Best Zone Leveling Shadowlands

Bob Roberts
• Friday, 13 November, 2020
• 8 min read

In Shadow lands, Blizzard has introduced four distinct experiences for players to play in, and level in. I also hope when Shadow lands launches, the introduction battle sequence of the zone is changed.

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Who takes third and second spot on this list is a coin flip, and will largely go down to how the two zones end up looking when Shadow lands goes live in WoW. The zone has a real Disney fairy tale vibe, with a quest chain that has you helping out all sorts of interesting, slightly creepy wildlife as their homes are destroyed and their lands taken.

The zone features a number of fun quests, including a great one drawing from memorable WoW stories from recent events in Zeroth, told by folks who don’t quite understand how you can simply stab a planet. While Ravendreth lacks the color palette of Greenwald, it has a unique setting and character which players can connect with.

Like all zones in WoW Shadow lands, Ravendreth nails its theme perfectly. This WoW Shadow lands zone will also feature the expansion’s first raid, Castle Natalia, which will see players take on some of the baddies they encounter during their time leveling in Ravendreth, and those they meet in the Century Covenant campaign.

This segment of the zone adds a slight twist to the standard playbook of “help the goods guys take down the bad guys.” That’s all I can say without spoilers. It’s really important when designing a linear leveling experience, that players start off on the right foot.

You’ll quickly learn about the people of Bastion, and be introduced to the zone’s Covenant, the Syrian. Bastion is a great example of why the community likes to joke that the WoW art team carries this game.

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This isn’t a trend that continues into all zones, however, but at least players get it as their introductory experience to Shadow lands. It gives a great peek into the Shadow lands, the conflict in Bastion, and also the wider story of the Syrian Covenant campaign.

Once you’ve decided on a new main for the coming expansion, or possibly alts you’d like to have around, a second question arises. Before there were some questions along the way, as Burning Crusade and Wrath shared a bracket as did Cataclysm and Mists of Mandarin, but you still largely had your path decided by the release order.

For many players, this is a good excuse to revisit content from the past that used to be out leveled quickly and hard to actually experience in any meaningful way. Burning Crusade, Wrath, and Cataclysm should generally be avoided unless you have a specific quest or activity you hope to complete along the way.

For the average player, this sort of play isn’t exactly desirable, and estimates extrapolated from applying a raw multiplier to what PTR speed runs aren’t accurate. Some zones are improved far more by using these speed run strategies than others, so it’s best to keep the rankings in mind and focus on minimizing your downtime more than quibbling overestimates; the time you spend worrying your choice might not have been perfect is probably enough to cover the difference between them.

It’s hard to keep a dense experience down, and despite several nerfs The Iron Horde campaign from Warlords is still the quickest expansion. It’s important while you’re in Drano to take advantage of grabbing any treasures you see and never miss bonus objectives near your path.

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Going far out of your way for one that doesn’t have any quests associated may not be worth it, but missing bonus objectives that are on your path is a good way to really lower the yield in Drano. Picking up just a few that are close to your path quickly adds up to a quest’s worth of experience and even counting the time to get to them, this will probably take only a minute or two.

This is another reason why preexisting knowledge really helps Drano’s speed, knowing the path to get to the harder treasures can add multiple full quests of experience for very little work. Puzzling them out for the first time or even finding someone else’s solution likely takes long enough to make them no longer worthwhile after the nerf.

The zones are suited well to leveling through and leaving, as well, with stories that are mostly self-contained as you search for items important to the main plot of the expansion. The biggest downside is that there are a number of quests that may slow your class hall campaign or professions if you choose to use them as they require dungeon completions.

Speaking of things that are expansion-specific, if you haven’t earned flight via the Pathfinding achievements in Warlords or Legion, that may not be as influential a decision as it was in previous expansions. However, Battle for Zeroth currently appears to be keeping its Pathfinder requirement, which could make it a frustrating expansion to level through.

