After seeing the Tanaan Jungle intro zone and Shadowmoon Valley one too many times, I’ve finally made my way through the rest of the zones and hit level 100. The servers were stable enough to allow me to do this without pulling out my hair, so kudos to the Blizzard server engineers who bent over backwards to fix all those realm crashes and disconnects. It’s night and day from what it was a week ago.
The leveling pace is fairly quick. It was actually a bit faster than I thought it would be, but that is probably due to going in with a high item level and killing stuff extremely quickly. The Hellscream’s Warbow didn’t hurt either (by the way, it ends up at ilvl 633 at level 100). It wasn’t until about level 95 where stuff ceased to be killed in 1 or 2 GCDs.
The above video is a random selection of clips from my leveling experience.
I almost always out-leveled the zones before I had finished all the quests, and that’s with doing zero dungeons. The zones are jam packed with quests. The only zone I completed the “major storylines complete” achievement for was Gorgrond. As for the rest, I know I left many quests behind that I’ll have to go and finish later. Especially Nagrand, which reminded me a lot of Outland’s version where you can stock up on a ton of quests and then go turn them all in at once. You know that feeling.
It’s hard to pick a favorite questing zone, but I really enjoyed Spires of Arak. Maybe it’s because it was the last zone I expected to care about. But there’s some good quest chains and storylines happening in there, and it’s a lot more varied in landscape than it looks like at first glance. The upper tiers are barren, but below is a dark, lush forest, and most of the zone is surrounded by the sea.
Gorgrond was another stand out to be honest (despite some bugs). It had a lot of fun quests and was also visually diverse like Spires of Arak. Talador was in a weird spot for me where I didn’t start it til around level 95 and left after dinging 96, so I skipped most of the quests there. Probably because I did the vast majority of Gorgrond quests before going there.
The one thing all the zones have in common is their beauty. The Pandaria zones are nice, but Draenor takes it to the next level. It’s absolutely worth getting yourself a decent PC to play it at ultra settings.
I didn’t come across any daily quests yet, but I haven’t done anything since hitting 100 as of this writing. Some of the low level zones have level 100 areas I haven’t checked out yet.
Garrison and Outposts
Garrisons have a bug in the current build where you are unable to upgrade them past tier 1, so unfortunately I didn’t find the urge to travel back there much during the leveling process. It’s something I plan on taking for a drive once they fix this bug, because from what I saw with my brief testing on the level 100 realm with the garrison “cheat codes,” it has a lot of potential.
The outposts were a nice addition. I looked forward to getting one in each new zone because they always come with amazing perks. The introductory quest chain in each zone (after Shadowmoon Valley or Frostfire Ridge) is all about setting up your outpost in that particular zone.
You get a choice between two different outposts. For example, in Gorgrond you choose between the Sparring Arena or Lumber Mill. If you choose the Sparring Arena, you can summon arena champions to fight for you within Gorgrond. If you choose the Lumber Mill, you can drive around in a shredder and kill stuff. You’ll also get the plans for those particular garrison buildings to place in your garrison later if you want. You can also buy the plan for the other one if you change your mind.
One of my favorite outpost perks was from the Stables in Nagrand. It gives you a Talbuk mount which can be used in combat anywhere in Nagrand. No more getting dazed or dismounting to pick up quest objects is pretty cool. You can see a little of that mounted combat in the video I posted. The only bug right now is your pet is forced into passive stance while mounted, so I couldn’t command it to attack (but Kill Command worked). Hopefully they can fix this. The alternative to the Talbuk mount was the ability to summon a Siege Tank!
Probably the coolest part is everywhere you go, the NPCs are practically worshiping you. They talk about you, salute you when you pass, even make an effort to walk around you in your garrison.
On the recent mob tagging debate
There was a popular post on the beta forums pleading with the devs to do away with mob tagging altogether. While I can understand frustrations with mob tagging (especially on the opening night of an expansion), I feel like it would just be silly if even basic mobs were shared tags. Quest mobs make sense because having a queue to kill those is a totally negative experience.
I feel like if they made every single monster open tag it would encourage mooching behavior which is just as negative as frustrating tagging competitions. Think about a DoT class running into a field of mobs and just dotting everything in sight while the other players tank the mobs for them. Eventually you’ll get in the situation where everyone does this and the mobs just ping pong between people as threat levels fluctuate.
The only way I can see it working is if they make a requirement where you need to do at least 30% of the damage to the mob or something like that. Of course, that opens up another can of worms. What if you were the one to initiate combat with a mob but someone came along and did a massive crit, denying you kill credit?
@BendakWoW Definitely valuable, please continue to contribute. We can and do adjust spawn frequency, density, etc. based on feedback.
— Don Adams (@_DonAdams) July 28, 2014
There have been many quests with frustrating tagging experiences in the beta. Not always because of competition, but sometimes just horrendously long respawn times. I’d say I sent in a bug or suggestion for about 1/5 of the kill quests I did. Any time I was just sitting there twiddling my thumbs waiting for stuff to spawn, dealing with horrible drop rates, or desperately trying to compete for tags, I made note of it. My hope is when I go through again on live these specific issues will be fixed. Quests which had proper spawn density or scaled with the local player population were no problem at all really, even with many players around.
Bonus Objectives and Vignettes
Questing in Warlords isn’t all that different from what you’re used to in previous expansions (other than an increasing number of them have little gimmicks). The main differences are Bonus Objectives and Vignettes.
