Alliance Levelling in cata – is it good, bad or meh?
Unlike some people, I enjoy levelling. As far as I am concerned, the levelling side of the game is really good exciting fun and gives you the chance to immerse yourself in the lore surrounding your character, their allies and everything else in WoW. Sure, there are occasions when levelling that make you scream and swear never to level again as you kill 10 murlocs/naga/vrykul/boars/kobolds etc for the 50th time, but interspersed among those more mundane quests are some truly epic storylines and questchains. If you give yourself the chance to actually read about what you are doing instead of just clicking accept and trusting your quest tracker to tell you what to do, then you become much more involved with the intricacies of the game and the various interactions between different factions.
Why am I setting off on this mini tirade? There is a good reason, trust me 🙂 This post is all about levelling in Cataclysm, because unlike the previous two expansions we haven’t just gained a new landmass – in fact we haven’t actually gained a single, large, new area at all. Cataclysm does not have the same style new landmass that both TBC and WotLK did. So instead of a single, large new area split into smaller areas to explore based on a theme, we simply have the smaller areas spread out across the existing world, without a common underlying theme. Additionally, with the inclusion of 2 new races we have 2 totally new starting areas and thanks to Deathwing and his vandalism, we have most of Azeroth reworked in one way or another even areas you have previously levelled in may be completely different (quick example – Alliance no longer have a quest presence in Hillsbrad Foothills, but are present in the Barrens). Just in case someone reads this who hasn’t yet explored the new 80-85 areas or the Worgen starting zones I will give a quick rundown of them;
- Mount Hyjal – Levels 80-82, Main Faction(s): Guardians of Hyjal. Situated at the top of Kalimdor, Hyjal is a elven place of trees and furry animals. That is getting the crap kicked out of it by fire elementals. It is one of two starting zones at 80 (the other being Vash’jir /shudder). The quests lead you through the process of slowly reclaiming the land from the elementals and cleansing it of their presence. There are some straight out kill XXX quests, some gathering quests, some you do while mounted, a very annoying bit of jousting (my only complaint about MH) and a variety of other things.
- Vash’jir – Levels 80-82, Main Faction(s): Earthern Ring. Just off the western coast of the Eastern Kingdoms lies Vash’jir. A sunken world inhabited by Naga and their ilk. I hate this bloody place. The quests are a mix similar to Hyjal, and while not necessarily boring, the difficulties of being permanently under water do take their toll. Still, after helping the Sporelings so much it felt good to kick Naga butt again 😀
- Uldum – Levels 83-84. main Faction(s): Ramkahen. Stuck between Tanaris, Silithus and Ungoro, Uldum is an Egypt inspired desert. With plenty of little references to other things (such as you have to go and hunt the Desert Fox) and not so little references (an entire quest chain has you following around Harrison Jones and culminates in you having to deal with a large golden casket…..) it is a good fun place to quest. There is plenty of different quest types here again and the variety should keep anyone entertained until they are finished.
- Twilight Highlands – Levels 84-85. Main Faction(s): Wildhammer Clan (Alliance), Dragonmaw (Horde). A rather annoying area in some ways but quite fun. Most of the recipe vendors for high level crafting reside here, but only after you have completed the initial quest chains. This means if you want your LW alt (for example) to be able to craft the higher recipes (such as blue PvP gear) then it has to be level 84 minimum and have completed the first few quests here as well as the whole shebang back in yoiur capital city that enables you to actually go here. Once you get stuck in though there is a series of quests covering defeating the Twilight Cultists, helping your local clan (Dragonmaw or Wildhammer) as well as the arena chain for Cata – The Crucible of Carnage. Unlike previous expansions this isn’t situated in the mid range levels (the TBC and Wrath ones required level 65 and 75 respectively to complete), this is high end stuff as far as questing goes and you really do need a full group, but the xp and the rewards are well worth it. Overall a good place to quest and it really ties together the work you have done elsewhere against the cult.
- Deepholm – Levels 82-83. Main Faction(s): Therazane, Earthern Ring. In the centre of the map, between Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms is the Maelstrom. Beneathe the maelstrom is Deepholm. Questing here sees you attempt to rebuild a pillar that supports the land above, Deathwing destroyed it as he exited (you even get to see the forges and stuff from the intro video). You will do a lot of work for the Earthen Ring and then Therazane as you progress (similarly to Sons of Hodir you start at hated and have to work up from there) all the while battling troggs, twilight cultists and the like. As with all the new areas, the questing is fun and there is a good variety of quest types to keep you entertained.
- Gilneas – Worgen Starting Zone, levels 1-12. I haven’t played this yet since the release of Cata but I did level a Worgen in the Beta and have to say I was very pleased with the way they handled the starting area. The plot and the way the narrative flow makes you really feel a part of fighting for Gilneas and you are properly immersed in the story around it, rather than just killing a few monsters until you can reach a better area.
- Kezan and the Lost Isles – Goblin Starting Zone, levels 1-12 – Look elsewhere, I don’t do horde 😛
In addition to these totally new areas, we also have many area that we knew so well that have been irreversibly altered by the actions of Deathwing. To name but a few; Loch Modan should now be called Modan as the Loch has drained away leaving only a few dead threshadons, Darkshore has been torn apart and Auberdine destroyed so there is a new quest hub further north and Stanglethorn has been split into 2 areas separated by a huge series of waterfalls and a sinkhole. These are just a few of the areas that have been altered, and probably virtually no area has been totally untouched, except possibly the initial starting zones.
This means that many of the old quests that have been present since vanilla WoW have been altered, replaced or just removed, so even if you have levelled 20 characters before now, there is still something new for you if you start again. I am currently levelling a new hunter and have to say that for once I am actually impressed with Darkshore, having already tried it twice before and not liked it at all. The new quests are challenging and there is a nice mix of killing, collection, escorts and so on. You actually feel like you are helping gather the pieces after Deathwing blasted through and ruined it. This feeling seems to pervade the new content, with more areas phased, you actually see yourself making a difference as you reclaim areas and free allies to unlock new quest hubs.
I asked the question in the title of this post, and I think I have to say that it is very good, if not excellent. The way these new quests interact and make you feel a part of what is happening is awesome. Right away, from the moment you leave your initial starting zone and hit level 10-20 zones you can see the destruction wreaked upon Azeroth by Deathwing and are thrust immediately into helping rebuild what is left and combat the new foes that emerge because of it. I know that some of you will just go meh, so what because not everyone likes to level, but for those of us who do enjoy levelling and the lore surrounding Warcraft, levelling in this expansion is rather awesome 🙂
To help with working out where to level next, I include this rather nifty map showing where you can level as Horde/Alliance at any particular level. This is not my work, and was originally posted at http://media.mmo-champion.com/images/news/2010/november/levelflow.jpg