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World of Warcraft: Legion beginner's guide

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Catching up, playing smart and hiting the level cap

World of Warcraft is a daunting beast with a rich 12-year history behind it that could scare off both new and returning players. Yet with its latest update, World of Warcraft: Legion, it's easier than ever to get back in or start fresh — especially with the level boost system Blizzard is offering.

World of Warcraft: Legion is different than other expansions, though. Choosing the appropriate place to be and knowing what you should do — and not do — there will help you maximize the experience you earn and collect better gear faster. This guide will show you the most efficient path through Azeroth on your quest to reach the level cap of 110.

The basic story so far

Continuing off of the narrative built with the previous four expansions, World of Warcraft: Legion centers on the struggle between the Night Elf/Demon hybrid Illidan and the Orc Gul'dan. The story pits the former's Illidari faction comprised of Demon Hunters against the latter's Burning Legion allies. Although the Horde and Alliance forces have their differences, they're ultimately fighting the same enemy, whose forces threaten all of Azeroth.

It's your job to join up as either an existing class or the brand new Demon Hunter class to take on Gul'dan. Set in the Broken Isles — new lands exclusive to LegionWorld of Warcraft: Legion's campaign kicks off at level 100. Sylvanas Windrunner is now in charge of the Horde, while Anduin is the leader of the Alliance, and they're both fighting Gul'dan and his cohorts. That's just about all you need to know.

Classes

Choose a class and spec (specialization) that suits your playstyle, whether that's healing, protecting the group (tanking) or dealing out damage. These three roles are also known as the "Holy Trinity" setup in massively multiplayer online role-playing games. Note that not every specialization falls strictly into these three styles (several overlap), but as a rule, most do.

While there was originally a lot of guesswork and theorycrafting (read: looking up information on forums) involved, picking a spec is much less stressful in the current World of Warcraft climate, so feel free to experiment a bit. That process is easier than ever with the new Class Trial system, which allows you to create a character with a predefined specialization and play with them through a tutorial mission. If you like the character, you can then apply your level 100 character boost and begin playing through the game proper.

Generally, characters fall into a few common and important roles. Below, we'll explain them and why you might want to use them.

Tank

In an MMO, tanks are generally the leaders and shot-callers of the group. It's up to them to know each encounter and the nuances involved. Playing as a tank requires the ability to make split-second decisions and change strategies on the fly. Tanks are responsible for knowing when to use defensive abilities at key times to take pressure away from the healers.

Depending on the fight, it's not necessarily the hardest role (some require you to just stand still and occasionally pop abilities), but as a whole it does attract a sense of responsibility.

Healer

Healing is an essential role, and if you don't manage your mana or abilities correctly, your tank goes down and your entire group will die (also known as a "wipe").

There are different types of healing that are dependant on the class. Some are more direct, while others are passive or more esoteric. Each one drastically alters your approach from a proactive to a reactive healer. A good support is hard to come by, so if you enjoy helping others, weigh your class options heavily and consider becoming a healer.

DPS (damage-per-second or damage)

The vast majority of players — especially new ones — gravitate towards a DPS role. For most fights, it warrants the least amount of responsibility, as you're merely one of many contributing to taking a boss down.

If a tank dies, it can be very hard for another player (referred to as an "off-tank") to save the group from a wipe. To an extent, the same goes for a healer. DPS players, however, can be left for dead or casually revived throughout a fight with little in the way of repercussions.

There are exceptions, like encounters that are "DPS checks" or sport a "rage timer," where a boss becomes unbeatable or practically unbeatable after a certain amount of time. If you play as a DPS, you'll need to be watching the fight constantly since you're going to be more mobile than the other two roles — that means more opportunities to run into hazards or screw up boss mechanics.

Picking the best starting area

In World of Warcraft: Legion, you're free to pick any starting area you wish, provided that it's one of the four leveling zones. (Suramar, a fifth, is reserved for level 110 players). It doesn't matter where you go because each area scales with your level — meaning every creature will be at level 110 by the time you complete every zone. Still, some zones are easier to navigate than others.

In this section, we'll tell you about each area and give you enough information to make an informed decision about where to begin your journey in World of Warcraft: Legion.

Azsuna

With a heavy focus around a mysterious faction and the Naga (night elves who have been mutated into a snake-like race) , the beautiful Azsuna is a good palette cleanser after a few of the other zones. It's much easier to digest after exploring other locations and getting acclimated to Legion.

If you're so inclined, however, the flat nature of the area makes for easy questing.

Highmountain

We recommend that you go to Highmountain last. As the name implies, the terrain sports one of the most confusing layouts in the game, with many paths located high up in the sky with specific roads leading up to them.

If you're especially new to roaming around World of Warcraft zones or are too shy to ask for directions, some quests in Highmountain will be taxing.