Bonus Objectives are likely part of the reason I was able to level so quickly. I went out of my way to complete a good majority of them. They are areas marked on the map which have specific requirements such as kill 20 of mob X, 10 of mob Y, and collect 5 of Z. You get a sizable XP bonus and pot of gold after each one. I would definitely do any of these you come across when you’re leveling up. The only issue I noticed was sometimes the objectives were placed slightly outside the bonus objective area, and if you complete any of them outside of that area they don’t count. I actually had one situation where a boss required for the objective spawned about 30 yards outside the “border” so I had to pull it inside before I got kill credit. Just something to be mindful of.
Vignettes are essentially Timeless Isle rares. They’re bloody everywhere. On several occasions I saw more than one skull on my mini map. These mobs drop a specific piece of loot on your first kill, and after that they are no longer considered a rare for you. The respawn time is currently very fast. Usually less than 2 minutes.
I’ve written about a few specific vignettes in the past, like this Hobbit one, which is amazing. I even looted a nice trinket from one of them at level 98. They also drop garrison resources.
In addition, Gorgrond had these huge “trophy” elites (one of them is featured in the header of this post) which drop a quest item that grants you lots of XP. The quest text also implies that you will receive a trophy to display in your garrison. My guess is a statue of the boss in question. Pretty neat.
Exploration feels rewarding in Warlords. I never felt like I was wasting my time or impeding my leveling by straying off the path between quest hubs.
Overall I had a great weekend leveling up in Draenor. This was the first time I bothered to fully level in a beta (in the past, I mostly focused on the class changes and new systems) and I’m glad I did. I’d like to think the many bug reports I’ve sent in will make the expansion better when it ships. I also have a good idea of the direction I will take on live.
Just a few weeks ago I was pretty worried about beta’s state, wondering if it could possibly be finished for this year, but in this last week or so it’s taken great strides. It went from barely playable to being able to level from 90-100 over a few days without any major interruptions or setbacks.
11 thoughts on “Ding! WoD Beta leveling impressions”
Hey, I wanted to thank you for your interesting and elaborate posts. Ever since I decided to switch to my hunter alt in WoD as main char I’ve been looking for interesting reads regarding the class and I’m glad I found your blog!
Due to little time right now I haven’t leveled further than Gorgrond, but so far I completely agree that the leveling experience has been great and exploring is so much fun.
Seems the leveling experience in WoD will be pretty nice, of course im sure it will be situation of frustation, but as long the “fun factor” is present, everything will be ok…
“The one thing all the zones have in common is their beauty. The Pandaria zones are nice, but Draenor takes it to the next level. It’s absolutely worth getting yourself a decent PC to play it at ultra settings.”
Absolutely. I’ve found myself much more in awe of each zone than I was with MoP. It’s not just the aesthetics, it’s the topography of the landscape – it is all incredibly varied and doesn’t just repeat the same textures and building models often. Also I love the Draenei architecture everywhere. I really hope we have a reason to go back to Karabor later.
They have open tag in guild wars 2, and in ESO, and I believe Wildstar, probably more. Personally liked it, because competition for mobs sucks. If they think everyone joins together into zone clearing buddy groups of 5, they are kidding themselves. Vanilla rosey colored glasses strike again with that stance. I am sure it happens on occasion. But it is a relief to be able to swoop in, help dispatch some foes and take off without awkwardly throwing out group invites.
I didn’t mind it much in ESO, but ESO was focused far less on kill quests. Not like WoW where it’s the norm. Haven’t played GW2 or Wildstar to comment on those. (edit: correction, played Wildstar on beta briefly but it did not hold my attention for more than a weekend)
I loved the elites in Gorgrond. And I’m pretty excited that they dropped useful things. it seems like in Azeroth while levelling, there’s not much point in taking on elites, because they never drop anything. So it might be fun to kite it around for 10 minutes, but you don’t earn anything. It’s fun to see that these give you some reward, at least.
i played the beta just for one weekend but stopped for two reasons: the disconnections (but now they are sorted i guess ill try again) and the absolutely horrible experience to quest in group. Me and my husband always level the mains together the first days, and in the beta it was worse than ever. You have to do everything at double: double kills, double gather resource, double cinematics, double whatever. Even the escort quest we encountered in the first storyline couldnt be shared (as opposite of live, where you can accept the message “xxx started the quest wanna join?”) After the first 15/20 reports about quests not sharing the objectives we just gave up.
Requiring individual kills in a group sounds like a bug. I did most of my questing solo but grouped up a couple of times briefly. Didn’t notice anything like this. Beta testing isn’t for everyone… especially if your play time is limited. Can get frustrating quickly.
oh i dont mind too much the frustration of beta, we had a weekend free and we were ready to give feedbacks: we are old players and we care. but really, it was horrible. the kind of horrible like… the first night behind the Dark Portal trying to do quests in Hellfire Peninsula. that experience! tagging mobs around and trying to get them right and asking all the time “was that yours or mine? how many do u have? is that ours or that other player got it?”
anyway, end of the rant. we will try this weekend again and we will keep to submit bugs 🙂
So after watching a ton of your videos and checking out even more of your screenshots, I’m getting really psyched for Draenor. It looks like a beautiful world, and I’m definitely taking your advice and looking into upgrading to a nicer PC (especially since my current laptop sucks). Thanks for all the beautiful posts, the aesthetics in this expansion are amazing and you’re displaying them so well.
Also, out of curiosity- did pets get bigger? Or are some of the new pets just extremely large (like the thundering hydras)? Or is my psyche just making them look larger because I want them to be larger?
As for the pet thing, it might be because of my short stature.