A 10-part guide for new, beginning, or returning players in World of Warcraft Shadowlands.
Perhaps you have considered picking up World of Warcraft (WoW) for a while now but don’t know where to start or feel overwhelmed. Don’t worry; I will walk you through everything you need to know as a new/beginner WoW player in this multi-part guide. In this article, we will look at the cost to begin playing, how you can set up an account, and talk about what realms are (and why they matter). If you already have an account feel free to skip to Part 2: Creating Your WoW Character.
Let’s talk a little about World of Warcraft and its expansions…
How many WoW expansions are there?
Released in 2004, World of Warcraft continues to add to the content offered through what are called expansions. In total, there have been 9 expansions that have built upon the initial game. You will often hear the original game referred to as “vanilla” WoW. Here is a list of all WoW expansions and their common abbreviations:
- World of Warcraft Original (Vanilla)
- Burning Crusade (BC)
- Wraith of the Lich King (WotLK)
- Cataclysm (Cata)
- Mists of Pandaria (MoP)
- Warlords of Draenor (WoD)
- Battle for Azeroth (BfA)
- Shadowlands (SL)
- Dragonflight (CURRENT)
With so much content, you may feel overwhelmed if you are a new World of Warcraft player in 2023.
Fortunately, the release of Shadowlands brought many updates to make it easier for new players to start. Part of this includes a new starting zone called Exile’s Reach, which walks you through the basics of the game. In my opinion, this is the best time there has ever been to start playing WoW.
Let’s walk through the basic steps to get started.
Set up your account
Before you can play, however, you need to set up a free Blizzard Account. You can do this at worldofwarcraft.com, where you will select the “Try Free” or “Login” option at the top. If you select “Try Free,” it will create a starter account for you to play characters up to level 20.
If you aren’t sure if you will enjoy WoW, I would recommend that you set up a starter account and try it out. For more information, check out my article on Setting Up a Free WoW Starter Account.
How much does World of Warcraft cost for a new player in 2023?
After setting up an account, you can choose to purchase a subscription-only and play all content from “vanilla” up to Shadowlands. This will allow you to play a character from levels 1-60. If you want to play Dragonflight, you will need to purchase it.
A monthly subscription will run you $14.99 plus tax for one month of game time. If you plan to play for a longer period, you might consider paying for a longer subscription time to pay a lower monthly price. For instance, purchasing a 6-month subscription will cost you $77.94 for a per-month average of $12.99 plus tax.
The starting price for a digital copy of Dragonflight is $49.99 if purchased directly through a Blizzard account. You can also buy a digital or physical copy of the game through other retailers.
Assuming you purchase Dragonflight for $49.99, plus a one-month subscription, your total initial cost would be about $70 after tax. Once you own the expansion, your reoccurring cost is the typical $14.99+ tax per month.
If you want to dive into the nitty-gritty details or prices for Canada or the U.K., you can check out the full guide I wrote on the pricing of World of Warcraft.
Selecting a Realm
After creating an account, you will be asked to download the Blizzard launcher. This launcher will allow you to boot up any Blizzard title from one convenient dashboard. If you launch World of Warcraft through this dashboard, it will sign you into WoW upon clicking the “Play” button; otherwise, you will need to sign in directly through the game.
Before you create a character, it is helpful to understand what a realm is and why it matters. A realm, also called a server, is a designated home for your characters. Once a character is created on a realm, you cannot play it on another realm without paying ~$25 to move them.
While the realm you select on does not matter for many features in the game, the realm you choose will influence how many other players have characters on that server, what guilds you can join, and the market for resources. You can see your currently selected realm at the top of the shaded box on the right hand of the screen with a button to “Change Realm.”
Once you click the “Change Realm” button, a screen will appear listing the names of every server available in your region. Regions are shown across the bottom of the screen and include the United States, Oceanic, Latin America, Brazil, and Tournament.
Which region you choose will depend on where you live. Choosing a region closest to your home will ensure the least possible lag and the best in-game performance.
Navigating the realm selection window
In total, there are 4 columns under the realm selection window: realm name, type, characters, and population.
The realm name is straightforward and consists of the alias given to that server.
Type determines what gameplay style is prevalent on the server and has two options, normal and RP (roleplay). Normal servers are focused on a wide range of activities like questing, fighting bosses, or other players, while roleplay is for players who want the experience of taking on their character’s persona.
The third column is characters and will be blank upon starting up the game for the first time. Once you have created one or more characters on a realm, the characters column will display the number of characters who “live” on that realm.
The final column is population and has 5 different options:
- New players
“New players” in the population column means that the realm is new and is just beginning to get established. The other population sizes are fairly straightforward. In general, larger realms mean more players and more guild options. However, very large realms also mean more competition across every activity on the server.
As a new & beginner WoW player, you should consider starting on a medium or high population realm. Realms with a higher population have more active players who will be able to help you while you are learning the ropes. Personally, I would recommend picking a medium population realm.
It can be overwhelming to be a new & beginner WoW player in 2023. Hopefully, this guide has helped you to set up a create a Blizzard account, get a subscription, and choose a realm for your character. If it did, you are ready to move onto the next level! In part 2 (Creating Your Character), we will work on creating your first character in World of Warcraft.
If you have already created your character, feel free to jump ahead to whatever guide looks the most helpful below:
- You are here
- Creating Your Character
- 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
Thanks for reading!
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