Where was this shit when I had to start a paladin at level 1 in Burning Crusade?? Seriously, leveling is actually fun now.
I guess this is something most hardcore players totally write off as one of the features of Cataclysm. Hell, I did. I had already leveled all my alts to at least 70, the promise of new 1-60 content didn’t really appeal to me as a feature to list on the back of the box.
That said, the one thing I still have never done in 6 years of WoW is level a character to max level as Alliance. I noted Friday that my Gnome mage experiment had begun – and I’m not sure if it’s the heirlooms, the new faction, the new quests, or all that shit combined, but I am having a great time.
The revamped Gnome starting area was largely disappointing start (if they were going to give trolls and gnomes their own areas it would have been nice for them to last a bit longer than the 20-minute 1-6 stretch), but past that it’s been a lot of fun. Gone are the days of vanilla where you are sent back and forth between town and some random yeti cave, each time with a quest to go a little bit further in than you previously had. Gone also are quests that send you clear across the fucking world to talk to some guy and then go back where you came from.
Each now has more of its own story and quest flow, much like the Northrend and high-level Cataclysm zones. It makes for a more immersive leveling experience as you see how more or less every quest fits into the grand scheme of things in that zone, and more importantly it saves you all the hassle of going all over creation to get things done.
The best zone up to this point in my opinion has to be the revamped Eastern Plaguelands. Now a level 35-40 zone, EPL has been reclaimed by the Argent Dawn and Argent Crusade and the storyline follows two paladins aspiring to join their ranks as they ride a caravan from tower to tower. It’s designed to basically take you in a circle around the zone, and provides some cool bonus buffs to choose from as you add more and more members to your caravan. The story of the zone even culminates in a short cutscene where your fully assembled party bands together to take down a banshee. Really cool zone – nice flow, fun quests, lots of flavor.
In a way this makes me glad I no longer raid hardcore in WoW. I would likely have never taken up the task of leveling a new character from level 1 were I still committed to a full-time 5-day raid schedule. It’s nice to see this other side of the game that Blizzard assured us was so much better in Cataclysm than it was before, having previously not even seen it as a selling point.
Really the only downside I see to the 1-60 revamp (unless the upcoming 40-60 zones are a major drop in quality) is the fact that all I have to look forward to at the end of the fun is the soul-crushing wasteland known as Outland 😦