World of Warcraft
World of Warcraft, WoW for short, is a 3D fantasy themed MMORPG set in the Warcraft universe. World of Warcraft is widely considered the "gold standard" of the entire MMO genre and, despite the fact that the game was launched back in 2004, it remains one of the most played MMORPGs in the world.
|Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment
Type: Subscription MMORPG
Release Date: November 23, 2004
PvP: Duels, Arenas, World and Battlegrounds
Pros: +Excellent soundtrack. +Balanced gameplay. +Tons of content. +Varied PvP options. +Huge variety of mounts (land and flying). +Great lore.
Cons: -Limited appearance customization. -Some zones are redundant.
World of Warcraft Overview
World of Warcraft is widely considered the gold standard of the entire MMORPG genre. The game offers players a complete experience from beginning to end with well written quest lines, responsive combat, an enormous game world to explore, end game raiding, and much more. The game was originally launched back in 2004, but since its original release, the game has enjoyed numerous expansion packs, each of which introduced a lot of new content to the game and continued to raise the level cap. Those looking for a solid fantasy MMORPG experience should give World of Warcraft a chance. The game even has an unlimited free trial with a level 20 level cap.
World of Warcraft Key Features:
- Enormous Game World – with thousands of well-written quests.
- Great Variety of Classes and Races – eleven playable classes and thirteen races.
- Economy and Crafting – solid crafting system with a vibrant player economy.
- Extremely Polished Game with Solid Production Value – great music, art, lore, interface, and more.
- Varied PvP Options – Arenas, World PvP, Battlegrounds, and Duels
- Collectibles – tons of collectible mounts, titles, achievements, and more. Gives the game a lot of replay/completionist value.
World of Warcraft Screenshots
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World of Warcraft Featured Video
World of Warcraft Review
By Omer Altay
World of Warcraft, WoW for short, is Blizzard Entertainment's epic 3D fantasy MMORPG set in the Warcraft universe. The game was released on November 23, 2004 and quickly grew to become the most successful MMORPG in the world. The game peaked at over 12 million subscribers in October, 2010 and, despite its age, still remains one of the most popular MMORPGs in the world. The success of WoW cemented Blizzard's reputation as a world class game developer and publisher. With every major expansion, the game constantly reinvents itself to stay relevant. Even with more and more MMORPGs dropping their subscriptions and going free-to-play, World of Warcraft has remained incredibly popular while keeping its subscription. With the sheer amount of content in the game, World of Warcraft is easily worth the monthly fee. Those new to the game should keep in mind, at over 35GB, the game is quite massive. After downloading, installing, and patching, players can start their journey in Azeroth.
The Lore of Azeroth
Set four years after the events of Warcraft 3: The Frozen Throne, World of Warcraft features an incredible story with thousands of well written quests and troves of lore spread across Azeroth for players to discover. Blizzard Entertainment spent a considerable amount of effort into creating a truly immersive world that genuinely feels alive. Aside from some generic kill and fetch quests, World of Warcraft features long lore-rich quest chains that allow players to explore and learn the history of Azeroth. Other quests like “The Lady's Necklace” allow players to interact and learn more about iconic Warcraft characters like Lady Sylvanas. Completing the quest leads to Sylvanas singing an old Elven song that she recalled before she turned Undead at Arthas' hands. This is literally one of hundreds of truly great quests in the game. I think what makes the lore in World of Warcraft compelling is the game's entire world. Azeroth is a dynamic, ever changing world that's easy to get caught up in. In fact, I think its fair to describe World of Warcraft as a story driven MMORPG because there's just so much story telling in the game and it's masterfully delivered. Those who really want to delve into the game's lore can do so by completing every side-quest and exploring every nook and cranny of the world, while others can choose to skip it. There's something for everybody in WoW. I've long been a fan of Blizzard's storytelling well before WoW was even released. After playing WoW over the years, my respect for Blizzard's ability to craft incredible stories has only grown.
Players begin their adventure in World of Warcraft much like any other MMORPG – in character creation. The game has two factions – Horde and Alliance. When the game first launched, players were limited to only one faction per server, but this reaction has since been lifted, giving players the chance to mix Horde and Alliance on a single server. With eleven playable classes and thirteen races, there's a lot more choice in WoW than most games. Aside from just visual differences, each race has its own unique racial traits. Blood Elves, for example, have Arcane Acuity (Bonus critical strikes), Arcane Torrent (PBAoE silence ability), Arcane Affinity (bonus to enchanting skill), and Magic Resistance (bonus magic resistance). None of these racial traits are game changing, so players are encouraged to pick whichever race they like. Not every race has access to every class though. Dwarves and Trolls are the most versatile, as they each have access to every but one.
