Cruising Through Cata

Up until level eighty, our levelling experience was mostly a pleasant nostalgia trip, even if there were some disappointments along the way. Cataclysm was going to be a slightly different matter however, as it was the expansion that originally led to both of us quitting the game.

"Which zone(s) are we going to do?" I asked. "Not that we have much of a choice... but I'm still feeling burnt out on pretty much all of them. With the way Cata questing worked, you had to do at least part of each zone to unlock all the portals, reputations etc., and with all the alts I had, I must have done most of them half a dozen times in total."

"Hey, I only did them once each," replied my pet tank, "and I hated them the first time."

We eventually agreed on doing Mount Hyjal in full, plus whatever intros we needed to do to unlock at least the portals to the other four zones, which fortunately wasn't too much. Mount Hyjal wasn't too painful either - though the loot we got from completing the whole thing certainly helped. All throughout Outland and Northrend we had struggled to keep our gear up to date, due to a mix of weird and now outdated gear itemisation and the devs seemingly "forgetting" about certain classes and specs when it came to quest rewards and dungeon drops. After a full tour of Mount Hyjal on the other hand I finally had a level-appropriate piece of gear for both of my specs in every single slot for the first time in a long time.

Once we'd acquired a few quest rewards to boost our stats, we set out to two-man Blackrock Caverns. It went very smoothly once again, more so than I expected... but it also felt quite slow. After eighty levels of all of our abilities being way overpowered for their purpose (it was telling when we duelled in Northrend once and my tanking friend literally one-shot me with a Shield Slam), health pools were finally starting to scale and it took a while to chew through things with no dps. So we decided to brave the dungeon finder for the first time since Sunken Temple to speed things up. (The promise of justice points for doing a random helped as well.)

It went reasonably well and we ended up running randoms for a large chunk of our Cata levelling stretch. We met two bad apples in total, a mage and a death knight who both had a tendency to charge ahead and make suicidal pulls when people weren't ready, but everyone else seemed nice enough, and if not chatty, then at least co-operative. In Vortex Pinnacle pet tank had to unexpectedly go AFK at one point, and when I said in chat not to worry because our tank would be back soon, the dps immediately asked whether he was my pet tank, which made me laugh. In Halls of Origination we ended up with a group where pretty much everyone said that they'd only just come back to the game recently and were still traumatised by Cata heroics.

In the end, the five levels flew by even more quickly than either of the previous expansions, and while we were grateful in a way, it also made keeping our professions up to date even more of a pain than usual, with seventy-five skill points crammed into only five levels. We hit eighty-five while doing the intro to Twilight Highlands, which led to the rather odd combination of us getting the Pandaria intro cut scene about Anduin having gone missing at the same time as we were escorting him around Stormwind. I also thought I'd briefly jump into Tol Barad for nostalgia's sake and was booted off the PvP island for being "too low level". What the hell? I take it they raised it to level ninety then or something? Rather jarring to be excluded from that now when it used to be level eighty-five content.

Anyway, so much for Cata. Expect first impressions of Pandaria soon!


  1. That initial leveling in Pandaria is hard to solo if you're carrying around quest greens from Hyjal. I had to go and dip into my Honor pool and get some high end Cata PvP gear before I could feel comfortable questing in Jade Forest. Of course, there's two of you, so it won't be that bad. (And neither of you are Rogues either, which is a big difference.)

    1. Yeah, we noticed that the mobs around the first couple of hubs are quite dangerous to people in Cata levelling gear. It's okay fighting them one-on-one, but it's easy to get adds and then they can get quite nasty if you're on your own.

    2. For my Rogue, two at once was the absolute limit, and even then it was a bit dicey. That first boss you reach --not the mini-boss in the fighting where you first run into Taran-Zhu but the one at the end of the town's quest chain-- that's a pure gear check fight. If you don't have the gear, you won't be able to DPS him down.

    3. Funny you mention that, I just took a boosted (RAF gifted levels) kitty druid into MoP for the first time last night in L85 heirloom gear (which is about half the power of MoP starter greens) and basically empty other slots (many actually empty slots, the toon only got up to about level 10 before I boosted, the rest of the gear was like i7... pretty sure they were all greys/whites). The only viable gear I had was the very nice i471 archaeology staff and the less thrilling mastery trinket.

      I was expecting a nightmare but... surprisingly, it didn't go that badly, I could pull 2 or 3 mobs at a time and burn them down quickly enough to survive (that weapon is stellar at 85). I was using cooldowns while questing for roughly the first time in history, though, so that helped too. I actually enjoyed it.

    4. I'd expect the classes with access to healing to have a much easier initial time than the pure DPS classes, but Rogues also were at the bottom of the barrel in both DPS and damage mitigation/multi-enemy CC, which isn't a good combination. You never see it questing out in the Cata zones on down, because you've got either heirloom gear or OP abilities relative to the area; I blew threw Hyjal on my Rogue with Wrath PvP gear without any of the issues I had taking a Paladin and Mage through there when Cata was the main expac. Mists, however, was much different, and I believe it was mainly due to a) playing a Rogue, and b) making it to Mists playing in primarily Hyjal greens.

    5. Hm. If anything I'd consider rogues to be a bit better in self-healing to kitty druids... Ysera compares pretty well to glyphed Recup and LotP probably compares to Leeching Poison... and Shiv vs... er, the druid passive that gives you a free big heal (20% chance per CP spent), although Shiv doesn't have ramp-up time... it's also much smaller.

      Overall I'd say they're at roughly the same level... and for whatever reason my much better geared rogue (for comparison, my druid went into MoP with half missing slots, otherwise mostly crappy BoAs with sub-MoP stats, plus that nice polearm... my rogue was my main raiding toon in Cat and had a full set of very nice raid gear, plus the legendary daggers) felt a lot squishier on similar pulls. I honestly have no explanation why that's the case, it doesn't make a lot of sense.

  2. I leveled through MoP in healer spec. I had to take it very slow and there was a lot of running away when I got greedy, but overall it wasn't too painful. When I leveled up my warrior alt, I died a lot more, but when I play dps, I like to live dangerously.

    Pull ALL the mobs!!