The newest World of Warcraft expansion, Battle for Azeroth, comes bundled with a free character boost to level 110 that puts you right into the action. It only works for one character, though, and the new allied races are sure to make you crave at least one alternate character (and possibly more).
You can also start playing World of Warcraft without buying the expansion or even the base game, though you do have to pay for the subscription.
Knowing the right tricks is important, and our World of Warcraft leveling guide can shave tens of hours off the time you spend leveling a character up to 110 and begin enjoying the new expansion. Here’s how to level the easy way.
Entirely new? Use recruit-a-friend
If you’re entirely new but have a friend who plays, you can earn a big boost through the recruit-a-friend program.
When enrolled, you and the player who recruited you gain a 50-percent bonus to experience from kills and quests if you’re in the same party and within 100 yards of each other. Your characters must also be within four levels of each other and below level 90, so your friend needs to want to level up a character, too.
The recruit also grants the recruiter levels, with the latter gaining one level for every two levels the recruit gains. There are a lot of rules and restrictions to that, however. It all basically boils down to leveling alternate characters together. The recruiter can even earn epic mounts and battle pets if you stick with the game for a couple months.
Pick a Death Knight or Demon Hunter
Most classes in World of Warcraft start at first level, but Death Knights and Demon Hunters are exceptions. They start at level 55 and 98, respectively. This alone can shave a huge chunk of time from your leveling experience. Of course, it only works if you want to play a Death Knight or Demon Hunter, but they’re both solid classics that can dish out damage or tank in a group.
Allied races also shave a bit of time from leveling because they start at level 20, so it’s wise to pick an allied race if you have one unlocked.
Heirlooms are special pieces of armor that level up with your character, so they have stats that are always respectable for your character’s level (up to level 110). Heirlooms that fit the head, shoulder, chest, legs, and back armor slot offer an experience bonus. The total bonus is 45 percent if you have them all. It’s also possible to acquire a ring that adds another 5 percent, but you must win a fishing contest acquire it, and that can take some time.
You can buy most heirlooms from Krom Stoutarm in Ironforge (if you’re alliance) or Estelle Gendry in the Undercity (if you’re Horde). However, some can only be purchased from guild vendors, which means you’ll have to join a guild before you can access them. Check out this heirloom list to find all the items and vendors.
Most heirlooms only work in a limited level range in their default form and must be upgraded to work at higher levels. That costs gold, and you’ll need around 30,000 gold to outfit yourself with a fully upgraded set (counting only those that give you bonus experience). You may need to spend some time on a boosted character to acquire the gold you need to outfit another character with heirlooms, but it’s well worth the effort.
Note these items are “bind on account,” which means all your characters have access to them once you buy them. With a few exceptions, you can use them even if your alternate character is on a different server, the opposite faction, or both.
Pick up Insightful Rubellite
Another item that helps with leveling is a gem called Insightful Rubellite. This gem adds a 5 percent bonus to experience. It’s made by jewelcrafting, so you’ll have to buy it on the auction house or have a friend make it unless you already have that profession leveled (which, if you’re new, isn’t likely!)
Pick zones with less legwork
Most of the time you spend leveling will involve questing and slaying monsters, but there’s also a lot of travel. Travel earns you little experience (you do gain a bit for discovering new areas), so it’s wise to keep travel to a minimum. The new level scaling system, which scales zones to your level within a preset range, helps with that. You can choose what zones you want to experience and stick with them until you finish their quests.
That means you should focus on zones that don’t require a lot of legwork. We can’t give you a comprehensive review of every zone, but we do have recommendations.
Alliance players are best served by starting in Stormwind and proceeding through Westfall, Redridge Mountains, Duskwood, and the pair of Stranglethorn zones. These areas are adjacent to each other, relatively compact, and have good quest flow.
Horde players, meanwhile, should start their journey in Orgrimmar. From then you can visit The Barrens zones and Azshara. Both have a decent quest flow and fun quests. You can then head to Tanaris and Un’Goro Crater, two simple, flat zones that have some back-and-forth but are easy to traverse on a mount.
Buckle up; this is the tough part. You must spend these levels navigating the game’s oldest content. Skip Outland, which looks and feels its age, and opt for the slightly newer zones in Northrend. Check out Sholazar Basin, Grizzly Hills, and Storm Peaks.
This level range opens a variety of zones from the Cataclysm expansion, which are spread across the game’s original continents, but it’s more efficient to head to the continent of Pandaria. You can spend the entirety of this level range exploring its uniquely themed zones and quests. The Jade Forest, Valley of the Four Winds, and Kun-Lai Summit are our picks, but all the zones are worth checking out.
Draenor, introduced in the Warlords of Draenor expansion, is arguably the most linear questing experience in the entire game. It’s wise to stick to the main story quests, as they’ll guide you through an efficient questing experience with minimal back-tracking.
With that said, it’s wise to check out Spires of Arak when given the chance. It’s a beautiful zone with the expansion’s best story and characters.
