Friday, July 6, 2012

World of Warcraft Newbie Guide Part 1: Welcome! What Realm Should I Choose?

Warning: These guides were made a while ago and some information may be out of date. They are flagged as legacy articles and will probably not be updated. If you wish to have them brought up to date, toss a comment on the article in question or in the index.

Welcome to the World of Warcraft! Here you will begin your journey to experience the lore in Azeroth and beyond, playing as many races and completing quest lines and other content that weave epic tales with your character at the center of it. Perhaps you’re here to weave a tale of your own imagination, and that’s great too. Maybe you want to enjoy the gameplay aspects of the game, and World of Warcraft offers a type of gameplay that has shaped and been shaped by many games of its MMORPG genre.

The first thing you should do when beginning is going through all the directions prior to playing the game (getting billing handled, opening the account itself, giving out some personal information, downloading and installing the game and its many patches, and so on). When you finally open up the game, the first thing you will see is the login screen.

The Login Screen 

The basic anatomy of the login screen goes as follows – click the picture below to see an enlarged version if you need to:
I'm not showing you my account name =).
  1. Login Name: This is used for putting in your account name.
  2. Password: Put your password here (and remember not to tell anyone what it is either).
  3. Account: If you have multiple accounts, you can choose an account from here if you saved your login name.
  4. Authenticator: If you have an authenticator you fill in the number here.
  5. Login Button: Click this or press enter to log in.
  6. Remember Account Name: Very helpful so you don’t have to fill your Account Name every time.
  7. World of Warcraft-related sites: These are links that will navigate you to parts of The first helps you set up an account (although it’s a bit redundant unless you somehow downloaded the game client without an account), the second goes to account management (requires your user info), and the third goes to the community site, where you can read announcements from Blizzard, read their game guide, browse the official forums, and check out numerous other features.
  8. Gameplay Buttons: The text and buttons here are related to some part of the World of Warcraft gameplay. From top to bottom: 
    • Options: Opens up the options menu where you can change graphics settings (such as screen resolution.) among other game settings.
    • Cinematics: Allows you to watch some of the game’s cinematic trailers.
    • Credits: Rolls the game’s credits, since it’s technically not possible to “beat” World of Warcraft. You can see staff credits for the original game and each expansion individually.
    • Terms of Use: You will see this and the EULA when logging in initially and after most patches are applied. They dictate game rules and other legal things that I urge you to read thoroughly.
    • Realm Name: When you choose a realm, it will show the name here indicating it will redirect you to that realm when you log in.
  9. Quit: Quits the game client.
  10. Client Info: Shows which version of the game World of Warcraft is at and what version of the client you are running (32 or 64 bit), among other information.
Choosing A Realm 

When you log in for the first time, you will be presented with a screen like the one below:
You may also see a similar screen if the realms are under maintenance.
While the realm choice screen explains some things about realm choice, I will explain this screen in further detail:

The "preferred location" determines what type of server you want by country or group of countries. This is largely region based. Since I am in the Americas, the client has the option to choose realms from the Americas. This is different if you're in another region like EU (European Union) or KR (Korea). Keep in mind each specific location may have multiple languages spoken on any given server.

