World of Warcraft Now Playable for Free
The greatest MMORPG now offers a free unlimited trial. Enter the world of Azeroth to begin your adventure by completing quests, killing monsters and fighting your way through dungeons. Whether you choose to battle other players, search for gear or collect titles and achievements, World of Warcraft's Starter Edition offers plenty of material to whet your appetite for adventure.
Official 8th Anniversary video provides a nice montage of gameplay and cutscenes
A World Torn By War
World of Warcraft takes place in Azeroth, a massive fantasy world shared by Blizzard's previous successful game series, Warcraft. Azeroth is home to many fantastic creatures and several sentient races. Some of these, like the hyena-like gnolls, are unplayable; other races can be played.
There are a ton of stunning locations to explore including the Jade Forest from the Mists of Pandaria expansion shown here
The races of Azeroth generally lay claim to one of two factions: Alliance and Horde. You begin the game as a fledgling apprentice of your chosen class, and as the story progresses you are pulled deeper into the heart of the faction war. Depending on which race you choose to create, your storyline will vary slightly, but most of the major game experiences overlap for both Alliance and Horde.
Immersion Gaming for Fantasy Fans
World of Warcraft is a third-person MMORPG. The social aspect of the game is something that keeps many players coming back, and it serves as a cornerstone of the MMO experience. In addition to fighting fellow players in PvP situations, many aspects of the game require cooperative play. Although the high-level raid bosses and other major monsters are saved for paid users, there are still plenty of challenges that Starter Edition players can tackle in a group.
You'll need a group to take on bosses like this one
If you would prefer to play solo, however, you certainly can. Some character classes are better-suited to solo play than others, but the game is designed to provide plenty of flexibility to accommodate differing play styles. For example, players can level their characters through questing, dungeons, monster-killing and even professions.
You control your character through a combination of keyboard commands and mouse clicks, and the majority of your spells and abilities are cast through the use of hot-keys. Because spells auto-target, World of Warcraft requires less coordination and dexterity than many real-time combat games.
Choose Your Hero
When you begin your journey, you must create your character. In Starter Edition, each faction has five playable races. There are also nine possible classes that can be played in either faction, but not all classes are compatible with each race. Different races will have different strengths and weaknesses to explore, and the base stats vary somewhat from one race to the next.
A human mage is one of many class/race combinations you can create and play.
- Mage - Magic users that wear cloth armor and specialize in ranged magical attacks
- Paladin - Plate-wearing characters that can heal, tank or do damage
- Shaman - Magic-users that can heal or do damage
- Warrior - Heavily armored, weapons-using characters that can tank or do damage
- Hunter - Characters specializing in raged attacks and beast mastery
- Druid - Multipurpose shapeshifters who use their different forms to tank, heal or do damage
- Priest - Primarily healers, some priests can also do substantial ranged damage
- Warlock - Magic users that can summon demons to attack their enemies
- Rogue - Melee fighters who rely on stealth and poison to kill enemies
- Night Elf
- Blood Elf
Each race has its own starting area with basic quests that introduce you to the character's world and help flesh out the history of Azeroth. Different classes also have class-specific quests. In most cases, the first 10 levels of any character class are fairly similar to play; the next 10 levels become more class-specific as characters develop more powerful abilities.
Subsequent expansion packs for paid users introduce three additional characters and two new character classes. If you upgrade your free account, you will have access to these additional options.
The Pandaren are one of the newest races you can play (requires Mists of Pandaren expansion)
More Than Questing and Killing Mobs
World of Warcraft offers players many different ways to develop their characters, and the game play is nonlinear and open-ended. Although quests do provide some guidance and help carry the storyline, you are not obligated to complete these quests in order to level your character.
Here are some of the activities that you can enjoy during your time in Azeroth:
- Grinding mobs - Killing monsters and beasts is called "grinding," and it's a slow but steady way to build experience and practice a character. In some cases, grinding can pay off for the player. Certain areas of the map have "rare spawns" that drop rare or valuable items when they're killed. Some of these spawns will be a low enough level to be accessible to a Starter Edition player.
