While Warlords of Draenor didn’t quite live up to the expectations of many, one thing players can agree upon is that the zones were beautiful, and leveling up those first couple of characters was a pleasure. There was story, scenarios, bonus objectives, rare mobs, treasures and a brand new garrison feature, all set against a backdrop of Orcish tyranny that I for one – at least, in the beginning – felt happy to immerse myself in.
As time went on, it became clear to me that my alts were not going to be a part of this expansion. Leveling without the perks of XP-enhancing elixirs felt time consuming, laborious and quite the grind, while leveling with them felt like cheating, cheesing the system in a way that was rather dull and unrewarding. And so it is that I have focused a large amount of energy on studying the leveling process in Legion, the results of which I wish to share with you today.
World of Warcraft Legion offers quite the level-up experience in many ways. For the first time ever, players will be able to choose their own path to max level in a brand new system that utilizes the magic of scaling to great effect. The new continent, The Broken Isles, is split into four leveling zones. One area can only be accessed at level 110, but for the rest, all zones scale with you.
Players get to choose where they begin their adventure, and which zone they head to next. Once they return at a later level, every monster there will have increased in power to match their strength. It’s all incredibly nifty, because then at level 110, this tech turns every zone into a max level area filled with world quests instead of the previously used daily quest hubs, but more on that later.
I’m going to tell you how long it takes to level from 100-110 and what you can expect from that journey, but it’s important to note just how different the process feels in Legion. Did the art team outdo themselves on each zone’s environment? Of course they did; that goes without saying. No, what I’m most impressed with is just how streamlined the questing experience is.
Every zone is rich with story, conveyed through a dramatic array of voice-acted role-play, cut scenes and solo scenarios. It’s clear just how much effort went into creating an immersive experience for not just lore lovers but those who want a reason to care about what’s going on in their surroundings outside of: “demons are invading, must kill demons”. I’m no lore-fan, and my approach to playing World of Warcraft is usually very methodical, identifying my goals and taking the most direct route there, but I couldn’t help but get swept along with the story each zone had to offer.
Will this get tiresome with each alt I level? Maybe, but honestly the level-up process feels tight, concise and more enjoyable than before that I don’t foresee it becoming an issue. The entire experience is neatly packaged, tied up with a bow by Khadgar himself.
Legion’s new ‘mob-tagging’ system deserves a mention here too. As an MMO, it’s always been baffling to me when certain systems in World of Warcraft appear to encourage anti-social behavior – albeit inadvertently so. I’m sure we’ve all had an experience where we’re killing mobs for a quest and suddenly someone comes along and starts ‘tagging’ everything in the vicinity, effectively robbing you of your kills. Perhaps the devs thought this would encourage players to group up, and honestly that used to be the case if we go back as far as Burning Crusade, but in more recent years I’ve personally seen that mentality decline.
We’ve seen mob tagging rules become more relaxed for named quest mobs, but in Legion, all mobs share a faction-wide tag. So if you’re playing Alliance and see another Alliance player killing the mobs you need, you can help without grouping and still get the credit. This is probably one my favorite, unsung features of Legion.
Now, let’s get into the specifics. How long does it take to level? What path should you take if you want to hit 110 as fast as possible? Should you stick to dungeons? What about artifact weapons?
First things first. At level 110 you’re going to want to unlock world quests immediately. Not only are these a form of max level content that replaces the traditional daily quests system, but they offer really powerful rewards. To unlock these, you must obtain friendly status with each of the five major factions in Legion, which is achieved simply by questing through the main story lines in each zone. Leveling via questing is absolutely the way to go.
Once Legion is live, the first thing you’ll be tasked to do as a level 100 character is find your class artifact, followed by unlocking your class order hall. Once that is done, you’ll be asked to choose which zone you’d like to go to first. If you want to get a head start on XP, I suggest filling your quest log with Draenor quests now, ready to turn in once XP gain is possible. If there are any bonus objectives available to you, get those completed too. Please note that I did not do this when testing leveling speed on the beta realms.
Initially, each level takes approximately one hour to one hour twenty minutes, right up until level 106 when it starts to slow down a bit. At this point I’d ‘mostly’ completed the main story lines of Aszuna, Val’sharah and Stormheim. My strategy was to take any side quests that happened to be in the same area as the main quests, while also completing any bonus objectives I stumbled into.
At level 102 I was given the option of obtaining a second artifact, which I declined. Looking back, it may have been advantageous XP-wise for me to have accepted it. Other than that, I completed any quests my class order halls tasked me with and afterwards, I was called to Dalaran by Khadgar for a quest line that eventually led me to a cool scenario set in the Exodar and involving Prophet Velen, before heading back to the main zones.
At level 106 I was in Highmountain. This was by far the slowest zone to complete but it did take me all the way to level 109. I realized that even though I was almost honored across the Legion reputation board, I’d skipped a couple of quests in Aszuna and Val’sharah, so I returned to complete those quest lines and any bonus objectives that were still available in order to hit 110. The entire process took approximately twelve hours.
It’s important to note that during this experiment I was playing a pre-made character with no professions (and therefore no professions quests were completed) and no dungeons were run, even though every zone’s major quest line ends in a dungeon. My character’s ilvl at the start was also much lower than what most players will have heading into Legion, thanks to the ilvl 700+ gear we’re all obtaining through the ever-popular demon invasions. Things that slowed me down were circumstances where I got lost searching for a quest objective (not necessarily the game’s fault, I’m rather prone to this) and having to wait for named quest mobs to respawn. Without fail, I always manage to arrive one second after it’s been killed. I had a couple of deaths where I attempted to solo elite mobs that were part of a group quest, but outside of that, rarely felt in much danger as an Arms Warrior with Victory Rush healing and Second Wind.
A quick note on healers leveling as dps who are worried about artifact power: I’ve seen a lot of concern around this but honestly, it’s nothing to worry about. Any artifact power you find as you level can simply be kept in your bags and spent on your main specc’s artifact weapon later. Your class order hall will make the quest to obtain a second artifact available to you at 102.
So there you have it, everything I know about questing and leveling in Legion, tried and tested on the beta realms. While my particular play through took 12 hours, yours could be much shorter, should you wish it to be. The aforementioned head start on XP via the age-old trick of turning in previous expansion quests on launch day is still viable, plus you could stock your bags with buff food, potions, flasks, enchants, and all that useful stuff to improve your character’s power as you level.
Legion is coming and honestly, however you choose to play the game is up to you. If you want to take your time, then do so! Enjoy the delicious new content while it’s fresh. Good luck and have fun!Related: Guide, Legion, Leveling, Questing, World of Warcraft, WoW