The game is loaded up, you've sat through the long process of patching and have read (You should) and accepted the Terms of Service and End User License Agreement. Now you're faced with your first decision: The server.
Believe it or not, the server you choose is going to have a very large impact on your gaming experience in Azeroth. There are several things to consider when trying to decide.
- Do you have any friends/family/coworkers/associates who play the game? Playing with a friend makes the game even more enjoyable than it already is. Not only that, but they can show you the ropes when they have the extra time. Be sure to ask them the name of the server they're playing on.
- Population. You can't tell simply be looking at the list which servers have a very large population and which ones do not other than the description given by Blizzard with words such as "low", "medium", "high", and "full". The population affects everything from the raidability of end game to the economy of the auction house to how hard the game can be on your computer in some areas.
- To PvP or not to PvP. PvP stands for Player vs. Player. In game, you can flag yourself for PvP which means that any one of the opposite faction of any level can attack you at any time. On Normal servers, you choose when to flag yourself. On PvP servers, your flag is always on once you go into certain areas. Some people like the unpredictability of PvP servers. Others like the amount of control Normal servers give you.
- RP. RP stands for Roleplay. On these servers you're encouraged to interact with other players and play the game in character. This means that answer questions as your character would respond, not how you would.
Another thing to consider is the community. Every single server I have ever played on has its share of jerks, elitists, etc. But don't confuse the vocal majority for the actual majority. The jerks may stick in your mind more, but most servers has more nice players than trade chat would lead you to believe.
All things considered, if you chose a server and find yourself not liking it, shrug it off. You can roll a new character on a new server, or even try out the other faction on the same server. The first few levels come fast and easy so you won't lose much at all by rerolling. If you get further before you realize it's not the right fit, you can take your character to the new server by buying realm transfer for $25.
Once you find the right realm for you, you will find yourself enjoying the game much more.