I’ve forgotten how long it was between levels when you hit 70. Between 50 – 70 it was very easy for me to gain 2 or 3 levels per day. Now in Northrend I find myself going 2 or 3 days between leveling. I forgot how much Blizzard nerfed the experience requirements for all the pre-Wrath levels. However, I’m not really minding it all too much because questing through Northrend is pretty damn fun. Today I’m going to take a look back at the leveling experience and see how it compared to BC and Vanilla.

I absolutely hated leveling in Burning Crusade. Hellfire Peninsula was a barren waste land that sapped the energy right out of me. It felt like an absolute chore leveling through that area and the first time through almost ruined the game for me. I never really felt engaged at all while leveling and the constant abuse I got from max level Horde players did not help in the least. Hellfire being the only place for level 60 characters to quest made it a gankers paradise until the introduction of the Isle of Quel’Danas. Another chief complaint I heard from players who were around at the start of the expansion was that the huge volume of players each vying for the same quest mobs or quest items made leveling a cut throat experience. It was dog eat dog on the road to level 70.

The quest designers at Blizzard learned their lesson and Wrath of the Lich King brought with it to two unique starting zones. By not having the entire player base funneled into one starting area, the competition for quest mobs was drastically reduced which resulted in a much calmer leveling experience. The other benefit of having two starter zones was that if one of the zones was currently populated with griefers, you could make your way over to the other zone and continue with your leveling. Score a win here for Wrath.

My other chief complaint about leveling in BC is that I never really felt involved in the storyline. Aside from a handful of quests, it didn’t really seem as if I was taking the fight to the Burning Legion or to Illidan. It wasn’t until Shadowmoon Valley and the Akama quests that I even remember seeing anything about Illidan and by that point I was already close to level 70. Unlike in BC, the quest chains in Wrath got you involved with the main story lines right from the get go. In the Borean Tundra, one of the two starter zones, you get involved in a quest line that leads you face to face with the Lich King. By the end of the Thassarian quest chain in Borean, I was completely hooked. And it only got better from there. the pinnacle of questing in Wrath may have been the chain of events leading up to what unfolded at the Wrathgate. That was the first time I could honestly say I was blown away by an event in game. Personally, I was never bored while questing in Northrend nor did I ever find it to be a chore. Each new zone promised a new and exciting story arc with quest chains that helped build upon them. From the Worgen in Grizzly Hills to Freya in Sholazar Basin, there was always something new to explore.

For me, Wrath hit a home run in the leveling department. Some folks complained that they saw Arthas way too much and were kind of burnt out on him by the end of the expansion. I whole heatedly disagree. His presence and subsequent defeats made it feel as if I really were an important cog in the fight against the Scourge. And it was certainly a vast improvement over the invisible Illidan. The best part of leveling in Wrath however, was that it continued to improve the more we progressed into the expansion. Later patches would add Heirloom items that could be passed onto lower level characters to improve the early leveling experience and they would also introduce the Dungeon Finder tool, making it much simpler to find a group for an instance run. Overall, I was extremely happy with the changes Blizzard made to the leveling game in Wrath and I’m looking forward to what changes they have in store for us come Cataclysm.

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2 Responses to “A look back at leveling in Wrath”
  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Saresa, Icedragon. Icedragon said: RT @Saresa: New blog post: A look back at leveling in Wrath http://www.destructivereach.com/2010/09/a-look-back-at-leveling-in-wrath/ [...]

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  2. While I agree with your post as a whole, I do feel the need to defend BC levelling a bit. I must have taken about a dozen characters through Hellfire Peninsula by now and I still enjoy it every time – in the levels just before Outland, quests are sparse and all over the place and gear upgrades can be hard to come by, so the clearly laid out quest hubs and multiple-choice quest rewards in Hellfire still feel refreshing to me every time.

    I also realised while levelling alts that the BC storyline is actually more interconnected than people give it credit for, the problem is that it’s often not very obvious. For example there’s this quest in Hellfire where Pathaleon the Calculator reveals himself as the source of some corruption in the north-western corner of the zone. When I did this for the first time he was just some random elf. It was only much later that the connection Panthaleon – Mechanar / Tempest Keep – Kael’thas – Illidan clicked for me.

    In comparison the way WOTLK had Arthas showing up around every other corner was a lot more “newbie friendly” and easier to grasp, and I was impressed the first time he showed up – but I’m one of those who think that it was way overdone. After so many times of showing up just to come up with another excuse for not killing me just yet he started to feel more like a Saturday morning cartoon villian to me than a serious threat. That’s why I think that in the end I preferred BC’s slightly more “realistic” approach of the big bad staying on his throne and letting the lackeys do all the work. I’m hoping that Cataclysm will find a good middle ground.
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