Tobold's Blog
Friday, October 29, 2010
Alternative leveling methods

I have 4 level 80 characters in World of Warcraft, and I deliberately played them in a way to experience the maximum amount of content, e.g. making the 4th one Alliance to play through Alliance-only quests. While I don't have the achievements to prove it (achievements are character-specific, not account-specific), I'm pretty certain I did 99+% of the quests in World of Warcraft. So for my 5th character to level I experimented with alternative leveling methods, which would not be based on questing.

As you might remember, I leveled my druid to 60 using the Recruit-A-Friend feature, and dual-boxing. That still involved some questing, but significantly less, due to triple xp. But I can't really recommend that method, as it is relatively expensive and complicated to set up, and is limited to leveling to 60. From level 60 onwards, and now up to level 75, I used another way of leveling, nearly quest-free: The Dungeon Finder. Profiting from the eternal tank & healer shortage, I dual-spec'd restoration and balance, as these two specs use pretty much the same gear, and usually went dungeoneering as healer. I also tried doing dungeons as moonkin, but that was only viable in parallel with grinding library guardians to get the schematic for Jeeves, because waiting times for dps are far longer in the dungeon finder.

One of several reasons I wanted another high-level character for was tradeskills. My druid has enchanting and engineering, both of which I didn't have to the highest level on other characters. So making level 75 is a milestone, because it will allow me to still max these out in Cataclysm, 75 being the minimum level for reaching the Cataclysm skill cap. Engineering is more for fun than for being useful, especially since there is very little you can do for other characters, but having an enchanter able to make scrolls is obviously good for my other level 80s as well.

The only quests I did from level 60 to 75 were a handful of easily accessible dungeon quests. The biggest disadvantage of that method is that one is missing out on all the lore, but as I already played through all that lore with other characters, that wasn't really a problem for me. Leveling speed through dungeoneering was at least as fast as through questing, if not faster, as long as I used the rest xp bonus, which applies to dungeon mob kills, but not quest xp. I missed out on all quest items, but that only emphasized the fact that quest rewards for regular solo quests in World of Warcraft are generally useless and far inferior to dungeon loot. In Outlands I got some reputation from running dungeons, but not enough to net me any useful reputation rewards. In Northrend I didn't even get to friendly with any faction through dungeoneering, and ended up spending a few justice points for commendation badges to be able to get to friendly for the tabard which will allow me to gather more reputation in higher level dungeons and heroics. But that isn't strictly necessary, the reputation rewards are far worse than what you can buy for justice points, and the head / shoulder enchants are bind to account nowadays, so I can get them via other characters.

So while waiting for Cataclysm I'll probably still level that druid to 80 with the same dungeoneering method. That is not something I would do with a first or second character playing through an expansion, as I actually like playing through the quests and lore. But playing through the same quests repeatedly is tedious, so for a 5th character the Dungeon Finder provides a good alternative leveling method.
"playing through the same quests repeatedly is tedious"

Interesting you should say this. It's certainly received wisdom. I'm currently playing through quests in Kunark on EQ2X that I've done on at least five previous characters and I'm enjoying them more this time round than several of the other times.

On balance, I'd say that I enjoy most quests least the first time I do them. I read all the dialog, much of which is bland; I make mistakes, misread things, misunderstand things, waste a lot of time and get frustrated. Usually, long before the quest is over I just want it finished and end up looking stuff up on the web.

The next time, however, I have a rough idea what I'm doing and it all goes more smoothly. By the fourth or fifth time it's like listening to a familiar tune and humming along.

Generally, I enjoy novels most on the third reading, films on the third viewing. Quests seem more like songs, though; they take a while to get used to, then they are enjoyable to repeat for a long time, then eventually I tire of them. Finally, a lot later when I've all but forgotten them, they come back with a great wash of nostalgia.

All said and done, though, all other factors being equal, I'd probably still rather grind mobs than quests to level.
i also have three 80, one alliance and two horde. Quests are somewhat disappointing at 75+ anyway, since it's "neutral" content, the same on both sides.

So far, one amusing difference is you don't get the long RP dialogue on saurfang, in ICC if you're on alliance side. I recommand doing an horde alt to experiment the awesomeness, if you have only alliance toons :-)
I have mainly alliance toons and rolled a tauren shammy in hopes that it would keep my interest in the game up. Well, I found that *for me*, the quests are boring the 4th or 5th time around regardless of whether they are horde or alliance.

