World of Warcraft (WoW) is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) created in 2004 by Blizzard Entertainment. It is the fourth released game set in the fantasy Warcraft universe, which was first introduced by Warcraft: Orcs & Humans in 1994.
World of Warcraft takes place within the Warcraft world of Azeroth, approximately four years after the events at the conclusion of Blizzard's previous Warcraft release, Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne. Blizzard Entertainment announced World of Warcraft on September 2, 2001. The game was released on November 23, 2004, on the 10th anniversary of the Warcraft franchise.
The first expansion set of the game, The Burning Crusade, was released on January 16, 2007. The second expansion set, Wrath of the Lich King, was released on November 13, 2008. The third expansion set, Cataclysm, was released on December 7, 2010. The fourth expansion set, Mists of Pandaria, was released on September 25, 2012. The fifth expansion set, Warlords of Draenor, was released on November 13, 2014. The sixth expansion set, Legion, was announced at Gamescom 2015, on August 6, 2015.
With 5.6 million subscribers as of the end of June 2015, World of Warcraft is currently the world's most-subscribed MMORPG, and holds the Guinness World Record for the most popular MMORPG by subscribers. Having grossed over 10 billion dollars as of July 2012, it is also the highest grossing video game of all time. In January 2014, it was announced that more than 100 million accounts had been created over the game's lifetime.
Intent on settling in Durotar, Thrall's Horde expanded its ranks by inviting the undead Forsaken to join orcs, tauren and trolls. Meanwhile, dwarves, gnomes and the ancient night elves pledged their loyalties to the Alliance, guided by the human kingdom of Stormwind. After Stormwind's king, Varian Wrynn, mysteriously disappeared, Highlord Bolvar Fordragon served as Regent but his service was affected by the mind control of the black dragon Onyxia, who ruled in disguise as a human noblewoman. As heroes investigated Onyxia's manipulations, the ancient elemental lord Ragnaros resurfaced to endanger both the Horde and Alliance. The heroes of the Horde and Alliance defeated Onyxia and sent Ragnaros back to the Elemental Plane.
Assault on Blackwing Lair
Deep within Blackrock Mountain, the black dragon Nefarian conducted twisted experiments with the blood of other dragonflights. Intent on seizing the entire area for his own, he recruited the remaining Dark Horde, a rogue army that embraced the demonic bloodlust of the old Horde. These corrupt orcs, trolls and other races battled against the Ragnaros and the Dark Iron dwarves for control of the mountain. Nefarian created the twisted chromatic dragons and a legion of other aberrations in his bid to form an army powerful enough to control Azeroth and continue the legacy of his infamous father, Deathwing the Destroyer. Nefarian was vanquished by the heroes from the Horde and the Alliance.
Rise of the Blood God
Years ago, in the ruined temple of Atal'Hakkar, loyal priests of the Blood God Hakkar the Soulflayer attempted to summon the wrathful deity's avatar into the world. But his followers, the Atal'ai priesthood, discovered that the Soulflayer could only be summoned within the Gurubashi tribe's ancient capital, Zul'Gurub. Newly reborn in this jungle fortress, Hakkar took control of the Gurubashi tribe and mortal champions of the trolls' mighty animal gods. The Soulflayer's dark influence was halted when the Zandalari tribe recruited heroes and invaded Zul'Gurub.
The Gates of Ahn'Qiraj
The great desert fortress of Ahn'Qiraj, long sealed behind the Scarab Wall, was home to the insectoid qiraji, a savage race that had once mounted an assault to devastate the continent of Kalimdor. But something far more sinister lurked behind Ahn'Qiraj's walls: the Old God C'Thun, an ancient entity whose pervasive evil had suffused Azeroth since time immemorial. As C'Thun incited the qiraji to frenzy, both the Alliance and Horde prepared for a massive war effort. A mixed force of Alliance and Horde soldiers, dubbed the Might of Kalimdor, opened the gates of Ahn'Qiraj under the command of the orc Varok Saurfang. The heroes laid siege to the ruins and temples of Ahn'Qiraj, and vanquished C'Thun.
Shadow of the Necropolis
In the Lich King's haste to spread the plague of undeath over Azeroth, he gifted one of his greatest servants, the lich Kel'Thuzad, with the flying citadel of Naxxramas, as a base of operations for the Scourge. Consistent attacks from the Scarlet Crusade and Argent Dawn factions weakened the defenses of the floating fortress, enabling an incursion from the heroes that led to Kel'Thuzad's defeat. However, a traitor among the ranks of the knightly order of the Argent Dawn ran away with Kel'Thuzad's cursed remains and fled to Northrend, where the fallen lich could be reanimated.
