It appears everyone around me has been mad keen for the Cataclysm release. Guildies are trying to level to 85 as quickly as possible, workmates took time off for the launch, my other half was determined to get realm first herbalist (which he did by the way) and my brother is aiming to make as much cash as he possibly could off the auction house.
And then there is Cass and I. Cass didn’t even bother to get a copy of Cataclysm on launch day and I only got it because my other half picked it up and installed it for me on his lunch break.
When Wrath of the Lich King was launched we did things very differently. We lined up at the midnight launch at EB Games, installed the game and started questing that very night. We took time off work, had our talent trees worked out; gear sorted and a loose plan of how we were handling the leveling process. When we woke up after a couple of hours sleep the next morning we were already past the main leveling pack (after a dangerous trek north of Howling Fjord, cutting across Grizzly Hills and into Dragonblight) and a group of us were both questing and dungeon-ing the entire way to 80.
Even if I had planned things in a similar fashion for Cataclysm I think I would have been thwarted for a number of reasons. First off, this expansion was released at 6pm AEST right when workers were coming home and peak playtime for Oceanic servers. Secondly, the expansion came out a little later in the calendar year meaning the teenagers were running amok – damn those school holidays – with literally nothing better to do than fill up the servers and cause havoc.
When WoTLK was released if you weren’t at work you could easily get on with perhaps a 2 minute wait time during the day. The real queues started approximately 3:30pm when the school kids were arriving home. Cataclysm is released and when I get home at 6:30pm, I’m in for a good 2 hour wait for server access. Apparently the queues are no better during the day this time round with at least a queue of 2000 waiting to get in.
Since I know that I won’t be able to raid, at least until I’ve settled into a routine with bub, I was very keen to level at my own pace and relax. I have been in a questing mood and was looking forward to doing all the quests in the new areas, actually taking the time to read the quest information and seeing exactly Blizzard had designed for us. This didn’t really go to plan when I quickly realised after arriving at Mt Hyjal that for every 1 Alliance player questing, there were 100 Horde. Quests that took me 5 minutes on the Beta… I couldn’t even find a spawned mob for to kill! I gave up and walked away to make some dinner hoping it would quiet down after an hour break.
I came back and while still busy I could go through the quests with less hassles. I did occasional get ganked for absolutely no reason other than I happened to be on my own: a poor lonely Alliance player in the middle of a Horde playground. The biggest problem being: if one Horde decided to go you, another 10 within the vicinity would decide to lend a helping hand as well. 277 gear and healing spec still just doesn’t cut it against that many opposing players.
All in all things was going well until it was time for me to go Into the Maw. There were no more than 10 alliance players in here and the second last quest objective, Cindermaul, was being camped out by at least 200 Horde players. I tried being patient. The Alliance tried sticking together but it was all for naught. At a 2 minute res timer I gave up and hearthed to Nordrassil ready to call it quits for the night. I was only about 60% into level 80 and my mood was not improved when I turned around and found out that my other half was only just trailing behind me in XP from doing Archaeology and hadn’t experienced a single run in with my mortal enemy: the Horde teenager.
Things got better at Nordrassil where I picked up a quest that took me straight to the final leveling hub for the Hyjal area. While there were still quite a few players around, I had made it past the main leveling pack and did this zone without any problems at all. I even ended the night on a high note by getting a neat little vanity pet from the flying jousting quests. I will happily admit I really sucked at flying and jousting all in one!
I’ve decided based on my experiences that doing leveling the casual way is just like raiding the casual way – horribly inefficient and for the main part much more frustrating. I’m starting to think that if raiding is going to be out of the question for me in this expansion, that a move to a PVE server is looking more and more likely. Or alternatively I might just give in and go Horde and join the teenage crowd. You all know the saying, if you can’t beat em, join em!