So my tauren is at 47, the highest I've gotten a horde toon, and I haven't completed many quests after lvl 17 unless they are available in the dungeon (I have done event quests though - holidays, the recent troll event quests, etc) . I log in once a week, do a couple of randoms and get a level. I have nice gear and relatively fast leveling. I also like that I'm learning this class more in a group setting as a I go, something I didn't necessarily do with my main or other alts.
Will you try the battleground levelling?
I found that questing is no fun since the DF exists and the DF is no fun if you overuse it. Ergo I log in, do some DF-dungeons, cannot convince myself to quest, cannot convince myself to do another dungeon and log out.

Leveling has become something I do not like, because I have been given more options.

This may be some specific psychological problem I have. Or it may be a more general property of the human psyche.
nice point, it is theorically possible to level doing pvp, and it could be fun with the right classes :)

anyone tried?
PvP levelling sounds slow .. but for the ultimate in slow you could try gathering levelling - I seem to recall that you now get XP for gathering professions... YAY.
it is theorically possible to level doing pvp

I haven't tried that in WoW, but it was the optimum leveling method in WAR when that game came out. As running the same battleground over and over became boring very quickly, and all the players in battlegrounds contributed to a lack of players in public quests, I still consider this one of the major contributing factors to the failure of WAR.

On balance, I'd say that I enjoy most quests least the first time I do them.

For me that certainly isn't true, least of all for Wrath of the Lich King quests. There are some quite amusing stories in the Northrend quest lines, and with the built-in quest maps I never had problems solving a quest on the first try.

I do however admit that leveling through dungeons is a lot more challenging than leveling through solo quests. In one of these perverse twists of fate, the fact that a random heroic group is usually way overgeared for the content results in Northrend dungeons being MORE challenging in normal mode during leveling than in heroic mode at 80.
BG Leveling has become my favorites way to level. It can be very fast and also very fun. Always do the weekend BG's and get one win per day (and preferably more). Also, whenever it's Alterac Valley weekend, it's candly land time in regard to fast experience points! You can go almost from 70 to 80 in one AV weekend.

Furthermore, BG leveling also gives the best gear rewards. I just hit 80 on my last alt, and the second I dinged I was able to buy a four set of Furious PVP gear, a wrathful offhand, and a wrathful relic. Not too bad for just dinging 80! Also, while leveling, the pvp gear available at level 40, 50, 60, and 70 is awesome. The cape, belt, boots, bracers, trinkets, that you get at level 70 will easily last you until level 80. Combine those items with BOA's, then fill in the rest with intermittant LFG runs, and you'll be very well geared and very competitive in BG's while leveling.
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If you ever find 5-manning dungeons to be boring, you may want to give 2- or 3-manning a go.

I find undermanning dungeons to be even easier after 4.0.1. My wife and I only wiped once in seven clears (3-man) and twice in 3 clears (2-man).

Try it, you might like it.
99%+ of quests? I think you'd probably have to pore over spoilers and wikis to be sure of that, even having levelled on multiple characters. There are a lot of obscure quests out there!
I've been thinking about starting another alt after Cataclysm hits and this post gave me an idea.

How about roleplaying an archaeologist/explorer, leveling almost entirely from gathering and exploration experience? Sounds appealing to me, particularly as a way to slowly investigate the new nooks and crannies of the "old" world.
I've leveled through BGs; I took a hunter from about level 21 up to 79, where she stopped and hasn't budged. I've tried to hit 80 a few times, but it always ends in failure; I can't bring myself to do it, to bring an end to everything that character has been.

It is *not* for the feint of heart though. If you find quests repetitive, and DFG bad for doing the same dungeons for a few levels, imagine how you'll feel after SEVENTY levels of Warsong, something you will likely have already played significantly on your other characters if you're even considering this option.

