Well, the pre-Wrath patch is live. With it came a new profession that I reviewed as very useful for an alt-o-holic, quicker exp from levels 60-70, and powerful new talents. As Larisa points out, for the first time, a new character can have every single one of their exploits tracked in the achievement system, while all your current characters have missed out on nearly four years worth of data. So clearly, the time to roll up that new alt you've been meaning to try is now. Or is it?
No Death Knights yet. Not for you.
There will not be any Death Knights until November 13th. Death Knights get a care package that includes 54 levels, an epic ground mount, great gear, and a head start on flight paths, first aid, and weapon skills. There are good reasons why DK's aren't out yet. Still, that's not much comfort if you wanted a DK alt, especially if their purpose in life is to inscribe all your spellbooks for you.
Note: If you were considering parking a healer alt at level 58 and coasting to 70 after the expansion launches by healing small armies of Death Knights through instances, bear in mind that A) starter DK's have no tanking gear, not even a shield, B) most DK's are going to be used to soloing, where their pets (most of which physcially CANNOT be controlled) are less of a liability.
The Wrath Beta balancing continues
There's still a beta going, with major class balancing work in progress. My Warrior now takes a 15% hit penalty to all special attacks as a counterbalance to Titan's Grip. Today's blue post round up says that penalty is getting slashed to a mere 5%. There's also a comment that Blizzard is re-evaluating that whole soul shard thing for Warlocks. Point being, your new class may be stronger next month than it is today.
Heirlooms and headstarts
The expansion is introducing "heirloom" items, primarily weapons, which you can mail to your alts and will scale with them from level 1 potentially all the way to 80. As I noted in my beta review, these are currently raid token only, but I can't imagine that they will stay that way indefinitely. If you're planning on starting a Rogue or somesuch from a low level, having access to a great weapon (presumably enchanted with something useful, like Crusader) may be a huge improvement. There's also the planned dual spec feature, which will help a lot if you want to be able to do group content while you level.
And then there's the question of that 54 level headstart for Death Knights. Blizzard has admitted that they know the level 20-60 content is the least impressive in the game at the moment. Combine that with the huge package of incentives for Death Knights and we're definitely going to see a lot of DK's. I've been saying for a while now that I think starting any character at level 55 is probably going to be in a Wrath content patch somewhere down the line; any other alternative would have potentially dire effects on class population balance. Meanwhile, there are hints that Blizzard may be planning to make this worth their while by charging; we know they are considering some form of microtransactions, and the recruit a friend program is basically cash in exchange for faster exp anyway.
Aside: Tobold suggests an expansion idea that sets the game's starting level at 55 and moves the timeline forward, redoing all of old Azeroth. It's a clever idea, especially for later in WoW's life, when one presumes that the Dev team will start to shrink. I think it's more likely to be done via a trip to the future through the Caverns of Time - why remove the option to level the old way from someone who wants to do so?
The one thing that is absolutely certain is that Blizzard will not compensate players retroactively for making levels easier to attain down the line. It's a good time to finish up any alts you're working on now (especially if they're already in Outland), but I'm almost certain that more streamlining for new alts is coming in the next year.