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Ding ... you're 80! So what are you going to be when you grow up? Don't get us wrong: levelling your first character to 80 (especially if this is your first massively multiplayer online game) is a not-insignificant accomplishment – but you're not quite ready for prime time yet. Hitting level 80 in WoW is less like being a graduating senior than it is being a new sophomore. You've finished WoW 101; now it's time to make sure you've covered all your core classes and start taking a stab at some electives and specialized coursework.
If you've just hit level 80, consider this basic checklist a graduation gift of sorts from WoW Rookie. It'll help pointed you in the right direction for whatever type of game play you're interested in pursuing. Your game's just beginning. Dig in!
Keep questing. Once you turn level 80, quests reward more gold in lieu of experience. By continuing to quest, you'll rack up gold faster, earn quest- and reputation-reward gear (sell or disenchant what you can't use along the way) – oh, yes, and experience Wrath's unparalleled cinematic events.
Build your rep. On a related note, keep your reputations moving. Now, you can purchase tabards to wear into level 80 instances that will help you gain faction with groups who'll offer a number of outstanding rewards.
Gear up. Defense, block, hit, expertise, resilience – there's a whole new world of stats awaiting your attention at level 80. While stronger players can help you through heroic five-man instances almost right from the start, it's generally wiser (and more fun for you, eh?) to gear up so you can pull your own weight. Browse our class columns for gear guides for new 80s in each class; look under Class in the drop-down menu at the top of the site, or click Classes in the Categories list on the left. Fill up those gem slots and enchant anything that isn't going to be upgraded today or tomorrow. Oh, and don't underestimate the Auction House, a continued source of upgrades.
Explore new specs. The talents that have helped you level may or may not be the best for whatever you have planned at 80. Look up popular specs, consult our Build Shop feature and browse our Class columns for ideas on what might work best for your play style.
Get airborne. There are places to go and things to do in Wrath that require flight for access. Northrend's a big place. If you haven't already done so, pick up your flight paths and get your airspeed up with a flying mount.
Finish off your tradeskills. While tradeskills don't generally offer top-of-the-line, end-all, be-all BoP items for their practioners anymore, most do include items that are valuable (or fun!) beyond 80. Secondary trades like Fishing and Cooking are always smart additions for a well-rounded character.
Learn to raid. Raiding has never been more accessible than in today's Wrath. Learn what's expected of you before you accept your first raid invitation, and read Ready Check to learn specific strategies and tactics.
Find a good guild. It's not about the biggest guild, or the most quickly progressing guild, or the most exclusive guild – it's about the guild that plays what you want to play, when you want to play it, with people you enjoy playing with. Find a good fit and make your application count.
Mix it up. Try out PvP at the top of the food chain. Wintergrasp and the Vault of Archavon offer fun, easy rewards even for PvE-oriented players. Get back to Battlegrounds to build up your resilience gear for more serious PvP.
Get technical. There's plenty to ponder, experiment with and tweak once you hit the level cap. If you enjoy playing the numbers, now it's time to start maximizing your performance with theorycrafting.
Be an overachiever. The world of achievements unfolds fully at 80, allowing you to complete all sorts of individual, group, raid and PvP tasks. Savor it all!