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World of Warcraft. © Blizzard Entertainment

World of Warcraft is the massively multiplayer online role-playing game that redefined the genre and set the bar high for developers and publishers. It was released by Blizzard Entertainment in 2004 and it builds on the popularity of the previous three games set in the Warcraft universe. It continues the narrative of Warcraft III The Frozen Throne and its success was so great that five expansion sets followed, with a sixth scheduled for August 30, 2016 and going by the name of World of Warcraft Legion.

Key facts about World of Warcraft

  • World of Warcraft is the most popular massively multiplayer online role-playing game in terms of subscribers.
  • The MMORPG has an inviting design and user-friendly features, with many of them serving as a source of inspiration for other games belonging to this genre.
  • World of Warcraft makes the most of its cartoonish graphics, bringing to life the iconic characters of the Warcraft universe.
  • The game is famous for its PVE gameplay, instances and raids, but also has a fully fledged PVP for players to compete among themselves.
  • World of Warcraft’s lasting appeal is the consequence of the diverse quests, open world environment and addicting leveling system.

The World of Warcraft games

There are four distinct World of Warcraft games to play depending on the chosen realm, with the most popular one being the PVP. The servers create an environment where players can attack and kill their peers belonging to the opposing faction, while leveling up. The PVP rounds are the most numerous and the most populated ones due to the fact that they present players with a chance of experiencing the complete World of Warcraft experience.

By comparison, a normal or PvE realm is one focusing exclusively on players defeating monsters controlled by the AI. Those who choose this type of gameplay will only be able to engage other players in fights if their opponents agree. Otherwise, they team up in guilds and parties to defeat increasingly powerful bosses and collect the loot awarded to those who complete instances and raids.

A role-playing server comes in two flavors, with players getting to choose between RP PVE and RP PVP. In both cases, they’re expected to role-play in game and the difference consists in the fact that the latter can attack fellow players, while the former only defeat AI controlled opponents. The realms are also defined based on the official language, with the vast majority of them being English-speaking ones.

What is World of Warcraft

World of Warcraft is a game developed and published by Blizzard Entertainment and belonging to the massively multiplayer online role-playing genre. The original game was released in 2004 and in late 2010 reached a peak of 12 million subscribers, which makes it the most popular MMORPG game in the world. It follows the endless conflict between the Alliance and the Horde, while throwing into the mix other powerful foes such as the Burning Legion.

Screenshot of World of Warcraft. © Blizzard Entertainment
Screenshot of World of Warcraft. © Blizzard Entertainment

Gameplay of World of Warcraft

Once players choose a faction and a class, they are supposed to customize the character by choosing the genre and facial features. As these characters level up, they gain increasingly powerful skills, unlock new talents and learn professionals. The latter allow them to learn about jewel crafting, blacksmithing and tailoring, but also gather resources such as ore, pelts and herbs. The four secondary skills are cooking, archaeology, first aid and fishing and players can learn all of them, as opposed to only two professions.

The World of Warcraft gameplay revolves mostly around the completion of quests in both PVE and PVP servers. With each successfully completed mission, players earn experience points, which in turn help them level up much faster. Many of the quests are linked and they are commonly referred to as chain quests, with the best rewards being given to those who follow through with the entire chain. Most quests involve the killing of monsters, the gathering of resources and the finding of NPCs.

The fascinating world of raiding

In the latter stages of the game, the quests will require players to venture deep inside dungeons and enter the raids. In World of Warcraft at least five players were needed to complete a dungeon and a minimum of 25 players had to tag along to enter a raid. The most difficult ones would require a party of 40 players and the most challenging ones require perfect coordination to defeat the powerful bosses.

The PVP mechanics in World of Warcraft are more complex and in servers were player versus player combat is possible, characters can attack each other virtually anywhere. Only low-level areas are restricted to prevent abuses, whereas on PVE servers player versus player combat is only possible in battlegrounds. A fixed number of players can enter these arenas and the two teams try to complete various objectives to secure victory.

Screenshot of World of Warcraft. © Blizzard Entertainment
Screenshot of World of Warcraft. © Blizzard Entertainment

Plot of World of Warcraft

The World of Warcraft narrative starts for years after the events of Warcraft III The Frozen Throne and is centered on the two opposing factions. Thrall tries to strengthen the Horde, while the Alliance is trying to cope with the disappearance of Stormwind's king, Varian Wrynn. The dragon Onyxia and Ragnaros, an ancient and powerful elemental lord are threatening both factions and emerge as the main villains.

Most of the quests serve the purpose of teaching players the ropes and prepare them for the four major confrontations. The Assault on Blackwing Lair pits the heroes of the Horde and the Alliance against Nefarian, the black dragon hell-bent on destroying Azeroth. His attempts are rendered meaningless in the end, but just as the combined forces of the two factions prevail, a new threat arises.

The Blood God Hakkar takes control of the Gurubashi tribe and plans on using this new base as a springboard to overwhelm the mortal races. The latter band together and invade Zul'Gurub, before heading on to the Gates of Ahn'Qiraj to face the Old God C'Thun. After dealing with many of his minions and lieutenants, the heroes prevail and destroy the ancient god to temporarily restore peace and order.

The last and most difficult quests take players to the flying citadel of Naxxramas when they have to defeat the lich Kel'Thuzad. The mission is a success, but a traitor manages to get away with the remains of the Lich Lord and seeks refuge in Northrend. This thread of the story will continue in World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King the second expansion after the Burning Crusade.

Development of World of Warcraft

World of Warcraft was announced in 2001 and released three years later, using a proprietary game engine that allows it to run on both Macs and PCs. Every year since its announcement, trailers, screenshots and other media content were unveiled by Blizzard Entertainment to create hype. By the time the game hit the stores, it was already one of the most anticipated massively multiplayer online role-playing games.

Screenshot of World of Warcraft. © Blizzard Entertainment
Screenshot of World of Warcraft. © Blizzard Entertainment

Where can I download World of Warcraft?

World of Warcraft can be downloaded from the Blizzard Entertainment website, while those who have installed the unified game client can use it as well. This is also the place where players are invited to purchase Diablo III, Hearthstone, StarCraft 2 Wings of Liberty, StarCraft 2 Heart of the Storm, StarCraft 2 Legacy of the Void and newer titles, such as Heroes of the Storm and Overwatch.

What are others saying about World of Warcraft?

World of Warcraft was praised by the critics and fans as an innovative MMORPG, while introducing new and exciting features. It quickly emerged as the uncontested leader of the genre and more than a decade after the release, the original game commonly referred to as Vanilla WoW still has hundreds of thousands of fans. The reviews celebrated the addictive nature of the game in PvE mode and the intense competition of PvP games, as well as the remarkable story and convincing characters.

World of Warcraft tournaments

World of Warcraft brought together millions of players, but most of them prefer and the PvE experience and only occasionally do PVP. However, there were always World of Warcraft tournaments promoted by Blizzard in which players compete in teams of two, three or five. Even though the prize pools pale in comparison with the ones of League of Legends, Dota 2 and even StarCraft 2 Legacy of the Void, the matches generate tremendous interest and are definitely here to stay.

My rating of World of Warcraft

It would be an overstatement to say that World of Warcraft changed my life, but I can definitely say that this MMORPG was an important part of it for many years. Looking back at those days when I used to play many hours every day, it’s hard to find a similar gaming experience. It also revolutionized the genre and grew into a worldwide phenomenon, with its unmatched lasting appeal. For all these reasons, I’m glad to give a flawless rating of 10 out of 10 to probably the best MMORPG of all time.

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