World of Warcraft is an MMORPG by Activision Blizzard.
Released in 2004 in the US and the following year in Europe, it took the gaming world by storm. More than ten years later, players now get to choose between 13 races and 11 classes and have a massive fantasy world to discover for themselves. Players also have to choose between two factions; either the Alliance or the Horde. The main task of a new player is to choose a race, class and faction and then consequently progress their character up the levels by completing quests and killing mobs. To aid them in their adventures, characters can take on two primary professions to earn gold or to create armor or useful items, such as potions, for themselves. Furthermore, with level 20, characters will be able to ride mounts to get about faster - in some zones it is possible to fly. In order not to be left alone in the wide world, a character can join a player-created guild, which will have its own chat and other features.
Players can play together in so-called 'raids', where they as a group enter a dungeon to defeat the bosses, or they can compete in battlegrounds or arenas in PvP (Player versus Player). Trade can be conducted directly between other players, or via post or the in-game auction house. Plenty of daily and weekly tasks await players who like to keep themselves occupied. As further motivation, achievements can be collected by completing certain challenges, collecting X amount of mounts, pets, gold or other, or by various other criteria.
An overview of the expansions
Classic World of Warcraft
The original game based on Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne, also by Blizzard, presented the world of Azeroth with its two continents, Kalimodor and the Eastern Kingdoms. Players could reach a maximum level of 60 and today's World of Warcraft, while still instantly recognisable, has been updated with new content, features and graphics so much that there is a world of difference between the two. In the gamer community, the original version is often called 'vanilla'.
The Burning Crusade
The first expansion to the game was released in 2007 and gave players flying mounts for the first time. The new world to be discovered was the Outlands, a vast floating island in the sky which could only be accessed through the Dark Portal. The Horde faction received the Blood Elves as a new race, while the Alliance received the Draenei. Shamans, previously unique to the Horde, and Paladins, a former Alliance-only class, were now available to players of both factions.
Wrath of the Lich King
This fan-favourite expansion brought adventurers to the icy realms of Northrend. With a Viking-theme, this expansion introduced the so far only hero class, the Death Knight, and a new profession, inscription. As the title suggestions, the main nemesis of this expansion was the Lich King, formerly Arthas Menethil.
Cataclysm saw Deathwing as the end-game boss to defeat. A further two races were introduced: worgen, for the Alliance, and goblins, for the Horde. As with all previous and future expansions, new battlegrounds were available to those interested in PvP. Regarding professions, archaeology was introduced, which all players could take on top of their already chosen main professions. On a more technical side of things, DirectX 11 was now supported.
Mists of Pandaria
For some a bit too silly, this expansion saw both a new race and class: Pandarians and the monk. A very oriental theme took hold of this expansion and what was unique to this new race was the fact that for the first ten levels, the character was faction neutral. Upon hitting level ten, the player had to choose between Alliance or Horde.
Warlords of Dreanor
The current (2015) expansion has been a big hit with players, which subscription rates to the game proved. A big feature was the introduction of the garrison, a long-awaited form of personal housing which was already hinted at during the early years of World of Warcraft. Players can choose which buildings to construct in their garrison, each having different advantages to the player. Moreover, garrison missions let players send of minions to win spoils.