But if you're interested in returning to WoW, don't despair. No matter when you left, you can get back in and enjoy new content and challenges, though relearning the game may take a little longer than you might like. We'll walk you the steps to get you back in the game as quickly as possible -- but be prepared to be patient as you hobble around like a newbie all over again.
Update your game client and addons
Chances are, there's a new patch -- or even a new expansion -- you need before you can get gaming. The easiest way to figure out what you need is to fire up the launcher and let it download any patches you're lacking. If you no longer have the game client installed, you can head over to Battle.net to pick up the latest version.
If you had addons installed, chances are they're out of date, which can be a real mess to untangle when you're trying to get back into the game. We recommend disabling addons from the login screen until you find your footing again -- then you can hunt down updates for the addons you're still interested in using. (The Curse Client, which manages addons for Windows, can be a big help here.)
Before you run off into the game world, take a few minutes to check out all of your virtual possessions. Which characters do you have? What's your highest level? What sort of gear do you have? How much gold do you have? What's in your bank? What's in your mailbox?
It can be overwhelming to sort through all this stuff, but it's good to do it up front so you know what you've got to work with moving forward. Maybe you had a big cache of gold on one character that you can pass on to another or maybe you have a collection of crafting materials you could use to make yourself something useful -- whatever you have on hand, you'll want to check it out to help you decide what to do next.
Decide what you want to play
If you've been gone from the game for very long, this can be a tough question. Perhaps the class you used to play has changed, and you're not sure what to do with it anymore. Perhaps a new class or race has caught your eye and you want to start over. Perhaps you're just feeling lost and the idea of starting from scratch seems appealing.
Take some time to think about just what you want to do in the game. Would you like to jump into PvP? Get into raiding? Level a class you haven't tried before? Finally make it to the gold cap? Quest through the world to finish off Loremaster? Once you've decided what you're going to be doing, pick a character to play and go at it.
If you're dusting off an old character, now's the time to figure out your specialization, talents, and glyphs. If your class has changed much since you last played, untangling your spec could be the hardest part. If you've been gone long enough that you aren't sure how talents and glyphs work -- they've changed a lot since the early days of WoW -- you might want to start by reading our newbie-level talent guide and glyph guide. Next, our advice is to hit up a search engine for "best leveling spec" or "best PvP spec" or "best raiding spec" for your class, depending on what you want to do. Searching for the best glyphs and rotation is also a good idea at this point. Even though the builds and info you find might not wind up being perfect for you, they'll give you a good place to start.
If you've been gone from the game for a long time, your specialization, talents, and glyphs are probably a blank slate -- but if not, you'll have to reset them before you can put together the perfect spec for your character. Here's how:
- To reset your specialization, talk to a class trainer. It will cost you some gold (or silver) that will go up the more often you reset your spec. Not sure where to find a trainer? Ask a city guard to direct you.
- You can also reset all of your talents at the trainer -- again, for a cost.
- If you want to swap one talent or glyph for another, you can do so with a reagent: Vanishing Powder (for players up to level 80), Dust of Disappearance (for players up to level 85), or Tome of the Clear Mind (for players up to level 90). All of these can be made by players with the inscription profession or bought from inscription vendors -- to find one, just ask a city guard to direct you to the inscription trainer. A vendor should be nearby.
Find a good guild
No matter how much you love World of Warcraft -- and at WoW Insider, we definitely do -- the game is only as fun as the people you play it with. If your guild has vanished since your last play session, hunting down a new guild that shares your gaming goals should be high on your priority list. Getting in the right guild means players to play with who will help you meet your gaming goals -- whatever they are.
But you shouldn't accept the first guild invite you see -- instead, check out your realm's forums and the guild recruitment forums for guilds that sound like they might be a good fit. Still not sure? Check our guide to finding a good guild for a walkthrough of finding the perfect guild fit.
There are lots of resources available. Check out our list of resources for returning players to hunt down the info you need.
Now: get gaming!
Just because you're a newbie doesn't mean you can't bring your A-game to World of Warcraft! Visit the WoW Rookie Guide for links to everything you need to get started as a new player, from the seven things every newbie ought to know to how to get started as a healer or as a tank.