[[quoteright:347:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/world_of_warcraft_logo_8277.jpg]]
[[caption-width-right:350:[[TheLastOfTheseIsNotLikeTheOthers A world of swords, sorcery and spaceships.]]]]

->''"Beyond the gates of mighty kingdoms, lies a vast, unexplored world. A world of honor. A world of mystery. A world of danger. [[TitleDrop The world of Warcraft]]."''
-->--'''Original trailer, narrated by Creator/PeterCullen'''

''World of Warcraft'' is easily the most popular subscription-based MassivelyMultiplayerOnlineRolePlayingGame in the world today. It's based on Creator/BlizzardEntertainment's popular ''VideoGame/{{Warcraft}}'' RealTimeStrategy game series and was originally set four years after ''Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne'', with later expansions advancing the timeline.

''World of Warcraft'' is based in the world of Azeroth, on four main continents: Kalimdor, the Eastern Kingdoms, Northrend and Pandaria; as well as the former planet of Draenor, now known as Outland, whence the [[OurOrcsAreDifferent Orcs]] originate. There are two factions: the Alliance and the Horde (though neither is automatically good or evil -- and in trope terms, ''both'' are TheAlliance), thirteen races, eleven classes, eleven primary professions, and four secondary professions.

The game is casual-friendly to a point, being designed so that those who prefer to play solo can still achieve maximum level. It should be noted that, like most [=MMORPGs=], about half of ''[=WoW=]'''s content can only be accessed after you reached maximum level, and cooperative play is required to earn the best gear and other rewards. Guilds are a major part of the game's community, with the majority of players belonging to one. Benefits of guild membership are both social and material -- most endgame raid content is done by guilds and they can share a pool of resources much greater than that available to the solo player.

''[=WoW=]''[='=]s [[FantasyCharacterClasses classes]] follow the [[AnAdventurerIsYou standard RPG archetypes]]. The [[DamagerHealerTank three core roles]] are tanking (taking damage so others don't have to), healing (patching others up), and damage dealing (or DPS). These roles are further refined by the talents each character chooses to specialize in. There are "pure" classes that can only fill a DPS role, and "hybrid" classes that must choose a role to specialize in, but may also fill additional roles at the cost of efficiency.

