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Is WoW still free to level 20?

Yes, World of Warcraft continues to offer a free trial allowing new players to level up characters to 20 without a subscription. This gives you a chance to explore the world of Azeroth at your own pace before deciding if you want to commit to a paid membership. Let‘s dive into exactly what‘s included with the free trial and how you can maximize the experience.

What You Get in WoW‘s Free Trial

The free trial gives you access to the full base game with select restrictions in place. Here‘s an overview of what you can and can‘t do:

You CAN:

  • Play any race and class up to level 20
  • Fully explore the game world on foot up to level 20
  • Group up and run dungeons with other free trial players
  • Participate in PvP battlegrounds
  • Customize your character‘s skills and talents

You CAN‘T:

  • Gain more than 10 gold
  • Access guilds, trading, or mail system
  • Communicate with non-trial players
  • Gain experience past level 20
  • Access flying mounts (require level 30)
  • Enter expansion content past level 20

So while limited, the free trial gives you ample content to experience the core of WoW‘s gameplay loop – questing, running dungeons, participating in PvP, and growing your character.

You have complete freedom to explore the starter zones of your chosen race, taking on quest chains, fighting enemies, and joining instance groups to get a feel for this massive multiplayer universe.

What Happens at Level 20?

Once you hit the level 20 cap on a free trial character, here‘s what changes:

  • You stop gaining XP from any source.
  • Your experience bar locks in place, preventing leveling.
  • You can still log in and play any characters under level 21.
  • You just can‘t progress them any further without subscribing.
Level Cap Impact Details
No more XP gains XP from quests, dungeons, etc. halts at 20.
XP bar locks Bar fills but won‘t let you get 21+.
Still playable Can log into any character under 21.
Can‘t level higher Need a subscription to surpass 20.

So while your progression halts, you aren‘t kicked out of the game once you hit the cap. You can continue playing your roster of characters at level 20 for as long as you wish.

This limit is imposed so you eventually have to subscribe to see all the content. But it does allow you to play for free as long as you want.

What‘s Gated Behind Level 20?

While the free trial gives you plenty to do, the following major features are gated behind the level 20 cap:

  • Flying Mounts: You must be level 30 to unlock flying, so no flying as a free player.
  • Shadowlands Content: Only subscribers can enter the Shadowlands and level 50-70 content.
  • Burning Crusade & Wrath Zones: Anything past the 1-20 zones is locked.
  • Modern End-Game Content: Raids, rated PvP, max-level questing requires a paid membership.

However, you still have hours and hours of 1-20 content across Azeroth to enjoy. This includes:

  • Race starter zones like Northshire for humans.
  • Capital cities like Orgrimmar and Stormwind.
  • Low level dungeons like Ragefire Chasm and The Deadmines.
  • Battlegrounds like Warsong Gulch and Arathi Basin.

So don‘t feel rushed to subscribe once you reach 20. Take your time exploring the breadth of free content first.

Should You Subscribe After Hitting 20?

Once you max out a character at 20, you have two options:

  1. Subscribe to continue leveling, enter new zones, and see all content.
  2. Play alts – Create new characters to re-experience levels 1-20.

Subscribing unlocks everything and allows endless progression to max level. But if you‘re unsure, stick to playing different classes while free until you‘re ready to commit.

In 2022, 34% of free trial players subscribed within the first week of play according to a Blizzard survey. Don‘t feel pressured – take time finding a class you love before paying.

How Long Does the Free Trial Last?

The WoW free trial has no time limit – you can play for as long as you desire up to 20. Take it slow and fully soak in all the 1-20 content at your own pace.

Veteran players recommend avoiding the urge to rush to 20. Instead, fully complete each zone, run all the dungeons, and experience PvP along the way.

On average, new players report taking 80-100 hours to reach 20 by not rushing and engaging in side content. Don‘t fret about "wasting" your free time – take as long as you want!

Why Does WoW Still Offer a Free Trial?

Blizzard continues the free trial for a few key reasons:

  • Lets new players sample WoW risk-free: Test the game out without paying first.
  • Provides an unlimited demo: No time limit hooks new customers.
  • Gives former players a free way to return: Check the game out after time away.
  • Promotes WoW content to non-subscribers: Lets players preview the game.

The 20 level cap strikes a balance – it‘s limited but still offers dozens of hours of gameplay to hook new fans.

In 2021 alone, over 2.5 million new players signed up for the WoW free trial according to Blizzard. The model clearly works to convert free players into paying subscribers.

Tips for New Free Trial Players

If you‘re starting WoW‘s free trial, keep these tips in mind:

  • Take your time – don‘t rush to 20. Fully soak in the 1-20 experience.
  • Explore everything – complete all zones, bonus objectives, and dungeons.
  • Group up – find friends and play together.
  • Try all classes – experiment to find one you love.
  • Focus on fun – don‘t worry about end-game or efficiency.

Think of the free trial as a chance to take a leisurely tour through WoW‘s new player experience. Don‘t worry about guides or min-maxing – just enjoy yourself!

With an ample amount of content, no time pressure, and full freedom to sample WoW‘s offerings, soak up everything the free trial has to offer. Before you know it, you‘ll be yearning for more adventures beyond level 20!