My Fury Warrior stormed into Outland yesterday, cashing in 150% rest exp to leapfrog levels 58-60. As always, it's a lot of fun to replace ilvl 48 random green gear with ilvl 81 quest rewards that could have occupied level 60 raid loot tables. Still, this all made me think of some quirks of leveling once Wrath goes live.
- Early quests were brutally hard
As a level 58 warrior in generally low quality gear, those first few quests were pretty tough solo. I had to play around with my usual combat strategies, and really things didn't settle down until I'd replaced both of my weapons and some of my other gear (which, thankfully, occurs quickly in Outland). Of course, part of that is a quirk to the jump from WoW to TBC; Blizzard made a general decision to make Stamina cheaper on items, and introduced a lot of additional statistics in 40-man level 60 raiding that weren't present on level 59 or lower gear. The jump to Northrend may not be so pronounced, but it still might be tough on new Outland characters post-Wrath. Especially since....
- Blizzard says levels 60-70 will be faster.
I can see the need to let new players get to the level cap (where all the players are) quickly, but this could seriously muddle the balance waters. When TBC launched, I played my mage heavily enough that he never had more than a few bubbles of rested EXP, so I actually set foot in the Netherstorm and Shadowmoon Valley before I hit level 70. My Pally, on the other hand, was only played when he had rested exp available, and he dinged 70 somewhere midway through Blade's Edge Mountains. My point being, the earlier you finish and leave Outland, the worse your gear is going to be for Northrend.
- Weapon Skill needs to die
Those quest reward green weapons I picked up early in HFP? A sword, which I hadn't used in 5 levels, and a dagger (which I hadn't used in over 30). Getting these weapon skill levels up to usable levels was not fun (and people kept jumping in to "help" with mobs, I suppose thinking that I must be in trouble given how slowly the mobs were dying). Now my axe and mace skill are lagging by two levels. I also haven't used a 2handed weapon since level 5 (i.e. 25 2H mace skill, 1 skill in all the others). Over on my Pally, I'm actually toting around all of the various 2H weapons so that I can switch to a new one every time I gain a precious skill point, in the hopes of maybe maxing them all before Wrath. This has to end. If they really wanted to keep the concept of weapon skill, the least they could do is set the floor at 5 levels or so below the player's current level, so that you'd be rusty for a few minutes but not entirely useless.
- Speaking of 2H weapons, OH HAI Titan's Grip
Fury Warriors are getting the ability to dual wield 2H weapons in the expansion, in exchange for slower attack speed. This means that it's worth having a pair of the things on hand, even if I'm not using them right now. Another interesting quirk is whether they're going to have to Unique or Unique-Equipped flag existing rep reward 2-handers. In exchange for my 360 unidentified plant parts (gotta love repeatable quests that dry up at honored), the Cenarion Expedition is willing to sell me a blue quality staff, which is likely to be the best 2H weapon in my possession at 62. The staff is not unique/unique-equipped, because you cannot dual wield staves currently (nor, in fairness, have I ever heard of paired staves being an especially common combat style). It'll be interesting to see how Blizzard handles this. There would be outcry if the talent gets pulled again (it was rumored for TBC), but I'm not sure if they've fully thought out the quirks of combining a pair of 2H Arena weapons, for example.
- Don't hide the content
One of the odd quirks of Outland was that Blizzard chose to squirrel away some level 60 content in the eastern half of Zangarmarsh.... where players who tackle content in the order they encounter it won't see it until they outleveled it. This was great for people who were in the beta or did their reading and skipped over the entire eastern half of Hellfire Peninsula on launch week, but arguably less useful. The good news is that Blizzard appears to have learned its lesson on this front, splitting out the starting content in half via two entry points to Northrend. Whether this will have other effects remains to be seen.