An absolute beginner’s guide to World of Warcraft

13 min read
20

Jumping into World of Warcraft for the first time can be daunting. I learned this the hard way when I reviewed Warlords of Draenor in 2014, but I did have some help. What I didn’t have was a great local guide written by someone who had been in a similar situation, so… you’re welcome. World of Warcraft is a massive open world MMORPG, but you should know this if you’re thinking about playing or have ever considered it. It will grip you in and not let you leave until you’re sitting amongst friends and family who are urging you to come back to the real world. Piece of advice? Ignore them. There are no mounts to farm in the real world.

While mount farming is end game, what you need to really know is where to get started, what you’re going to do, and what’s the quickest way to do it while learning all there is about World of Warcraft. First of all, you need to have a goal in mind. Are you going to be playing PvE, or PvP? PvE offers the adventurous side of World of Warcraft, while PvP allows you to fight against other players in the Battle Grounds, or Arenas. You can always do both, but if you’re serious about playing PvP or raiding with friends, then the initial decisions you make can be a factor. If you’re looking for adventure and want to immerse yourself in the Lore of Warcraft, then this guide will suffice as well.

Step One: Which Realm/Server do I choose?

If you’re starting out you will need to choose a server. I’d recommend seeing what server some friends are playing on, as you’d be able to join them and start up a guild (or join their existing one). If you have no friends, and want to make some, look for a fairly populated server but be careful of a PvP server. On PvP servers members of the opposite faction can kill you in open world. This becomes extremely annoying when you’re a noobie and don’t know how to defend yourself as higher level players make a game out of killing lower level people. Try look for a populated PvE server and get leveling.

If you create a character on a different server from your friends, do not worry. You can still join a group or party across servers, but it’s almost always beneficial to join up with friends on the same server as guild perks are great for leveling.

There are also Role Playing servers which mean you actually have to role play your character. This means pretending you’re the character and interacting accordingly. These can be amusing at times, but if you’re not interested in doing that, I’d recommend staying away as they don’t really take kindly to those who aren’t interested in role playing.

Step Two: Creating you character

World of Warcraft offers two factions: Horde or Alliance. There’s a few reasons why you would go one over the other, but it’s usually down to personal preference or if you have friends who belong to one of the Factions. Playing with friends is almost 100% recommended as the game can be lonely at times and having someone to help you can make things less tough.

Which class should I play?

Blizzard have somewhat “dumbed down” World of Warcraft over the years making it a lot easier for newcomers to get into it. Choosing a class will directly relate to what you want to do in the game. You may want to be a damage dealer, tank or heal for your friends. There are a number of classes which offer a variety of specializations which you can now change between at no cost. So starting a character which has variety is always good, but this does require some prior MMORPG knowledge.

If you’re starting WoW with no knowledge at all, my recommendation would be a Hunter. Hunter’s are really easy to play, they’re ranged, have a pet, and the abilities are easy enough to understand that you won’t spend hours trying to figure out your role. Plus, if you choose to play without other people, they are fantastic for solo gameplay. Hunter is damage class only, so if you want to try out healing or tanking, I’d go with my next two recommendations – Monk or Druid. Monks and Druids offer a variety of specializations, but are slightly more complex to play. Druid have four total specializations for a great variety, but might be a bit harder for the newcomers.

WoWScrnShot_082916_135026

The first Hunter I created in Warlords of Draenor, still my main character today.

Does race matter?

Yes, and no. Each race within World of Warcraft offer specific racial attributes, including a racial ability. These don’t necessarily matter unless you are wanting to get a bit more serious, then I’d advise you do further research into which race would be optimal for the class you choose. This only really matters for PvP and some aspects of PvE, but I often go with the best looking race – Blood Elf (for Horde) and Human/Night Elf (for Alliance) since the transmogs look the best to me.

To clarify race decisions I’ll use PvP for an example. At the moment most of the professional PvP players are going Horde for the Orc and Blood Elf racial attributes. Orc have great stun reduction, while the Blood Elf has increased critical strike.

Step Three: Understanding your character

This is the next step once you enter the World of Warcraft. If you choose to use your level 100 boost (which will take you into the new zone and instance) you will have 100 levels worth of catching up to do, which is why Blizzard recommends you play from level 1 to learn about your class and specialization. Nobody has the time for that, so if you’re going to jump straight into the deep end, there are a number of things you need to know.

WoWScrnShot_082916_135222

The training tutorial once you use your 100 boost will teach you a bit more about your class.

Know your abilities

Each class and specialization has a set of abilities or spells which allow you to deal damage, heal, or tank. An initial class tutorial will introduce these abilities and explain them, but once that’s done you are on your own. From here on out it’s important that you understand these abilities and when to use them, but you will also get talents which add further abilities and ensure every single reachable button is used in World of Warcraft.

Learn your talents

Talents, as mentioned above, are level specific abilities which aid your character as you level up. If you’ve used the boost you will have access to all the abilities from 1-100 (which go up in increments). Abilities are often up to discussion, but for each class there are a set of talents which will insure your class is played at the optimal level. This requires some investigation, but a great site to use is Icy-Veins, who offer a compressive guide for every single class in World of Warcraft.