Stormheim

Stormheim is one of the most popular starting zones in World of Warcraft: Legion for a reason: It draws heavily upon Norse mythology to provide a more engaging and familiar experience for World of Warcraft and non-World of Warcraft fans alike.

Stormheim also features one of the more straightforward main questlines, and although there are some mountainous areas, they're not nearly as daunting to navigate as Highmountain.

Val'Sharah

If you're already a Warcraft fan (particularly of the real-time-strategy series), Val'Sharah is the starting zone for you. The entire questline is centered around fan favorites Tyrande and Malfurion, culminating in a lore-heavy dungeon quest.

Val'Sharah also the flattest zone in the entire game, so you won't have any trouble at all finding your way around.

Chip away at Bonus Objectives while questing

No matter which area you're in, look for and complete Bonus Objectives. They're arguably the most important aspect of leveling in World of Warcraft: Legion, but they're also highly understated in the game.

Don't ignore Bonus Objectives. With a minimal amount of effort (read: one bonus per hour or so), you'll reach level 110 before you complete every main zone.

Although they're really easy to miss, but Bonus Objectives will assist in the leveling process and can often be done in tandem with your normal quests. They'll not only pop up on the map as clashed sword icons, but as you move about the Broken Isles, you'll also randomly see them on your quest user interface listed underneath your tracked quests.

Bonus Objectives usually have an percentage meter, which fills up as you contribute towards that quest — when it fills up, it's completed. They allow you to avoid the typical rote "kill" or "fetch" quests, providing multiple objectives, all of which award the same amount of experience.

To maximize your experience gathering, aim to complete your core quests first. If you find an item or enemy along the way that contributes toward a bonus objective, go out of your way to do it.

Once you hit level 110, bonus quests will morph into "world quests," which provide better high-end loot. If you've already become acquainted with how they work, you'll be able to clean them up much faster.

Don't forget about your Class Hall

It's really easy to forget that you have a Class Hall. You're only required to go to it once after reaching the capital city of Dalaran. But you should return periodically because it houses an entire questline that continues far past level 110, so you'll want to get a head start as soon as possible. Your Class Hall also has lots of great tools for getting ahead, including items that can increase the experience rate of your Relic weapon, or upgrades and buffs for your troops, which in turn earn you more items and resources after successfully completing quests.

Class Halls not only provide you with quests to send your followers to complete, but they also house multiple upgrade stations. Most notably is the forge where you upgrade your Relic weapon. In World of Warcraft: Legion, all players get a free, new, unique Relic weapons, each of which to your chosen specialization.

Earn rewards with Champions

From Class Halls, you can send Champions (non-playable characters) on randomly generated quests. They level up when completing a quest, which grants a higher success rate for future quests and usually nets you an item or extra bit of gold. Each Champion has a randomly assigned specialization like countering debuffs, or negative status effects such as increased timers or decreased chance of success.

WoW Legion Companion app

Some quests require multiple specializations, so you may want to wait before assigning out your entire crew of Champions. With some patience, you can slot in everyone you need instead of having them tied up with menial quests that don't play to their strengths.

Every single one of these aspects, from NPC questing to research-intensive upgrades, is on a real-life timer, so you’ll need to return to them after some time has passed in the real world. Heading back to your Class Hall periodically to check on things (either before work or before bed) can save you a lot of time.

You can also use the new companion app (which you can download on Android and iOS) to check on those timers without logging in, but it’s important to not wholly rely on the app. Some rewards involve upgrades for your Champions, and the only way to apply them is to actually log into World of Warcraft and do it manually. If you’re getting lots of Champion gear rewards, make sure to equip them first to increase your chances of success for future app runs.

Work smarter not harder

You can also use the new WoW Legion Companion app (which you can download on Android and iOS) to check on those timers without logging in, but it's important to not wholly rely on the app. Pay attention to your Champion's gear and abilities, as they can impact your victory percentage when completing missions. Sending less Champions along will allow you to spread the wealth quicker.

Complete zones first, dungeons last

It can be tempting to grind out dungeons for levels, especially because past expansions have favored that approach. In World of Warcraft: Legion, you will reach the level 110 cap just through questing — if you complete occasional Bonus Objectives. As a result of the gear you'll automatically earn through each zone's questline, it's not wise to grind out dungeons for less experience and attempt to earn random, non-guaranteed loot during the leveling process.

There is an exception, however. Each region has its own main quest that you can track manually through the achievements menu. Once every category has been fulfilled, you'll unlock the final task for that region — completing the dungeon. At that point, you can enter and reap the reward before moving on to the next zone.

If you enjoy dungeons, by all means play them at your leisure. They're just not a swift means of reaching World of Warcraft: Legion's max level.

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