At last, the world of Azeroth, first glimpsed in the original Warcraft: Orcs and Humans, is brought to life in glorious detail. Join the eight million players (and counting) currently adventuring in Azeroth as well as beyond the Dark Portal, and see what journeys await for those who would plumb the many secrets of this ancient realm. As a massively multiplayer online game, World of Warcraft enables thousands of players from across the globe to come together online - undertaking grand quests and heroic exploits in a land of fantastic adventure.
A Familiar World
World of Warcraft draws heavily upon the lore of the Warcraft universe. Long-time fans of the Warcraft games are finally able to step into the world from a player's perspective, and experience the universe firsthand. People, places, and units from the strategy games are brought to life in World of Warcraft.
You can visit such places as the Burning Steppes, where Grom Hellscream fell in battle against the demon lord Mannoroth, and Ironforge, where the dwarves make their home below the mountain. Legendary heroes, such as Thrall, Cairne Bloodhoof, and King Magni Bronzebeard, are also in the game, presiding over their respective peoples as leaders in their race's capitals.
Guards in the human city of Stormwind look just like footmen from Warcraft III, peasants in the human town of Hillsbrad look exactly like their counterparts in the strategy games, and orc peons shuffle about the farms of Go'Shek in the Arathi Highlands. Night elf players can even see gargantuan Ancient Protectors patrolling the elven lands of Teldrassil, while a towering Ancient of War waits to greet all visitors to Darnassus.
Creating a Character
When choosing a character to create in World of Warcraft, there are many choices before you. There are ten races and nine classes available, but the game's primary choice when it comes to character creation is the faction you wish to fight for. You can join the Horde or the Alliance, and your choice here has an impact on what you can and cannot accomplish in the world.
You can only group and talk to players in your own faction. You also can only view and befriend players in your faction when using the in-game social commands. The intent is to make you feel like a member of one enormous team, while at the same time setting up the other faction as an enemy or, at best, a rival. Thus, if you wish to play with your friends, you should all join the same faction. Other content, such as the zones you can visit and the quests you can accomplish, are also organized by faction. Some quests can only be completed by Horde players and others can only be completed by Alliance players. Some zones offer cities and interactive NPCs for one faction, but are completely hostile to the other.
The Horde faction includes the orc, tauren, troll, blood elf, and undead races, while the Alliance faction is comprised of dwarves, gnomes, humans, draenei, and night elves.
Adventuring in the world
After you create your character, you will enter the world in your race's starting area. All the races except trolls and gnomes begin in a unique location. Those two races have to share starting locales with the orcs and dwarves, respectively. After watching a brief in-game cutscene introducing your race, you are set loose upon the world.
It won't be long before you encounter your first monster in your travels. World of Warcraft is home to a huge array of creatures of all shapes, sizes, and of varying threat levels to your character's well-being. These creatures can be found everywhere, from roaming the countryside, residing in their own camps, or populating vast dungeons. There are wandering beasts, which will range from forest creatures such as bears, spiders, and wolves, to more exotic creatures such as giant phosphorescent moths and six-legged crocodiles called crocolisks.
You'll soon encounter more intelligent, dangerous enemies as well. Humanoid foes of every kind, such as murlocs, gnolls, and furbolgs, join more unnatural monsters like undead, oozes, and elementals. And, should you dare, you'll find more spectacular enemies like demons, infernals, dragonspawn, and mighty dragons stalking the dungeons and high-level areas of the world.
While you're exploring the lands of Azeroth and Kalimdor, you'll be treated to a multitude of different regions, each with its own visual style. Vast, varied, and beautiful, many of the regions were recreated from their appearances in prior Warcraft games, while others introduce heretofore uncharted lands in the Warcraft universe. This variety and detail can be seen in the lush forests in Ashenvale and Feralas, the snowy mountains in Dun Morogh, the savannah of the Barrens, the plains of Mulgore, and the deserts of Tanaris. Swamps in Un'Goro Crater, jungles in Stranglethorn Vale, farmland in Elwynn Forest, and even deforested hills in Stonetalon Mountains are even more of the many regions you can explore. Terrain that has been vastly altered by magic and the ravages of war also appear in the game. The razed city of Dalaran, encased in a protective magic shell, is a painful reminder of the devastation of the Reign of Chaos, while the infested Eastern and Western Plaguelands are filled with diseased animals and plantlife, courtesy of the Scourge's plague.
This long list of landscapes doesn't even include the underground environments and dungeons of the world. There are dungeons available for all ranges of mid- to high-level players, and they offer many rich quests, fearsome foes, and powerful rewards.