While your class will dictate how you play the game more than your race does, only certain races can play as particular classes. See the Race and Class pages for discussions of the different race and class options.
- Main article: choosing a race
The race you choose for your character determines their looks, voice, starting area, classes available, racial traits, and the faction he or she will belong to (Horde or Alliance). There are many reasons to choose one race over another. While some dedicated players may select their race purely in order to gain a slight advantage in high-end play, others may choose their race based on looks, lore or personality. From tiny gnomes to towering tauren, the way each race looks, feels, moves and sounds is quite unique, and it's worth taking the time to find one you really enjoy. In terms of playing experience, the main difference between races is their racial traits, which while usually not game-changing in their importance, can at times be fun, helpful or even life-saving. There is a very slight (+/-3 points) stat difference based on race, but as your character increases in level, these differences become negligible.
One important note: The Alliance vs. Horde distinction is a very important one, as you will have very limited interaction with those on the opposing side outside of combat. If you're playing on a server with friends, you all want to be on the same side so that you can chat, trade, party, etc.
- Either (you select):
- Main article: Choosing a class
Can't decide what class to play? Make one of each that sound interesting (you can have up to 11 characters per server), play them up to level 5-15 or so, and decide then. It only takes an hour or two to get the first few levels, and then you'll have a much better idea of what it's like to play each class. You may still miss out on the more significant parts of playing a class, as some important skills are given at level 20 or 30 for the first time, but you will get the gist of the class so that you can at least understand what higher level characters are talking about. You can also read the description of each class to have a general idea of them.
An important factor to consider when choosing a class is whether there is going to be much demand for characters of your class in groups. Generally, tanks and healers are in higher demand than damage dealers (commonly referred to as DPS classes). Therefore, if joining instance group/raid is your first priority, choosing classes that can spec tank or healer may improve you chance of getting invited. Alternatively, while they are still very important to a group's success, the damage dealer classes tend to carry less responsibility, and with it less blame in the event that a group is struggling to progress.
For those who want to be the tank in instances, warrior, paladin, druid, death knight, and monk are your choices. With the right gear and spec, they can have higher health and armor than the rest of the party. You can absorb large amounts of damage and prevent others from being attacked. Warriors, paladins, and death knights can wear plate after level 40, which provide them with unequaled armor. Druids and monks can only wear leather or cloth. However, druids' gives them a large amount of health and armor bonus. Monks have abilities allowing them to evade and mitigate much of the damage they receive.
If you want to heal others, priest, druid, paladin, shaman, or monk can be considered. In the right spec, all of these classes can make a competent main healer. In addition, all of them provide useful buffs to the other members of the party. Paladins have blessings that they can cast on anyone that give different benefits. Shamans have totems which buff party members near them, but they have very different benefits. Druids can increase the critical hit chance, spell critical chance, or amount of healing done to the entire party, in bear/cat form, moonkin form, or tree of life form, respectively. Priests' stamina buff is always useful to everyone.
All classes can be damage dealers with the right gear and spec. However, there are four classes that are pure damage dealers: mage, warlock, rogue, and hunter. Mages excel at dealing massive magical damage to their enemy. Their powerful area of effect damage is helpful in many encounters. Warlocks have abilities to summon a demon as a pet which will do the player's bidding. They are famous for their damage over time spells. Rogues have stealth abilities and can deal high melee damage. Hunters are the only ranged class in game that do mainly physical damage. They can tame pets to help them in a fight, as well as put down various traps to help the party. Depending on their spec, they can also boost their party members' damage output in different ways.
To see what the population for each class is on a given server (or all servers) for one faction or another, see Warcraft Realms.
Please be aware that these numbers are regarded by Blizzard Entertainment as highly inaccurate, and should be used as a loose guide at best.
Picking a name can be tricky. Nearly everyone wants something unique, awe-inspiring and/or "cool". However, the name you pick does tell others something about you.
Keep in mind that your name needs to be easily typable in conversations, and that it probably shouldn't clash too much with the warcraft/medieval themed environment. Names that you probably shouldn't pick include:
- Legolas - Wrong universe. Too unoriginal. Far too commonly used already than you may expect.
- Mrcoolguy / Iownyousohard - More than anything, this suggests to other people that you're immature. Maybe you are, but not making it quite so obvious makes it a tad easier to earn the respect of other players.
- Agsdjasgd - People will assume that you don't take the game seriously and/or that you're a gold farmer, a loot ninja, or a bot. Neither is good for you.
- Lukeskywalker - Wrong time, wrong universe.
- Onyxia / Illidan / Arthas - No, you are not these lore characters. Picking names like these is a sure-fire way of having a GM enforce a name change on your character.
- Joë / Jôe / Jœ - If you use special characters in your name, expect to find that most people do not know how to type your name (which means a lot of trouble later in the game), and you may encounter error on your armory page as well as when you try to link to it. See below.
- A number of types of name are considered 'inappropriate' by Blizzard, and may leave you liable to a forced name change. Full details can be found on Blizzard's official Naming Policy page https://us.battle.net/support/en/article/34530.
On RP and RP-PvP realms there are additional naming policies active. They can be found at the official Naming Policy page (EU, no equivalent on US sites) under the title "Only applied on Roleplaying Servers" and at the official Roleplaying Realms Policy page (EU, US). If your name is considered inappropriate (even if it would be okay on a non-RP server), you may be forced to change it.
Picking something unobtrusive that actually sounds like a name is usually your best bet. Your name doesn't have to be cool to make you cool. You make your name cool by who you are and what you do; WoW may be massively multi-player, but the core population of any given server is really only a couple hundred players. Rumors, names and stories of feats do travel quickly.
Can't decide on a name? Try BehindTheName.com.
Lastly, you can choose your gender, male or female, when creating a new character. Functionally, there is no difference between a male or female character. The only in-game differences are the appearance, animation and speech. (As a rule of thumb of playing WoW as well as any other MMORPG, do not assume the gender of anyone by the look of him/her!)
Note: rarely, male Tauren warrior tanks' larger hit box may cause problem in certain fights, e.g.Halazzi, but this can easily be solved by better positioning.