Updated Thu, Dec 17, 2009 by Xerin
When you’re starting a new character you’ve got a whole lot to take in but World of Warcraft takes it step-by-step. A first good step, if you’re completely new to the game, is to read over our Newbie Guide that gives you the basics about the game itself. Understanding the start of the game can really help in getting to level 20 as fast as possible. Once you’re level 20 you should have a full understanding of how the game works.
The first thing you’ll have to do is create a character. Character creation is covered in our Newbie Guide along with our Choosing a Class guide. Once your character is made you’ll find yourself watching an opening cinematic (which can be skipped with the ESC key). After the cinematic your character will be loaded into the game and you should be facing an NPC (that’s a non-playable character or in simpler terms a character played by the game) with a yellow exclamation point over its head.
Now is a good time to talk about game controls before you go anywhere else. The game’s tip system will pop up (exclamation points towards the bottom of the screen) that’ll tell you how to move and how to do other things. They’ll basically tell you that you can use the arrow keys or WSAD to move. Many people refer WSAD (W is forward, S is backward, A is left, D is right) as the keys are very close to the number keys. The number keys allow you to use skills so you’ll only need one hand for the keyboard.
You’ll notice a lot of things around the screen. This screenshot pretty much explains what your view might look like and give you a few labels to things.
“Your Avatar” points directly towards your character. That’s what you made when you created your character before logging in. “Abilities” points to your hotbar, quick bar, or action bar (many people call it different things). This is where your abilities are stored for quick access. The numbers correspond to the numbers on your keyboard. So if you press number 1 then you’ll enter attack mode since your attack skill is in the number one slot.
The top left hosts your current status. Your health is the green bar while your mana is the blue bar. Rogues will have a yellow energy bar and Warrior’s will have an empty bar (that glows red as they take or receive damage). When your health reaches 0 you’ll die (see our guide on dying). Most abilities cost mana/energy/rage to use so when that reaches 0 you’ll be unable to use any abilities reliant on mana/energy/rage.
Top right hosts the mini-map. This gives you a rogue overview of the nearby area. The plus/minus buttons zoom in/out while the magnifying glass gives you the ability to track various things. Rogues, Hunters, and Druids can track various forms of creatures while everyone else can use it to find herbs and ores (if you have Herbalism or Mining) along with local innkeepers, trainers, etc.
The bottom right is your inventory. In World of Warcraft inventory is managed by “bags”. The more bags you have then the more items you can carry. As you kill enemies you’ll gain loot (ranging from things you can equip to loot you can sell to vendors).
In front of your avatar when you first load into the game will be an NPC with an exclamation mark above its head. That’s a quest giver. Quest givers will have an exclamation point above their head (and on the mini map) when they have a new quest to give. They will have a silver question mark above their head when they are waiting on you to complete a quest. They will have a yellow question mark when a quest is complete.
Quests are what drive your advancement through WoW. You may notice in the example screenshot above that there is a long bar above your abilities that is empty and slightly transparent. That bar is your XP bar. When it fills up completely you’ll gain a level. Each level can grant you more skills, give you more stat points, open up more quests, and allow you to equip higher level equipment. Basically each level makes you more powerful.
To start with you’ll want to walk forward (using the movement keys) and then right click on the quest NPC. They’ll give you a description of what to do, what the reward will be, and any other requirements to complete the quest. Once you accept the quest you just follow its instructions (visit our database to find out more on how to complete the various quests) until the quest is complete. Once complete you can turn it in to gain experience, money, and/or items.
This is same cycle you’ll repeat for most of the game. You’ll find NPCs like these that offer quests. Pick them up and then head out into the world and do them. Each quest has a different requirement for completion. Some may have you kill so many of a certain beast while others may have you collect items that drop from a certain enemy. Some might have you head into an instance (that’s a dungeon that’s just for your party) and some might just have you deliver a note to another friendly NPC. Each quest is different and the quest text will generally tell you what to do. If you need help though our database is just a click away.