It takes all kinds (of players) to make a (game) world - but now that Blizzard is shaping game content specifically to slingshot players into endgame raiding content, it's easy to get the impression that raiding is "the" way to play WoW. New players seem expected to sail through the levels and zip gleefully into PuGs or a raiding guild. All those "accessible" raids and achievements and gear are suddenly sounding more and more like "requirements." DPS minimums, required achievements and Armory checks serve as your credentials to get into groups. Everywhere a new level 80 turns, there's something new to measure up to.
So what if you don't know where to start? What if you miss the mark in the wrong group with the wrong players - will you forever be known as a "scrub"? Will you find yourself blacklisted from the PuG circuit? Is it still practically possible to gear up and catch up? What if you can't get into a successful progression guild? Will you be labeled an oddball or outsider? What if you can't break in - or what if you decide you don't want to?
With all these questions and anxieties at stake, WoW Rookie went straight to the voices of experience here at WoW.com. Their answers? Yes, a WoW rookie absolutely can still catch the curve, ride the wave and enjoy endgame content -- or not. Despite all the talk of playing "the right way," WoW is still very much an open-ended game in which you choose your own playstyle. The choice is yours.
Here's what four of our staffers had to say.
Matthew Rossi (Totem Talk, The Care and Feeding of Warriors): My advice would be to decide first what you actually want to be doing. Do you want to tank in five-mans, DPS in heroics, heal in raids or just go around pet collecting? What's your focus? What do you enjoy doing, and why do you enjoy doing it?
Raiding can absolutely be a lot of fun. The fights can be worth the price of admission just to see them sometimes. You'll get to travel Azeroth, meet old and new figures of lore and importance and help kill them. It's something I've been doing since the old days of MC - and I'd certainly say that if a grumpy old curmudgeon like me can do it, you can too.
But do you actually want to? Don't do anything in this game because you feel like you have to or are expected to, is my advice. You'll resent it, you won't have as much fun, you'll burn out and stop playing - and I don't want to see that happen. So the most important thing is to first decide what you want to do.
Once you'd decided that, gearing up really isn't that hard. It takes some time (but soon to take less with the new Emblem system for 3.2 coming out), and you'll want to take advantage of the various factions and their gear options. Doing quests and dailies, you can actually put together a good enough set to run heroics at this point, whether you be a tank, a DPS or a healer.
Don't let yourself be pushed into fretting about it, either. To be the absolute "best" tank or DPS or healer can often be very technical, yes. But frankly, if you're just starting out, don't worry about being the best. Worry about learning.
Do some runs that push you out of your comfort zone. Don't let jerks get you down. Do your best, yes, but don't hold yourself to some impossible standard set by some guild in Finland that killed Algalon while upside-down.
In the end this is a freaking game; it's not your second job. There are guilds and players out there waiting to play at the same level you are, whatever that level is. Find what you want to do, do it, and ignore the people who scoff at you because you're not wearing a legendary codpiece.
Robin Torres (WoW Casually, It Came from the Blog): I was once on a cruise with one of my sisters. She pretended her name was Wendy to a group of, umm, laid-back musician types, because they said she looked like their friend Wendy. A couple days later, they came up to her, very worried that they had made her feel less special. They told her to "be your own Wendy."
This advice really applies to playing WoW: be your own casual. You should stick to your own idea of fun, and don't let anyone tell you your fun is any less valid than theirs. If you want to play in the end game, then great! If you don't, then that's great, too. There is still lots of stuff to do that doesn't involve heavily structured, highly geared group activities. And believe me, just because the hardcore players are more vocal on the forums doesn't mean that they are the majority. We casual players are just too busy playing or doing that real life thing to muck about in the community as much.
I think those guys on the cruise ship were very wise, as well as relaxed. In all things, be your own Wendy.
Jennie Lees (Ready Check): I wrote about a conversation I had with my mum, who's a casual player, about raiding (specifically, why she doesn't do it). Some of the comments from readers on that are pretty good, too.
The Turpster (TurpsterVision, WoW Insider Show): I have one rule when I play WoW: Be the best! If these so-called casuals can't grow a set to be able to say, "No, mum! I don't give a F$£K if it's your birthday. I got three other dudes here and we are waiting for one more DPS and then we are going to take it to Shadowfang Keep and get some phat loots ... Honestly ... You just don't understand ...", then they should quit WoW now - or at least transfer off of my server where all the pro gamers play ...
That's all I have to say on it.
In all seriousness, totally got to play the game for you. Like others have said, set your goals early on and stick to them. You will get a sense of fun and achievement. Remember that it is a game, and don't get too sucked in. You will never be the best - even (among) the hardcore players, no one is ever the best, so don't try to be. (Ok, yeah, I am the best - but that is beside the point ...)
WoW Rookie feeds you the basics to get you off to a good start in the World of Warcraft, from game lingo to joining your first guild and even what to do when you finally hit level 80.