Want to start playing "World of Warcraft" and the new "Wrath of the Lich King" expansion, but don't know what to do?
We've come up with a few things you should know about the game -- both in the game and outside of it -- if you're thinking about joining the 11 million other people around the globe who've logged on.
Take a look at our 13 tips and see if you're ready to begin your adventures in Azeroth...
1. Yes, you'll need three games to enjoy "Lich King." But it doesn't cost as much as you think. You can purchase the "World of Warcraft" Battle Chest which includes the original game and the "Burning Crusade" expansion for $39.99; it also includes strategy guides for both (handy). Then add $39.99 for the new "Lich King" expansion. So if you want the content that everyone else has, you'll spend around $80. It's not cheap, but you will be getting a lot all at once.
2. Check your specs. Before you run out and buy anything, you should check to see if your computer, PC or Mac, can handle the game. Most computers can.
3. You need to have a level 55 to start playing a Death Knight. If you've heard about the new Hero class, which is a major feature in "Lich King," you first have to have an existing level 55 character on the server you're on to be able to create a brand-new Death Knight from scratch. The Death Knight will also start at level 55 in a new area specific to Death Knights.
4. It's not as hard as you think. The interface may seem intimidating at first, but when you begin the game, you start off with only a few abilities. The menus are pretty self-explanatory, and if you need help, there's also plenty of websites and guides dedicated to all things "WoW," like Thottbot, Allakhazam, WoWWiki and Wowdb, to name just a few.
5. You're not that far behind. The game has been adjusted to allow new players to level faster. Quests now give more experience points, and the experience points needed to go from level to level has been reduced. To boot, characters can now obtain mounts at level 30 instead of level 40, making questing easier and faster. Plus, if you have friends in the game, they could also start a new character with you -- after all, there is power in numbers.
6. ... But you don't have to play with other people. While it helps to have a friend or two with you, or to group with other players, you don't have to play with other people. Even though it's a "massively multiplayer" game, some people play the game solo.
7. Try different characters. You can create multiple characters of different races and classes -- up to 10 per server -- and you can create characters on multiple servers. So it wouldn't hurt to create a bunch and try everything until you find ones that you like.
8. The more you plan to play, the cheaper it will be. The game costs $14.99 a month, but if you pay for three months at a time in full, it comes out to $13.99 a month, or $12.99 for six months in full. There are also subscription cards you can purchase where you pay month-to-month ahead of time if you're worried about paying and not playing.
9. You can always come back. If you decide to quit or just don't want to pay for the game for a while, you can turn off your account. But when/if you decide to come back, your characters will still be there (unless you manually delete your characters). Blizzard will save your characters forever so that you can easily come back whenever you want to.
10. Learn the lingo. There are a lot of abbreviations and terms in the game -- AFK (away from keyboard), LFG (looking for group), NPC (non-player character), lag (slow Internet speeds or high latency), main (main character). Usually a quick Google search will explain it, so don't post questions in the general chat about that stuff or you'll end up looking like a n00b.
11. Use common courtesy. Just because you're in a virtual world doesn't mean real-life rules don't apply. The game is monitored and all it takes is a click of a button to report someone who's saying or doing something unacceptable in the game.
12. Player vs. Player isn't mandatory. When you create a character, you can either choose the Horde or Alliance faction. You don't have to participate in PvP unless you're on a PvP server, area or battleground, and those will be demarcated accordingly. When in those areas, which you'll have to go into intentionally, players on the opposing faction are your enemies and from there, anything is fair game.
13. We're not all nerds. Many "WoW" players are not socially inept basement-dwellers. In fact, a slew of celebrities play the game, including Mila Kunis, Macaulay Culkin, Felicia Day, Brandy, Corpsegrinder... And according to this forum post, there's many more, like William Shatner, Mr. T, Hulk Hogan, Dave Chapelle, Robin Williams, Vin Diesel, Cameron Diaz, Kanye West, Ben Affleck and... Jessica Simpson? If she can play it, anyone can.
"WoW" veterans, got any more suggestions to add? And new players, are you going to get started this weekend?