If you’ve never heard of the game but would like to give it a try, read on to find out what all the fuss is about, and how you can download it and play World of Warcraft for free, right now.
What On Earth Is World Of Warcraft?
The mother of massively multiplayer online games, World of Warcraft is a 3D adventure/role-play game. Blamed for deaths throughout the world and the breakdown of numerous marriages, WoW has garnered a lot of attention. Is that attention justified? In many ways, yes. WoW is indeed the gaming equivalent of crack cocaine, and has been designed (just like FarmVille) with clever rewards to keep the player engaged for longer.
You could describe it as the epitome of gaming mechanisms, but that would take us down a long path of discussion we probably don’t have time for today. Suffice to say it has spawned academic discussions on topics such as the gamification of life.
Like anything in life, people who have a tendency to addictions and compulsive behaviour are going to have issues with this game. If however you’re a normal human being with a good level of self-control, you can probably just play it like most people do, and have fun without any dangerous consequences.
What’s it all about then? Set in a typical fantasy world, you create a unique character and are soon off adventuring. This may be a vast simplification, but essentially you perform quests (kill something, find something, visit someone), collect treasure, and upgrade your character with better weapons and better/new abilities. A couple of things make WoW unique though.
Firstly, there is a crafting system where you can actually produce items for yourself and others to use in-game – a set of armour from animal leather, for example – or a sword from iron ore. “Great”, you’re thinking! “Now I can work in a game as well as real life!!”. That’s true to an extent, but in WoW you actually see the end result rather than being a drone in the corporate machine like most people. It’s remarkably fulfilling to produce something, even if it is only virtual – and how many of us could skin an animal and make some armour in real life, after all?
Secondly, WoW takes place in a persistent world with hundreds of thousands of other players. For many, it’s this social aspect of joining guilds and adventuring together that keeps them coming back. In the end though, it has a little something for everyone – and if you choose to spend your online WoW life collecting herbs and making ever more powerful healing potions, then the game will reward you as such, and you shall be a famous potion maker!
So how do you get this game? Head on over to battle.net to create an account and download the client.
It’s a hefty download through the installation program – a good 10.5GB, so make sure you’re doing this in your ISPs free-for-all time, or check your download limits for the month. Luckily though, you can begin playing after the first 2GB or so, while the rest is downloaded in the background and loaded as required.
Scroll through and accept the EULAs, then pick a “realm” by clicking the suggest a realm button in the bottom right. Next you’ll need to choose your character, which is perhaps the hardest choice you’ll ever have to make in this game. If you’re unsure about your choices, the panels on the right show you how they will affect your game and what bonuses they might have.
Once you’re actually in the game, I found the help or tutorial to be a little lacking.
First things first, you move around with either the arrow keys or WSAD, as you would a first person shooter. To rotate the camera and look around, hold down the right mouse button.
Right click is also your main action key. Hover over an enemy, other character, or loot to perform the default action on them – either attack, talk, or pick up.
Use the left mouse button to select creatures and generally interact with the on-screen interface. Along the bottom of the screen is your most important interface. Take some time to click around it and see what all the buttons do. The blank spaces are actions you can assign from your skillet as you level up and learn new things. You should start with either some neat fighter actions or some basic spells.
Equipment management is done by accessing your backpack (shift-B), and you can drag and drop items onto your character (shift-C).
I had a little difficulty with getting quests at first – you don’t automatically get quests by talking to people, it seems. Find a quest character – marked on the map by a question mark – and once you’ve chosen a quest, make sure you scroll down to ACCEPT it. When finished, return to them and do the same, but this time COMPLETE – and you’ll also need to have chosen a reward if there is one.
One last tip – you should have a Hearthstone in your inventory. Right click on that to return back to your village when done questing, to avoid the long trek home.
So, are you going to try it now that you can play World of Warcraft for free? Got any horror stories about lost loved ones because of this damn game? Do let us know in the comments!