For myself, looking at the expansions and remembering how much I enjoyed certain ones as leveling experiences, I think the strongest contenders are Legion, Warlords of Drano, Wrath of the Rich King, and Mists of Mandarin. I think if I had to rate them, it would depend on if I were playing a Light forged Drained or not, but for pure ease of getting XP from quests, for having the most varied dungeons to run, and for the least amount of travel time problems between quest hubs, I’d make the following call.

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Legion is similar, but I think for a lot of players Wrath of the Rich King combines decent quest flow with nostalgia that will keep them playing, and that’s worth considering. Wrath of the Rich King is a lot of players’ favorite expansion, and it managed that through some excellent storytelling, potent nostalgia, zones that packed a solid amount of questing in relatively close quarters, and some excellent dungeons (even if they’ve become very familiar to us over the years).

One of the best changes World of Warcraft: Shadow lands brings to the MMO is a completely revised leveling experience for characters from 1-50. At level one, brand-new WoW players are sent by default to Exile's Reach, the excellent new-player starting experience on a self-contained island.

The island is a well-paced and engaging adventure that packs ten levels into an hour or two of your time. At level 10, both experienced players and new ones are given the starting quests for the latest Battle for Zeroth expansion.

If you choose to follow them, they'll lead you to the islands of KUL Tires and Kandahar, where you'll see the most recent chapter of WoW's history. These more modern quest lines are ideal for new players, as transitioning from them to Shadow lands zones for levels 50-60 will be relatively seamless.

You pick up the epic riding skill at 20 and flying at 30 (with no special attunements required for any expansion's zones). Or try the underrated Mists of Mandarin, which has a sedate leveling style and easygoing quest progression reminiscent of the Andean race it introduced.

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The Burning Crusade and Cataclysm both involve tons of running, disjointed story lines and antiquated mechanics, so unless you're nostalgic for those zones' experience from your first time around, it's best to avoid them now. Based on personal experience, it takes about twice the amount of time to level through The Burning Crusade compared to Warlords.

First, if your character doesn't have a tank or healing specialization, you'll want to find someone who does to group with as the queues for damage players can be lengthy. Avoid Warlords of Drano, Legion and Battle for Zeroth, as they offer few or no quests in leveling dungeons.

Some leveling items still work in the expansion where they were originally collected, but they are typically only good for secondary (alt) characters. Draft of Ten Lands, for instance, works in Battle for Zeroth, but requires you to have a maximum-level main character to buy them.

(Image credit: Blizzard)One of the best ways to maximize your leveling speed is to group up with other people, using the game's Party Sync feature to synchronize quests and run dungeons. As long as you incorporate a new player periodically and sync with them, you'll all be able to repeat dungeons and re-do those quests for full experience.

You can also use it to keep track of your completed quests, recipes, mounts, companion pets, and titles! Leveling received a lot of changes in Shadow lands, which we have documented in our ShadowlandsLeveling Changes page.

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In addition, we now have a revamped Leveling guide, complete with detailed information on XP, mounts, add-ons, consumables, tips, and more. Death Knights embody the fantasy of slow, feared harbingers, with absolute control over the undead, the possibility to unleash devastating frost attacks, or to sustain themselves on the life-force of enemies.

Solo players will typically find Frost better as a leveling spec due to its fast-paced, direct gameplay. Easier to deal damage, without the need to ramp or rely on Dots, and, honestly, more sustainable as well.

You start with access to Rune Strike, acting as your main rune spender, and Death Strike and Death Coil acting as your main RP spenders. Death and Decay is also available for large groups of enemies, although Rune Strike does not cleaver while inside it.

Simply burn runes with Rune Strike and RP with Death Coil (or, for a bit of healing at a cost of some damage, Death Strike) So from that point on, simply head to one of your DK spec leveling guides (linked in the previous section) to continue.

Generally, heirloom choice is very dependent on the maximum possible level you have upgraded them for. If in doubt, pick heirlooms with Haste, as this stat reduces your CD, granting a feeling of speed and efficiency.

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