I need to subscribe?
One way or another, yes. You can either choose to subscribe using your credit/debit card for 1, 3 or 6 months or buy a pre paid game card which are usually for 60 days of playtime (these work alot like an XBL subscription cards). Once you have done this you can start playing.
Every so often new patches are released to fix bugs and the like. If you are jumping into WoW for the first time I advise you have something else to occupy yourself with because you will most likely have a fuck-ton of patches to catch up on.
Realms?A fancy way to say servers. There are a few different kinds:
Normal/PVE(Player vs Enemies) - Basically you can play through the game without having to worry about getting jumped by the opposite faction.
PVP (Player vs Player) - Essentially the opposite of PVE. You can be questing away minding your own business and all of a sudden you have been jumped by a player of the opposing faction (and it will happen.)
Normal-Roleplaying - As the name suggests, you can pretend to be a fairy if you want without being judged or jumped by the opposing faction.
PVP-Roleplaying - Roleplaying is still permitted but there is always the chance someone from the opposite faction will try their hardest to ruin story time.
Note: If you have an existing character on a realm and want to swap to another, you will need to pay to transfer that character to a different one. If you have friends who play it would be wise to ask which realm they play on before you jump into one.
Faction - The "Team" you will be sided with. Alliance or Horde. Each side has their own exclusive races, which cannot crossover. It is possible to change faction mid-game, but you will have to change your race upon doing so.
Races - Each faction has 6 races and they all have their race specific talents that are unique to them. (e.g Undead can breathe underwater for alot longer than any other race (300% longer the last time I played).
Classes - Do you want to heal people, hit people or set them on fire? Of course, there is alot more to it than that, but when your first starting out these are probably the things you will have thought about. Bear in mind that some races will not be able to play specific classes.
Simply put, you could say these were jobs. A way to make money in game for providing services to other players. (e.g crafting a weapon or piece of armor) The more you use your profession the quicker you will level up. It is easier to work your professions from the beginning of the game than it is to start from scratch at a higher level, it will also provide you with an alternative income on the side of the quest rewards.
Visiting GB's World of Warcraft page will provide alot more detail on these subjects. I have only mentioned the basics since the depth of detail can be pretty overwhelming to a first time player.
Should I buy any of the expansions right now?
This really depends on how you want to play. These are the main things they introduced with each expansion (that matter to beginners):
Burning Crusade -
2 new races - Blood Elf and Draenei
- Outland (new game area)
- Flying Mounts
- Raised level cap from 60 to 70
If you have this expansion registered you will be able to play as a Blood Elf or Draenei from the beginning of the game. You will also have access to Outland, however this area is intended for players of level 60 to 70 and surviving at lower levels is pretty much out of the question. Flying mounts will not be available until you hit level 60.
Wrath of the Lich King -
- Death knight class
- Northerend (new game area)
- Raised level cap from 70 to 80
Now personally, if you are just getting into WoW I'd say hold off on this one as there are no immediate benefits. You cant play as a Death Knight unless you already have a character of level 55 or higher. Its still possible to travel to Northerend at any level but upon arrival, any enemies will spot you a mile away and proceed to kick the shit out of you.
- Two new races - Goblins and Worgen
- Complete re-design of Azeroth
- New quest system
- New starting areas for original races
- Raised level cap from 80 to 85
Now this is where it all gets a bit blurry for me as I have yet to play Cataclysm so corrections would be more than welcome.
Basically if you are just starting then the two new classes are the only features you'll benefit from by actually buying the game as the new quest system and re-designs are available to anyone who has bought the original game. (Please correct me if I'm wrong).
So in the end...
The expansions for beginners are opportunities to play the new races introduced with the respective game. Its up to you if you want to or not, the only downside I can think of is having spent an extra few £/$ for a game you will no longer play should it not be the experience you were looking for.
Its also important to note that you need to buy the expansion packs in order. For example to play Wrath of the Lich King, you need to have bought The Burning Crusade. And for Cataclysm you need to have all the existing expansions in order to play.
Again, if you want anything explained in more detail, check out the World of Warcraft wiki page.
I've been out of the WoW game for a the best part of this year and there are no doubt a ton of holes and mistakes in the things I have written or even things I have completely missed out. This would have been better written by someone who is actively playing the game and has more of a way with words than I do.
Any essential additions, tips and corrections would be great. Remember this is for beginners who have never played before, so things like end-game raid tips are pretty much useless at this point.
Also, I'm sorry about the formatting. I'll try and add some images and make it less of a cluster fuck of text at some point.