The Top 10+1 Best Characters for a First Time World of Warcraft Player
World of Warcraft is a massively multiplayer online roleplaying game, a MMORPG, which means that you play together with other people to achieve story goals and experience a world that would otherwise be difficult to negociate on your own. At least, that's the "big sell" of the MMO genre, and while that statement is true once your character reaches a certain level of development and power, a lot of the first parts of the game involve quests to gain experience and level up towards that end goal. These quests tend to be solo endeavors and require different skill sets to playing in the raiding "end game" with a group of 10 or 25 people.
So World of Warcraft is generally a game of two halves, and the challenge for new players is choosing a character that will be fun to level up with and will also be fun to play in a raid setting. This is even more challenging because the way you play a character to complete quests is different from the way you play the character in a raid: for example a Hunter working with her pet to fight off enemies and save the village is a very different experience to a Hunter avoiding bombs and lasers while using her abilities to deal maximum damage to a raid boss.
In the raiding environment there are also three roles that a player can fit into: the tanks, who absorb damage and control enemies to keep them off the rest of the group; the damage dealers, who provides the firepower to kill the raid boss; and the healers, who keep everyone in the raid alive. Not all characters can perform all roles, indeed some can only perform one role, so it's important to understand all of this and understand what your character will be capable of before embarking on your journey.
The Monk class is the newest addition to World of Warcraft and can function as any of the three raiding roles. I believe that this class in combination with the Pandaren race is the best option for a first time player. If you choose to be a pandaren monk, you'll get to experience the most recently designed starting area in the game, which incorporates all the lessons the level design team has learned in the lifetime of the game, making it the smoothest experience for new players.
As a pandaren you'll also experience a unique perspective of one of the main story points in the game: the conflict between the Horde and the Alliance. Pandaren start out with no specific alignment, but at a certain point in the campaign you end up having to choose to align with the Horde or the Alliance. The story will explain the motivations of each of those two factions and really helps you to figure out which one will be best for you.
As a monk, your character has the potential to perform any of the three raiding roles: tank, DPS (Damage dealer), or healer. This is a great advantage for a new player, because when you reach the maximum level and begin to do more in larger groups, you can easily experiment with the different roles and decide on the one that best suits you in the end game.
The Paladin class is a tough, heavily armored fighter, who uses brute force and a magic that comes from his faith to kill enemies and protect his friends. This is another class that can perform all three of the raiding roles: tank, DPS, or healer.
The Paladin is a great choice for first time players because they're a very durable class: they have some healing available even in their damage dealing role, and they wear the thickest armor in the game. That combination makes them tough to kill, which means you can make mistakes and not pay with those mistakes with your life.
The paladin also uses a combination of physical attacks, holy power and magic spells cast with mana, so they are a great introduction to some of the different character resource systems in the game.
The Druid is a very flexible, powerful class that can take on many roles: tank, melee DPS, ranged magical DPS, or healer. It is really the "jack of all trades" class, as you can try multiple different approaches to the game, moving between physical (Melee) roles like tanking and DPS, to magical roles like magic based DPS and healing.
Druids are cool because they shapeshift to perform their different roles, turning into creatures like bears, cats, owlbears, crows, cheetas and even trees. Although they can be a complicated class to play well, they are also an easy class to play in general, so they have a lot of room for growth as a new player's experience with the game grows.
The Shaman is a solid class that can perform melee DPS, ranged DPS or healing roles. They are a good character for a first time player because the backstory of the Shaman is a central element of World of Warcraft and because they have many abilities that are simple to use but powerful when used at the right time. They have good healing capacity even in their DPS roles, which makes it easier to recover from mistakes when questing on your own.
The Hunter is a master of ranged damage: standing far from enemies peppering them with exploding arrows. The Hunter is a good choice for a first time player because they get to command a pet, which fights for them and distracts enemies. Even when you're on your own questing and doing solo content, you're not really alone because of your pet.
The Hunter can only deal damage, so choosing this class to begin with does limit your flexibility later on, but it is one of the more forgiving classes to level up.
The Warrior is a powerful brawling class, who uses strength and rage to smash his enemies into the ground. Warriors can function as either tanks or melee DPS. The wear the heaviest armor and have very limited ability to self-heal. In the right hands, they can be whirling machines of death, but they can also be frustrating to play if they don't mesh with your playstyle. If you're the type of person who likes to charge into situations first and ask questions later, then the warrior class could be for you.
The Priest is a faith-filled class that uses the power of the Light to cast magical spells, to smite her enemies and to heal her friends. The priest class wears cloth armor - the weakest armor in the game - but they can shield themselves and heal themselves, as well as shackle or strike fear into certain enemies to hold them in place or distract them.
Priests can heal or deal damage, and can be a good first character choice for exploring the magical caster side of the game, as they are surprisingly tough and powerful.
The Warlock is a ranged magical damage dealer who works with demonic magic to destroy her enemies. Warlocks, like Hunters, also have pets. Unlike hunters, instead of working in tandem with the wild creatures of the world, warlocks summon demons from other dimensions and enslave them to do their bidding.
Warlocks can be good first characters because of the synergy with their pets and the large amout of damage they can do. They wear the weakest armor in the game, but have abilities to magically augment that armor, as well as some self-healing abilities.
The Rogue is a shadowy character who uses stealthy ways to attack from the shadows to kill his enemies. Rogues are purely damage dealers who have a variety of powerful attacks. They can be a good choice for a first time player because they have a stealth ability that allows you to remain mostly undetected beyond a short distance away. This is a very useful ability for the first time player, as it allows for a lot of scouting of quest locations and understanding of how to complete quests without needlessly killing, or being killed by, a ton of enemies. Rogues can also vanish from sight, which helps to get away from a bad situations, so they can be a forgiving character to play.
The Mage is a magical damage dealer, who uses mana to freeze, set fire to, and explode their enemies. They wear the weakest armor in the game, but they have several abilities that magically enhance their armor. They are a character that takes practice to master, but can deal good damage even when played in a non-optimal way. They can be a good first character to play, because they're very focused on what they do and have room to grow into as your skills develop.
The Death Knight
The Death Knight is a special type of character called a Hero class. Unfortunately for the purposes of this list, if you want to create a Death Knight character, you must already have one other character that has at least reached level 55, meaning that you can't create a Death Knight as your first character. If not for this restriction, they would be at number 4 on this Top 10, because of their strength, flexibilty, and self-healing abilities.
The best characters to play as your first character are the ones that have flexibility in the roles they can take on in the end game, room to grow into as your understanding of the game develops, are easy to pick up initially, are fun to play, support the way you play the game, and help get you into the backstory of the game world.
Images taken from the World of Warcraft.com Class Guide and are ©Blizzard Entertainment, Inc.