New player guide for World of Warcraft Shadowlands: Tips & tricks

New player guide for WoW, with Sylvanas and Lich KingActivision-Blizzard

With World of Warcraft Shadowlands finally here, you may be thinking about jumping into the MMORPG experience. Thankfully, with the new expansion, it’s never been a better time to get started.

We’ve put together an easy to follow, handy guide that will help you get started on your journey to become an Azerothian hero.

With 16 years of rich story, WoW can seem daunting. Luckily, the developers have created Exile’s Reach; a modern, tutorial-like experience that will familiarize you with all that’s needed to know.

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From 1-60, each new level gained rewards you with something. Whether that’s an active skill, a passive, or something else really cool – you’ll always feel that you’re constantly improving alongside your character with each ding.

Character Creation

A screenshot of the character customization window for World of WarcraftActivision-Blizzard
Take the time to decide who you want your character to be.

For many, character creation is the most important factor of an RPG experience. It creates a canvas for which everything you do will be based upon, and with the new customization updates, you really have the player agency to create whatever fits your personal fantasy.

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It’s worth noting that with the Shadowlands expansion, you’re likely to receive a free level 50 boost to enable you to hop right into WoW Shadowlands, skipping the need for leveling a character from 1-50. But, as a new player, it’s always a great idea to take the time to experience leveling a character to max level yourself.


Your first task will be to decide one of the most important choices: what faction are you going to be? To veteran players of WoW, this is an important choice. Of course, you’re always free to create a character of the opposing faction, true; but many feel a strong kinship and loyalty over whether they choose Horde or Alliance.

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The Alliance is noble, loyal, and bound together by proud traditions. A melting pot of different peoples that come together to contribute their varying knowledge towards a goal of peace and just within the world.

The Horde nations are joined in a loose alliance to band together against a world that wants them destroyed. They value strength and honor, but struggle with anger letting loose. They want a world in which their people can live free.

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Once choosing your alliance, it’s time to choose your race. Make sure to look over each one carefully. Do you want to be a noble Human, or a spiritual and inquisitive Pandaren? Perhaps a Draenei, who fled demonic corruption and now lend a hand where they can on Azeroth.

Each race benefits from differing traits that will grant boons to you in the world. Gnomes can escape from speed altering effects; Trolls have increased experience from killing beasts, and Blood Elves can dispel nearby enemies with their fantastically useful Arcane Torrent active ability. Make sure to take the time to consider each racial trait and how it would improve or hinder your personal journey.

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Every race in Azeroth has at least 3 of these, so make sure to choose what suits you. Within this, each race only has certain classes available to them, so if you’re set on becoming a Druid on the Alliance faction, for example, you’ll be limited to the Worgen or Night Elf races.

An undead woman in character creation for WoWActivision-Blizzard
Blizzard has given you a multitude of choices for your player fantasy.

Onwards into Azeroth

Once you’re happy with your character’s faction, race, class, and appearance, it’s time to choose your starting zone.

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For Shadowlands, Exile’s Reach is a more modern, tutorial-like experience. It will introduce you to the world, story, your class specifics, and teach you the fundamentals of the game.

However, prior to Shadowlands, each race had a particular starting zone with an interweaving story. As a new player, we would recommend utilizing Exile’s Reach for a more streamlined experience.

An image of the starting zone selection screen for Shadowlands.Activision-Blizzard
Choose your preferred starting experience to begin with.

Once you’ve chosen Exile’s Reach, you’ll be taken through an opening cinematic, and then you’ll learn the basics such as movement and combat. You’re just a crewman on a ship, a regular adventurer.

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It’ll also take you through your first 10 levels, so you’re steadily learning about how everything works before being released into the vast world itself.

Picture of the WoW UI showing players how to cast their first ability.Activision-Blizzard
The starting zone of Exile’s Reach guides you through your first 10 levels.

Experience everything

As a new player, something that really is recommended is to read everything that’s given to you. Quest text, skill information, and the like. WoW’s story is rich and deep, and if you’re blasting through everything as quick as you can as a new player, things are bound to get confusing, and you won’t learn anything about the world.

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Once you’ve completed the starting zone and are released into the world, as a new player, you’ll level through the previous expansion — Battle for Azeroth — to reach level 50. Once there, Shadowlands will be available to you through the final 10 levels. After hitting level cap with your first character, it’s worth noting that the feature of Chromie Time is available for you on an alt if you want to experience any prior expansion in WoW’s history.

Specializations for your class

At level 10, you’re able to further grow your character through the use of specializations. These diverging paths of your character’s class provide you with unique abilities that set them apart from the others.

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As a new player, don’t try to stress too much about what others are playing. Read everything, and find something that speaks to you. You can always change your specialization down the line if you’re looking to get into what’s most effective.

Being Social

Picture of a Night Elf with wings on a grassy hillWowhead
You can identify someone that’s in a guild through the tag under their name

World of Warcraft is definitely something that can be experienced alone, sure. But it’s an MMORPG, fellow players are everywhere, and it’s world is only deepened by creating social bonds with other people.

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Guilds are a fantastic way of doing just that. The Guild Recruitment forums is a great place to start. As well as this, the faction capitals of Stormwind and Orgrimmar are also fantastic places to find new guildmates that want to recruit you. I’ve had people approach me after noticing I’m not part of a guild, and it’s likely to happen to you, too. You’re also, of course, free to contact someone that has a guild name over their head.

You can tell if someone’s in a guild via the tag under their name, which will be displayed like for you. Feel free to message them by typing /whisper follow by the player’s name in chat, and see if they can get you in contact with someone to help you join if they’re looking!

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Image showing the Guild Finder tab in WoWActivision-Blizzard
The Guild Finder is also a great way to seek out new alliances and friendships.

Pressing J will also open the Guild tab, in which you can easily find a guild and narrow down specifics of what you’re looking for (language, whether it’s a roleplay guide, and whether you’re offering to be a DPS, Tank or Healer).

And that’s it! You’re off. You are well on your way to becoming the next Hero of Azeroth in World of Warcraft: Shadowlands. See you out there!