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Gaming the grind: How to level efficiently in World of Warcraft

world of warcraft legion leveling guide wow header
Blizzard Entertainment
World of Warcraft is in its sixth expansion, and as critical reception and player numbers have indicated, Legion is the best one in years. But for those who want to get into WoW for the first time, or veterans looking to level a new character, the grind to hit the new level cap of 110 can be more than a little tedious.

Blizzard has taken steps in recent years to smooth out out the leveling experience — Legion allows players to immediately boost one character to level 100, for instance — but if you want to roll multiple characters without spending money on multiple level boosters, you’ll need to spend time leveling. Thankfully, with the right maneuvers, it’s possible to level a character to 110 in a relatively short time. Here are some pointers for leveling in World of Warcraft, so you can rush through old zones and explore the new.

Step 1: Boost a character to 100 for instant gratification

If you bought Legion and have no desire to go through old content, good news! The new expansion comes with a free boost to level 100 for one character. You can buy these boosts from the in-game store whenever you want, but they normally cost $60, so savor this free one. Use it for a class that you are confident you will enjoy. As a fresh level 100 character, you will be able to immediately begin the quest that takes you the Broken Isles, the new region where Legion takes place.

The quest (titled “The Legion Returns”) should automatically appear in your quest log. If you are on Alliance, it will start by asking you to speak with a recruiter in Stormwind Harbor; Horde members will speak to their equivalent at the Dranosh’ar Blockade.

Step 2: When questing in Legion, have it your way

wow legion screen aszuna

The Broken Isles are unique among WoW continents in that you can progress through zones in any order you want. Once you have made it through the initial quests in Legion, you are free to move about four of the new zones — Val’sharah, Azsuna, Stormheim, and Highmountain — as you wish, with enemies, quests, and rewards scaling to your level. The fifth zone, Suramar, is mostly locked away until you’ve reached a certain point in the story.

In addition to questing and running dungeons in the Broken Isles, players should also remember to visit their class hall, which is like the garrisons from Draenor, but themed around your character’s class.The quest lines in your hall provide valuable experience and open up important features, like artifact weapon upgrades, that will drastically up your character’s power.

Step 3: Leveling an alternate character? Use heirloom gear

If you already have a high-level character and want to quickly level up a new one, by far the best tools for the job are the items labeled “heirloom gear.” These pieces of gear have two very special properties — they bind to your account, so any character you own can use them, and they grant bonus experience. Their stats also scale with your character’s level up to a certain point, so you can equip a fresh character with heirloom gear and power through much of the game.

These items are sold by various vendors, who usually require specific tokens rather than gold. There are heirloom pieces designed for PvE and PvP; for the purposes of leveling, PvE heirlooms are what you will want.

Each faction has a main heirloom vendor. The Horde’s is Estelle Gendry, located in the Undercity, while the Alliance’s is Krout Stoutarm in Ironforge. These vendors sell items for gold, and there are no prerequisites to access their items.

If you are a member of a guild, you can buy heirloom gear from guild vendors, provided you have high enough reputation with your guild.

The quartermaster at the Argent Tournament sells heirloom pieces in exchange for Champion’s Seals, which can be obtained through various Argent Tournament quests (a cakewalk for a level 110 character).

Another heirloom vendor is located at the Darkmoon Faire. He exchanges items for Darkmoon Faire tickets, which can be obtained by doing various activities during the Darkmoon Faire.

Keep in mind that while heirlooms can be used by any character, they still target specific classes. Make sure you purchase heirlooms that can be equipped by the character you plan to level.

Step 4: Always be in queue for dungeons

wow dungeon screenshot

Dungeons in WoW, aside from providing some of the best action and stories, are also a good way to gain items, gold, and — most importantly for the purposes of this guide — experience. While classic WoW required players to physically go to a dungeon to access it, today’s players can simply use the Dungeon Finder to queue for a dungeon, allowing them to form a team with random players. The first dungeons become accessible once you reach level 10.

If you are playing a tank or healer class, the Dungeon Finder is particularly nice, as your queue times will be much lower. While questing, try to be queued up for dungeons at all times. Your activities will not be interrupted until a complete group is formed, so you can continue to complete quests while waiting. Even then, you’ll be automatically teleported to the dungeon, and then back to your previous location when the dungeon is complete.

Dungeons are the fastest way to level for most of your character’s life, but questing will provide better experience than dungeons once you gain access to Legion content. Additionally, each Legion zone’s questline culminates in a quest to complete that zone’s dungeon, so you may as well save the dungeons for last.

Step 5: Use Recruit-A-Friend for an XP bonus

wow adventure with friend

If you have a friend or friends who are also interested in starting WoW, take advantage of Blizzard’s recruit-a-friend program. If you sign a friend up, not only can you get free game time, exclusive mounts and other unique rewards, but you and that particular friend will get a 300 percent bonus to experience gained from completing quests and killing enemies. Playing together with a friend you have recruited (or one who recruited you) will make the leveling experience go much faster.

Step 6: Use elixirs to boost XP gains

If you have gold to spend, or have reached the Warlords of Draenor content (levels 90-100), you can acquire an item called Elixir of the Rapid Mind, which grants a 300 percent increase in experience for 15 minutes. To get these elixirs, you can either buy them on the Auction House — where players sell items for gold, WoW’s in-game currency — or receive them as a reward for garrison missions, which you can start doing once you reach Draenor and set up your garrison.

Fifteen minutes is not a lot, so the best way to maximize the use of an elixir is to do however many quests you want nearly to completion (basically, have the only remaining step be to turn them in), pop the elixir, and then turn in as many of the quests in that time frame as you can.

Another item that grants a similar effect is the Elixir of Ancient Knowledge, which drops from certain rare enemies in Pandaria. This elixir grants 300 percent experience for an hour. When picked up, it binds to your account, so it cannot be bought or sold on the Auction House, but you can mail it to one of your lower level characters, if you wish.

A third elixir become available in Draenor. The Excess Potion of Accelerated Learning only grants a 30 percent bonus to experience, but can be purchased from the quartermaster in your garrison for 100 garrison resources. It’ll help you blast through the level 90-100 content in your last push towards the Legion expansion.

Step 7: Leveling in Draenor or the Broken Isles? Do bonus objectives!

So you have finally reached Draenor, and a mere 10 or so levels stand between you and the latest expansion. Thankfully, Draenor is one of the more recent expansions, and despite its shortcomings, Blizzard at least made leveling much easier in this continent.

In addition to the various quests, each zone in Draenor has bonus objectives which players can complete for additional rewards, including experience. These objectives generally involve killing a certain number of a specific enemy or some such goal, and can generally be completed easily while exploring and questing.

You can see the objectives appear on your map in explored areas, and you’ll see them appear automatically in your quest log when you enter the bonus objective’s territory.

Bonus objectives are also present in the Broken Isles, and function the same way as the ones in Draenor.

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