There’s a certain paradox that comes along with leveling up a character: the more you advance, the closer you are to exhausting content that you’ll never be able to experience again in the same manner. The first time running through a zone, especially the heavily specialized zones in World of Warcraft expansions, simply is a unique experience.
As I’ve been trekking through the Jade Forest, my first time seeing the area first-hand has left me with the conclusion that for me, speed isn’t everything when it comes to leveling. Far more important, to me, is becoming entrenched in the lore. It’s fun to embrace the characters who have surprisingly intricate love stories; take in the numerous striking cut scenes; and enjoy the challenge that comes along with fighting through content that is at your level.
Sure, it’s fun once level-capped to return and rerun content that you didn’t get through when leveling. And it is necessary as well, either for reputation grinds or simply because of reaching level cap before getting to the content. But you don’t experience it quite the same way at that point.
Once you’re too strong for the area, have the ability to use flying mounts and are in it more so for the achievements, the lore and the sense of adventure get lost. But for me, that’s one of the most compelling reasons to play: to learn more about these fascinating characters who you get to influence in-game.
Leveling also is such an important aspect to WoW because it’s an aspect that ties us all together. We may choose different endgame experiences, but the vast majority of the WoW player base advances their characters through leveling. It’s one thing we all share in common, but also one aspect that we too often try to rush through in order to reach the end.
Now, I’m not harping on the minority of players who battled to get world-first or realm-first level caps each time a new expansion is released. I understand the desire to get to the vast end-game content. But I also think that leveling is too-often overlooked as a necessity or simply the means to an end, rather than