- Questing - The bread and butter of any RPG experience, questing is the primary vessel for storytelling in WoW. Quest types vary. At low levels, the majority of your quests will require you to kill a certain number of enemies, collect a certain number of items or report to other NPCs elsewhere on the map. Other quests may be tied to a dungeon or require additional steps. In general, questing offers greater rewards than grinding, and most players prefer to rely on questing to help them level up their characters.
- Dungeons - Also called "instances" in WoW, dungeons are difficult areas that must be tackled in groups of five. Within the group, there will be one healer, three damage characters and a tank. The tank's job is to attract the monsters and hold its attention while the other characters kill it. For Starter Edition players, there are six instances that can be accessed. The monsters you kill in dungeons will be worth more experience, and the rewards are usually more attractive.
- Player vs Player battles - Some realms enable PvP in open-world interactions, but most players prefer PvP interaction in designated battlegrounds. Two types of battlegrounds are available to Starter Edition players. The first, Warsong Gulch, is a simple game of "capture the flag" played between 10 Alliance and 10 Horde players randomly selected from a queue. The second battleground is Arathi Basin, which requires players to capture and secure points on a map.
- Professions - Most people view professions on WoW as a method to earn gold, but they can also help in creating valuable items and leveling up your character. Each character gets to choose two professions, and most professions come in pairs with one "collecting" and one "creating" profession. For example, you might choose herbalism, which requires you to gather herbs, and alchemy, which turns these herbs into potions. All players can also learn cooking and first-aid skills, which can be leveled up as the character progresses.
- Achievements - There are numerous achievements that can be unlocked in WoW, and some come with additional benefits. For example, some achievements allow players to unlock exclusive mounts that can be ridden across the realm. Others provide your character with a title that will come before its name. Many people focus on pursuing titles and achievements, and quite a few of these titles can be obtained at level 20 or below, making them accessible to Starter Edition players.
Play Alone or Make Friends
In Starter Edition, your ability to socialize is slightly limited compared to the full game, but you are still able to play socially with your friends and make new ones. In Starter Edition, you cannot create or join a guild, and your ability to talk publicly is somewhat limited. You can still add friends and have private conversations with them, however, in addition to forming parties and playing cooperatively.
In addition to dungeons, which must be played in a group, you can also team up with other players to quest together. This will slightly reduce the amount of experience you get, but it will make the questing go by much faster. You can also join a PvP battleground as part of a group, which enhances the social aspect of the game.
Although playing with friends does enhance the overall World of Warcraft experience, it's not necessary. Although you will not be able to solo your way through the most difficult quests or dungeons, you can still level up your character without any assistance. Some classes are particularly well-suited to soloing the game. For example, many people find that hunters are easy to play solo as the combination of ranged weaponry and pets acting a "tanks" reduces the amount of damage the character sustains.
The Secret of WoW's Popularity
World of Warcraft is playable on Macs and PCs and requires Internet access. Since its release in 2004, World of Warcraft has set the bar for MMORPGs, and no other game has been able to capture and hold as much attention. Even though some games may be superior in a few areas, WoW offers overall the best player experience, which is why it continues to have an impressive 93 percent rating at Metacritic and why new players join every day.
Several things help to make WoW particularly successful:
- The game is massive, so there is always new content to explore and more things to do
- The storyline is rich and well-crafted, and it's liberally dotted with humor and excellent writing
- The art style is beautiful without being too taxing on the computer system, so the game remains accessible to a wide array of players
- The interface is smooth and the game is designed with a shallow learning curve
These factors, coupled with Blizzard's already loyal fanbase, help to keep World of Warcraft ahead of its competition. Because the game is open-ended and nonlinear, new content can be added constantly and seamlessly.