After picking a race and class, players can customize various aspects of their character. With World of Warcraft being the most successful MMORPG in the world, the game's appearance customization options are actually rather lackluster. Players have a handful of skin color, face, hair style, hair color, and piercing options. That's it. Compared to newer games like Final Fantasy 14, it's definitely a bit disappointing. Luckily, appearance customization isn't that important as players can later differentiate themselves with equipment, mounts, pets and more.
Every race in World of Warcraft has its own unique starting area and early quest lines. These starting areas aren't special tutorial zones, they're a part of the game's large persistent world. When players first enter the world, they're introduced to the game with a short voiced over introduction and can then immediately begin their journey. Quests in these starting areas are remarkably well paced and allow players to acclimate themselves with their class without being overwhelmed. Similar to other MMORPGs, quests in World of Warcraft have players traveling from one area to the next while things get progressively more and more challenging.
What differentiates WoW from other MMORPGs though is its story driven gameplay. Quests are well written, witty, and full of interesting lore. Even for those that don’t read the quest-text, WoW manages to differentiate itself by giving players multiple avenues of progression. Players don't need to go from Duskwood directly to Stranglethorn Vale. Instead, they can quest and level in the Hinterlands, Arathi Highlands, or elsewhere. The point is, there are numerous zones to explore at any given level. WoW's map makes it easy to find areas worth checking out by marking each area on the map with an appropriate level range.
Skills, Builds, and Customization
Gameplay in WoW is similar to most MMORPGs. Players move with WSAD while hitting their hotkeys to use abilities. Every class has 3 specializations, which become available at level 10. These aren't permanent and can be reset at anytime. These specializations allow every class to be played in multiple different ways. For example, Priests that prefer to deal damage can go “shadow” which gives them powerful offensive magic with limited healing capabilities. Warriors can be built as tanks or as damage dealers too. Aside from specializations, players can also customize their character by choosing from one of 3 available talents every 15 levels (and level 100). Players can further customize their characters by equipping various different “Glyphs”, which provide their abilities with minor enhancements. Both talents and Glyphs can be reset using Vanishing Powders and Tomes of Clear Mind, which are both inexpensive.
There's so much content in WoW, it's hard to cover everything. The game has a robust crafting system as well with professions like blacksmithing, enchanting, and even more exotic ones like Archeology. These improve with use and mastering any one of them can take quite a bit of time. Completionists will have a blast playing WoW, as there's so much to do, including a robust achievement system with over 2400 achievements (more being added regularly!).
World of Warcraft contributed so much to the modern day MMORPG. So much so, that entire games are labeled as WoW clones. World of Warcraft was the first game to popularize instanced dungeons. Some people probably think instancing removes immersion, but I remember back when I used to play EverQuest, I fought my way through a non-instanced dungeon one time only to see another group literally camping the boss. I had to leave and come back later, because that area was already occupied. Instancing actually works really well within MMORPGs and WoW has a great balance between persistent world and instanced content.
PvP – World, Arenas, and Battlegrounds
World of Warcraft has a variety of PvP options. Something for everyone. First,the game's open world PvP is only available on PvP servers. On these PvP servers, Horde and Alliance can fight members of the opposing faction anywhere in the game world. Killing an enemy rewards players honor, which can be used as currency to unlock various pieces of PvP gear. Honor is also earned in battlegrounds and Arenas. Unfortunately, WoW's World PvP is rather disappointing, as almost every server is either almost entirely horde or alliance. The illidan server for example has 16,000 alliance players and 370,000 horde players. Stormrage has 350,000 alliance and 15,000 horde. There are a few servers that have a close to 1-1 ratio between factions, but most servers are heavily tilted towards one faction.
Arenas in World of Warcraft allow players to compete in either 2v2, 3v3, or 5v5 battles in a small enclosed space. 2v2 and 3v3 arenas are significantly more popular than 5v5 matches. The game has a built in matchmaking system based on a player's “rating” to ensure fair matches. Players that achieve high ratings are rewarded at the end of the season with various goodies (2K+ rating). PvP is fast-paced, competitive, and fun. It's nearly impossible to climb the ladder with random partners and good communication (voice chat) is essential.
With World PvP largely irrelevant on most servers and Arena extremely competitive, more casual players can enjoy PvP in WoW's battlegrounds. Battlegrounds are instanced zones where two teams compete to complete an objective. Objectives vary by map and fall within 3 categories – Resource Race (Capture resource points and disrupt your enemy), Capture the Flag (self explanatory), and Warfare (MOBA style battle. Win by pushing towers and taking objectives).
