Before we get started, let's cover the previous posts in this series:
Still, since both Outland and Northrend have had their experience requirements relaxed from their debut periods, it's not hard to get through them. Ironically enough, it's when you hit level 80 and start in on Cataclysm content that the game starts to feel bogged down. Several heirlooms currently stop working at level 80 (the hat, cloak and legs currently available last until 85, and new heirlooms are coming in 5.2) and the experience requirements, while reduced, are still more significant than the previous two expansions.
Still, let's talk about what you, as a warrior, will find when you hit these levels.
First off, if you don't have heirlooms for whatever reason, PvP gear will be your best friend when you hit 60 (if you've been PvPing to get honor points before that) and again when you hit 70. I mentioned it last week, but it's fairly easy to hit 60 and immediately buy yourself a complete load of epic loot about as good as anything available for the first several levels in Outland, which will allow you to skip over worrying about dungeon gear or quest rewards. With the lowered experience requirements, you can go from 60 to 63 in Hellfire without heirlooms, hit Zangarmarsh or Terrokar for a level, then head over to Nagrand and easily hit 68, upon which you can leave Outland entirely and head to Northrend.
Still, if you don't want to PvP, you can easily level with quest rewards (many of which are much easier to complete now, since they no longer require a group) and with the Dungeon Finder in place, running dungeons to level is both easier and gets you justice points you can spend or save for later. I did a lot more PvP on my tauren and worgen warriors than I did on either of my draenei, and I had no real difficulty doing quests or dungeons on any of them - dungeons were even fun for me when I decided to tank from 63 to 72 on my draenei.
One thing to keep in mind is by level 61, warriors can be a very solid solo play option. Questing as protection is no longer the chore it once was, and both arms and fury have more survivability than ever with the right talent choices. One of the things I've noticed is that even as I climb into the Mists content, I'm only dying when I really screw up. If you want the absolute best survivability, level as prot and pull big groups to get Vengeance stacked up.
At level 62, we get Recklessness, one of the mainstays of the warrior class for the entire history of the game. Considering how important a Mortal Strike or Bloodthirst critical hit can be to DPS warriors, Reck's additional 50% crit chance can be extremely useful to force an enrage. At level 64 we get Deadly Calm, but don't get too attached to it, it's going away in patch 5.2 because in its current state, it's almost useless. Okay, that's not how Blizz phrased it, but it's a fact. Making it only work on your next three HS or Cleave and only shave 10 rage off per use is just plain underwhelming. Level 66 has the situational but useful Spell Reflection, an ability that doesn't work on most bosses but which, when it does work, you'll always absolutely love it. It's awesome for trash mobs that cast spells, excellent in PvP to ruin a spellcaster's day. Just make sure to get a shield equip macro (which you should have already for Shield Wall) so you can use it. Finally, level 68 has Commanding Shout, which to be honest I don't really use that often. I almost always prefer Battle Shout when I'm solo, and those times I would use CS in a dungeon or raid someone usually has a longer duration version of the same buff.
How about levels 70 through 80? These are actually somewhat sparse for us. At level 72 we get Intervene, an ability I use more often than I'd expected when it was first deployed back in Burning Crusade. Its useful for tank swaps, for when you need a cooldown to help soak some damage from someone (especially with specific talents chosen at level 75), or just to move around the battlefield. Using a Banner/Intervene to get back out to position fast can be a lot of fun if you do it right. At level 74 there's Shattering Throw, useful to remove immunities in PvP or PvE as well as increasing the damage your raid does for 10 seconds (so good to use just before dropping a banner or popping cooldowns). Finally, at level 75 we get our second to last talent tier, this time a series of raid utility abilities. Mass Spell Reflection is a nice ability when a lot of group damage is about to go out from a reflectable source (like, the waves of adds in Tsulong's fight in ToES) since it will bounce spells aimed at any party or raid member and it doesn't require a shield. Safeguard, on the other hand, is a beautiful ability if you want to peel some PvP focus off of someone (since you'll take the attack instead and they'll take 20% less damage for 6 seconds) as well as a kind of mini cooldown for another player and for tank swaps. Vigilance is basically the same as the paladin Blessing of Sacrifice, transferring 30% of damage taken by another player to you for 12 seconds (so useful for situations where you're not going to take a lot of damage and someone else is) as well as removing the cooldown on taunt (so useful if you expect to have to spam taunt in a small window of time). Frankly, I'm so bitter about losing Vigilance as it was at the end of Wrath, and even the less good Cataclysm version was better than the current one. If you desperately want to have Blessing of Sacrifice, go for it. Otherwise, either of the other two talents is better in my opinion.
Level 80 unlocks each specialization's mastery ability, which means that mastery on gear starts doing something at this level. Protection gains Critical Block, arms gains Strikes of Opportunity, and fury gets Unshackled Fury. They're all fairly self-explanatory. Protection can occasionally block for double the normal amount (how often depends on how much mastery you have), arms can sometimes get an extra attack for lower damage than a regular attack, and fury will do more damage when they enter an enrage. The arms mastery is fairly underwhelming, the other two are solid.
At level 81, we get specialization abilities. Arms gets Sudden Death (which is changing in patch 5.2), protection gets Shield Barrier, and both arms and fury share Colossus Smash. At level 83 all warriors get Rallying Cry, a useful raid cooldown (especially when combined with Demoralizing Banner at level 87) and at level 85 we gain Heroic Leap, a somewhat problematic ability that still allows for yet another movement option, a solid tanking 'pull' that generates threat on multiple targets, and a decent DPS ability. As mentioned before, at level 87 we gain our three banner abilities, Skull Banner (a raid wide DPS buff that increases how much damage critical hits do), Mocking Banner (an AoE taunt) and Demoralizing Banner (an AoE debuff that decreases the damage all enemies in its range can deal). While I personally like the banner concept quite a bit, and use both Skull and Demoralizing Banner quite frequently (Mocking I only use when tanking) I do feel like we could do a lot more with banners and would liketo see it expanded on. Perhaps a banner that increases attack speed, or health regeneration, or even a banner that renders the entire party or raid immune to CC for a limited time? I don't know, but I'd like to see it developed.
Finally, at level 90 we get our final talent tier. These are three interesting talents, all told. First up is Avatar, the talent I thought I was going to love the most, with its size increase, root and snare break, and 20% increased damage for 24 seconds. The problem is, as much as I like Avatar on paper, Bloodbath always seems to work out for better DPS for me. You can use it once a minute, making it a dream to macro into other abilities, it lasts for 12 seconds (so in the same three minute period that you can use Avatar once for 24 seconds, you can use Bloodbath three times for 12 seconds apiece, or 36 seconds total) and the 30% increased damage your specials end up doing as bleeds means that you can spread a ridiculous amount of DoT damage around. I'm sure some folks can use Avatar better, but for me I just like Bloodbath more. Storm Bolt is getting buffed in 5.2, and I use it a lot as my tanking 90 talent already so we'll see if the damage increase makes a 30 second cooldown strike that does so much extra damage to unstunnable mobs/bosses is worth it for DPS. I suspect it may edge out Avatar.
That covers levels 61 to 70. Next week, we may cover gear in patch 5.2, or we may not.
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.