World of Warcraft Free to Play Version Overview
Despite its popularity, World of Warcraft does have some drawbacks. One of the major complaints against the game is that it operates on a subscription model. After paying for the game itself, in addition to its expansion packs, players must pay for monthly game time. This has driven many players away from the game and prevented some new players from joining.
In order to combat this problem and capture the attention of more players, WoW released its Starter Edition. This is a free-to-play version of the game that gives players an opportunity to try World of Warcraft without paying for anything. If the player wishes, he can pay to upgrade at any time.
Although the primary purpose of WoW Starter Edition is to entice players to upgrade, there is still ample material to provide an enjoyable gaming experience. This guide will explain the limitations of F2P WoW and provide an explanation of what activities are available to trial account players.
How to Play World of Warcraft for Free
In order to begin playing F2P WoW, you simply need to create a Battle.net account here. From there, you can download the game client for free. You may only have one Starter Edition account at a time, but you can obtain an additional free account if you choose to upgrade your first. Altogether, you can have eight upgraded accounts under a single Battle.net profile if you so choose.
Once the game is loaded, you can launch it and begin playing immediately. You can choose races from all but the newest expansion, and you can make up to 10 characters per realm for an unlimited number of realms. Just be aware that you will not be able to transfer any gold or items between characters.
Limitations of Free Accounts
World of Warcraft is an immense game with a huge amount of content. The free-to-play version offers a scaled-down experience. You will still play on a server populated by players with both free and paid accounts, and many features of the world will be available to you. There are, however, many limitations placed on free accounts.
Explanation of what you can do in the World of Warcraft Starter Edition
One of the most obvious limitations is that you cannot level your character past 20. The level-cap for the paid game is currently 90, but F2P players are capped at 20. Additionally, there are some limitations in place that will make your game experience differ from paid level-20s:
What You Can't Do
- Limited to carrying just 10 gold per character that you play
- Cannot use the in-game mail system or auction house
- Cannot trade with members or use the public chat channels
- Cannot start or join a guild
- Cannot use the RealID system
- Cannot turn off experience gains
What You Can Do
- Complete quests and level in all zones accessible to your character
- Level your professions up to 100
- Form parties with other players and add them as friends
- Explore all areas of the map
- Obtain a mount and learn apprentice riding
- Open an in-game bank to store items
- Earn reputation, complete achievements and earn titles
The primary reason for these strong account limitations is to prevent gold sellers from using free accounts to farm large quantities of gold. The sale of gold for real-world currency is illegal, but it doesn't stop gold farmers from attempting to target players and tempt them into purchasing gold.
How to Stretch Your Free Playing Time
Despite their limitations, free WoW accounts provide plenty of opportunities for casual players to enjoy the world of Azeroth and all that it contains. At their most basic, Starter Edition accounts will provide around 10 to 20 hours of play time. With some creativity, however, you can find ways to stretch this substantially. Here are a few things you can do to keep yourself from getting bored while playing:
#1 - Create a Twink
In WoW, a "twink" is a low-level player with extremely good gear and high stats. Traditionally, people twink at level 19 because that is the last level in its PvP bracket. In free-to-play WoW, this is impossible as you cannot turn off experience gains to keep yourself at level 19. Therefore, most F2P players twink at level 20 instead. As a free player, you will be placed in a special PVP bracket at level 20, so you will only be playing against other free players and regular players who have disabled their experience gains. Beware, however, that the twinks on paid accounts have access to better gear and will tend to be more powerful than you.
Twinking can be an enjoyable use of time. In order to get the best gear, you will need to spend a substantial amount of time earning honor points through playing PvP matches. You may also obtain good gear through dungeons, quests and enchanting. Of course, once you are fully geared, you can also spend more time playing in battlegrounds.
In addition to the PvP benefits, twinking enables your character to be stronger and more capable when traveling throughout the rest of the world. This will make it easier for you to explore territory with a higher level cap than what a normal player could.