Mounts and Pets - Gotta Collect-em-all
One aspect of World of Warcraft that I really like is the game's huge variety of collectible mounts and pets. Mounts are bound to players account-wide, so getting a mount on one character makes it available on all your characters, which is nice and convenient. Aside from the mounts available to purchase in-game, there are hundreds of rare mounts that can be obtained through crafting, questing, and bosses. Mounts that drop off bosses seem to be the most difficult to obtain. Ashes of Al'ar (awesome Phoenix flying mount), for example, drops off Kael'thas Sunstrider in “The Eye.” The drop rate is only 2% and the instance resets once a week, so it'll take an average of 50 weeks to get Ashes of Al'ar to drop. I'm sure some people may think this is ridiculous, but the fact that World of Warcraft has hundreds of rare mounts to find and unlock gives the game an incredible amount of playability. The rarer mounts have awesome animations too, which makes collecting them even more fun. Crafting a “Vial of the Sands,” for example, allows players to transform into a Sandstone Drake. It literally lets you turn into a dragon. Not just any 'ol dragon either. A dragon that can carry another player! Aside from mounts, players can collect pets, which just follow them around, and battle pets, which can fight in pokemon style battles. There's simply a lot to collect in WoW and it adds to the game's feeling of “vastness” as an MMORPG. There's always something to do.
Since the days of Vanilla World of Warcraft, Blizzard streamlined much of the tediousness to make the game more intuitive and convenient. Instead of manually running to every dungeon and raid, players could simply queue up for these dungeons through the game's interface. Simply select what role you'd like to fill (DPS, Tank, or Healer) and you'll automatically be matched with a group of players. Quest NPCs are placed at the start of the dungeon too, so players can quickly accept every quest relating to that dungeon on the fly. Aside from just dungeons, players can queue up for late game raids too with pickup groups through the “Looking for Raid” menu. Players require a certain item level (ilvl) before being able to queue up to some of these raids to maximize the odds of success. Being able to queue up for raids makes acquiring late game epics much easier than before and allows practically everyone to access the end-game content. Those looking for a more hardcore experience can join progression guilds and complete raids on “heroic” mode, which is infinitely more difficult than the standard “looking for raid” mode.
Back in My Day... Thoughts on Difficulty
I began playing World of Warcraft when it first launched in late 2004. In fact, I played in the game's beta and played all the way up until Burning Crusade launched before I took my first break. Vanilla WoW had a unique balance of difficulty and fun. Late game raids like Molten Core, Blackwing Lair, and even Zul'Gurub were difficult. In fact, I remember when my Vanilla WoW guild raided Molten Core for the first time. I was the main tank and we 40 man wiped on the first pull (those 2 giants by the bridge). It was embarrassing, but those constant early wipes toughened us up and we slowly managed to make our way through the dungeon one boss at a time. We never downed Ragnaros, but few guilds did at the time. My brother's guild took down Ragnaros and even cleared Blackwing lair. He had it easy though since he was a priest and priests didn't need great gear to join stronger guilds.
With the Wrath of the Lich King expansion, Blizzard started to tone down the game's difficulty. Things progressively got easier and easier and when I finally returned to World of Warcraft after Mists of Pandaria launched, I was able to level from 1-90 in less than a month of casual play. I remember having zero difficulty leveling, as it was near impossible to even die. I could literally pull half a dozen enemies on my warrior and just mindlessly mash my skills and level with ease. I remember wiping in upper blackrock spire in Vanilla often, but in Mists of Pandaria I don't think I wiped a single time in a dungeon. I thought raiding would be difficult, but raids that could be queued up for in the “Looking for Raid” menu were mind-numbingly easy. In fact, after completing a few LFR raids and getting some epics, I quickly realized I could just /follow someone and go AFK and we'd still be able to clear the raid with ease.
The game's looking for raid system was designed to give casual players access to end-game content, which was previously only accessible by a tiny fraction of the playerbase. Hardcore players can still enjoy extremely challenging content by completing the same dungeons in Heroic mode with their guilds. Heroic raids are extremely difficult and yield much better rewards than their “looking for raid” equivalents. Despite having these heroic raids, it just feels like World of Warcraft has gotten too easy. By trying to make WoW more accessible to casual players, something was lost. The PvE content outside of heroic raids just feels too easy, but luckily, it's not a gamebreaker, as there's still a lot of challenging content for those that seek it out.
