Casually Classic: WoW Classic’s Burning Crusade entry ditch

    
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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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mylin1

It has been a long time since I did the TBC but I thought that there was a good amount of filler gear to be crafted/pvp vendored still that 58+ could use?

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William Rice

I leveled frantically in the prepatch but I was weeks behind tbc launch. When I got there, the ditch was real.

Watching all the boosts and knowing that we only got two weeks because Bobby wants more yachts made me say fuck it and cancel wow sub, again, for the upteenth time, but this time, for good.

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Rndomuser

I went through TBC’s first zone both as lvl58 and lvl60 character when I just ported into it. For both of them leveling was annoying and felt like doing a tedious job, the lvl60 character just required slightly less time to kill stuff for quests. Only thing that made it bearable is playing on PvP server with plenty of action from both Horde and Alliance where you could take short breaks from dull leveling by participating in random PvP fights and it’s the only reason I bothered playing this expansion.

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Neurotic

“…your average players who dings level 58 in whatever green gear he or she has cobbled together over the past 20 levels…” Me back then, every time. ๐Ÿ˜‚

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Justin Heits

You are acting like the game is forcing you to go to BC at 58. Nothing is stopping you from hitting 60 in classic content before you go through the dark portal my guy. Blizzard already put training wheels on by adding boosts. I feel like nobody is going to agree with your points here unless they are very green.

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Nathan Aldana

hitting 60 wont change much unless you then quest lvl 60 endgame gear before moving on, so stop being so disingenuous just to pretend you’re in some vast majority

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Bruno Brito

Don’t speak for me.

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Dug From The Earth

Despite all the “duh” comments by people, if a game starts telling players “Hey, you can go here now” then it shouldnt be “Too early”. They shouldnt find themselves feeling punished for doing something that the game promotes.

I honestly dont remember if at 58 you get quests telling you to go to outlands or not. If not, and you rush off to do it, then thats your bad. But if the game hands you quests to go there at 58, and you go there and get stomped, thats just bad game design.

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Bruno Brito

But that’s the point: It isn’t. I’m not on the bandwagon of people going full snark, but it’s really weird how different my experience was:

So, the first quests you’re supposed to do in Outlands are these 3 ( if you’re Horde ): Felspark Ravine ( the story chain ), I work…for the Horde! and Bonechewer Blood. The start is a bit hard because the infernals are sturdy but if you pull correctly, it’s really not hard. It’s 1 Dreadlord, 6 Infernals and 4 Flameimps. It rewards you a weapon, which is pretty much the best thing you’ll get to start. After that, the questgiver will direct you to the forward camp, and you’ll be near the bonechewers for Bonechewer Blood and I work…for the Horde! They’re also pretty near Thrallmar’s entrance if you just want to do it there. The Bonechewers are easy, the wood and metal are all around and you can just wait for respawns. The demons for the chain after Ravine, which is basically to get 8 demon stones to close the demongates are a bit resistant but they aren’t impossible.

Since Justin is playing a Shaman, the first three quests award him: A 2h Axe/Dagger/Caster Staff. The staff and axe are good for enhancement, the dagger is passable. The Bonechewer Blood gives him another dagger, or a choice of 2 shields, a caster and a tank one, and the I work…for the Horde! quest gives a choice between two helmets, a mail agi one and a leather caster one, or a leather agi chest.

These three items already give you enough boost to keep playing. The other quests aren’t that hard either, you get a lot out of the chain for bombing missions which gives you more good items, until you get to the Forge Camps. My recommendation then is to not do them until level 60 ( they’re doable tho, just a pain. Warlocks and Hunters are happy here. ). What can be done is then you go back to the bonechewer chain, and fly to the small outposts for Horde and Ally. Horde has one called Spinebreaker Post, with a flypath, south of Honor Hold, and ally has one called Reaver’s fall, which you access through the chain.

My entire point here is that no, you do NOT need to grind TBC. You do NOT feel that weak, unless your gear is severely outdated, and by that i mean, either whites or gear like 30 levels delayed, and quests are a-plenty.

Also, considering that TBC zones overlap, you can jump to Zangarmarsh, do some quests there since it’s a 60-63 zone and then go back to HFP.

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DJ Meowth

The game doesn’t promote going to Outland at level 58. When you ding level 58 on a Burning Crusade Classic server, you don’t get any sort of auto-bestowed quest or pop-up that recommends you go to Outland. The closest thing to a breadcrumb leading to Outland is a quest given by an NPC in Blasted Lands, a level 55-60 zone, which tells you go through the portal.

This sort of desperation to get to Outland as quickly as possible, no matter what, has been around since forever. I never found 58-60 to be especially difficult or boring in classic. Vanilla’s endgame zones – Eastern Plaguelands, Winterspring, Blasted Lands, Silithus- are among its most interesting and epic. Over the years I’ve seen many guildies and random forum posters wringing their hands saying “I’m level 58 and Hellfire Peninsula is too hard! Now what do I do???”

Just turn around, march back through the portal, and finish your Azeroth leveling!

In the end, though, it was most likely Blizzard that caused this whole ‘Outland or bust at level 58’ thing. Hellfire should have always been described as a level 60-63 zone, not 58-63.

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Dug From The Earth

So if the game doesnt give you a quest to go to outlands at 58, and you go to outlands at 58.. thats on the player if they find themselves biting off more than they can chew.

Also, If I recall correctly, the Outland gear (greens) that drop and are usable starting at around level 56?? are vastly better than any vanilla leveling gear you would have. I remember always hitting the AH before going at 58, getting those Outland greens to equip, and then cake walking my way through the content.

