The World of Warcraft: Shadowlands pre-expansion patch has reworked WoW’s entire leveling system. New characters will now be able to train from level 10-50 in any of the game’s previous expansions before proceeding to level from 50-60 in Shadowlands when it releases later this year.
There’s more to the changes than a simple level squish though, and returning players may be slightly confused by the revamped leveling process. In this guide, we’ll be covering the best strategies for leveling from 1-50, the difference between normal time and Chromie Time, and the expansions best suited for the most efficient leveling.
Leveling from 1-10
The leveling process is going to be different depending on if you are a new player or not. If you are playing WoW for the first time, your brand new level 1 character will begin in a new zone called Exile’s Reach. This is a tutorial hub designed to teach new players the basics of the game. It tells a new story and brings all the new players together to learn in the same space, though Horde and Alliance are still separated.
If you have already played WoW and you have a max-level character on your account, then you have 3 options for how to start:
- Start in Exile’s Reach
- Start in a race-specific starting area (the old way to play)
- Skip to level 10
Also, some races/classes do not have the option of entering Exile’s Reach either because they don’t start at level 1 or because they are designed for experienced players. Those exceptions are
- Death Knights and Demon Hunters start in their class-specific starting area
- All Allied Races start at level 10 and cannot enter any starting area
Additionally, if you selected your race-specific starting zone when creating your character you will not be able to go to Exile’s Reach.
Once you reach level 10, your character will travel to either Orgrimmar (Horde) or Stormwind City (Alliance) and choose how they wish to level from 10-50
Leveling from 10-50
For brand new players that just finished Exile’s Reach, characters will be sent directly into the Battle for Azeroth expansion where they will level all the way from 10 to 50.
For everyone else, you have a few options for how to continue leveling after starting at/reaching level 10. If you prefer, you can continue to level just as you always have by visiting level-appropriate zones and playing through each expansion sequentially, albeit with an adjusted leveling curve for the new system. The new level requirements for each expansion are:
- 10-30 in either Vanilla, Burning Crusade or Wrath of the Lich King
- 30-35 in Cataclysm
- 10-35 in Mists of Pandaria
- 10-40 in Warlord of Draenor
- 10-45 in Legion
- 10-50 in Battle for Azeroth
Alternatively, you will have the option to play through an entire expansion from 10-50 using a new mechanic called Chromie Time.
By speaking to Chromie in either Orgrimmar or Stormwind City, your character can choose any of the seven expansions to play through until hitting the level cap. While in Chromie Time, the entire world will scale to your level, meaning you can go anywhere and complete any quest and it will always be level-appropriate.
It’s important to note that whichever expansion you initially choose from Chromie will determine which dungeons you have access to in the Dungeon Finder. However, this does not restrict you from questing in any expansion you want. Chromie will teleport you to your chosen expansion and give you the starting quest, but you can always travel to a different expansion and begin its quest chain from your Adventure Journal.
If you want to play dungeons outside of your selected expansion you’ll need to either physically go to the dungeon entrance or group up with members who have selected other expansions to level in, so that they can queue your party for the desired dungeon.
If you want to leave Chromie Time you’ll need to travel back to Orgrimmar/Stormwind and talk to Chromie again. As soon as you hit level 50 you’ll be brought back to your faction’s city and Chromie Time will end.
Once you’ve finished leveling to 50 in your chosen expansion, you’ll just need to wait for the launch of Shadowlands to continue your journey to level 60.
Choosing Your Expansion In Chromie Time
There is a pretty drastic difference in playtime between the seven expansions. Ultimately, you should play in whichever expansion will be the most fun for you, but if you’re looking to save some time and get your character to max level ASAP, some expansions are better than others.
According to Wowhead, the time to hit level 50 in each expansion is as follow:
- Burning Crusade – 24 hours
- Wrath of the Lich King – 24 hours
- Cataclysm – 20 hours
- Mists of Panderia – 16 hours
- Battle for Azeroth – 16 hours
- Legion – 14 hours
- Warlords of Draenor – 12 hours
Generally speaking, the newer the expansion is the faster it will be to complete reach max level. If you absolutely want to get to level 50 as fast as possible, settle into the much-maligned Warlords of Draenor and start grinding. There’s a pretty good chance these numbers will get rebalanced before Shadowlands and we’ll update this guide if anything changes.
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Eric Switzer is the Livestream News Editor for TheGamer as well as the lead for VR and Tech. He has written about comics and film for Bloody Disgusting and VFXwire. He is a graduate of University of Missouri – Columbia and Vancouver Film School. Eric loves board games, fan conventions, new technology, and his sweet sweet kitties Bruce and Babs. Favorite games include Destiny 2, Kingdom Hearts, Super Metroid, and Prey…but mostly Prey. His favorite Pokémon is Umbreon.
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