#2 - Collect Achievements and Titles
World of Warcraft has an achievement system. Various activities in the game can earn achievements, and some achievements also provide titles. You will not be able to complete all achievements in the game, but you can collect many of them and obtain numerous titles. Collecting achievements and titles provides you with an opportunity to challenge yourself and set your own play goals.
It's worth noting that all of your achievements and titles are bound to your Battle.net account. This means that achievements you earn on one character will count toward objectives on other characters. It also means that you will be able to use any titles or achievements from your primary account on your secondary free account if you wish.
#3 - Collect Mounts and Pets
There are a number of so-called "vanity" pets that can be tamed and collected. For paid players with the Mists of Pandaria expansion, these pets can be battled against each other. You cannot participate in pet battles in F2P WoW, but you can collect pets for your own enjoyment. If you choose to upgrade your account, you will be able to battle with these pets.
Additionally, you gain the ability to ride a mount once you reach level 20. This mount enables you to travel more quickly than you can on foot, and the mounts themselves are collectible. You can purchase your first mounts from your own race's mount vendor. You can also purchase additional mounts from other races after you've gained enough reputation with that race. Gaining reputation and collecting mounts and vanity pets is another enjoyable way to spend time on free WoW.
#4 - Collect Hunter Pets
If you play as a hunter in free WoW, you can spend time looking for additional hunter pets. Hunters used ranged weapons with the assistance of tamed beasts that can do damage to enemies. You can tame any beast in the game, but some hunters prefer to find and tame rare beasts. These rare pets will help you stand out from other players and give you an added challenge.
#5 - Level Professions and Secondary Professions
Each player can choose up to two professions. These are generally divided into "gathering" professions, like herbalism, and "crafting" professions, like alchemy. Most players prefer to choose one of each time and use the first to gather materials for the second. You can level your professions up to 100 and reap the benefits of them. For example, you can enchant your gear, craft new gear or brew potions that will increase your stats. Since you will be unable to buy these items from other players, learning to craft your own items is valuable.
In addition to your primary professions, you can also learn all three secondary professions: first aid, fishing and cooking. The additional secondary profession of archaeology is not available to free players. Secondary professions can be a fun way to gain valuable materials and earn gold to cover the purchase of mounts, bags and other pricey items. Professions also offer minor buffs that will strengthen your character.
If you get bored or wish to pose a new challenge to yourself, you can quit a profession and level up a new one.
World of Warcraft Starter Edition was not designed as a complete game. Nevertheless, it's a good way to spend your time in Azeroth without the hefty costs associated with full accounts. Playing on the free account also enables you to get a definite advantage over your competition if you do choose to upgrade your WoW account. If you spend plenty of time at level 20 gaining reputation, collecting pets and earning achievements, you will have a head start when upgrading your account. A free account also gives you plenty of things to do during the lean times when you don't wish to pay for your primary account.
Whether you play free WoW full-time or just use it to augment your paid subscription, understanding the limitations of a free account can help you plan accordingly. Finding new challenges in the Starter Edition requires some creativity, but this type of self-guided gaming experience can be extremely rewarding.
Whether you decide to play the Starter Edition indefinitely or upgrade once you've reached level 20, World of Warcraft offers a unique and powerful game experience that cannot be rivaled by its competitors. Azeroth truly begins to feel like a second home, and the time you invest in the game will provide you with an unlimited amount of rewarding entertainment.
- Free to Play - this guide covers everything you can do in World of Warcraft without paying anything!
- PvP Twink Guide - how to create a twink, a low level character with maxed out gear and stats, for use in player vs player combat
- PvP Guide for Free Players - how you can make the most out of your player vs player experience without paying anything
- Professions Guide - what professions you can pursue as a free player included which ones are recommended
- Alliance Level Guide - 0 to 10 - the best way to level your Alliance character up to level 10
- Horde Level Guide - 0 to 10 - the best way to level your Horde character up to level 10