Unlike its predecessor, the Legion expansion’s new continent, The Broken Isles, is non-linear. It doesn’t have a main quest that directs you to specific zones (at least not until Suramar, and you’ll hit level 110 before then).There’s no wrong way to approach this expansion. Every zone is excellent and offers a self-contained story.
Follow the Battle for Azeroth story quests.
Remember to buy mounts, and the upgrades
You can buy a mount at level 20, and upgrade to flying at level 60. There are also several levels of mount skill that you can purchase as you level up, and each improves your speed on a mount. Don’t forget these! They make navigating the world far easier.
Use your Hearthstone
The Hearthstone, which teleports you back to an inn of your choice, is such an iconic part of World of Warcraft that it became the name of Blizzard’s spinoff card game. It’s also a useful tool that can cut down on leveling time drastically.
When you visit a new area, set your Hearthstone to an inn in the largest quest hub (usually the largest town, fort, or settlement). You can then teleport back to that spot when you finish a few quests instead of hiking back on foot or on your mount.
Play with strangers
The Hearthstone has a cooldown of 30 minutes, but there’s a guild perk called Hasty Hearth that shaves the time by half, giving you a strong incentive to join a guild. Yes, even if it’s some random guild that invites you without warning. It may feel odd to join people you don’t know, but if they have Hasty Hearth (and most guilds do), joining can save you a lot of legwork.
Joining a guild also earns you access to cloaks that can teleport you back to your faction’s capital city, adding a little more versatility when you need to switch areas. You’ll find these at the guild vendor in your faction capital.
Always log out in a rest area
Certain locations in World of Warcraft – primarily inns, capital cities, and private instanced zones like your garrison or class order hall – are rest areas. You know you’ve entered one because your character portrait will gain a “Zzz” icon where your level is normally shown, and because you can immediately log out of the game instead of waiting 20 seconds.
You earn a large rested experience bonus when you log out in this rest areas. This gives you a massive 200-percent bonus to experience gain from most actions (though experience from quests isn’t included). The amount of rested experience you earn increases the longer you’re logged off, and your experience bar will be blue (instead of purple) while you have the bonus.
This is a huge bonus, so don’t miss it. Always use your Hearthstone before you log out (as Hearthstone bind locations are always in rest areas) or hike to the nearest rest area available.
Turn on War Mode
War Mode is a new featured added for Battle for Azeroth. It’s effectively a world PvP switch that works on any server. Turn it on, and you can fight other players anywhere. Turn it off, and you’re safe.
It’s off by default, but you can turn it on in your faction’s capital city. Doing so nets you a 10-percent increase in quest rewards including experience.
The downside is that War Mode will make you vulnerable to other players, which means you might be killed more often. Whether it’s worthwhile will depend on the zones you’re visiting and how active the other faction is on your server cluster. Heavily populated realms usually mean more players on both sides, and more conflict, but on quieter realms, you may rarely run across an enemy.
Try it out and see how it works for you. You can turn it off if you feel the bonus isn’t worth the hassle.
Other items that boost experience
We’ve covered all the simple tips that are accessible to new and returning players, but there are a few other extra items worth mention.
- Darkmoon Top Hat: Acquired from the Darkmoon Faire from Gelva Grimegate, this hat adds a 10-percent bonus to experience. It’s consumed on use and lasts one hour, but you can purchase multiple hats and use them back-to-back. Note it works as a buff, not armor you wear, so it stacks with your heirloom helm.
- Excess Potion of Accelerated Learning: Acquired in your Garrison (part of the Warlords of Draenor expansion), this gives you a 20-percent bonus to experience from killing monsters and finishing quests. It lasts one hour, but you can buy it multiple times and use it back-to-back. Alliance players buy it from Sergeant Crowler, horde players buy it from Sergeant Grimjaw. Does not work above level 99.
- Elixir of Ancient Knowledge: This incredible potion boosts experience by 300 percent for one hour. Yes, 300 percent! There’s a catch, however – it’s a legacy item. You can only acquire it by purchasing it from others at the auction house, and it’s pricey. It lasts one hour and only works for characters below level 85.
- Elixir of the Rapid Mind: Another incredible option that boost experience by 300 percent. It only lasts 15 minutes but works up to level 100. Again, there’s a big catch. It’s a legacy item that no longer drops, so you can only buy it at high prices on the auction house.
Don’t forget to install mods
World of Warcraft supports significant modification of the interface, and some mods can drastically improve your leveling experience. Here are some options.
- Altoholic – Helps you keep track of items and currencies between alternate characters. It can help you remember bonuses and keep track of important items.
- Immersion – Changes the quest text experience to include “talking head” dialogue boxes. You won’t level more quickly, but you also won’t have to read walls of text.
- Wholly – Provides in-game access to a massive quest database (Grail, which you download separately). This can help you find nearby quests or skip ones that require too much travel.
- TomTom – A navigation assistant that helps you stay on the right track with a big green arrow, instead of concentrating on the tiny in-game mini-map.
- Atlas – Another navigation tool, this one adds better maps, as well as maps for areas in the game that lack them.