World of Warcraft Explained

World of WarCraft (WoW) is a race/class-based massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) developed by Blizzard Entertainment. It is the 4th game in the Warcraft legacy, excluding all expansion packs and the cancelled Warcraft Adventures: Lord of the Clans. The Warcraft games are set in the eponymous Warcraft Universe, a fantasy setting introduced by Warcraft: Orcs & Humans in 1994. World of Warcraft is set four years after the events at the conclusion of Blizzard's previous release, Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne.

World of Warcraft General Information

World of Warcraft was simultaneously released on both Windows and Macintosh computer systems in North America, Australia and New Zealand on November 23, 2004. The game sold more than 240,000 copies in its first 24 hours on the market, more than any other PC game in history. Though not officially released in South Korea until January 18, 2005, it had been found on store shelves since November 2004. The game was released in Europe on February 11, 2005 with English, French and German language versions. On March 2, 2005, 100,000 testers signed up for China's World of Warcraft beta test within the first hour. The game was released in China on June 6, 2005. The game won high praise at E³ in 2003, including Gamer's Pulse's Best of Show award. World of Warcraft was declared by many in the computer gaming industry, including GameSpot and GameSpy, as 2004's game of the year. And, as with any game, it has its own terminology.

The World of Warcraft Launch

As is common with the launch of a MMORPG, World of Warcraft had its share of problems at first. Partly because of the huge number of people who bought the game, along with server instability, Blizzard chose to stop selling copies of the game some time after the launch. Sales were limited accordingly until more servers, called worlds, or realms, could be assembled. Due to the massive initial sales, there were also periods where players had to wait in queues before playing, as some realms were at their maximum player limit. When more servers were added, these queues became less common and sales of the game resumed. Still, in certain high population areas with World of Warcraft like Ironforge or Orgrimmar, players continued to experience game performance delays.

World of Warcraft Sales

As of October 2010, World of Warcraft has more than 12,000,000 players worldwide, making it the most popular MMORPG in the world. These numbers exclude all players under free promotional subscriptions, expired or canceled subscriptions, and expired pre-paid cards. Blizzard also stated that at any given time at least 6,500,000 World of Warcraft subscribers are online. Due to World of Warcraft's high sales it has been described as a "runaway success" with "overwhelming popularity", which other games, like The Warhammer Online, blame for their lackluster sales.

World of Warcraft Characters

Because World of Warcraft is a role-playing game, players create characters which serve as their avatar in the online world.

When creating a character in World of Warcraft, the player can choose from eight different races and nine different character classes. The races are split into two equally sized factions, the Alliance and the Horde:

  • The Alliance consists of Humans, Night Elves, Dwarves, and Gnomes.
  • The Horde consists of Orcs, Tauren, Undead (a.k.a. Forsaken) and Trolls.
  • Additionally, there are many NPC races such as Goblins, Ogres, High Elves and Murlocs.

The nine available classes are Druid, Hunter, Mage, Paladin, Priest, Rogue, Shaman, Warlock and Warrior. Two of the classes are faction-specific: Paladins for the Alliance and Shamans for the Horde. Classes are also limited by race.

World of Warcraft Professions

In addition to the character classes in World of Warcraft, a player may choose two primary professions and as many secondary professions as they wish. The professions consist of two types: gathering and item creation/service. Many players choose to pair two related professions, thus allowing the character to gather the required materials for the crafting skill. Some of the most commonly paired skills are Mining and Blacksmithing or Alchemy and Herbalism. Some World of Warcraft players choose to select only "gathering" professions, opting to simply supply resources to players with item creation skills. This type of player will typically offer gathered items for sale on World of Warcraft's auction houses.

World of Warcraft Virtual world

The current World of Warcraft virtual world is built around two main continents: The Eastern Kingdoms and Kalimdor. The new World Tree of Teldrassil is off the northwestern coast of Kalimdor. While not all of the history between the end of The Frozen Throne and the four years between the start of World of Warcraft has been revealed, it is assumed that the conflict between the Horde's forces and the marines of the Theramore Isles at the end of the Orc mini-campaign were at least the kindling for the blaze of the current conflict.

Some of the notable landmarks and locations in World of Warcraft that were featured in previous Warcraft games, namely Warcraft III, are:

The Undercity, which resides under the Ruins of Lordaeron, is the main city of the Undead, ruled by Sylvanas Windrunner and Varimathras. Here they are engineering a new plague to wipe out the Scourge and all other life forms in Azeroth; The Eastern and Western Plaguelands, including places such as Andorhal, the place of origin of the Scourge and the Plague of Undeath, and Stratholme, the site of Arthas' initial fall into insanity; The Blasted Lands, home of the original Dark Portal out of which the Orcs first came into Azeroth; and Kalimdor, home to the Tauren, Orcs, Trolls, and Night Elves. Areas to the north include Ashenvale Forest, Felwood, Winterspring, Azshara and the Moonglade. These regions surround Mt. Hyjal, where the final battle against Archimonde was held and the fall of the Burning Legion's Second Invasion took place.

World of Warcraft Instances

World of Warcraft also features instances. Instances, or "Instanced Dungeons", are dungeons that have been designed and tailored specifically for certain sizes of groups and are duplicated for each group that enters it. This way a party can experience a dungeon without interference from other World of Warcraft players, and cannot zerg it by bringing in outside help to overwhelm the opposition. Instances will allow only a certain maximum group size to enter, ranging from 5-man groups in some small instances, to 40. As of mid-2005 there are three instances which allow for a maximum of 40 people: Onyxia's Lair, The Molten Core, and Blackwing Lair. These are the toughest areas in the game and success in these three instances is hardly possible without great organization and good equipment. The recently added World of Warcraft Zul'Gurub instance allows for a maximum of 20 people and offers a more casual gameplay experience.

Typically, World of Warcraft instanced dungeons are more elaborate and require more steps to be taken in a particular order for successful completion than are necessary in the main world. For example, requiring that a large group of enemies be defeated so that one can pull a lever to rotate a bridge in order to access a new section of the map makes sense when one group is traversing the dungeon linearly; it makes far less sense in public areas where hundreds of other World of Warcraft players might be in the same area. Therefore, instanced dungeons tend to be much more interesting than normal areas, in which quest requirements are very simple (e.g. kill a certain number of enemies, or collect a certain number of objects).

In December 2010 World of Warcraft: Cataclysm was released. At this time the subscription base had reached 12 million players world wide.