* Death Knight (added in ''Wrath of the Lich King'') -- A tank or melee DPS class that utilizes the power of death and disease, and may [[{{Necromancer}} summon undead minions]] to aid it. Formerly servants of the Lich King, they broke free of his control and now seek to PayEvilUntoEvil. Unlike other classes, new Death Knights start at level 55, but before a Death Knight can be created on an account, another character on that account of any class must be leveled to 55. They use 6 runes as their primary resource (The first class not to use Mana, Energy or Rage) which generate Runic Power as a secondary.
* Druid -- [[NatureHero Servants of nature]], Druids are the most versatile class, relying on talents and [[VoluntaryShapeshifting shapeshifting]] to specialize in [[PantheraAwesome melee DPS (cat)]], [[MixAndMatchCritter ranged DPS (Moonkin)]], [[BearsAreBadNews tank (bear)]], or [[PlantPerson healer (tree)]]. Additional forms allow them to breathe underwater and swim faster, increase foot traveling speed, and fly without a mount. Bears use Rage, Cats use Energy, and while all druids have a mana pool, only the other two specializations rely on it. Balance druids also use [[{{Lunacy}} Lunar]] and [[PowerOfTheSun Solar]] power.
* Hunter -- A ranged DPS class that [[FluffyTamer tames beasts]] to use as pets in combat. The Hunter can specialize in [[TheBeastmaster improving his pet]] or his [[ArcherArchetype ranged]] [[TheGunslinger combat]] [[ImprobableAimingSkills skills]], and is a [[TrapMaster master of traps]] and controlling monsters. Notably the only class that deals primarily physical ranged damage (as of Mists of Pandaria, also the only class that always uses a ranged weapon). In ''Warlords of Draenor'', the Hunter will get the choice at level 100 to not keep a pet around, being a pure sharpshooter. They used to use Mana but now use Focus.
* Mage -- A ranged DPS class that excels at dishing out magical damage. Talent choices focus on specific types of magic: [[PureEnergy Arcane]], the deepest of magic knowledge which is addictive to use, [[PlayingWithFire Fire]] which allows the mage to cause [[HavingABlast huge explosions]] and wield dragonfire, and [[AnIcePerson Frost]] giving them the companionship of a Water Elemental and allowing them to freeze and shatter foes. Mages are also versatile in managing large numbers of enemies and controlling monsters. Obviously they use mana.
* Monk (added in ''Mists of Pandaria'') -- A tank/melee DPS/healer hybrid focused on the Pandaren culture. They can tank as a [[DrunkenMaster Brewmaster]], deal damage as a [[SupernaturalMartialArts Windwalker]], and mix up damaging attacks with herbal medicine to heal as a [[CombatMedic Mistweaver]]. They use [[KiAttacks Chi]] and either Mana or Energy as a resource. While they wield weapons, monks fight mostly with their [[BareFistedMonk fists and feet]], empowering their strikes with Chi magic and seldom using their weapons. With the proper glyph, you don't have to use a weapon at all.
* Paladin -- A hybrid melee class that can specialize as tank, melee DPS, or healer. They were formerly only available to the Alliance, but are now also open to the Blood Elves and the Sunwalker Tauren. [[{{Paladin}} Paladins]] wield their faith in the [[LightEmUp Light]] (Except the Tauren, who call it ThePowerOfTheSun) as sword, shield, and bandage and are something of a Warrior/Priest hybrid. Despite their use of Mana, their most important resource is called Holy Power. They possess both melee and ranged attacks, but can be seriously inconvenienced by silencing spells.
* Priest -- A hybrid caster, Priests channel their faith into spellcasting [[FantasyKitchenSink (What religion they have faith in is dependent on the race)]]. The archetypal and most versatile of healers, they're the only ones to have two talent trees dedicated to healing (though the other, Discipline, focuses more on damage absorption than direct healing.) Priests may also specialize as ranged DPS, [[MemeticMutation melting their enemies' faces]] with [[CastingAShadow shadow magic]] and [[PsychicPowers psychic]] assaults. They use Mana.
* Rogue -- A melee DPS class that attacks from [[StealthExpert stealth]] for incredible damage, then vanishes into the shadows when the advantage is lost. Rogues may specialize in the use of [[PoisonedWeapons poisons]], [[MasterSwordsman toe-to]][[KnifeNut -toe combat]], or [[CombatPragmatist trickery and deceit]]. They use Energy, and build a unique resource called Combo Points when using their abilities that they can later spend on any number of spells, from recuperating after a battle, to eviscerating their prey ForMassiveDamage.
* Shaman -- A caster/melee hybrid that draws on the power of [[ElementalPowers elemental]] and [[SpiritAdvisor ancestral spirits]]. Shaman may specialize in melee DPS as a [[DualWielding totemic warrior]] who summons spirit wolves to aid him in combat; ranged DPS as a spell-flinger who wields the raw power of [[PlayingWithFire Fire]], [[MakingASplash water]], [[DishingOutDirt Earth]], and [[BlowYouAway Air]]; or [[HealingHands healing]], using the healing nature of water and ancestral blessings to aid allies. They utilize mystical totems to buff allies and attack their foes. Formerly available only to the Horde, which was changed in ''Burning Crusade'' with the addition of the Draenei to the Alliance, and later expanded when the Wildhammer Dwarves joined and began teaching other Dwarves. They use Mana.
* Warlock -- A ranged DPS class that employs [[OurDemonsAreDifferent demons]] and attacks with [[CastingAShadow shadow]] and [[PlayingWithFire fire]] magic. Warlocks may specialize in summoning demonic minions to cause damage and bolster their party, withering their targets with [[{{Curse}} curses]] and periodic damage effects, or battering them with direct power. Warlocks have varying resources depending on their specialization, from [[OneWingedAngel turning into a demon]] with new spells, empowering your current ones with [[SoulJar soul shards]], or using [[IncendiaryExponent burning embers]] to hit the enemies with massive force. All three also use Mana[[note]]Destruction's behaves more like energy[[/note]], while their demons use Fel Energy.
* Warrior -- A melee hybrid, [[BadassNormal warriors are the pinnacle of martial prowess]]. Besides [[LuckilyMyShieldWillProtectMe tanking]], they may specialize in two forms of melee combat; either [[TheAce skilfully wielding]] a single [[{{BFS}} heavy weapon]], or [[TheBerserker recklessly striking]] with [[DualWielding two]] (The latter can also dual wield [[OneHandedZweihander two twohanded weapons]]). Warriors utilize specialized combat stances to access and enhance various sets of offensive or defense abilities in the heat of battle. The use their own Rage as a resource, harnessing their anger and fury as battle goes on to strike harder and [[MadeOfIron live through wounds]] no one could normally live through.

Players can play against the environment, completing quests and conquering dungeons; against each other, in dedicated Battlegrounds and Arenas (and even in the world at large if playing on a server [[PlayerVersusPlayer which allows such activity]]); or a mixture of any of these, with talents and gear to support either choice. Servers are designated PlayerVersusPlayer, Player Versus Environment, and Role Playing. The main difference is that on [=PvP=] servers, you are automatically flagged for [=PvP=] in all zones above level 20, and in [=PvE=] servers, you must manually flag yourself for [=PvP=]. RP servers can also be [=PvP=] or [=PvE=], but have more rules in regards to character names, and for killing players much lower level than you.