WoWScrnShot_082916_135805

List of Monk Talents for the Windwalker Monk (DPS) where I have chosen the optimal talents for my class.

Know which stats are best

As you run around in the open world leveling up to 110 you will be picking up a lot of gear. This gear will have three main stats – Agility, Strength of Intelligence. Knowing which class stat is the best is important as they will also have a secondary stat of critical strike, haste, mastery, and versatility. These are important to understand as equipping the best gear will aid the level process.

Rotations and cooldowns

As you become more accustomed to your class, it’s important that you to start to understand your rotations. These are essentially which abilities you will cast and when. These aren’t necessarily important for the initial stages, but getting into a habit of knowing these rotations is important to meet your end goal of raiding in PvE, or playing PvP. Meeting these rotations and cooldowns is also important to ensure you do the optimal damage to enemy mobs. Once again these are explained in detail on Icy-Veins, which is the go to source for any information or guidance.

Step Four: Leveling and Questing

The new content will offer a new quest line which takes you through the Legion invasion and the story. Doing these quests will unlock new gear, and essentially put you on the road to level 110. There’s also the Artifact Weapon quest which will unlock your class specific artifact weapon once you hit level 110. This is something I don’t want to spoil, so I’ll let you become immersed in the quest line where you will find it all out for yourself, but assuming you’re new to leveling, let me give you some hints.

WoWScrnShot_082916_135731

On the map you can see a number of quests with the yellow exclamation mark. Also seen is Skada Damage Meter (explained below)

Stick to the quest line
Non-playable Characters (NPCs) will have an exclamation mark above their heads, and these are the characters who will give you quests. Read the quests and run around the world completing whichever objective is needed. Once you’ve completed the quest, either the same NPC or another related one will have a yellow question mark above their heads and there you can hand in the quest for experience, gold, and sometimes an item. Navigating around the world can be tough, so stick to roads and pay attention to your minimap as it will give an arrow indicating where you need to go at all times.

Navigating around the world

This can be tough at times, and trust me I struggled quite a bit when I got tossed in. As I mentioned above, the minimap is your friend. Pressing “M” will open up the main map, and here you can also navigate around. Can’t find an NPC? He might be in a cave, so look on your map and see where the cave entrance is.

Clear bonus objectives

In certain areas there will be bonus objectives where you will need to kill mobs, interact with NPCs, or collect items. Do these while other quests are active as they will give bonus experience. This will also allow you to discover new areas which give experience as well.

Step Five: Helpful Add ons

World of Warcraft allows you to use add ons which offer a variety of options from questing guides, raid helpers and customizing your UI. There are class specific add ons which you can investigate, but for newcomers there are a list of important add ons which I would recommend when starting out. First I would recommend downloading the Curse Client. This application lets you search, install, and update the add ons in the client which will update the add on folder within World of Warcraft.

Here’s the go to list:

  1. Zygor Guides – Zygor is a level add on which gives you a real time indication of where you need to go, who you need to talk to, etc. It even offers a zone specific guide and a 3D rendered image of the NPC. It’s a paid for add on, so if you’re really invested, I’d recommend getting it. I bought it during Warlords of Draenor and it really helped me out.
  2. Deadly Boss Mods – Deadly boss mods is a raid/dungeon encounter add on which warns you of dangerous abilities done by bosses. It’s more late game, but you will undoubtedly do dungeons as you level up, so having this is a major plus.
  3. Skada – Skada is a damage meter which will tell you how much damage you (and your party members) are doing. This is a great add on as it allows you to see how much damage you are doing once you’ve learnt your rotation. Hitting optimal damage is important for fast clearing.
  4. HandyNotes – HandyNotes is a map add on which shows NPC enemies who drop loot, gold, or resources within the map you are currently in. It’s a great add on for leveling as bigger enemies give better loot.
  5. Weak Auras – Weak Auras is great for many reasons. It’s a class specific add on which lets you monitor cooldowns, abilities, and talents. It can also be used in dungeon and raid instances and is overall a great addon (but requires some investigation).

I’d recommend reading up on these add ons and how they efficiently used. There are guides on them as well, which some simple Googling can help out with. Once you’ve installed these add ons via the Curse Client, go into World of Warcraft and click the “add on” button in the loading screen and enable them. If you’re in game you can simply press “ESC” and you will see the add on button in the menu. Click enable on the ones you wish to use and get an upper hand on leveling. You can search for some other add ons as well within the Curse Client, or check up on the class specific ones too. If you’re thinking “man I really wish I had something showing me [whatever]” the chances are there’s an add on for that, so hit up Google.

There you have it, a nice comprehensive noob guide. If you have any questions please feel free to comment, or add me on Battle.net (Congo#2262). Being a newcomer in WoW can be tough, but we’re always here to help. By we, I mean me.

Last Updated: August 29, 2016

Kyle Wolmarans

Critical Hit's esports guy. I talk about esports and drink whiskey. I also write and cast for elsewhere - but my work here is independent of that.

Check Also

Destiny 2: Where is Xur (and whats he got for sale?) – 22 June

Maybe you’re stuck at work and can only log in later tonight to spend some of your legenda…