As characters become more developed, they gain various talents and skills, requiring the player to further define the abilities of that character.[15] Characters can choose two primary professions that can focus on producing items, such as tailoring, blacksmithing or jewelcrafting or on gathering from resource nodes, such as skinning or mining. Characters can learn all four secondary skills: archeology, cooking, fishing and first aid.[16][17] Characters may form and join guilds, allowing characters within the guild access to the guild's chat channel, the guild name and optionally allowing other features, including a guild tabard, guild bank, guild repairs, and dues.[18]

World of Warcraft fue anunciado por primera vez por Blizzard en el European Computer Trade Show en septiembre de 2001.25​ El desarrollo llevó unos 4 o 5 años e incluyó un extenso periodo de pruebas. Los gráficos 3D usaban elementos del motor de juegos de Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos.25​ El juego fue diseñado como un ambiente abierto donde los jugadores pudieran hacer lo que quisieran.26​


Para aprender una profesión, hay que acudir a un instructor de la misma en las ciudades y algunos poblados. Todas las profesiones tienen distintos niveles, y cada nivel permite mejorar la habilidad hasta un número máximo de puntos, que se suben practicando en la profesión, ya sea recogiendo o fabricando algo. La cantidad de puntos permitirá recoger materiales más difíciles, así como aprender a fabricar objetos más poderosos. Todas las profesiones pueden aprenderse desde nivel 5, salvo la profesión secundaria arqueología, que requiere que el jugador sea nivel 20.24​

^ "Patch Notes 3.3.3". Blizzard. Archived from the original on May 22, 2010. Retrieved June 15, 2010. Authenticator Frame: If a player has a Battle.net Authenticator attached to his or her account and selects Remember Account Name at the login screen, the next time that player logs into World of Warcraft, a field to input the Authenticator code will be displayed below the password field.
Much of World of Warcraft play involves the completion of quests. These quests are usually available from NPCs.[19] Quests usually reward the player with some combination of experience points, items, and in-game money. Quests allow characters to gain access to new skills and abilities, as well as the ability to explore new areas.[20] It is through quests that much of the game's story is told, both through the quest's text and through scripted NPC actions.[21] Quests are linked by a common theme, with each consecutive quest triggered by the completion of the previous, forming a quest chain. Quests commonly involve killing a number of creatures, gathering a certain number of resources, finding a difficult to locate object, speaking to various NPCs, visiting specific locations, interacting with objects in the world, or delivering an item from one place to another to acquire experience and treasures.
^ Larabel, Michael (January 26, 2011). "Blizzard Still Has a World of Warcraft Linux Client". Phoronix. Archived from the original on May 12, 2013. Retrieved July 8, 2013. It turns out that this appears to still be the case that internally they have a Linux build of World of Warcraft but as of yet they have decided against releasing it to the public.
Some of the challenges in World of Warcraft require players to group together to complete them. These usually take place in dungeons—also known as "instances"—that a group of characters can enter together. The term "instance" comes from each group or party having a separate copy, or instance, of the dungeon, complete with their own enemies to defeat and their own treasure or rewards.[32] This allows a group to explore areas and complete quests without others interfering. Dungeons are spread over the game world and are designed for characters of varying progression. A typical dungeon will allow up to five characters to enter as part of a group. Some dungeons require more players to group together and form a "raid" of up to forty players to face some of the most difficult challenges.[33] As well as dungeon-based raid challenges, several creatures exist in the normal game environment that are designed for raids to attack.[28][34]
Deep within Blackrock Mountain, the black dragon Nefarian conducted twisted experiments with the blood of other dragonflights. Intent on seizing the entire area for his own, he recruited the remaining Dark Horde, a rogue army that embraced the demonic bloodlust of the old Horde. These corrupt orcs, trolls, and other races battled against Ragnaros and the Dark Iron dwarves for control of the mountain. Nefarian created the twisted chromatic dragons and a legion of other aberrations in his bid to form an army powerful enough to control Azeroth and continue the legacy of his infamous father, Deathwing the Destroyer. Nefarian was vanquished by the heroes from the Horde and the Alliance.
Existen un total de trece razas jugables16​ divididas en dos facciones, la Alianza y la Horda, siendo la decimotercera raza (Pandaren) compartida por ambos bandos. Pertenecen a la Alianza: humanos, gnomos, enanos, elfos de la noche, draenéi, huarguens y pandarens; y pertenecen a la Horda: orcos, no-muertos renegados, troles, taurens, elfos de sangre, goblins y pandarens. En la mayoría de las zonas, la Alianza y la Horda están en guerra una con la otra, aunque existen zonas neutrales como la ciudad flotante de Dalaran o la Ciudadela de Shattrath, estas zonas son conocidas como santuarios.
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