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.
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.
Class and race-specific starting zones from the “vanilla” World of Warcraft and The Burning Crusade haven’t changed since their inception. Rather than having multiple quest hubs scattered around a relatively large (and oftentimes boring) zone, Exile’s Reach is built with more modern MMO trends in mind.
It’s easy to complete this zone in under an hour, catapulting you a sixth of the way to the current max level in under 60 minutes. The best part about World of Warcraft’s new leveling experience is that you’re no longer expected to consume unequal chunks of its 15-year history to reach its current story.
You don’t have to peer at the absurdly big world map to figure out where to carry on your adventure every hour or two when you out- level wherever it is that you currently are. World of Warcraft site Towhead has done the heavy lifting here, working out the average time it takes to reach level 50 through each expansion zone.
Just like how the vanilla opening zones take longer to complete than their more modern equivalents, newer expansions tend to expedite the leveling experience through sheer quest density and linearity. It took 7 hours to gain 15 levels in our own average player tests without taking most of our own tips into account.
Even Heirloom equipment, a common sight anywhere but the current expansion zone, has had its lucrative EXP bonuses turned off. Instead, you have to trade five 7th Legion Service Medals to Provisioner Stout forge in Battle for Zeroth’s Morals zone.
One often forgotten part of the recent level squish is its effect on when you learn to ride mounts in World of Warcraft. Flying alone will make a dramatic difference in leveling times (you don’t have to worry about finding ways up and down terrain).
You level so fast that it’s entirely possible to forget to upgrade your riding skill along the way, but it’s almost certainly worth the couple of minutes away from your quest hub to pick up. If you don’t have any healing spells of your own to get you healthy between fights, chowing down can keep downtime to a minimum, speeding up the leveling process.
Earlier expansions can be slow on this front, so if you find yourself struggling to keep up with mobs, think about grabbing new gear from the auction house if you have the coin. Assuming you don’t have your heart set on experiencing the story of whichever expansion you choose, Dungeons could offer a faster route to 50 still.
EXP rates have been “normalized” since the patch hit, but they can still offer a dramatic bump in player experience upon completion, often netting you a ding in as little as 10 minutes. Decide on the Battle for Zeroth questline, and you’ll be stuck to its fairly limited selection of early dungeons, for example.
It’s safe to assume the shorter the expansion you choose, the more players you’ll have waiting in the dungeon queues, getting you into them that much faster. If you’re playing a class that can pull off those roles, expect dungeons to be an easy way to hit the level cap.
How you do that is mostly going to boil down to questing around the new zones of Bastion, Maldraxxus, Greenwald and Seventieth (likely in that order), but there are a few ways to speed things along. That mentality will get you running every quest you come across, and while that would usually have been the best strategy in past expansions, it only results in wasted time in Shadow lands.
Before you head into the Shadow lands, get to your nearest auction house and buy Light-Step Hoof plates for your mount, and you’ll forever have yourself a 20% faster ride. Similar to the mount speed buff, Drums of Fury won’t be of much use to classes with skills like Bloodlust and Heroism, but for the rest, it’s a way to benefit from that potent effect, giving you the boost you might need to tackle a powerful quest target on your own.
The first will catapult you forward and give a great boost to speed to help you get from one objective to another, whereas the Goblin Glider can help you safely float down to lower areas of the map without potentially dying in the process. For big bonus quest and kill EXP gains, turn on War Mode at Storm wind or Grammar.
This enables World PVP, which can ultimately slow you down, but if you’re not being slaughtered by a member of the opposite faction every 20 minutes or so, you’ll probably level faster than without it. You don’t have to settle for the same Covenant as your first character, so while you might choose your main based on the best overall raid damage for Castle Natalia, alts can make use of powerful AOE and survival skills afforded by a Covenant like the Syrian to maximize leveling throughput.
Legendary player/streamer Mephisto actually has a spreadsheet with optimal Shadow lands leveling routes, but they’re relatively difficult for the average player to make sense of in a pinch. Rather than decipher each step, it’s best to glance at it as you play to keep you from picking up any notoriously long, arduous quests while grabbing the quicker, easier ones instead.
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.
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. 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. Party Sync can be buggy, so be sure to re-sync before inviting a new character to the group, while also checking everyone is out of instances, vehicles, flight paths and other scenarios that make them busy before re-syncing.
It's also tons of fun since you're levelling with friends, and isn't that ultimately what an MMO like World of Warcraft is all about? Instead of any fancy, back-of-box features like a new class or race in World of Warcraft : Shadow lands, Blizzard is focusing on revamping old parts of the game.
Prior to Battle for Zeroth, I decided to run a new Light forged Drained Warrior through the leveling experience. That’s 60 hours for an experienced player with Heirloom items that increased my experience gain.
By the time they finish with that one expansion storyline, they’ll be max level and ready for Shadow lands. Curious about this new system, I decided to try it out with a character I’m considering mining in Shadow lands : my Veteran Shaman.
Because I’m playing an unlockable race unavailable to new players, I got to skip the opening sequence and start at level 10. After finishing, I discovered that I chose one of the slowest of the modern leveling expansions, and skipped out on various time-saving measures.
It’s transformed WoW into a wholly reasonable time sink, and has removed the MMO’s biggest barrier to entry. I’m a blatant “Alcoholic,” and I’ve spent quite a bit of extra cash over the years buying max level character boosts.
It opens up other classes to longtime players who never wanted to bother going through the miserable leveling experience again. But now I can recommend that a friend play World of Warcraft and know they can get a good experience in the time it takes to finish the latest God of War.