World of Warcraft funciona de forma nativa tanto en ordenadores Macintosh de Apple como en Windows. El juego en caja usa un CD híbrido para instalarlo. Los jugadores pueden jugar juntos sin importar el sistema operativo. No existe ninguna versión oficial para ningún otro sistema operativo aunque puede ser jugado en GNU/Linux o FreeBSD mediante Wine.
Los monjes son maestros del combate a mano y solo empuñan las armas para sus letales golpes de gracia (viajero del viento). Los monjes sanadores aportan armonía y equilibrio a todos los grupos y pueden sanar hasta las heridas más graves con remedios antiguos y artes espirituales (tejedor de la niebla). Son pocos los que pueden confiar en sobrevivir ante la extrema destreza del monje maestro cervecero, cuyas intensas bebidas e impredecible estilo de combate absorben unas cantidades de daño impresionantes (maestro cervecero).
The Corrupted Blood plague incident was one of the first events to affect entire servers. Patch 1.7 saw the opening of Zul'Gurub, the game's first 20-player raid dungeon where players faced off against a tribe of trolls. Upon engaging the final boss, players were stricken by a debuff called "Corrupted Blood" which would periodically sap their life. The disease was passed on to other players simply by being near infected players. Originally this malady was confined within the Zul'Gurub instance, but it made its way into the outside world by way of hunter pets or warlock minions that contracted the disease.
World of Warcraft received very positive reviews upon release, following a period of high anticipation before launch. Although the game follows a similar model to—and was noted for using many familiar concepts from—the role-playing genre, the new approaches to reducing pauses between game encounters were well liked. A common example was the approach to character death. In some previous MMORPGs, a player would suffer a high penalty for character death; in World of Warcraft, a player is able to recover and start playing quickly. Combat was another area where "downtime", or pauses between play, was reduced. By allowing all character types to recover from damage taken, players can return to combat quickly. Reviewers felt that these changes in pacing would make the genre more accessible to casual players—those who play for short periods of time— while still having "deep" gameplay that would attract players of all levels of interest. The concept of a "rested bonus", or increasing the rate at which a player's character gains experience, was also welcomed as a way for players to quickly catch up with their friends in progression.
Questing was described as an integral part of the game, often being used to continue a storyline or lead the player through the game. The high number of quests in each location was popular, as well as the rewards for completing them. It was felt that the range of quests removed the need for a player to "grind", or carry out repetitive tasks, to advance their character. Quests also require players to explore every section of the game world, potentially causing problems for social gamers or roleplayers seeking somewhere quiet. Quests that required the player to collect items from the corpses of creatures they had killed were also unpopular; the low "drop rate", or chance of finding the items, makes them feel repetitive as a high number of creatures need to be killed to complete the quest. A large number of new players in a particular area meant that there were often no creatures to kill, or that players would have to wait and take turns to kill a particular creature to complete a quest. Some critics mentioned that the lack of quests that required players to group up made the game feel as if it were designed for solo play. Others complained that some dungeon or instanced group quests were not friendly to new players, and could take several hours to complete. Upon release, a small number of quests had software bugs that made them impossible to complete.
Before the introduction of World of Warcraft's seventh expansion "Battle for Azeroth", both "Normal" and "RP" servers were each divided into two separate categories; PvE and PvP servers. This has since been removed after the implementation of the "War Mode" option, which allows any player (of level 20 and higher) on any server to determine whether they want to actively participate in PvP combat or not, by enabling War Mode in two of the game's capital cities.
The Corrupted Blood plague so closely resembled the outbreak of real-world epidemics that scientists are currently looking at the ways MMORPGs or other massively distributed systems can model human behavior during outbreaks. The reaction of players to the plague closely resembled previously hard-to-model aspects of human behavior that may allow researchers to more accurately predict how diseases and outbreaks spread amongst a population.
En World of Warcraft un jugador tiene acceso a doce tipos de clases (según la expansión Legion) restringida según la raza que se seleccione.17 Además de la diferencia existente entre cada clase, estas pueden elegir una rama de talentos entre un total de tres (o cuatro si se selecciona druida como clase), aumentando la diferencia entre estas.1819