As with other MMORPGs, players control a character avatar within a game world in third or first-person view, exploring the landscape, fighting various monsters, completing quests, and interacting with non-player characters (NPCs) or other players. Also similar to other MMORPGs, World of Warcraft requires the player to pay for a subscription, either by buying prepaid game cards for a selected amount of playing time, or by using a credit or debit card to pay on a regular basis. You may also get a trial account that lets you play to level 20 for free but has many features locked.
To create a new character, in keeping with the storyline of previous Warcraft games, players must choose between the opposing factions of the Alliance or the Horde. Characters from the opposing factions can perform rudimentary communication (most often just "emotes"), but only members of the same faction can speak, mail, group, and join guilds. The player selects the new character's race, such as orcs or trolls for the Horde, or humans or dwarves for the Alliance. Players must select the class for the character, with choices such as mages, warriors, and priests available. Most classes are limited to particular races.
As characters become more developed, they gain various talents and skills, requiring the player to further define the abilities of that character. Characters can choose from a variety of professions, such as tailoring, blacksmithing, or mining. Characters can learn four secondary skills: archeology, cooking, fishing, and first-aid. Characters may form and join guilds, allowing characters within the guild access to the guild's chat channel, the guild name and optionally allowing other features, including a guild tabard, guild bank, and dues.
Much of World of Warcraft play involves the completion of quests. These quests, also called "tasks" or "missions", are usually available from NPCs. Quests usually reward the player with some combination of experience points, items, and in-game money. Quests allow characters to gain access to new skills and abilities, and explore new areas. It is through quests that much of the game's story is told, both through the quest's text and through scripted NPC actions. Quests are linked by a common theme, with each consecutive quest triggered by the completion of the previous, forming a quest chain. Quests commonly involve killing a number of creatures, gathering a certain number of resources, finding a difficult to locate object, speaking to various NPCs, visiting specific locations, interacting with objects in the world, or delivering an item from one place to another to acquire experience and treasures.
While a character can be played on its own, players can group with others to tackle more challenging content. Most end-game challenges are designed in a way that they can only be overcome while in a group. In this way, character classes are used in specific roles within a group. World of Warcraft uses a "rested bonus" system, increasing the rate that a character can gain experience points after the player has spent time away from the game. When a character dies, it becomes a ghost — or wisp for Night Elf characters — at a nearby graveyard. Characters can be resurrected by other characters that have the ability, or can self-resurrect by moving from the graveyard to the place where they died. If a character is past level ten and they resurrect at a graveyard, the items equipped by the character degrade, requiring in-game money and a specialist NPC to repair them. Items that have degraded heavily become unusable until they are repaired. If the location of the character's body is unreachable, they can use a special "spirit healer" NPC to resurrect at the graveyard. When the spirit healer revives a character, items equipped by the character at that time are further degraded, and the character is significantly weakened by what is in-game called "resurrection sickness" for up to ten minutes, depending on the character's level. This "resurrection sickness" does not occur and item degradation is less severe if the character revives by locating its body, or is resurrected by another player through spells or special items.
World of Warcraft contains a variety of mechanisms for player versus player (PvP) play. Players on player versus environment (PvE) servers can opt to "flag" themselves, making themselves attackable to players of the opposite faction. Depending on the mode of the realm, PvP combat between members of opposing factions is possible at almost any time or location in the game world—the only exception being the starting zones, where the PvP "flag" must be enabled by the player wishing to fight against players of the opposite faction. PvE (called normal or RP) servers, by contrast, allow a player to choose whether or not to engage in combat against other players. On both server types, there are special areas of the world where free-for-all combat is permitted. Battlegrounds, for example, are similar to dungeons: only a set number of characters can enter a single battleground, but additional copies of the battleground can be made to accommodate additional players. Each battleground has a set objective, such as capturing a flag or defeating an opposing general, that must be completed to win the battleground. Competing in battlegrounds rewards the character with tokens and honor points that can be used to buy armor, weapons, and other general items that can aid a player in many areas of the game. Winning a battleground awards more honor and tokens than losing. In addition, players also earn honor when they or nearby teammates kill players in a battleground.