So with the biggest changes to levelling in 16 years, how does levelling look now?
When I transferred my Forsaken Hunter back to Alliance and Void Elf status again, that left me without a dedicated MM hunter Horde side. So with little else to do between pre-patch release and the coming Zombie invasion event in a few weeks, players are making the most of the changes, including the vaunted much-improved levelling times.
Levels 1-10: Exile’s Reach
This is the brand new starting levelling experience, for new and old players alike. New players are forced to run through ER on at least their first character, while veteran players have the option to choose either Exile’s Reach or the traditional racial starting experience on character creation.
Overall? I really love it. It’s a great experience for me at least, and is pretty fast to run through. It’s a very enjoyable, cohesive experience that runs players through the basics of the game:
Item & Ability usage
Navigating the world
Working as part of a group
It begins with some basic training on board a ship, before moving to the island to begin questing and combat proper. Over the course of about an hour, the player will experience all of the above checklist items in order, culminating in a 2 boss dungeon with a group of players, with NPCs filling out roles as required.
Players also receive a near-full transmog set by the time ER is completed, as well as a lovely set of simple HD weapon appearances.
I think I’ll be running my non-Allied race characters through ER every time, as it’s a more modern experience than killing 10 quillboars/worgs/whatever repeatedly for XP.
Of course Allied Race characters will never run through Exile’s Reach, as they will automatically start at level 10, which is where ER finishes off with regular core races, which is a shame, as the experience could easily have been scaled from 10-20 for Allied Races. Oh well.
Levels 10-50: Chromie Time
Once you’ve got to Level 10, either through Exile’s Reach or by rolling an Allied Race, you’ll be presented with a choice.
You can either carry on with the tutorial quests from ER and be carried seamlessly on into the BFA levelling experience, or you’ll speak to the NPC to exit the tutorial, leaving you with the option to go speak to Chromie and begin the paradigm-changing Chromie Time levelling experience.
This is an experience, which IMO, will change forever the face of levelling in World of Warcraft.
Yes, it’s that important.
What will happen after Shadowlands? Do you think the expansion after that we’ll be levelling to 70?
To me, it’s far more likely, and far more sensible, to put Shadowlands into the Chromie Time levelling system alongside all of the other expansions, and once again reset the player level to 50 during pre-patch for the expansion after Shadowlands.
This would mean two things. Players will never be faced with an intimidating mountain of levels to climb as they were during BFA, having to run 120 levels of content in order to get to max level, and secondly the levelling experience will always be a more rapid, focused and therefore a more enjoyable experience for players.
Levels 50 to 60: Current Content
After hitting level 50, players will, in a bizarre choice by Blizzard, be forcibly ejected from Chromie Time, and directed towards the current expansion’s levelling content.
Of course as of the time of writing that content will be Shadowlands content at a hopefully near-future date, but following on with my idea about future expansion content above, that could easily be whatever expansion is current content.
In my opinion, players should be offered the choice to carry on with their current questing, and given a warning that they would receive no experience from doing so until moving on into the current expansion content. But being forcibly stopped and automatically transported back to your Faction’s capital city on hitting level 50 is a bizarre, jarring experience.
After beginning to level my new non-boney Forsaken, Deadshot, I’ve so far gotten her from level 1 to level 32, and should hit level 50 before the weekend. So far the experience has taken about 7½ hours all told, including about 90 minutes of faffing about sorting UI elements, heirlooms, gold and running back to Orgrimmar to learn the new mount speeds.
As an aside, you will get new mount speeds every 10 levels, from level 10 through to 40. 250% speed Flight comes at level 30, with max speed flight at level 40.
So for about 6 solid hours of levelling, she’s gone to level 32, which in old money is about level 85. That’s bloody fast. Mind you there are some HUGE discrepencies in levelling time, depending on which expansion’s content you choose to run through using Chromie Time.
Warlords of Draenor, the much maligned expansion had one highlight, the levelling experience, which was one of the strongest the game has ever seen. It’s also currently the fastest levelling experience available, due to how a combination of how the quests are laid out, and the types of quests comprised therein. Quest destinations are normally relatively close-by the quest giver, quests are generally clumped up into hubs, particularly in Gorgrond and Shadowmoon Valley (especially for Alliance characters), and there are very few gimmick quests such as vehicle quests that take forever to complete.
Warlords generally will take between 8-12 hours to get from levels 10-50. Less so if you choose to speed run using the likes of Azeroth Auto-pilot, and forgo reading of quest texts.
Conversely, it will come as a surprise to no-one, that the expansions with the oldest content and most outdated quest designs take far longer to level with. TBC and Wrath take approximately twice as long as Warlords to get through, between 20-24 hours. Ouch.
Generally, the more recent an expansion, the faster it will be to level within. The exception is BFA, which takes about 2-4 hours longer than Legion, which itself comes in behind Warlords in 2nd spot.
So if you’re looking to just get levelled as fast as possible, go with Warlords of Draenor. However if you’re looking to fill out your Loremaster achievements, you’re free to go with whatever expansion you choose. Just be aware that the overall time to level will creep up alongside the age of the expansion you’re using.
So make use of the downtime before the Zombies invade, and go get yourself a new max level character!