Posted in World of Warcraft

World of Warcraft: The leveling path less traveled…

What can I say — I travel in style via blind death angel.

With about a week of leveling my Undead Warlock behind me (more or less), I’ve made a really interesting realization about bringing up new characters in World of Warcraft. You see, up until level 15, it’s a pretty linear experience: do all of the quests in your particular zone, and if you have it, switch to a different starting region. But then level 15 hits and the group finder opens up, allowing for dungeon runs from anywhere in the world.

In the past, this is the point where I pretty much plunk my character down in her capital city and start chain-running dungeons until the leveling pace starts to slow down — which can be quite a while. At least until 80 or 90. It’s just dungeon finder on repeat, with occasional trips to the bathroom, auction house, and bank. Fast, efficient… and soul-crushing.

When I started doing this on my Lock, I really noticed an abrupt switch in my interest. I had been really into this character, the setting, and the quests, but suddenly I was gaming the system and ignoring the actual “world” of World of Warcraft. I had hopped onto the leveling train, choo choo, and it quickly divorced me of my affection for the character.

Now, I have no problems with dungeons and group content. It’s good, I think, in moderation. As a full-time activity, it stifles me, especially with its repetition, lack of narrative, and that “I’m trapped in a run and can’t escape at my leisure” feeling. But previously I felt compelled to do it in WoW on my lowbies because that was the quickest path to the cap.

After a night or two of dungeon runs on this character, however, I stopped and asked myself why I was doing it. I had no great reason; expediency didn’t seem to be that important to me. There was seriously no rush to get to the cap and back into Legion, especially after the Battle for Azeroth announcement. So why do it?

And I saw that the two main paths to leveling — chaining dungeon runs and standard questing — were open in front of me, and that I had the choice. It wasn’t a hard one, really. I got out of the city and got back to questing.

Within a short time, I felt the interest in my character flood back. I was having a great time exploring the landscape, reading quest text (yes, I do that), and getting to know my character’s growing rotation. I decided that I would put myself at the mercy of the adventure guide, taking its suggestion for a good leveling zone to do. I’d head there, mop up an entire zone, and then see what’s next without a great concern for staying on a certain path or going through an expansion from start to finish.

That landed me in Arathi Highlands, an old favorite zone from vanilla that doesn’t seem TOO different than it used to be. Still kind of green, plain, and host to some classic ruins. For the heck of it, I switched from Affliction to Demo to see if I could grow into a workable rotation instead of trying to cobble one together at the level cap like I did when the class changes hit in Draenor.

Within the first night of doing this, I had managed four levels and had a dozen or so screenshots tucked away from my adventures. I wasn’t dependent on someone else’s pace to proceed, and I could enjoy guild chat instead of keeping my focus strictly on the minutiae of a dungeon crawl. Good stuff.

6 thoughts on “World of Warcraft: The leveling path less traveled…

  1. The odd thing about the above otherwise very rational account of a change of mind is that you ever ” felt compelled to do it in WoW on my lowbies because that was the quickest path to the cap” in the first place. You don’t seem to be either a natural endgamer or particularly impatient. You often describe sessions where you meander around, taking your time, enjoying the scenery. You make a habit of replaying older, familiar content on alts – you’ve played through the entire Secret World twice at least for example.

    So why would you ever feel compelled to prioritize efficiency over enjoyment? Is there something at the level cap in WoW you’re desperate to do? It can’t just be to prepare for the next expansion – you have a year to wait for that, at least. And is it only WoW that has this effect?

    I’m curious because I may be about re-sub to WoW. I nearly did it this morning and then i went and played EQ2 instead. If/when I do, I’m not sure whether I’ll make a Level 100 Demon Hunter and start there or carry on with my already-established but lower level characters until one of them reaches the level to explore Legion. I’m curious to see the new stuff but I haven’t seen most of the old yet so there’s really no need to rush through any of it. (That said, my brief experience of Warlords of Draenor was enough to put me off the higher levels altogether…)

  2. That is the way of WoW at the moment. You can do the world content or you can do dungeons, but you cannot do both and not completely out-level whatever content you’re working through. In fact, you’ll likely out-level the world content if you insist on finishing each zone, but at least that has some satisfaction to it, finishing story lines and exploring a part of the world. Leveling via Dungeon Finder mean rush-rush-rush through every instance following a tank who will not stop to take a breath in pursuit of getting the dungeon complete.

    I have some hope for the changes announced at BlizzCon where Northrend will scale with you and be good for 20 levels. You might actually be able to do all the world content before it goes gray on you. But you probably still won’t be able to do dungeons.

  3. The story in Lotro must be more compelling because I don’t think I’ve ever read of you leveling an alt in that game just by running skirmish after skirmish.

  4. I don’t know if you’ve tried it, but if you enjoy reading quest text. I’d suggest trying to storyline addon. It gives a cutscene style replacement for the quest text with the NPCs talking. Makes the quest information more immersive for those who care to read it.

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