The purpose of this guide is to offer guidance to new players in helping create a character for the first time. In this, we will cover server selection, faction choice, as well as race and class decisions.
While this guide will provide insight and direction, it should not be the final judgement for what you do. Ultimately, you should create a character you will enjoy playing because that is the point of any game: to have fun.
Your choice in servers at its most basic level is based on the decision between PvP and PvE. While in functionality and content there is very little difference, the gameplay experience is vastly different.
PvP, or Player versus Player, is probably the most difficult for new players. This is due to the fact that there lurks in every shadow the opportunity to be killed by other player characters.
In a PvP environment players from opposing factions can attack player characters throughout the land. While this cannot be done in a player's faction-controlled territory unless the fight is instigated by the player, most of the territories in Azeroth are contested and therefore open to PvP activity. If you want an extra challenge in your game experience, PvP is definitely a large step up in difficulty.
PvE, or Player versus Environment, lends itself more to new players as it is easier to learn how to play World of Warcraft when players are not constantly looking over their shoulder for random attacks by the opposing faction.
While PvP activity can still occur on a PvE server, it is limited to players who opt to flag themselves for PvP. Therefore, if you are new to MMORPGs or prefer to focus more on the quests, PvE is probably for you.
RP, or Role-Playing, servers can be chosen for either PvP or PvE servers. RP is more of a social interaction choice than a play-style decision because it reflects the way characters carry on discussions, form guilds, quest, or any other in-game activity. Players will create back stories for their characters and voice their opinions based on how their characters would react.
RP servers can be fun if you enjoy the creative side to RPGs. Most of these are populated by players who are familiar with pen and paper RPGs and are accustomed to acting out their character's actions.
Server populations are rated as Low, Medium and High. This reflects how many players are playing on this server on a fairly regular basis. Each has its own distinct advantages and disadvantages.
These servers tend to have an over-inflated economy due to the fact that fewer people are out collecting and selling materials, weapons and armor. This makes it more difficult for players to find items that they are looking when they are looking for it.
This also leads to its main benefit as it is easier for players to go out and grind for hard to find items as there will be less competition. Also, enterprising players who are willing to learn their server's economy and expend a fair amount of time monitoring the Auction House can make a decent amount of gold maintaining monopolies on certain materials.
It is also difficult to find groups and guilds as quickly on a low population server than it is on medium and high population servers. This can cause frustration for players who reach the end-game content only to be stymied by the lack of adequate players to complete it with them. It is not impossible to do end-game content on lower population servers, it does prove to be a challenge in itself.
This is normally a nice middle ground as there are a fair amount of items in the Auction House and plenty of players to do raids and form guilds. While there is not an over-abundance of either, but players should rarely want for most things. The economy on these servers also tend to be more balanced and less likely to fluctuate on the whims of a few players.
These servers have more players and with that there are a large amount of items available for purchase and more than enough players to form any raid you could possibly want. This comes with a steep price, though, as most high population servers have queues where players must wait before they can log onto their character. For some, this is a reasonable price to pay for access to everything they could possibly need at almost any time during the day. Also, the economy on these servers can be depreciated based on the almost never-ending supply of items on the Auction House.
There are two major factions in World of Warcraft: The Horde and The Alliance. As far as playability and access to content, there is no serious difference between either faction. While there are some recipes and items that are only available to one faction or the other, most of this is balanced out between the two.
It is not uncommon to hear a statement that "The Horde/Alliance is full of children." The truth is that there are players of almost every demographic playing in both factions.
The only real difference between the two is the surroundings you will be looking at for most of your early questing. With the Horde, you will be looking at mostly desert and plains while with the Alliance it is primarily forests and woodlands.
Your choices for race will be limited based on the faction you chose. The Horde offers Orcs, Darkspear Trolls, Tauren, The Undead or Forsaken, and Blood Elves. The Alliance has Dwarves, Gnomes, Humans, Night Elves, and Draenei. Each race has its own racial bonuses that enhance your character.
Blood Fury- This is an activated ability that increases the character's attack and spell power. At level 1 it increases your spell damage by 5 and your attack power by 6. This ability scales to your level, increasing spell damage by (Level*2)+3 and attack power by (Level*4)+2. This means that by level 80 Blood Fury will increase your spell damage by 163 and your attack power by 322.
Hardiness- A passive ability that reduces the duration of stun effects by 15%.
Command- A passive ability that increases the damage dealt by pets by 5%.
Axe Specialization- A passive ability that grants a 5 point expertise bonus while using axes.
The classes that make the most out of these abilities are Hunters, Warriors, Shaman, Warlocks, and Death Knights. Now it should be said that you cannot play a Death Knight until you already have a level 55 character on any realm.
Blood Fury is an ability that can be used by any class since it increases either attack or spell damage. Since it is an activated ability it is one that most players tend to overlook or forget about later in their gaming.
Hunters and Warlocks can take distinct advantage of the Command ability as they both utilize pets continually. Hunters can also make great use of the Axe Specialization.
