So you've managed to avoid playing World of Warcraft over the past six years and now one of the most eagerly awaited and impressive expansions to the game is out. Don't worry if you feel a bit out of touch, we've got a ten-point factsheet lined up with everything you need to know about the franchise!
What is World of Warcraft?
World of Warcraft is a Massively Multiplayer Online Role-playing Game by Blizzard Entertainment which was released in 2004. The game allows for people from across the globe to come together online and participate in quests, battles, and a fantasy storyline. Today it's the most successful and widely played game in its genre, with more than 12 million subscribers.
The game takes place approximately four years after the conclusion of Blizzard's previous Real-Time Strategy series of Warcraft games and is set in that series' world of Azeroth. This fantasy setting is home to two opposing groups, the Alliance and the Horde. You will be asked to choose a side when you make your character.
Who do I play as?
You can create up to 50 characters across all servers. Customise your character by choosing their faction, race, class, gender and physical appearance. Currently there are twelve playable races - Dwarves, Gnomes, Humans, Night Elves, Draenei, Orcs, Tauren, Trolls, Undead, Blood Elves, Worgen and Goblin - all of which have their own unique racial abilities and certain playable classes.
Is it all magic and sorcery?
There are ten classes to choose from, each with their own sets of spells and melee abilities. A character's class determines what kind of combat you are able to do in the game. Mages, Druids, Warlocks, Priests, and Shaman are able to use magic spells whereas Deathknights, Warriors, Rogues, Paladins and Hunters largely will combat with weapons, although there is always a bit of crossover.
Play with other people
Join guilds and group up with other players to complete difficult quests or to enter instances. These are battle areas that are only accessible to you and your group. It's a personal dungeon where together you take on the game's biggest bosses and collect some of the game's best loot.
RPG, PvP, servers. What does it all mean?
There are three different realm types (or servers) to choose from. Normal Realms offer you the standard version of the game, giving you the opportunity to complete quests, harvest material, join guilds, and take down enormous bosses. PVP Realms are identical but pit you against every other player in the opposing faction. In this realm the Horde may attack Alliance characters at any point in time, and vice versa. Role-Playing Servers are for the serious fans of RPGs who create thorough back stories for their characters and interact with other players in that role they've created.
Where does Cataclysm fit in?
What's the premise of Cataclysm? An evil dragon called Deathwing the Destroyer has awoken and his return to Azeroth is marked by the destruction of the world, altering the look of the continents and reshaping the land. Azeroth has been changed forever. To play Cataclysm you'll need a copy of the original game and the previous two expansions: The Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King.
What else is new in Cataclysm?
There are two additional races, the Worgen for the alliance, and Goblins for the Horde, both of which get all-new starting zones. The level cap has increased to 85 and with that further new high-level zones have opened up for you to explore. You can also level up your guild, not just your personal character, and gain achievements with your guildmates.
How much does WoW cost to play?
World of Warcraft is subscription-based so you pay to play, either every month, three months or six months at £8.99, £8.39 or £7.69 per month, respectively. When buying the original World of Warcraft you get 30 days of game time included for free.
Play it for free to see if you like it
If you're not sure if the game is for you, World of Warcraft can be played for free in a 10-day trial period available here. After that you'll need to buy a copy of the game in order to carry on.