In Shadowlands, players are given a brand new way to experience levels 10-50 via Chromie Time and at a massively accelerated rate compared to previously. Alongside this is a brand new starting experience with the island of Exile’s Reach for levels 1-10. This is World of Warcraft's third recorded stat squish but this time we got a full scale level squish alongside it, scaling the max level in Shadowlands down to 60. This is a great opportunity to speed level some new characters.
Upon creating a new character, players have the option of choosing the classic starter zone for that race or a brand new island called Exile’s Reach. Exile’s Reach is designed to teach newer players the basics of World of Warcraft as well as the fundamentals of their chosen class. It is very streamlined and simple to breeze through and is still fresh and enticing to veteran players. Along the way, you will earn bags and a decent set of green quality gear with a unique transmog appearance for each armor type. Sadly, although boots were datamined for each set, they are nowhere to be found currently in game. Allied races do not have the option to quest here as they already start above the intended level bracket.
If you choose Exile’s Reach, you will start out on an airship with target dummies asking you to test out your first ability on them. After another quest teaching you about basic combat, you are shipwrecked onto the island itself. Further in, you learn of ogres trying to resurrect a dragon through sacrifice of previous adventurers and have to put a stop to them. The story ends in a mini dungeon that can be done solo or with up to 5 players that drops blue quality gear. After completing this zone, you are then sent to your main faction city to progress your story further.
Upon reaching your faction capital, you will be prompted to take a tour of the city. This ultimately leads to the startup for battle for azeroth’s quest line. Veteran players can skip the tour and head straight over to Chromie by the embassy to pick an alternate route. New players must complete the tour as well as the introductory quest line for battle for Azeroth, Speaker of the Horde (horde) or A Nation Divided (Alliance). After completing this, players are then able to interact with Chromie if they’d like to pick a different timeline.
Chromie Time is a new way to experience the older story of Azeroth. You can choose from any of the previous expansions and level all the way from 10-50 without ever leaving them. These include Cataclysm (Eastern Kingdoms and Kalimdor), The Burning Crusade (Outland), Wrath of the Lich King (Northrend), Mists of Pandaria, Warlords of Draenor, or Legion (Broken Isles and Argus). Once you have chosen, you are locked into your choice until revisiting Chromie and are also locked to only dungeons from your chosen expansion. Each continent has its own perks and drawbacks.
Choosing cataclysm includes the original 1-60 zones from before the squish as well as the added 80-85 zones. Unfortunately, those looking to level entirely in Mount Hyjal or Uldum will be disappointed to hear those zones aren’t available until much later, around level 30. This is also a contender for snail paced leveling as the zones are vast and the quest hubs are fairly limited with a lot of travel in between. It’s also not a very linear story.
2. Burning Crusade ~18 hours
Choosing Outland as your leveling path also suffers from story inconsistencies with the lore of today as well as the issue of breadcrumb quests carrying you to multiple zones for one quest. This continent has never been updated or modernized for fast paced questing like more recent expansions. However, the dungeons are plentiful and full of quests that grant good experience so it is a strong choice for a unique leveling experience.
3. Wrath of the Lich King ~18 hours
Choosing Northrend also suffers from not being streamlined or updated at all but it is not as dated as Outland. There are some breadcrumb quests but they are not as frequent and this is a nostalgic choice for many. The dungeons are once again plentiful, quick, and give great experience. However the later zones here are obnoxious without flying so you will have to make a trip back to purchase it asap.
4. Mists of Pandaria ~15 hours
Choosing Pandaria offers one of the more story rich questing experiences warcraft has to offer. The story is faster paced than the previous 3 and the zones are still beautiful to look at. There are large quest hubs that give a good chunk of experience. The downside here is the terrain for some of the zones can be obnoxious without flying but it was designed to be traversed without originally. Also, there aren’t very many leveling dungeons but the ones you do get are fairly quick to clear.
5. Warlords of Draenor ~12 hours
Choosing Draenor is also a faster option if questing is your thing. The initial Tanaan Jungle quests can be skipped by abandoning 'The Dark Portal'. Instead of talking with Khadgar, just walk through the portal in Blasted Lands. The quests still give decent experience if you decide to trudge through it. Even with the treasures and bonus objectives nerfed, it is still efficient xp. There are lots of rares to kill along the way for pets and toys as well. The drawback, again, is not many dungeons are available and they don’t offer any quests. Also the initial garrison quest line drags on for a bit This is purely a quester’s option.
6. Legion ~14 hours
Choosing the Broken Isles is another fast paced questing option but again, with lackluster and few dungeons. The storyline is very linear and follows along with your artifact weapons. The class hall quests to unlock them give a good chunk of experience along the way as well. Later in the leveling experience you will be able to travel to Argus and quest there instead; at level 45. This gives ample opportunities for rep along the way.
7. Battle for Azeroth ~16 hours
There is another option, simply chosen by not speaking with Chromie at all. You can choose to quest through the current battle for Azeroth storyline in Zandalar or Kul Tiras and it is one of the quicker options. The quests are fast paced, close together, and the story is relatively pleasant to blast through. Not a lot of dungeons and also no dungeon quests until the end of a zone. The Heart of Azeroth also cannot be equipped until level 40 so this doesn’t bode well for azerite armor.
All in all it will take the average player anywhere from 12-20 hours to hit level 50, depending on the zone they chose. Warlords of Draenor is the fastest by a few hours. This can be sped up significantly if you’re dungeon grinding and for variety one should choose Burning Crusade or Wrath of the Lich King instances. The most efficient way will be combining questing and dungeon grinding by doing each dungeon once for the massive quest experience.
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