Every week, WoW Insider brings you The Care and Feeding of Warriors, the column dedicated to arms, fury and protection warriors. Despite repeated blows to the head from dragons, demons, Old Gods and whatever that thing over there was, Matthew Rossi will be your host.
People have asked me a few times now what leveling a new warrior from scratch in Mists of Pandaria is going to be like. I decided this week to level a new warrior to 10 in order to get a feel for how it plays out. I deliberately chose a draenei because the draenei and blood elf zones haven't seen a significant revamp since The Burning Crusade, and while I've already leveled a pandaren warrior to 10, I wanted the freshest possible beta build. Also (I admit it), I figured it would be pretty easy to do. I mean, I've leveled how many warriors at this point? I admit I've actually lost track. I went without heirlooms because I wanted to get a feel for what someone new to the game would experience (although I have to be honest, I'm incapable of really forgetting the game to that degree) in terms of speed and ease of understanding.
So here we go. What is Mists of Pandaria like for a new warrior?
Streamlined training, rage
The first thing I noticed was the automatic gaining of abilities while leveling. Trainers no longer train you, as such. You gain abilities as you level, which streamlines the process considerably. Trainers serve to allow you to respec, learn dual talent specialization, and do other things that you won't be doing until level 20 at the earliest.
The next thing I noticed was rage. Specifically, it's actually sufficient. At least to level 10, it's really not a problem at all to get rage. You get charge at level 3, and once you get that (and it's usable in combat from the moment you get it, mind), rage for leveling purposes is not an issue. It wasn't really an issue even before that, to be honest. This is probably due to the fact that the only stance you have at this level is Battle, and it still grants rage from white hits.
I should address the comparison between Cataclysm leveling and Mists of Pandaria. First off, leveling seems more coherent, with the gained abilities filling in fairly quickly. By level 7, for instance, you'll have Heroic Strike, Charge, Victory Rush and Execute. I found the progression of abilities to be adding needed complexity at good intervals. I will admit, I leveled with a two-handed weapon rather than a weapon and shield, because that's what you get as a default and then a two-handed green axe dropped for me off of a lasher.
The general experience isn't greatly changed. On both my pandaren and draenei warriors, I found leveling to 10 to be about the same experience. You don't have a talent specialization, so you're basically just whacking stuff.
Where Mists is superior is in how it passes out abilities so that you have a reasonable variety of options. Getting rid of the low-level strike ability and just giving us Heroic Strike to start with was a good move, for instance. It streamlines the experience and makes it less punitive. Gaining Victory Rush means that if a mob adds or a higher level creature is a quest objective, you have a better chance of survival. Being able to charge whether or not the mob sees you before you get into range is a quality of life improvement that I frankly didn't even know I needed. You get Defensive Stance at level 9, but since you don't get Taunt until level 12, it's hard for me to say you're really capable of tanking before that point.
Mists hasn't tried to reinvent the wheel on questing. If you're a pandaren, you'll get to level to 10 in a newly designed zone, and if not, you'll get one of the zones already extant. What I really didn't notice was feeling particularly constrained.
The one downside of the leveling experience is one that's not new, either. All warriors are basically arms warriors without a signature attack for nine levels. If you're primarily interested in being a tank, well, levels 1 to 9 are going to bore you. You can certainly go sword and board and spend nine levels hitting Heroic Strike while your shield hangs limp and useless from your arm, and once you hit level 10 and get Shield Slam, it will feel so much better. But those nine levels with the shield doing nothing will feel pretty boring, and you'll be better off keeping a two-hander in your bags.
Aside from that, though, I was pleasantly surprised at how little difference there is in leveling a warrior in Mists. Rage is good enough that you get to attack and don't have to feel like you're just waiting. The income of abilities means that you get Execute and Victory Rush to spice things up a bit, although I rarely got to hit Execute more than once -- you don't really need it at these levels. And I didn't feel like you'd need a lot of in-game experience to understand how things worked. The abilities even put themselves on your bar, although I still switch them around to suit myself.
If you're considering leveling a new warrior in Mists, my report would be that it's not going to be anything new. And I'm OK with that.
At the center of the fury of battle stand the warriors: protection, arms and fury. Check out more strategies and tips especially for warriors, from hot issues for today's warriors to Cataclysm 101 for DPS warriors and our guide to reputation gear for warriors.