The original, or "classic/vanilla" game, featured a level cap of 60 and was played in the two continents of Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms. New content was added regularly up until the first expansion; the final released dungeon was Naxxramas.

The first expansion, ''The Burning Crusade,'' was released in January 2007, raised the level cap to 70, and allowed travel to Outland. Flying mounts and druid flying form were first introduced in this expansion, as well as an expanded world to fly within. It also allowed the creation of Blood Elf characters on the Horde and Draenei on the Alliance. This gave the Horde access to Paladins and the Alliance access to Shaman, a restriction which had previously caused game-balance issues. The final released dungeon of ''The Burning Crusade'' was Sunwell Plateau.

The second expansion, ''Wrath of the Lich King'', was released in November 2008, raised the level cap to 80, and allowed travel to a new area: Northrend. It added the Death Knight "hero" class, available only to players who already had a level 55 or higher character. Death Knights start at level 55 in an exclusive zone with a full set of equipment, but no profession skills except First Aid. The final dungeon of ''Wrath of the Lich King'' was canonically Icecrown Citadel; although additional content was added to tide players over until ''Cataclysm'', it was officially part of the latter. The last added dungeon was The Ruby Sanctum.

The third expansion, ''Cataclysm'', was released in December 2010. It returned players to a redesigned Kalimdor and Eastern Kingdoms (devastated after the titular Cataclysm), raised the level cap to 85, and revisited a great deal of old and unfinished content while continuing the story lines of Azshara, Deathwing, and the Old Gods. The expansion saw upsets in the leadership of several player races and a resurgence in the Alliance/Horde conflict storyline throughout Azeroth. It added two new races: the bestial Worgen of Gilneas for the Alliance, and the cunning Goblins of Kezan for the Horde. The final dungeon was Dragon Soul, featuring the long-awaited battle against Deathwing the Destroyer.

The fourth expansion, ''Mists of Pandaria'', was released in September 2012. It raised the level cap to 90 and opened up the continent of Pandaria for exploration. It featured the Pandaren as a playable race for both the Alliance and Horde, a new class in the form of the Monk, and more focus on [=PvP=] content. Additional features included [[{{Mons}} pet battles]], [=PvE=] scenarios, and Challenge Mode dungeons. The final dungeon was Orgrimmar itself, with Garrosh Hellscream channeling the powers of an Old God in an attempt to take over the world for his New Horde.

The fifth expansion, planned for release in November 2014, is ''Warlords of Draenor''. It will raise the level cap to 100 and send players to an AlternateTimeline version of Draenor in which Garrosh Hellscream travels through time to stop the Old Horde from drinking the blood of Mannoroth. His Iron Horde, equipped with modern technology, now threatens to storm through the Dark Portal to conquer present-day Azeroth. While exploring Draenor, players will build and customize their own Garrisons and interact with legendary characters such as Grommash Hellscream and Ner'zhul. The expansion also features redesigned models for all the classic character races.

Well-known for its depth of interaction, [=WoW=] has also spawned a collectible card game, a pen-and-paper RPG, comic books, and many other merchandising peripherals. The game was one of the largest MMO in the world by a huge margin, with a peak subscriber base of 11.5 million players and at one point holding nearly 60% of the total market share. [[note]]For reference, the largest US MMORPG before this was ''VideoGame/EverQuest'' at half a million during its height; the largest worldwide was ''{{Lineage}}'' at 2-3 million -- although Asian MMORPG numbers such as ''Lineage'' can be considered inflated, as they have a different pricing structure in Asian markets that revolve around cybercafes. Note that ''World of Warcraft'' is played in the same cybercafes on the same terms.[[/note]] A feature film based on the Warcraft franchise has been rescued from DevelopmentHell, and is set to begin filming in Canada during 2014. It will be based on the first game in the series, ''Warcraft: Orcs and Humans'', and focus on Durotan and Anduin Lothar.

See also the ''WarcraftExpandedUniverse'', which contains write-ups for works set in the ''Warcraft'' universe. This game has also spawned enough memes to warrant [[Memes/WorldOfWarcraft its own page.]]
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!!''World of Warcraft'' provides examples of:

[[index]]
* WorldOfWarcraft/TropesAToB
* WorldOfWarcraft/TropesCToE
* WorldOfWarcraft/TropesFToL
* WorldOfWarcraft/TropesMToR
* WorldOfWarcraft/TropesSToZ
[[/index]]
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-->''A World Awaits...''
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