Into the Level Squished World of Warcraft

It was busy in EVE Online last week, but I still found a bit of time to poke my nose into World of Warcraft to see what the Shadowlands pre-patch and the big level squish did to us.

In preparation I made sure, the night before the patch, to list out all of my characters with their current level and how much xp they had on their bar to see how things changed.  That wasn’t because I expected Blizz to mess things up.  And my characters all aligned with the chart I borrowed from WoW Head for my previous post.  But still, if you don’t record something you can’t tell how much things changes.  So my Eldre’Thalas characters fell out like this:

  • Vikund – 120 – 50
  • Tistann – 120 – 50
  • Alioto -120 – 50
  • Tokarev – 116 10% – 48 53%
  • Hurmoo – 112 36% – 46 100%
  • Makarov -112 25% – 46 100%
  • Maloney – 111 26% – 45 100%
  • Makawao – 66 1% – 26 3%
  • Garnatz – 62 48% – 25 100%
  • Blintz – 48 46% – 21 100%
  • Honecker – 42 9% – 18 44%
  • Hruga – 33 5% – 14 22%

I had three characters at level cap and they ended up at 50 as expected.  And my level 116 mapped right into level 48 with a half a level of xp in his bar, which I guess was about right.  But then a few of the other ones ended up with their xp bar filled up to 100% so that they were effectively one level higher than I expected.

I am not complaining.  I’ll take the level.  I said I was likely to regret squandering the double xp that Blizzard had been offering on retail WoW for months, but a couple of free levels helped mitigate that I suppose.

Also, the level curve in the new 20-50 world is pretty easy.  I have already pushed Tokarev from half way into level 48 to level 50 just by doing some battle pets matches.  (The first week of the squish was also a 200% xp week for battle pets, so I went in and leveled some up.)

I feel like I’ve been here before

I was, however, a bit surprised at the shape of the leveling world post-squish.  For ages I have had this chart in my mind.

The promised shape of the leveling experience

And, since I have been following my usual policy of only watching the high level news about the upcoming expansion so as not to spoil anything, I let my brain draw its own picture of how I expected things to be.  Basically, that chart viewed as a series of parallel vertical paths into Shadowlands.

My vision in Excel format

However, when I got into the game with my first character with 100% xp and figured I would just go kill a mob close by to get the level, I found gray mobs where I happened to be, which was in the Warlords of Draenor content.  (Say what you will about garrisons, I do still hang out in them, largely to make 30-slot bags and do pet battle stuff.)

I then discovered that there still existed a way from the starter areas up to the level cap that ran through the old expansions in something akin to the old way.  Each expansion had a new level range, with a cap on it.

The horizontal stack with level caps on each expansion

That seemed like a ticket to a somewhat unsatisfying ride to 50.  With everything squished down and the xp curve juiced up, it meant that players on that route were very likely to out-level the content before they finished it, a problem the game already suffered from in its level 120 cap form.

Also, I was a bit confused as to how to get to the world I was promised, the realm of parallel paths to the level cap.  Fortunately, somebody quickly mentioned Chromie and I remembered that this was all revolving around her and the time stream in order to explain it in the lore.  So I ran over to the Stormwind Embassy area in Stormwind and found her.  There is a little hourglass on the map that shows you where she is.

Where to get Chromie timed

There, if you are eligible… more on that in another post… she will let you slide into whichever time line you want, so long as it is one of the six she has to offer currently.

The six paths

There is plenty of room on that selection screen to put Shadowlands when they squish that before the next expansion.

I was confused for a moment as to where Battle for Azeroth and the Kalimdor & Eastern Kingdoms content was hiding.  But BFA is on by default, it already scales up to level 50 without visiting Chromie.  Meanwhile, I realized that the content on the old continents was wrapped up into Cataclysm, since that was the point when they changed and updated all of it.  The Cataclysm zones are not off on their own island like Northrend, but blended into the old locations.

So there it is.  And as I even think I figured out why Blizz would bother keeping the old style form of the world with all the expansions stacked in horizontal bands.

So long as the content is stacked that way, players retain the ability to go run old instances and raids solo for transmog gear and pet drops and the like.  That is a surprisingly critical item so far as the community is concerned.

Next up will be my venture into the new starting area, Exile’s Reach.

4 thoughts on “Into the Level Squished World of Warcraft

  1. bhagpuss

    Aha! That’s very helpful. I was wondering what was to stop you just running straight out of the gate the moment you arrive in Stormwind or Orgrimmar and carrying on as though nothing had changed and according to that horizontal chart you ought to be able to do exactly that. They certainly kept that quiet in the promotional run-up.

    I plan on experimenting more with all of this. It’s considerably more involving than the game itself. I’ve never really cared all that much about either storylines or zone completion in MMORPGs so I’ve always been perfectly happy to move on to the next level-appropriate zone as soon as things stop giving good xp. I’d be happy to go up that ladder rather than stick to a single expansion. It’s certainly good to know the possibility exists, even if in the end I decide to level up in Pandaria, for example, since that would all be new to me.

    I’d hate to be the one having to put together a leveling guide that shows all the possible options now, though. If the plan was to make everything simpler they missed it by a mile. Several miles.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Marathal

    I ran the new Exiles reach scenario, and once complete when you find yourself in town there is a quest to go see Chromie to choose your experience, which was kind of nice. The 1-10 experience was pretty good. I would recomend to anyone trying a new class out. I only wish they made it available to Allied Races.

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  3. MrGoodhand

    I found myself back in the world of warcraft with this squish making the world feel like its World of Warcraft 2. I hadn’t played since legion, so I was pleasantly surprised by the way the game played out as a new Dwarf Shaman. I ran through Exiles Reach, then from there, straight to Kul Tiras. It is quite fun.

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  4. Shintar

    I definitely also expected the new levelling to work like your earlier illustration, which sounded like a very elegant solution. This new system feels like it just makes the game messier and more confusing than ever…

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