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To All the MMOs We've Loved Before
Everquest, Ultima Online, Neverwinter Nights - these games paved the way for Blizzard's Warcraft universe to be crafted into a Massively Multiplayer Online game. With its fantasy setting, rich lore, and enormous geography, World of Warcraft (WoW) has become the most popular MMO to date. By incorporating many of the best features from those that came before and perfecting the execution of other components, WoW has managed to secure an overwhelmingly dominant market share. With two expansions already under its belt and other to release in 2010, WoW is still going strong. So far, there have been no real challengers to that throne, so is there still an opportunity to enjoy all that WoW has to offer for a beginning player?
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Jumping In with Both Feet
Because WoW was released in November 2004, it's expected that most of the player base is well-established. Indeed, a journey through the starting areas of many servers can be a lonely venture. Likewise, much of the level 60 and level 70 content - once a hotbed of activity - now lies dormant. However, a player who is interested in starting the journey through Azeroth now can still have an enjoyable experience, even at this late stage. It is entirely possible to find guilds and individuals who are still interested in seeing some of that content, if for no other reason than completing the associated achievements. With a little bit of homework and research, embarking upon an Azeroth adventure is still within your grasp.
Additionally, Cataclysm looks to bring a complete re-vamp to all of the old-world content. Azeroth itself, in both Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms, will be experiencing changes to the terrain, dominant faction and holdings, and quest lines. There has never been a better time to jump into WoW and check out all that content before it's gone for good.
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Tips For a Successful Venture
- Start with a friend. Part of the joy in MMOs is the ability to play with your friends, while there is plenty for a lone adventurer to do, it's always more fun with two.
- Choose your server wisely. Look for an older and more established server, with a good faction ratio. Keep in mind that lopsided numbers tend to get worse, not better.
- Take your time! The leveling process has been greatly streamlined in recent years, and even the most challenging classes level much quicker than they did in the beginning. There is so much to see and do that speed-leveling actually robs the player of valuable game knowledge and experience - and not just the kind that makes you go, "Ding!"
- L2P, newb! Learn to play your class. That doesn't just mean learning what all your spells do, it also involves developing an instinctual understanding of when to use them. Frustration is not fun, so getting familiar with the ins and outs will let you focus on the face-melting.
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Learn the lingo. Make sure to learn the terms that players use, so you'll know what the other inhabitants of your world are talking about. No one expects you to chat like a pro, but when someone is in General chat looking for a tank you will at least know whether or not your character can fill that role.
The Armory Knows. The official website includes the Armory, which is an online repository for all character information. You can look up any character you like and see what gear they have equipped, which achievements they have scored, and lots of other information. The moral is that it's a bad idea to claim experiences you have not earned.
Keep in mind that with expansions and content added in patches, the game that is live now is a very different animal than that which was first released. The developers have also been working since the beginning on the balancing of classes for PvP. WoW, much like all technology, isn't a matter of something you can learn once and know forever. Instead, it is always changing and evolving.
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Enjoy the Ride
One of the best parts about playing World of Warcraft is fully immersing yourself in the lore of the quests and exploring the expansive regions. Whether you can find a group of like-minded people with whom to play, or you choose to treat WoW as a single-player RPG that just happens to have other people in it, it can safely be said that it is not yet too late to enjoy all that Azeroth has to offer. There are yet dragons to slay, and leather pants to craft. There are herbs to pick, and quests to complete, and hundreds of little kobolds running around, just asking for a taste of your blade. Answer the call, choose your faction, and enter the World of Warcraft.