There are four realm styles, each of which has a different style to them and can be determined by your own preference, as listed below:
  • Normal: A Normal realm has no additional modifications or rules beyond the normal rules (as stated in the Terms of Use, EULA, and so on). It can have a little of everything but emphasizes PvE (Player versus Environment) progression and gameplay, which is why they may also be known as "PvE Realms." If you like questing without disruption, don't want world PvP (Player versus Player) combat on a regular basis, or want to play on a realm without specific restrictions, then choose a Normal realm.
  • Player versus Player: A PvP realm is oriented towards PvP-style combat. There will be "contested zones" where you are automatically "flagged" for PvP, meaning you are open to being attacked by players of the opposing faction (more on this later). PvP realms also have a high tendency to orient towards PvP end-game, sort of like their PvE realm counterparts. If you like combat against players as opposed to AI and may have even had experience playing against other players (Call of Duty for instance), then a PvP realm may be right for you.
  • Roleplaying: A roleplaying (RP) realm is oriented towards playing a character as an extension of yourself. You will often find yourself fleshing out a character with a story, interacting with other players in a manner your character is more likely to interact as opposed to yourself (i.e. "Well how do you do there?" as opposed to "Oh hai"). Emotes (such as dancing or waving) will be commonplace. Keep in mind, however, that there are some interactions that may be within the scope of those 18 or older. In addition, there are additional rules that you need to adhere to that involve acting in character. If you like playing your character like an extension of yourself and making every adventure seem like a story that you live, then a Roleplaying realm may be right for you.
  • Roleplaying PvP: A roleplaying PvP (RPPvP) realm is like a mix of a RP and PvP realm. There will be contested PvP zones like a PvP realm but there are also the same restrictions (if you can call it that) of acting in character like a RP realm. If you like playing a character that battles for your faction while obliterating the opposing faction or otherwise enjoy a theme that puts the war into Warcraft by your own invention, then a RPPvP realm may be right for you.
  • Development: You should only see this if you attempt to log in when the realm is under maintenance (or maybe you're using the PTR, or public test realm). Chances are your realm is not up and you should check Realm Status.
When you finally make your choice and press the Suggest Realm button, you will be transported to a realm and the character selection screen. For now, press the "Cancel" button at the bottom right. Then, at the top right of the next screen, press "Change Realm." You should now see a screen like this:
Realm names may differ by region.
The top realm is the one you're currently at. As you can see, I was assigned to the "Lothar" realm. In this menu you can see realms by name, type, and population. By clicking on the tabs at the top, you can sort the list by name (alphabetized), type (Normal, PvP, RP, RPPvP) and population (low-high/high-low). If you have characters on realms, you can sort realms by how many characters you have on them as well. You may have up to 10 characters on any given realm and 50 across all realms in a given region.

Realm populations are important when choosing a realm. Let us consider the levels of realm population that may be seen:
  • New Players: Realms with this tag have incredibly low populations and thus need a fresh group of players. My realm, Rexxar(US) got tagged with this recently and the population surged upward quickly. Realms tagged for New Players are the ones that will be recommended to players automatically when one suggests a realm like above. If you choose to play on a New Player realm you will have the advantage of playing with other new players, potentially joining a guild who is on a heavy recruitment drive, and being able to work together. The disadvantage is that some zones may end up being flooded and if you play by yourself it will be difficult to complete quests or gather materials. In addition, New Player realms increase in population rapidly, ultimately having the disadvantage of a high population realm. If you like playing with others, especially within your level range, and want to progress together, then choose a New Players realm.
  • Low: Realms with a low population don't have quite as many people and often have a deflated economy and close-knit community with players that all know each other. However, there is the disadvantage of the realm being virtually dead, having poor progression, and low chances of joining a group or guild. If you like being able to do things by yourself or don't mind progression much and can understand and control a realm's economy, a Low population realm may be right for you.
  • Medium: A realm with a medium population is like a mix of a low and high population realm. Everything is pretty average and balanced. There's a decent amount of gold and items flowing through the economy and finding a guild and other players to connect and play with shouldn't be particularly difficult. Progression may be average to strong on these realms. If you like a balanced realm that can fit most preferences, a Medium population realm may be right for you.
  • High: A high population realm has a large volume of players. This usually entails a community that is loose that a player can potentially meld into with guilds recruiting constantly. A player may or may not get much by themselves as it is a matter of if they can join a group looking for players fast enough. Resources may be hard to find and if they are around they are either expensive or gone within moments. Inflation is often rampant on these types of realms. If you like a hectic playstyle or being around many people, a High population realm may be right for you.
  • Full: A full realm is a realm with such a high population that it may potentially cause players to experience queue times to connect into that realm. Otherwise, it's similar to the above.
Even though realm populations may give you some idea of what a realm is like, I would take the information with a grain of salt, as faction balance may be poor. This is why you may wish to consider checking sites like WarcraftRealms to consider whether you like having a balanced realm or a realm with odds stacked against you or in your favor.

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