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World of Warcraft: How To Speed Up Your Leveling In Shadowlands

Christopher Hutton Updated: Posted:
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With World of Warcraft: Shadowlands quickly approaching, players are growing eager. Last Tuesday, players were finally given new story content to play as the Death’s Rising expansion has begun. But it was only a few weeks ago that Blizzard released the 9.0 patch, which offered new customization options as well as a revamped leveling method. No longer did players have to spend 80+ hours leveling a singular character. Now it takes only a portion of that.

But what does that leveling process look like, and how fast is it? What are the most efficient methods available to players today? That is what MMORPG.com will layout for you today.

Exile’s Path Offer a Speedy Start

The new section of leveling that Blizzard introduced Exile’s Reach, a simple adventure that helps introduce players to the basics of their class and tells a D&D-esque story of a shipwrecked crew recovering their own on an isle foreign to them. Players will fight ogres, meet ghosts and stop the resurrection of a dragon. 

The experience will likely be a relief for normal players, but also a speedy and informative experience for new players. What is also nice is how the game speeds through the first 10 levels in what we found to be less than an hour of game time. From there, it all depends on your choice of expansion.

Leveling: Now a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure

Once players reach level 10, they are encouraged to approach Chromie (located near both faction’s embassies) and to choose an expansion. While each expansion is enjoyable in their own right, they’re not comparable when it comes to the speed of leveling. Newer expansions often included events that could be used to gain non-quest/mob XP, whether it was rares, hidden items, or bonus objectives.

When WoWhead reviewed the time required for each expansion, they discovered that Warlords of Draenor averaged around 12 hours total to level through. The orc-centric expansion was originally designed with a variety of additional sources of experience. These include a multitude of bonus objectives mixed with treasures and rare mobs. Blizzard was also in the process of redesigning the leveling process so that it was more streamlined and congruent when compared to Burning Crusade or Wrath. This was followed by:

  • Legion: 14 Hours
  • BFA: 16 hours
  • Mists of Pandaria: 16 hours
  • Cataclysm: 20 hours
  • Wrath of the Lich King: 24 Hours
  • Burning Crusade: 24 Hours

What External Boosts Should Be Considered?

While the game has shrunken down leveling, that doesn’t mean players can’t optimize or use in-game items to get that extra XP. Several events will provide XP boosts if allowed. The Darkmoon Faire, which occurs at the start of every month, has a Carousel that will provide a 10 percent boost in XP if used. The Hallow’s End event will let players access the Pyre in front of both capital cities to get a 2-hour 10 percent XP buff. And the annual anniversary of the game will provide a sixteen percent XP boost for the entirety of the event. Make sure to check for any holidays or events that may offer a slight edge to increase your grind.

War Mode will also provide a significant bonus to leveling for most players, assuming they’re willing to take the risk of PvP interventions.

Do Heirlooms Still Matter

For years, WoW players have relied on heirlooms, special items that offer scaling armor stats and XP boosts depending on how well upgraded they were at the time. For many players, these tools were the key to boosting and expediting the level progress. The problem is that they were often quite expensive and required more than 200,000 gold to be upgraded to 120 during BFA. But if upgraded properly, it could provide up to 40% more XP to the leveling experience.

For most players, investing in such tools made sense if they were altoholics. But the latest update to WoW nerfed the armor’s value, diminishing the XP bonus to ‘a multitude of effects, from extending the amount of rested XP used over time to increased health/mana regeneration while out of combat. 

If players do still own heirlooms, they should still consider using them whenever possible, particularly if they intend to level several alts in the coming future. But unless you are leaving the characters in rested XP areas for long periods, those bonuses won’t add up to much.

Addons Will Optimize The Experience

With WoW’s compatibility with third-party apps, some developers have created add-ons that will optimize the playing experience. One app to consider would be Azeroth Auto-Pilot. Not only does the addon recommend the fastest paths to traverse to level up, but it also annotates and leads the player to any possible treasures, rares, optional objectives, and locations that may expedite your XP gathering. The addon is currently only for Warlords, but the designers intend to expand its reach to other expansions in future patches.

Other addons to consider include Handynotes(which provides notes on locations and quests in-game) and Rarescanner (will help find rare items, events and treasures on your map)

Leveling Speed Runs:

One of the fun elements of the latest patch is watching WoW players attempt to find the fastest way to level through. Reddit user Harldan says they were able to go from 10-50 in less than 6 hours, nearly cutting the leveling process in half. His approach does require the acquisition of several consumables and appears to be Horde-centric, although Harldan does say he is testing out Alliance paths that may go faster.


Christopher Hutton

Graduate Student. Freelance Reporter. Roleplayer. Researcher. Nerd about gaming, religion and an assortment of topics.