Not a gamer? Never played an MMO before? Don’t worry! This absolute beginner’s guide will teach you the very basics in no time!
If you’re not a gamer, or even a gamer who doesn’t play online games, you might be asking yourself, “Why would someone want to start playing World of Warcraft?” There are a lot of reasons, really:
WoW is the number-one-selling massively-multiplayer game on the market, so there’s obviously a lot to do in the game. Maybe you have a friend who plays, and has been trying to sell you on the game for awhile. Maybe you’re just hoping to impress a special someone (Don’t worry, we understand!)
In any case, there are few better places to get into MMO gaming. Getting started can be a little daunting, especially for someone new to gaming. Don’t fret! This step-by-step guide will take you through the very basics.
Begin at the beginning: the WoW website
First, you’ll need a place to start. As with any online game, start with a thorough virus scan. There are some great free utilities out there you can grab if you don’t have an antivirus program already on your computer.
Downloading the game (called the “client”) to your computer should come next. Pop over to Blizzard Entertainment’s official WoW site to get started with a free trial, which will walk you through the dirty work of installing the game. Alternatively, if you have a friend who already has an account, mention Blizzard’s Recruit-a-Friend program to them. It’s a good way to get some in-game benefits to make your first steps a little easier.
You might notice that Blizzard has gone a little crazy with account security – this is a good thing. The last thing you want is to work on a character for weeks only to have someone steal everything from your character’s bank. There are a lot of phony emails and online scams to try to get your account info, so be wary of any requests for information that don’t come from Blizzard.
To learn more, check out Blizzard’s Account Security guide. In any case, once you get the game set up and have an account, it’s time to log in.
Welcome to Azeroth: don’t panic
The world of Azeroth is a bold and compelling place, with everything a fantasy fan could want: heroic swordfighting, ancient and powerful magic, and a host of monstrous creatures on which to freely employ said skills. Or, if you’re more of a thinker than a fighter, you can enjoy WoW’s award-winning visuals. There are some really stunning places in-game that just following the basic instructions can take you to (and some really great secret places, to boot.)
You’ll want to pick a character that you enjoy playing. The best way to do this is to create a bunch of them until you find one you really like. If you fancy swordplay and dueling, give a shot to a Warrior or a Rogue—they look cool, and can deliver a real beating with their skills. If you like the idea of going toe-to-toe with baddies, these classes will be a good match.
If you prefer a more calculated approach, try a Mage or a Warlock. The Mage has some really cool spells to cast, from firestorms to spells that turn foes into harmless animals, and can be one of the simplest classes to understand. On the other hand, the Warlock is a little more technically complex, but Warlocks get their own personal demonic guardians and some very tricky dark magic that can surprise enemies with its potency. Create your character, decide what they look like and give them a name, and then get to playing.
Where to click
Once your character is in the game world, you’ll notice a big, complicated pile of buttons and bars on the edges of your screen. Don’t worry: it’s really a lot easier than it looks. On the bottom of the screen are your “action bars.” Each little icon on the bar represents a skill your character can use, whether archery or throwing lightning bolts. All you have to do is click on a target, then click on the button, and voila! You’re battling with the best of them. Each button is numbered as well, and you can simply press the corresponding number key on your keyboard to use the skill.
On the top-left part of your screen, you’ll notice a picture of your character’s face with some colored bars next to it. The red bar is your character’s health, or hit points. It’s a way of measuring how much of a whupping your character can take before going down; as you are hit with attacks from enemies, you will lose hit points and eventually fall. Don’t worry! Death in the World of Warcraft is very, very temporary, and you’ll soon find yourself upright and ready to fight again (and perhaps a little wiser for it.)
Any other bars up there are specific to your character type, with blue for mana (which Mages, Priests, and the like use to cast their spells) or yellow for energy (which rogues use for their tricky skills.) Hunters also get a yellow bar—this is their Focus, and used for their skills as well. If you only see the health bar, then you’re a Warrior, and your second bar – rage – builds up as you fight and can be spent to pull off some really neat moves.
The bottom-right has a picture of a backpack, and that is exactly what it is: your character’s pack, wherein they keep all of their stuff. Click on that to get a look at what you’ve got stashed, and you’ll find a little bit of food and water to use when you’re recovering from a fight (to refill health and mana, respectively) although you’ll find they recover on their own quickly enough. Your character also keeps gear on their body, like clothes and weapons, and you can press C to see that. They won’t be in your backpack until you swap them out with something nicer (and then you can sell the old stuff for some quick gold!)
The bottom of the screen also has an array of little picture buttons—these navigate the more in-depth looks at aspects of your gameplay. There’s a button for more detailed stats on your character, a button for a book full of all of your skills (so you can reorganize and learn more about them,) and a button for your main menu, where you can change game settings or just log out of the game when you’re done for the day.
The best way to succeed in Azeroth is to make friends, and to do that you’re going to need to communicate. Anybody in the game world with a blue name over their heads is an actual player, and not just a game character, and these are the folks who are your social lifeline in the game. Be nice to them, and generally they’ll be nice back, especially if they see that you’re new.
There are a couple of ways to talk to other players, but the easiest is with the “chat window,” that big box of text in the bottom left corner of your screen. In order to keep communications simple, it’s set up a lot like an old-school chat room, with different commands to talk in different ways. Start by pressing your “/” key – this will bring up a cursor in the chat window and plant a “/” in the chat box (every command in World of Warcraft that isn’t battle-related starts with a slash.)
From there, you can type a lot of things, but the best way to get started is to see if anyone is online in your immediate area and willing to help teach a new player. Try typing something like this:
/1 Hello! I’m new to the game, can anyone help teach me a little?
“/1” directs your question to the General chat channel, which everyone in your immediate area, or “zone,” can hear, and is a good way to reach a lot of people quickly. The rest of the message can really say whatever you want it to say, but hello is usually a good way to start. Remember your etiquette. Please and thank you go a long way in Azeroth.
You’ll see a bunch of pop-up messages as well, in the form of “tutorial” messages. Read these. World of Warcraft has a very user-friendly tutorial to teach you how to play, so don’t skip it. It should answer any questions you have about basic functions like moving around or talking to game characters (or NPCs, if you prefer the proper term, for “non-player character.”)
You’re bound to see some characters running around in some really flashy armor, riding on really flashy animals. These are generally the high-level players—people with a lot of experience at World of Warcraft and the right people to generally ask for help! To send a private message to someone, try typing this (starting with the slash, remember):
/t Name Excuse me, I’m a new player and have a couple questions, if you don’t mind!
Replace “Name” with the name of the player you want to message, and your message will be immediately delivered to the other player. Don’t be alarmed when you see some yellow chat coming back to you—this is the other player’s reply. Hopefully you’ve found a helpful player. If not, don’t be discouraged. Finding a mentor is the best and easiest way to learn the game, and there are a ton of players online who are generally happy to help a newbie. You can type “/r” in the chat window followed by a message like so:
/r Thank you for taking the time to help me out!
And it will automatically send the message to the last person to send you a message (called a “whisper” in game terms.) If you want to really get into the game, nothing is going to get you involved quicker than having someone take you by the hand and show you the ropes.
Last but not least
There are a lot of reasons to play World of Warcraft, but whichever one you choose you’re bound to have a great time in Azeroth. You can meet new people, explore, or just blow off some steam after a long day at work by whacking some bad guys. There are a lot of strategy guides and how-tos out there, but the best advice anyone can give is to keep an open mind and always be ready to learn. Above all else: have fun!