Also, unlike the DF, every time you hit x0 levels, it's a time of pain and suffering, not rejoicing. No matter how up to date you keep your gear (including heirlooms), unless you're full on twinking, 29s will rip apart a 20 without batting an eye, and it doesn't get much better at 59s killing 50s.
while only using BGs to level is definitely a tedious affair, I strongly recommend taking advantage of BG weekends when leveling. Queue times are very fast, which helps because flow is very important in PVP. If you're looking to efficiently level, winning a few BGs is amazing, it might just take 2-3 wins to get a whole level sometimes. And if you're looking for a slower leveling process ... well you don't always win! Classes also play a lot differently in BGs than they do solo grinding against monsters, more dynamic.
I was surprised at how easy it was to level my warrior tank from level 65 to 80 by pretty much just instancing.

Instant queues, decent xp and nice rewards.

But for Cataclysm I'll just go back to doing all quests. My second char might do the dungeoneering again :)
There's another new levelling method now. You get xp for gathering. So you could level as a miner/ herbalist ...
I agree that the quest method is incredibly tedious.

My main, a shaman, was leveled to 80 mostly by quests before the Dungeon Finder.

My second, a mage, was leveled from 70-80, mostly by battlegrounds when they were delivering a lot more XP.

My third, a hunter, was leveled after the dungeon system, mostly via a combination of quest & dungeon finder. I found that since he was a DPS, I could simply que and quest for 10-15 minutes, get an invite, run the dungeon, then continue questing.

My fourth, a paladin, is still in development. I rolled him after hearing about Cataclysm because I wanted to experience the old world content one more time before it was removed forever. I used dungeon finder all the time with him, queing up as a tank. I had done the quests so much that I only wanted to enjoy a few of the zones, while primarily doing dungeons. I managed to do every single dungeon, including the old world Raids and the Burning Crusade Raids on my way to 70. He's currently at 74 because I just don't have the same enjoyment for the WOTLK instances/zones.

Maybe after Cataclysm when WOTLK becomes a piece of nostalgia :)
PVP leveling isn't really that slow--- as long as you are winning. If you don't have rest xp, I'd put it up there as a very reasonable way to level.

I never liked leveling; there's only like 5 kinds of quests, tops, and very few of them are tuned to be challenging to anyone who isn't mentally handicapped.
IMO one of the best features of WAR were that you could level via PvP and not PvE. WAR's PvE was horrid and their PQ system, although interesting was implemented very poorly so that they just became grinds themselves and most people hated them. If there's one thing I hear from people about WAR it's that they love the ability to level via PvP.

For me and WoW, I currently have 3 level 80's. Since my original accout was hacked 2yrs ago and I never didn't realize it, I had to re-buy WoW and start from scratch again. So technically I had 4 70's pre WotK and now have 3 80's post.

My priest I leveled both via the dungeon finder on weekdays and BG's on weekends for double xp. My Hunter I leveled to 60 via Recruit a friend xp and having someone run us through Scarlet Monestary from 20-40 and then BG'd it to 80. My Hunter hadn't even completed 50 quests by the time he was 80. My Mage I pretty much just BG'd it up to 80, did some grinding at the low bg levels but not much.

My newest character is a rogue and he's doing the BG thing as well. I made 11+ levels this weekend doing WSG off and on.

For me BG's are just more fun than doing the same quest line over and over again. The BG's might be the same but I made some friends this weekend BGing it up as many times you'll run into the same people BGing with you and against you. I little developing community friendship is always a good thing.
While levelling a healer, I'm shocked at the appalling behaviour of some of the Dungeon Finder participants.

The expectation seems to be that DPS should just round up all the mobs in the instance in 1 pull and AoE them down. This works on occasion, but not when the tank is 3 levels below some of the mobs.

When this fails and a wipe occurs, people leave the group or DC. Hopefully a more challenging end game in Cataclysm will teach players to fear and respect dungeons...
indeed, the expectations are now to finish the heroic in less than 10 mns, essentially asking the tank to chain pull, so, pulling the greatest stress on the healer usually.

With a good geared tank, there won't be much healing to do thou (except maybe HoR/Pos). But you can wonder why a geared tank would want to do a HC :-)
Ive found from 18-58 doing a mix of random dungeons and doing pvp on bg weekends is the quickest way to lvl. Once ive hit 60 then 60-80 is a mix of questing and random dungeons. Thats just how I do it but I find it effective.
Please notice also if you level via dungeons, you can level enchanting and tailoring quite easily. All other trades would be hard, since you do no gathering, but those two are quite effective. (you "gather" cloth and greens from runs)
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