Welcome to "Preparing for a Cataclysm," a new series of articles between now and World of Warcraft's next expansion, aptly titled, Cataclysm. This series will focus on all things to do with and to prepare for this new expansion as well as express opinions and known updates about it. Currently the release date is speculated to probably be Q2, 3 or 4 of 2010. Blizzard has confirmed they are shooting for a 2010 release and Game Stop has a release date holder for November 2010. Chances are high that it will be released sometime between May and November of 2010. That's a large window to work with for now, but at best, I figure we have six months before the start of that window to prepare.
These articles are not designed for the hardcore player. Nor is it for just the casual WoW player. I classify myself as simply a "gamer" or a "hobbyist" gamer to be even more specific. That's somewhere between casual and hardcore, which I find represents a fair number of players. These articles are designed for you - that person somewhere between casual and hardcore. You like and experience endgame content, but that's not your sole drive. Neither are you in game to just fiddle around with friends or play an MMO as a first person RPG.
As a player myself, I was first exposed to WoW in Beta through a friend's account. I played a Troll Hunter and an Orc Rogue. It would be a little over a month after release before I got my own account and started playing seriously. I ended up playing a Night Elf Rogue, which is one of my main toons today. Not having much success at getting into end-game content on the server I was on, I ended up going to another server and played an Undead Priest. When Burning Crusade came out, I left the game for awhile. About half way through BC, I ended up coming back to the game and got both of these toons up to 70, but stopped playing Horde.
When Wrath of the Lich King came out, I continued to play the Rogue and left my Horde toon behind. However, when faction change came to WoW, my Undead Priest became a Draenei Priest. In addition to these two "main" toons, I have a Death Knight, a lowbie Dwarf Hunter, Human Warlock and Draenei Shaman. Throughout my days of playing WoW, I have been an officer, a guild leader and back in Classic, a raid leader. When Cataclysm comes out, in addition to reaching the new level cap of 85, I also intend on leveling a Worgen Warrior or Druid.
Tying Up Loose Ends
As we prepare for Cataclysm, the first step I suggest is tying up loose ends. Once the new expansion comes out, we will be busy leveling to 85, playing with the new races and race/class combinations and experiencing new content, which will leave much of the content elsewhere even further in the background, much like what happened when WotLK and BC came out.
Tying up loose ends means getting the things done that have been on our back burners anyway. They usually fall into one of three categories:
- Attaining tangible (in-game) items.
- Attain intangible (in-game) goals.
For some, you may have aspirations in more than just one of these areas, so you also need to decide which are more important to you. You're going to have to prioritize a little. You're also going to have to figure out some time management in order to get a lot done (if you have a lot to do that is).
Let's look at leveling. For starters, if you do not have a toon at level 80 yet, get one there! I am not saying rush through content and not enjoy the journey - indeed it is one of the most enjoyable aspects of the game if you haven't leveled a toon to 80. That said, you will really want a toon at max level before Cataclysm comes out. It will be very easy to get side tracked with all the new content, or beginning a new toon as a Worgen or Goblin.
Many of you I am sure, like me, have at least one level 80 and probably another couple that are leveling along but not there yet. Mileage will vary greatly but you can expect that if you are putting a sincere effort into leveling, it takes anywhere from 10-15 days playing time to get from level 1 to level 80. Power-levelers and players with great time management can do it much faster, likewise us "slow" levelers can take even longer. With 240 hours to level to 80 from first level (10 days) and playing an average of two hours a day... that's four months to level a toon in real time.
Again, mileage may differ and of course many of us have toons well on the way to 80, so some time is spared. All in all you can still expect some significant time spent leveling your alts. I suggest doing so however. The reason is the same as for someone who doesn't have a level 80 yet. When Cataclysm comes out we will be leveling to cap again, perhaps starting one of the new race/class combinations, experiencing new content, etc. This means our alts who are not level 80 yet, will still not be level 80 and the chances of that happening will most likely decrease.
The hard part here is deciding which alt(s) you want to focus on first to get to level 80. I've personally made the mistake in the past that I could level them together and for some that may work. I have found that focusing on one toon at a time for leveling works better for me. Whichever toon you decide to level to 80 first though should be one that is furthest along the way to begin with and one that you do enjoy playing. Using myself as an example, I have my level 80 Rogue and my Priest is 79. I want to get the Priest to 80 first, and then I have a level 74 Death Knight and a level 31 Hunter as my next highest level toons. If you gathered that I would level the Death Knight and then the Hunter, give yourself a gold star. Time-wise it is feasible to get the DK and the Hunter to level 80 before the expansion comes out. My other two alts, the Shaman and the Warlock I "may" have time for one of them to level but with my play style I have to be honest with myself and know I won't be able to do both.
In a near-future article we'll take a look at some leveling strategies, heirloom items, how our mains can assist our alts and other ideas to speed the leveling process for our alts.
In part two of this article we'll look at the tangibles and intangible goals of our characters and how all of these goals fit together in our estimated timeline until the release of cataclysm.