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Nathan Aldana

I staunchly disagree on silithus, winterpring, blasted lands or eastern plagueland being interesting or epic but maybe I just remember a different zone than you do

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DJ Meowth

Perhaps! Maybe it comes down to how into the lore you were back then. In 2005 I thought those zones were great. Blasted Lands was home to the Dark Portal, and a preview of Outland as its influence turned what was once a swamp into a wasteland. Eastern Plaguelands was a blighted, toxic forest and the citadel of the Scourge in the Eastern Kingdoms. Silithus was a sprawling desert filled with buzzing hives of voracious insectoids. And as for Winterspring, I liked snowy zones!

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Bruno Brito

The best zone was Winterspring, hands down, and that’s saying a lot. All the others were awful. Leaving Tanaris/Ungoro ( which were already bad ) for the crap that was Silithus, Blasted Lands ( which had the collect quests everyone hated ), the Plaguelands which had a terrible flow to them and Felwood which was awful and Winterspring which was decent, but also had bad flow to it, was just icing on the terrible end-game turd that was classic late leveling.

WS had at least the bonus of being pretty and chill. The other zones were just dreadful, thematically and content-wise.

Which is why people jump on Outland as quick as they can.

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Nathan Aldana

Yeah, me, I wasnt a big wow lore nerd at the time so I just remember them as “those zones with very few quests that werent related to raiding”

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aYates

Some snarky comments in here…
I appreciate this article because I’m a super-casual player just slowly going through Vanilla Classic content(currently at lvl 36) and I need to think about how I want to enter BC content.
I’ll probably wait until level 60, if I can stand the wait and I assume BC players are selling BC lvl 58-60 Greens on the AH..? That’d help to buy some new gear ahead of entering the Portal.

I get wanting or expecting a challenge in game play, but I assume others are like me, even if it’s a small minority, in experiencing Classic like spending a day strolling through Disneyland, sipping some pink lemonade, and enjoying the view!

Harry Koala
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Harry Koala

I’ve just run in to this myself. My lvl 60 mage breezed through Hellfire Peninsula, and it’s now lvl 67, blowing same level mobs up in 10 seconds, and able to get through 8-10 before having to stop to drink.

Then I switched to my lvl 58 paladin (and ret pally vs frost mage is never a comparison that’s going to make the paladin look good anyway), and taking on one 58-60 mob took me 30 second and I had to stop to eat and drink after most fights. Once I hit 60, have a few decent bits of outland gear, and get my lvl 60 abilities, its going to get a lot easier. But you do really have to tiptoe around at first compared to a lvl 60 (even in unremarkable gear). And particularly as melee, it seems.

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Loopy

That’s more of a commentary on mage vs paladin combat style/speed than level disparity :P

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Bruno Brito

Paladins are pretty bad at leveling but the first part of HFP is a plethora of demons, so you can Exorcism them. The Felspark Ravine quest will give you the Rage Reaver and after that, it gets waaaay easier.

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Loopy

Did people forget that WoW leveling wasn’t a faceroll? Yeah, it’s not terribly complex either, but it at least requires some thought and strategy around managing your environment and pulls, given that you can’t just aoe tank 20 mobs around you like in retail. And this is even more evident if you decide to go into TBC at 58.

I think the end result is also a lot more rewarding. As you mentioned Justin, the gear/stat progression is quick and significant, and you truly do feel like you’re getting stronger with time.

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styopa

It’s perhaps worth remembering that MOP staff were not…enthusiastic supporters… of classic, or of anything other than retail.
They may have changed their mind, or at least their editorial outlook to conform with the general public’s clear interest in classic and now tbc. But perhaps their expectations remain grounded in gameplay more like the disinterested effortlessness of leveling in retail?

“I’m two levels below the content for the zone, why can’t I faceroll through this?”

Bree Royce
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Bree Royce

I dunno even what website you’re reading. You’re literally commenting in our dedicated WoW Classic column written by a writer who actually plays, pays for, and enjoys WoW Classic. It’s Retail that has been soundly and deservedly thrashed by our other WoW column for the last year. It’s almost like treating 17 people as a monolith with one opinion so that you can insult them doesn’t work.

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dkhunter

It’s not that you’re wrong so much as it is that these characters are specifically marketed as being ready for use in TBC. And, well, they’re not; try getting into a dungeon group when your character still has several pieces of Communal gear, even at level 60. It’s like a giant flashing sign saying this person does not fully understand how to play their class. Old world groups like Strat and UBRS are very difficult to find, so there’s a ton of quests for good pre-Outland gear you’re going to find very difficult to obtain. Unless you can afford to spend hundreds of gold on some good crafted stuff, you’re gonna be crawling along until level 61 or 62 at least, and that’s assuming you have at least some idea what you’re doing.

I think it’s easy for those of us with strong guilds and multiple Naxx geared alts to miss the fact that someone who is just jumping in for TBC without that base is really going to struggle. I wouldn’t be against that per se (part of Classic is strongly encouraging community reliance) except that Blizzard implied to them they’d be able to jump right in, and that’s not really so. So it’s a little weird to hear Justin complain about this when he obviously already has some base to build from, but at the same time I think he has identified a legitimate issue here.

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styopa

“Players coming into Outland at level 60 wearing good dungeon โ€” or raid โ€” gear wonโ€™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.”

So…players trying to advance to/through content faster than designed…then feel like it’s a struggle to beat that content?