While Hardiness would obviously be helpful for any character, this is incredibly useful for tank-style characters who will spend most of their time up front taking 90% of the damaging attacks in groups. Therefore Warriors and Death Knight tanks should definitely consider this ability.
Shamans can only be made by Tauren, Orcs, and Trolls and therefore if you are going to make a Shaman it would be important to pick a race that gives a spell bonus. As none of the three classes give a passive bonus and only two (Orcs and Trolls) give an activated bonus, Orc Shamans are normally a wise choice for their Blood Fury ability.
The Trolls are viewed as the brothers of the Orcs, sharing the starting zone of Durotar and capital city of Orgrimmar. The Darkspear Trolls follow the leadership of Vol'jin who works closely with Warchief Thrall.
Instead of the standard four, Trolls are fortunate to receive five racial bonuses:
Berserking- An activated ability that increases the character's attack or casting speed. This effect is increased when the character is badly injured. This effect lasts 10 seconds.
Regeneration- A passive ability that increases the character's health regeneration rate by 10%.
Beast Slaying- When fighting beasts, the Troll receives a passive bonus of 5% extra damage.
Bow/ Throwing Specialization- Passively grants a 1% chance to critically hit with bows and thrown weapons.
Da Voodoo Shuffle- A passive reduction in the duration of all movement impairing effects by 15%.
Due in large part to their Berserking ability, Trolls are an excellent choice for Shamans.
They also make excellent Hunters with the Bow Specialization.
Rogues however, make the most of the Trolls racial abilities, utilizing Throwing Specialization, Da Voodoo Shuffle, Berserking, and Regeneration. All of these are useful to most classes but Rogues can use all in conjunction with their own stealth abilities to do maximum damage from a distance and then heal quickly and efficiently while in close range.
Beginning in Mulgore, the Tauren are a mighty nature-based race. Their capital city is Thunder Bluff, located high on natural risers and accessible only by way of an elevator. They are led by the great Cairne Bloodhoof. The Tauren receive the following racial bonuses:
War Stomp- Activated ability that stuns up to 5 enemies within 8 yards of the caster. If the character is within melee range of an opponent it can interrupt spell casting.
Endurance- Gives the Tauren a passive increase of 5% to their base health.
Cultivation- Passively gives Herbalists a +15 bonus to their Herbalism skill.
Nature Resistance- Allows the Tauren a passive defense against Nature Spells by giving a -2% chance to be hit by them.
The Tauren are make excellent tanks due in large part to their health increase through Endurance and the ability to grab the threat of up to five mobs at once with War Stomp. Therefore, Warriors, Druids, and Death Knights are obvious choices. Also, Tauren are the only race in The Horde that can be druids.
Finally, if you are interested in making an herbalist, Tauren are the best choice as they receive the +15 bonus to Herbalism which can jump-start your profession.
The Undead, also known as The Forsaken, are found in the Tirisfal Glades and make The Undercity their capital city. Lady Sylvanas Windrunner is the leader of The Undead. Four racial bonuses are granted to this race:
Will Of The Forsaken- An activated ability that frees the character from the effects of Charm, Sleep, and Fear. It has a 2 minute cooldown.
Cannibalize- After activation, the character will consume a nearby Undead or Humanoid corpse. This heals the character 7% of their health every 2 seconds for up to 10 seconds.
Underwater Breathing- Passively allows the character to remain underwater 233% longer than normal.
Shadow Resistance- Grants the character a passive -2% chance to be hit by Shadow spells.
Due largely to the powerful (And often underused!) Will Of The Forsaken, The Undead make excellent Warriors, Death Knights, and Rogues. Will Of The Forsaken is excellent for low-level tanks who have yet to receive an Insignia of the Horde. It is also invaluable for rogues who can never afford to be stuck in one spot too long.
Added with the Burning Crusade expansion, the Blood Elves live in Eversong Woods. They are follow Lor'themar Theron who resides in the capital city of Silvermoon City. The Blood Elves receive a largely spell-caster based set of racial bonuses:
Arcane Affinity- Passively grants a 10 point bonus to the players Enchanting skill.
Arcane Torrent- Silences nearby enemies for up to 2 seconds through an activated ability. It also restores 6% of the character's mana. If the character is a Rogue it restores 15 energy and for Death Knights it grants 15 runic power.
Magic Resistance- A passive ability that reduces the character's chance to be hit by spells by 2%.
As the only race in The Horde that can be Paladins it would be foolish not to recommend them. Arcane Torrent is a definite plus to any caster-class such as Warlocks, Mages, and Priests. It also is a big plus to Death Knights and Rogues. This singular ability makes Blood Elves a very versatile race who make use of their racial abilities in almost any class.
The enchanting bonus received through Arcane Affinity is a large assistance to anyone looking to make a future as an enchanter.
Stoneform- Once activated, the character will be immune to poison, disease and bleed effects for 8 seconds. In addition, it increases the Dwarf's armor by 10%.
Gun Specialization- Grants a passive +1% bonus to critically hit with guns.
Frost Resistance- Passive bonus that allows a -2% chance to be hit by Frost spells.
Find Treasure- Gives the Dwarf the tracking ability to find treasure chests on their mini-map.