Part 2 of a guide for new, beginning, or returning players in World of Warcraft Shadowlands.
Welcome to part two of this ultimate guide for players new to World of Warcraft in 2021. If you missed part 1 and would like to learn more about how it costs to play WoW, how to set up an account, or how to select a realm check it out now: Ultimate Guide for New World of Warcraft (WoW) Players 2021. In this guide, we will help you get started on creating your character in World of Warcraft.
Choosing a Faction
Assuming that you have decided on a home for a realm for your new character, it is time to choose a faction. A faction is a group that has a shared history, viewpoints, or objectives. While there are many factions that you will encounter in your journeys, there are only two playable options available to players: Horde or Alliance.
Some players have strong feelings about the faction they choose. However, for this guide, we will only look at the way your faction choice influences gameplay and let you choose the one that seems more compelling to you. For a brief background on the Alliance faction, check out our post on the 7 Major Alliance Races in WoW. If you want to learn more about the Horde, check out this guide — 7 Major Horde Races — instead.
Depending on the realm you select, you may find that more players on your server lean towards one faction or another. If you look across all realms, a greater percentage of players are members of the Horde faction. This means that it may often easier to find groups to play with, particularly difficult end game content like raiding or mythic plus (our guide will talk about these in more detail later). Don’t let that put you off from playing Alliance though because there are still plenty of great groups to play with (I play both factions, but play Alliance more overall).
Once you are ready to select a faction, it is time to choose your character’s race. Or perhaps you like a particular race and that determines your faction. Doesn’t matter either way. But wait… what is a race?
Choosing a Race
Within each faction, there are a number of character races you can choose from. Each race has a unique set of skills or spells called racial traits or abilities.
Racial traits are passive effects which make your character slightly stronger or may help your character take reduced damage. Generally, these trait values added are small and for most players, the race you select is a matter of personal choice. However, if you plan on playing the hardest content at the highest level these may matter to you. if this is your first time playing the game, I would encourage you to not worry to much about these abilities and have fun with the game.
Each race also has a racial ability which gives them access to an extra spell. These abilities and a brief description of what they do are listed next to the race names below.
For the Alliance side, there are 6 main races you select from including:
- Night Elf
Additionally, there is the Pandaren race which is shared between the Horde and Alliance, and a set of allied races. These allied races have to be unlocked through a series of quests and collected reputations. If you are interested in the specific tasks required to unlock allied races, check out this allied race guide on Wowhead. For the alliance, unlocking allied races adds the following playable races in no particular order:
- Dark Iron Dwarf
- Kul’ Tiran
- Lightforged Draenei
- Void Elf
In addition to having requirements to unlock, Allied Race characters begin at level 10.
If you decide that you would rather create a character belonging to the Horde faction, you will have the following options:
- Blood Elf
With the following allied races:
- Highmountain Tauren
- Mag’har Orc
- Zandalari Troll
Once you are ready to select your race, you can do so in the banners on the left side of the character creation screen. If you are interested in creating an allied race and have it unlocked, there is an extra “Allied Race” button below the main race banner you will have to click first.
Choosing a role
Now that you have an idea of what faction and race you might like to play, it is time to continue the process of creating your character in World of Warcraft by selecting a role. If it is your first time playing (which this guide assumes), the number of options will undoubtedly be overwhelming. Fortunately, the options you have can be broken down into 3 major categories: role, class and race. For role, you can pick between a damage dealer, tank and healer.
As a damage dealer, or DPS, your focus will be on… well… dealing damage. Additionally, you can choose to play as a melee DPS who attacks enemies up close or a ranged DPS who uses spells or weapons to attack from a distance.
Your second option, tanking, means that you are focused on defensive abilities and protecting allies from taking damage when in group combat. While the focus is on defensive abilities, you will still have access to many damage based spells.
Lastly, the healer role’s job is to restore the health of allies and party members once they have taken damage. As with the tank role, you will still have access to a few offensive spells which you can use to deal damage.
Selecting a Class
Once you have an idea of what role you would like to play, it is time to select a class. If you have played a role-playing game (RPG) before, you may be familiar with character classes. In short, a class is the combination of abilities, spells, and potential roles your character can use or fulfill.
Each class also has anywhere from 2 to 4 specializations (specs). These specializations determine what role your character will be able to perform. As an example, the warrior class has 3 available specializations: protection, fury and arms. The protection specialization can perform the tank role, while fury and arms are focused on dealing damage. While some spells carry over between all specializations (called baseline abilities), the majority of abilities your character has are determined by your specializations.
Overall, there are 12 unique classes you can choose from in World of Warcraft. A list of each class and associated roles is shown below:
Fortunately, you are not stuck playing the specialization you chose while creating your character in World of Warcraft. In fact, you can freely switch between the specializations available to your class once you have made your character. If you play a class like druid, monk, or paladin, you could technically play any role (tank, healer, or DPS) while a class like hunter can only fulfill the DPS role. Overall, many players opt to play a DPS specialization, because it makes solo play easier. However, you will find that one downside of playing DPS is extended wait times in finding groups for certain activities.
It is important to note that Death Knights and Demon Hunters are considered to be “hero classes”. A hero class is one that assumes that you know how to play the game and you start at a higher level. Death Knights and demon hunter, for instance, begin at level 8.
Also, it is important to note that you can have up to 50 characters on one realm so, if you select a class or role you do not enjoy, you can simply create a new character. Even if you enjoy your character class, you may appreciate making several characters since the playstyle between classes can actually vary a lot.
With a realm, faction, race, and class selected you are ready to begin playing the game! Hopefully, this guide what helpful in the process of creating your character in World of Warcraft. In Part 3 of our ultimate guide series, we will go over the User Interface in World of Warcraft (WoW).
If you are already comfortable with the user interface, you can jump ahead to any other topic that sounds helpful:
- Introduction Guide for New WoW Players
- You are here
- The WoW User Interface
- Questing, Combat, and Movement
- Introduction to Gear in WoW
- Items in World of Warcraft
- Professions in World of Warcraft
- Dungeons and Raids in World of Warcraft
- Player vs. Player (PvP) in World of Warcraft
- World of Warcraft (WoW) AddOns (for Beginners)