Casually Classic: WoW Classic’s Burning Crusade entry ditch


With this year’s Burning Crusade Classic, the dynamics of leveling in WoW Classic shifted just as they did originally. Before Burning Crusade came along — now or back then — leveling was a long slog to 60 with nary a reprieve at the top end. After the first expansion, things went a little faster and there was a significant milestone: level 58, AKA “the level at which you were legally allowed in Outland.”

It’s an untold relief to hit level 58 and be done with the haphazard questing and less focused old world design so that you can jump into the fast lane of Burning Crusade. However, it’s not all smooth times and fun rides; there’s a big ditch that you have to clear before things actually get good — and this ditch is right at the start.

So before I get into explaining this phenomenon, I have to note that not everyone will actually experience it. Players coming into Outland at level 60 wearing good dungeon — or raid — gear won’t be inconvenienced in the least. Some classes may have an easier time than others. Leveling groups or dungeoneers will circumvent it.

But for your average players who dings level 58 in whatever green gear he or she has cobbled together over the past 20 levels, pushing into Outland is initially quite frustrating. Yes, you can technically go there at 58. I do go there at 58. It’s just that it’s going to be painful for a while.

The reason for what I mentally think of as Burning Crusade’s “entry ditch” is that Hellfire Peninsula is balanced around level 61 questing with the type of jumped-up gear that TBC brought to the table. So a level 58 in old world greens is coming in fairly underpowered and undergeared, and that player is going to get destroyed by average mobs. And I’m not talking about the Fel Reaver, either.

I recently went through this (again) on my Draenei Shaman as I took her through the Dark Portal. Sure, it was a huge relief finally to be in Outland, but I stumbled into that same entry ditch that I’ve done with pretty much all of my characters. I had to deliberately hunt for level 58 or 59 mobs and run like crazy away from anything higher (or that came in twos and threes).

Questing was excruciating, an exercise in taking two steps forward before dying for various reasons and having to do a corpse run back. I seriously lost track of how many times I died due to my increased aggro radius and my limited survivability and attack power. The one Orc camp was carpeted with my bones before all was said and done.

Fortunately, there is a way up and out of this ditch, but it’s a very narrow and specific path at level 58. Hellfire Peninsula has a very small handful of level 58 and 59 quests, and it’s these that you have to pursue from the get-go. The idea is to use these missions and general grinding to get to level 59 and start accumulating a few pieces of that much-desired Burning Crusade green gear. It’s amazing how even three pieces of improved gear will jack up your rates of survival.

But until the balance of survivability and power can tip from against you to something you can work with, it’s going to be a slog and an exercise in persistence. Every single time I have to remind myself to persevere, to keep going, to fling corpse after corpse at these quests until I can get them done.

It does help to know that, yes, it gets better. And for those who like a little bit of extra challenge, it can even be a bit of a thrill ride. I admit that I do like seeing how greatly my stats improve in these first two levels, because you don’t typically notice that kind of power jump in high levels. It’s usually incremental.

Maybe this is not a relevant or significant topic to those who are already deep into Burning Crusade’s endgame or don’t have a problem with this ditch, but I wanted to note my observations and offer a bit of encouragement to anyone who’s just now clawed their way to Outland and gotten slapped in the face more than once.

You can do it.

Stepping back into the MMO time machine of WoW Classic, Justin Olivetti offers up observations and ground-level analysis as a Gnome with a view. Casually Classic is a more laid-back look at this legacy ruleset for those of us who’ve never stepped into a raid or seen more than 200 gold to our names.
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