Last week I mentioned that I had rolled up a Demon Hunter to see what the leveling experience was like in the new post-squish Azeroth.
This week I can say that I made it to level 50. It took me a total of 22 hours and 13 minutes over the course of about a week… I was done by Thursday night… to go from character creation to level cap.
However, I would not necessarily mark that down as a benchmark time for a few reasons. I spent some time side-tracked with trade skills, because I cannot help myself, and that slowed me down a bit. I was also AFK for more than an hour over the course of one day while I did laundry. And, as I noted, Demon Hunters start at level 8 and skip the new starter area, which bought me some time, though their own starter area was a bit slow.
But the primary slow down was a strange mix of the Legion expansion, the Demon Hunter class, and the level squish combined.
Again, as I mentioned, the Demon Hunter class and its starting experience is tied directly to the Legion expansion. So, unlike other classes, when you exit their starter area you are thrust straight into the beginnings of that expansion and not Battle for Azeroth. Or so I thought. It is not obvious that you are in one timeline or the other.
Certainly when I saw Nathanos Blightcaller standing there with a quest and a portal to Orgrimmar behind him, I thought that was the path to the BFA content.
Instead, that is quest that gets you into the starting scenario for the Legion expansion. I went and did that at one point late in my ascent when I was trying to figure out what had gone wrong.
For a long stretch everything seemed fine. Levels came fairly quickly, mobs throughout the expansion leveled up as I did, gear given as quest rewards scaled up as I leveled up, as did the experience rewarded.
Everything was fine until I hit level 46, and then I noticed things started slowing down. It was not so bad at first, but as I made it to level 47 it was becoming obvious that something was off. The experience being rewarded for quest completion was getting smaller. Gear given as quest rewards would show as item level 56-58 in the quest window, but would be scaled down to item level 50 when I claimed them. Then I noticed that the mobs had all stopped leveling up with me, that they were all still level 45. After a bit of flailing about… which included running the starting scenario… I realized where I was.
I had thought, being spit out into the Legion expansion, that I was in this universe.
After all, the game put me in the Legion expansion, why would I not assume I was on the path that led to level 50?
But, no. On reflection, the mobs ceasing to level up was an indicator I was in the horizontally sliced timeline where every expansion besides BFA caps out before 50.
So when I hit level 45, everything stopped leveling up with me.
It is still a bit bizarro world to me that Blizz decided they needed both a level 10-45 and a level 10-50 version of the Legion expansion, but I suppose that applies to all of the areas.
Anyway, it was easy to fix that. I took the portal in Dalaran to Orgrimmar, went to the Horde embassy, which is where Chromie sits, and asked to be put on the “Legion Invasion” timeline… they aren’t named for their expansions… and was good to go.
I then returned to Dalaran… it was nice of Blizz to give us a special hearthstone just for that… and found that everything had scaled up to me at level 47. I went back out and ran down some more quest and managed to level up to 50 not too much later.
Then, of course, you have to do that strange thing where, on hit 50, you get recalled out of your timeline to Chromie. I guess this was to ease the confusion over timelines, but in the absence of Shadowlands, it seems a bit odd.
Still, I was done, so why not?
Then there is the Legion expansion, which I quite enjoyed back in the day. It is still quite enjoyable. There are a couple of oddities though.
The cornerstone of the Legion expansion were the Artifact Weapons. They, and their abilities, were core to each class. Much of the focus of the expansion was leveling up and unlocking abilities and looks and what not.
That is pretty much all gone. But we knew that when BFA hit.
However, running the content again from scratch without them made for a very different experience. You still go get your Artifact Weapon for you class and spec.
But all the powers and advancement has been removed. It was, up front, that the power was sacrificed to heal the wound in Azeroth, which was part of the BFA pre-expansion event back in July of 2018.
Now, when you’re leveling up in the Broken Isles, the only thing you have are three relic slots that you can use to upgrade the item level of the weapon. You get them as quest rewards here and there.
I guess that isn’t a bad compromise, and they keep a regin on you getting too got of a weapon by only unlocking the third relic slot when you hit level 45. I ended up with a weapon that was better than most items I could find at the AH for a Demon Hunter.
This is the primary argument for classic style servers. While they have a work around, you cannot play the expansion the way it was back when it was live from 2016 to 2018 because they had to gut the primary mechanic in order to make way for the next expansion. With Shadowlands we’ll likely shed the Heart of Azeroth for something else. And so it goes. But this means that, while the content is still there, and Chromie can set you to level up through it, the experience is very different. It just isn’t the same.
This gutting of the Artifact Weapons mechanic also led to an interesting side effect.
When the expansion was the peak of the game there were quest reward and treasure chest and world quest reward items all over the expansion that would increase the artifact power of you weapon. Leveling it up was a big deal. But now leveling up is no longer a thing, so Blizzard left all of those items in the expansion, but made them all gray level vendor trash worth between 10 and 50 gold each.
I made bank. Compared to my characters in other time walking expansions… I have two in WotLK and one in WoD… my Demon Hunter was rich. Other gray drops and quest rewards were about on par, but these items, which are everywhere, were a big boost. When my DH hit level 45 and could train Master Riding, which gives you high speed flying, I was there.
My alts in other expansions… not so much. They’ll need handouts.
Otherwise, the Legion expansion is still a good time.
I did all of Highmountain and Azsuna, most of Stormheim, and parts of Suramar and The Broken Shore before I hit level 50. I had no need to go to Argus, and I managed to avoid going into Val’Sharah, which is my least favorite of the main zones. I don’t hate it, but I am not eager to return either.
The Demon Hunter class is pretty good. I enjoyed it, though at times the play style can be a bit simple. After mashing buttons with it, going to play in WoW Classic requires me to breath and think about my skills more. And DH glide is very OP. I am surprised they haven’t nerfed it.
So now I have my 10th character at level 50 in anticipation of the Shadowlands expansion.
I am not sold on any more, but it is possible I could end up with an 11th before the launch on the 23rd.