World of Warcraft (2004) is easily the most popular subscription-based Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game ever made. It's based on Blizzard Entertainment's popular Warcraft Real-Time Strategy game series and was originally set four years after the conclusion of 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; a group of islands known as The Broken Isles; as well as the former planet of Draenor, now known as Outland, whence the Orcs originate, the past of an alternate timeline version of Draenor proper, and several pocket dimensions somehow connected to Azeroth. There are two factions: the Alliance and the Horde (though neither is automatically good or evil — and in trope terms, both are The Alliance), seventeen races, twelve 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. Guild perks (like more opportunities to teleport around) have also been added that make it worthwhile to belong to a guild even if you never talk to another member.
WoW's classes follow the standard RPG archetypes. The 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) — An undead tank or melee DPS class that can unleash the power of death and disease, freeze their enemies into husks, drain the lifeblood from their foes, and summon undead minions. Formerly servants of the Lich King, they broke free of his control and now seek to Pay Evil unto Evil. They use 6 self-recharging runes as their primary resource, which generate Runic Power as a secondary.
- Demon Hunter (added in Legion) — Based on the demon hunters of Warcraft lore, they utilize demonic magics and transform into demon-like forms to fight in melee. They are the second "hero class" after Death Knights. Unlike other classes, they only have two specializations: Vengeance for tanking, and Havoc for damage. For lore reasons, they are the most restricted class in terms of race; they are only available to Night Elves and Blood Elves.
- Druid — Servants of nature, Druids are the most versatile class, relying on talents and shapeshifting to specialize in melee DPS (cat), ranged DPS (Moonkin), tank (bear), or 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 Astral Power. Restoration druids are most well known for their healing-over-time spells such as Rejuvenation.
- Hunter — A melee OR ranged DPS class that tames beasts to use as pets in combat. The Hunter can specialize in improving his pet or his ranged combat skills, and can give up his gun for the hunting spear and trap mastery. Notably, the only class that can use a ranged weapon and deal physical ranged damage, but can choose to be a beastmaster that fights in melee alongside his pet.
- Mage — A ranged DPS class that excels at dishing out magical damage. Talent choices focus on specific types of magic: Arcane, the deepest of magic knowledge which is addictive to use and centers around managing an increasing mana cost for maximum damage, Fire which allows the mage to cause huge explosions and wield dragonfire, and 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, conjuring food out of thin air and teleporting people to specific locations. Obviously they use mana.
- Monk (added in Mists of Pandaria) — A melee DPS/tank/healer hybrid focused on the Pandaren culture. They can tank as a Brewmaster, deal damage as a Windwalker, and mix up damaging attacks with herbal medicine to heal as a Mistweaver. They use Chi, Mana or Energy as a resource. While they wield weapons, monks fight mostly with their fists and feet, empowering their strikes with Chi magic and seldom using their weapons. With the proper glyph, they don't have to use a weapon in combat at all (though the weapon still factors into their abilities).
- 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. Paladins wield their faith in the Light (Except the Tauren, who call it The Power of the Sun) 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 (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 / healing through offensive spells than direct healing.) Priests may also specialize as ranged DPS, melting their enemies' faces with shadow magic and psychic assaults. They use Mana.
- Rogue — A dual-wield melee DPS class that attacks from stealth for incredible damage, then vanishes into the shadows when the advantage is lost. Rogues may specialize in the use of poisons, toe-to-toe combat, or trickery and deceit. They use Energy, and build a unique resource called Combo Points when using their abilities that they can later spend on various finishing moves, from recuperating after a battle, to eviscerating their prey.
- Shaman — A caster/melee hybrid that draws on the power of elemental and ancestral spirits. Shaman may specialize in melee DPS as a totemic warrior who summons spirit wolves to aid him in combat; ranged DPS as a spell-flinger who wields the raw power of Fire, water, Earth, and Air; or 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, with their totems acting as a secondary resource to some extend. They can also enchant their weapons with various elemental effects.
- Warlock — A ranged DPS class that employs demons and attacks with shadow and fire magic. Warlocks may specialize in summoning demonic minions to cause damage and bolster their party, withering their targets with curses and periodic damage effects, or battering them with direct power. Warlocks have varying resources depending on their specialization, from using soul shards to cast more powerful curses or summon more demons, to using burning embers to hit the enemies with massive force. All three also use Mananote , while their demons use Fel Energy. Regardless of specialisation, they can opt to sacrifice their demon for a damage boost. They provide a surprising number of helpful spells to their allies, such as a summoning portal to summon players from afar, Healthstones that act as healing potions, and Soulstones which can bring an ally back from the dead in the middle of a fight.
- Warrior — A melee hybrid, warriors are the pinnacle of martial prowess. Besides tanking, they may specialize in two forms of melee combat; either skilfully wielding a single heavy weapon, or recklessly striking with two (The latter can also dual wield 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 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 which allows such activity); or a mixture of any of these, with talents and gear to support either choice. Servers are designated Player Versus Player, 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, though allowed only within the new areas in Outland. It also allowed the creation of Blood Elf characters in the Horde and Draenei in the Alliance. This gave the Horde access to Paladins and the Alliance access to Shamans, 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 and also designed to allow flying everywhere), 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 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, released in November 2014, is Warlords of Draenor. Raised the level cap to 100 and sent players to an Alternate Timeline 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 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.
The sixth expansion, Legion, was released in August 2016, raising the level cap to 110, and sending players to the Broken Isles in the Great Sea to do battle with the Burning Legion, which is attempting its third invasion of Azeroth. Features of this expansion include the new Demon Hunter hero class, a revamped honor system, class-based orders headed by players, and a specialization-based artifact-quality weapon, which has its own plotline and scales along with the player over the course of the expansion.
The seventh expansion, Battle for Azeroth, scheduled for 2018, centers on a full-blown Alliance/Horde conflict, with both factions taking full control of the Eastern kingdoms and Kalimdor respectively (most notably, the Alliance aims at retaking the kingdom of Lordaeron, which was destroyed in Warcraft III and inhabited by the Forsaken since). It raises the level cap to 120, introduces the islands of Kul Tiras and Zandalar, and adds new race alternatives for each faction, which can only be unlocked through quests.
Well-known for its depth of interaction, World of Warcraft 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 A feature film based on the Warcraft franchise has been rescued from Development Hell, and was released in June 2016, directed by a certain Duncan Jones. It is based on the first game in the series, Warcraft: Orcs and Humans, and focuses on Durotan and Anduin Lothar.
World of Warcraft provides examples of:
- A World Awaits...