The New Curve

I finally hit 85 with my Monk the other day, which means that Pandaria is open to me.  Let’s meta first.  Monks have a daily quest that gives a 1 hour buff for 50% exp boost.  Every 10 levels (it seemed) the quest became available again and refreshed the buff plus added another hour.  I had full heirloom gear plus accepted a random level 25 guild invite, giving me something like 70% experience boost.  I also created the monk and waited a day, to get some rested experience (monks rested exp lasts twice as long as other races).  So take all of that in and I was sitting at nearly 350% experience boost for the first 60 levels.

I rather enjoyed the “new” 1-58 portion.  It linear, granted, but the stories were much better.  Especially in the underused zones.  Punching Deathwing in the face or riding a motorcycle with a babe into the moon is pretty funny.  58-68 is the Outland stuff.  I barely entered Terrokar (3rd zone) before I happily left.  There’s one town in that zone, when I first entered, had a solid 10 quest givers hungering for me to help them.  It was like  Christmas Tree had lit up.  Next up was Northrend.  I did one starting zone, then the game quests pushed me through 2 zones in a flash, with me ending up in Zul’Drak.  The experience gain here was crazy.   I missed some of the more involved quests, like the one where you blow up the zombies with an abomination.  Cataclysm is still behind a level 80 wall but once in, you only need 2 zones (out of 5).  Now this is linear questing!  I chose Hyjal to avoid the 3d mess of transport in water-world.  The story here is pretty cool and getting to take on massive bosses (with the help of other bosses) is awesome.  Fighting Ragnaros is a massive letdown though, as you’re just a gopher.  “Slay these bugs while I hit this massive wall of fire”.  Like they couldn’t kill them with a blink?

Deepholm is next, which is my favorite of all Cataclysm zones.  WoW has a penchant for keeping all single player zones above ground and all dungeons underground.  I guess people like the feeling of an “open” zone.  Well, this is a massive cave under the Maelstrom, full of fairly rich lore that hasn’t yet been abused. I remember the original WoW and the first dungeon patched in – Mauradon.  I played that with friends a whole bunch of times, it was a blast since it was an open dungeon.  I found Theradras to be a damn cool idea as a boss.  Earth elementals, to that point, were a collection of random rocks.  They remained that way until Cataclysm (while Fire and Water were used in Molten Core).  Deathwing lived underground for millenia.   Why only 1 zone?  Bah!

Level 85 opens the Pandaria stuff.  I zone in, get on a helicopopter and start nuking some things. 2-3 quests later, I’ve killed some horde bad guys then this massive wall of gunk comes alive.  I’m 1 zone through and I’ve never seen another horde enemy.  I thought this was the Horde vs. Alliance expansion pack?

Anyhoot, I’m having fun.  The quest structure is a lot better.  I get sent all over the map to discover new zones and enemies.  Some are silly (the SI:7 quests), some are somewhat serious and others are just strange (stomping bookworms).  A few times though, I’ve run around without any quests in my log and no direction.  That was the most fun I’ve had to be honest.  I haven’t really “explored” WoW since Vanilla and having to get off the rails for a bit felt good.  I had to cross half the zone before I found the next breadcrumb quest.

I have leveled 3 characters to 85, 2 more to 80 and 3 to 60 over the years.  If I were to rate the leveling curve experience thusfar, I would go with Pandaria > 1-60 (post-Cataclysm > Lich King > Cataclysm >1-60 (pre-Cataclysm)>>> Burning Crusade.  The 1-60 (pre-Cataclysm) isn’t really fair since the game wasn’t even a themepark back then – at least not by today’s standards.

The next few posts will probably cover my experiences from 85-90. It’s an interesting ride.

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