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Azeroth, the world of Blizzard's famously popular WarCraft games, is brought to life in this ongoing, online adventure, welcoming millions of player-controlled Humans, Orcs, Dwarves, Trolls, and other creatures to explore its lands and exploit its secrets. While many other persistent-world RPGs have offered the basic premise of warriors and wizards in a fantasy realm, World of WarCraft has the advantage of featuring the series' familiar incarnations of warriors and wizards, and of being based on an established fantasy world beloved by gamers since the success of the original Orcs & Humans in 1994.
At its launch, the game is set four years after the events of WarCraft III: Reign of Chaos. The war-weary peoples of Azeroth are beginning to rebuild, but toward an uncertain future. World of WarCraft offers a total of eight playable races. Humans, Dwarves, Gnomes, and Night Elves make up the Alliance, while Orcs, Tauren, Trolls, and Undead represent the Horde.
Classes available to player characters include Paladin, Rogue, Priest, Hunter, Warlock, Druid, Warrior, Mage, and Shaman. Some classes are exclusive to characters of certain races; only Humans and Dwarves may become Paladins, for example, and only Tauren and Night Elves may become Druids. Other classes, such as the Rogue or the Priest, may be assumed by characters of almost any race. Each class is gifted with a selection of distinct, supernatural powers, many of which will be immediately recognizable by veterans of the WarCraft real-time strategy games.
World of WarCraft is designed to be more forgiving than other contemporary online RPGs. The only real "death penalty" the game imposes is minor wear and tear on equipment (no experience point loss or debt), and characters that haven't logged on for a while gain a temporary bonus that helps them level more quickly, to catch up with companions that play more regularly.
The game world offers plenty of "player versus environment" opportunities, for exploration, monster slaying, and resource collection. Horde and Alliance characters can battle against one another as well, under a variety of conditions that depend in part on the type of game server (which players can choose when creating their characters).
The persistent, online version of Azeroth is home to six major cities, some of which also may be familiar to fans of earlier WarCraft games. Each city is a hub for quests, character services, and player interaction. A city's taverns are good places to find other, like-minded adventurers. If they make the right connections, player characters can obtain relatively inexpensive travel from one city to another — on the backs of winged beasts such as Griffons and Wind Riders. ~ T.J. Deci, All Game Guide