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.