On August 6th-7th, Blizzard performed their second character wipe meant for character leveling, specifically so they could make people retest 90-100 and its length. At the time, it wasn’t evident as to what the wipe was performed for, but after a full day of leveling, it became very obvious.
With the latest build, we saw an increase in raw experience needed by roughly 30 percent flat. This included 90-100… but also effected 89 to 90. We will discuss implications of this later on, but for now let’s discuss what 30 percent of a level meant for me after leveling 90-100 for the second time on beta. For those interested in following the comparison to the previous build, check out this article!
One thing that was peculiar that happened both times is that I start with some significant experience already in to the level. Is this something beta specific? I can’t be sure, but this time it was definitely less experience after the increase. Less percentage-wise anyway!
Regardless, Tanaan still gives nearly all of 91, and offered no change in pace or resistance compared to my first endeavor. After its completion, I took the fight to Frostfire Ridge. The first time, I was able to reach 92 before even completing the taking of Bladespire Fortress. This time around, after the Bladespire Fortress are I was still about 40 percent remaining to reach the goal. I had taken down some ogres in the surrounding quests and quickly approached the level after finishing my JC quest with my garrison. Official diagnosis of the first two levels is still incredibly quick. Realistically, if you do the entirety of Frostfire, you will likely be closer to 94. Its quite strange, but with tanaan I am easily able to skip more then half of the quests in Frostfire. I’d say this is not intended, and not healthy for the game. But either way, lets move on.
In Gorgrond, more of the same is found. You get a TON of experience from the first few quests, and it appears more and more that the bonus objectives are going to be your main source of supplementary exp. At last I checked there were nearly 10 available in the zone, and even if the number or the amount of experience changes, this should be regarded as one of the best ways to catch up. Towards the end of the starting chains, you get a quest from the main quest characters to take the fight, along with a powerful artifact to the Iron Docks in the north. This was around where I finished the experience I needed to leave the zone, but once again its important that you understand I got well over a full level just from the 10~ bonus objectives and random Vignettes that were present in the zone. Also for the record, you MUST take the lumber mill portion of the zone over the fighting one. The lumber mill allows you to ride in a mount that can fly over obstacles and deal a LOT of damage for 30 seconds every 10 minutes. If you are a super geared DPS, it wont be a better option, but there are a few places early where flying out of and over an obstacle is MUCH faster then running all the way around. Take this to the bank. It saves time in many ways. Final words on this zone is once again, do as much as you can. Things start getting tight later.
Once you enter Talador, you can head north immediately and knock out the two bars from the Bonus Objective. At the point you get to choose your garrison affiliation for the zone, you need to take the bombardment option. Once again, it is WAY too useful. As of right now, it can kill any mob in the zone with one usage that isn’t level 100. It even does full damage to players, which will likely have to be adjusted at some point. Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was nerfed for pve as well, but as of right now it makes any quest trivial. You can easily round up 5-6 mobs you need for the quest and kill them all in the one global. Past this, here is the first zone that starting giving me issues. Two of the most important quests – one that takes you into Shattrath, and another where you confront Terron Gore – did not work for me. They were major chains that perpetuate and complete the final of a slim number of paths, so without them I was in trouble. This also is the first time I notice the 30 percent kicking in. You see, during the first escapade I didn’t even reach these quests. I was 96 before even getting close to them. This far in 30 percent addition to the previous amount is likely more EXP then it took to get to 91. No joke, its a major step up, but luckily once the quests get finished up this zone FLIES by with the garrison ability. Last call for this zone would also urge you to stay as long as you can, especially with the ability at your disposal. I don’t have proof to back this up, but I speculate that if you do all of Frostfire, all of Gorgrond, and all of Talador, you should be well into 97. It might even be possible to entirely skip all of Spires of Arak with some dungeon quest and experience options, which I did not have on the beta.
Assuming you are in Spires, get ready for a great jump in difficulty and a massive increase in time spent. I was able to get around 5-6 hours through as I entered this zone and spent at least 5 just on these two levels. As I said before, you start to realize how massive 30 percent is of the numbers we have to work with. Not saying this is a bad thing, just that it is noticeable. Anyway, last time I ran into a TON of bugged and uncompletable quests. This time, looks like things are much more stable. There is still the one Bonus Objective to the north east that doesn’t work, but other then that it was much smoother.
I elected to do the Garrison and Goblin components of this zone first, as they are much more stationary. The lore quests you’ll find here are absolutely spectacular in their story telling, but really brutal in the amount of travel they force you in to. There are is a high density of quest areas in this zone, so the travel isn’t too long proportionally, but having to ride places in between quests really starts to add up. Otherwise, it took me the entire zone to complete the 2 levels I needed. I came down to the last few quests available, and barely had what I needed to move on to Nagrand. In terms of the garrison affiliate here, I can’t say which is better. I took the Inn the first time, but it didn’t seem to help me in a tangible way at all. It should effectively double any experience you get from killing mobs, but didn’t feel like it mattered. This time, I took the NPC trader, looking to see what it offered. There were some decent pieces beyond the scope of this article, but in the end it may have been the reason it was so close. Further testing is needed for sure.
Finally we reach Nagrand. Without question the most beautiful and well developed zone of the expansion, but currently the biggest pain! I’ll leave it at this… The quest indicators (!s and ?s) are not on the correct parts of the mini map. For example, you may be standing directly on a ? on your mini-map, but in reality the NPC in question is ten yards that a way. This was solely the biggest issue with this zone, and caused me to miss a few quests. At the time, I assumed they were simply bugged, and it wasn’t until today that a friend of mine had noticed this. Because of this, I missed at least 3 major quest lines in the zone, and was forced to do pet battles to get the last 7-8 bars of 99. In terms of garrison components, I tried the tank this time, only to find it really inefficient and difficult to deal damage with. It would have by default been better to just take the mount, even though I am a melee, if only to negate the combat clipping that happens with chain pulling mobs.
In the end it took me close to 20 hours to complete the entirety of it. This was with 99 taking nearly 5 hours because of issues with quests and finding alternative sources of EXP. Should be much closer to a 3 hour level on live, especially if you still have some dungeons or other options. I’ll say this though. The 30 percent exp literally doesn’t even effect the first half of the levels, and is such a huge difference for the second half that it felt like I was playing a different game. However, my unbiased opinion is that its still too short honestly, it took me MUCH longer to get through Mop’s zones not knowing what I was doing, and even now takes me nearly 10 hours on undergeared characters. Ten levels is just a silly idea if 90-91 takes nothing but the starter zone, but in the end this is irrelevant to me. I couldn’t care how long it takes or anything else about the process. Any time it takes to level is simply distracting me from getting into Heroic 5 mans and preparing for raids.
There is one other thing I’d like to discuss, and that is the apparent 89-90 exp increase. It doesn’t make a ton of sense why this would have happened, but I am willing to throw another speculation and prediction down for everyone’s enjoyment. Think back to the expansions where there have been 10 levels and you’ll remember that you could always enter the new content two levels earlier. This time around, we are talking about coming off an expansion that only featured 5 levels, so it all seems to make sense to me that the final level increase is to facilitate the final level being done in Tanaan or even the Blasted Land’s pre-intro. As of now, the quests still seem to require 90, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this was changed in some way before too long. Stay tuned, and maybe I’ll tag another prediction on the nose!
As always, if you have any questions, just let me know!