Despite being a subscription-based MMORPG, World of Warcraft has a micro-transaction based cash shop. The store largely sells mounts, pets, and other cosmetics that have no direct impact on gameplay. The only real controversial item available for purchase is a level 90 boost, which boosts a player to level 90 right away. Anyone who purchased the Warlords of Draenor expansion got one of these level 90 boosts for free, but those who want another can purchase them in the store. They're $60 a pop as of this review, but I suspect the price will come down over the years. Blizzard's reasoning behind making this item available is that they want players to experience the level 90+ content right away. After all, the level 1-90 experience is more of a grind than a challenge anyway. I personally think veterans who want to make alts could save a lot of time by buying one of these boosts, but new players should avoid it. The leveling experience in World of Warcraft, although easy, is still quite fun.
As of April 7th, 2015 with the launch of Patch 6.1.2, players can exchange in-game gold for “tokens” which can be used to extend a player's game time. This allows enterprising players to pay for their subscription entirely with in-game currency. Tokens also allow players to purchase in-game gold within World of Warcraft without relying on sketchy, and illegal (as per the terms of service), third party gold websites. I actually think the WoW token system is an excellent addition to the game. It's not exactly unique though, as Eve Online has had an in-game market for game time years before World of Warcraft introduced their system.
Final Verdict – Excellent
World of Warcraft is still the gold-standard of MMORPGs. The game has a tremendous amount of content, top notch production value, and fun gameplay. Despite its age, there's truly something for everyone in World of Warcraft. The game does an amazing job of catering to both hardcore and casual audiences alike. World of Warcraft will likely continue to dominate the MMORPG scene for the foreseeable future.
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World of Warcraft System Requirements
Operating System: Windows XP / 7 / 8 / 10
CPU: Core 2 Duo E6600 / AMD Phenom X3 8750
Video Card: GeForce 8800 GT / Radeon HD 4850 / Intel HD 3000+
RAM: 2 GB (1 GB for Windows XP users)
Hard Disk Space: 35 GB
Operating System: Windows XP / 7 / 8 / 10
CPU: Core i5 2400 / AMD FX 4100+
Video Card: GeForce GTX 470 / Radeon HD 5870
RAM: 4 GB
Hard Disk Space: 35 GB
Mac OS X Minimum Requirements
Operating System: OS X 10.8.x
CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo
Video Card: GeFroce 9600M GT / Radeon HD 4850
RAM: 2 GB
Hard Disk Space: 35 GB
World of Warcraft Music & Soundtrack
World of Warcraft Additional Information
Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
Designer(s): Rob Pardo, Jeff Kaplan, and Tom Chilton
Composer(s): Jason Hates, Tracy Bush, Derek Duke, and Glenn Stafford
Other Platforms: Mac OS X
Foreign Release Dates:
Australia / New Zealand: November 23, 2004
South Korea: January 18, 2005
Europe: February 11, 2005
China: June 7, 2005
Taiwan / Hong Kong / Macau: November, 2005
Russia: August 6, 2008
Brazil: December 6, 2011
World of Warcraft Expansion Pack Release Dates:
The Burning Crusade - January 16, 2007 (Level cap raised to 70)
The Wrath of the Lich King - November 13, 2008 (Level cap raised to 80)
Cataclysm - December 7, 2010 (Level cap increased to 85)
Mists of Pandaria - September 25, 2012 (Level cap raised to 90)
Warlords of Draenor - November 13, 2014 (Level cap raised to 100)
Legion - August 30, 2016 (Level cap raised to 110)
Development History / Background:
World of Warcraft was developed by the American game developer Blizzard Entertainment and was the company's first entry into the rapidly growing MMORPG market. The game was first announced at a video game trade show in September 2001 and made its way to a much hyped release in 2004 after a 4-5 year development cycle. The game was originally built using the same game engine that powered Warcraft 3, but was quickly upgraded and improved as the game scaled and started to reach bigger audiences. World of Warcraft launched in China on June 7, 2005 through its local publishing partner The9. China is a key market for Blizzard, as the company gets a good chunk of its revenues from the region, as World of Warcraft is one of the most popular MMORPGs in all of Asia. After several years of publishing, The9's license for the game was revoked by Blizzard and transferred to a much larger and more reputable company, Netease. Netease continues to be Blizzard's exclusive partner in China and publishes Heroes of the Storm, Diablo 3, and other Blizzard titles in the region. World of Warcraft peaked at over 12 million subscriptions back in October 2010. The game had 7.1 active subscriptions as of May 7, 2015. Despite its age, World of Warcraft remains a huge moneymaker for Blizzard and is still widely considered by many as one of the best MMORPGs of all time.