PvE twinking is a bit of an unusual idea. Mostly it refers to locking experience at one of the former level caps - 60, 70, 80, or 85 - in order to enjoy the challenges of old raids or to accomplish something limited to players of a certain level, such as the Herald of the Titans title. These are fun and interesting ways to spend time in the game, but what about PvE twinking at even lower levels? Say, level 20? Or 40? Why on earth would anyone want to do that?
One of the big draws of Cataclysm was the completely revamped and updated player experience from levels 1-60. Entire zones were obliterated, redesigned, and reworked. Crushingly, the experience gain from completing these new quests was, to be frank, tuned worse than my Pop-pop's 70-year-old guitar. Even lacking heirlooms, holiday buffs, or any other kind of enhancement that boosts experience gain a character is practically guaranteed to out-level the content of any given zone long before the zone's available quests are finished. This is an even bigger problem for low-level dungeons, all of which have quests and tie-in stories to their zones and give even more experience than normal quests.
This was hugely disheartening for me, and is a major reason why I've abandoned a lot of the characters I rolled during Cataclysm. Questing is my favorite part of the game, because it's the primary vehicle driving the game's story. Opening my quest log to be confronted with a long list of grayed-out text when my current zone is barely half-finished only ensures that I quietly log out and go back to my main. It also means that I've missed out on a lot of fun new content.
Fortunately, there is a way to rectify this: experience locking.
Level 20 is probably the absolute earliest you'll want to consider experience-locking for PvE purposes, and the reason why is easy - ground mounts. With access to a ground mount exploration and questing will be much quicker and less painful, and this is especially nice in the more sprawling zones. At level 20 you'll still have access to the lowest-level dungeons (Ragefire Chasm and The Deadmines) in the dungeon finder, too, so you can take your time to enjoy them. Alliance-side, I especially recommend locking at 20 for night elf, worgen, and draenei players, because Darkshore is worth experiencing in its entirety at least once, and Ashenvale remains one of the largest and quest-heavy low-level zones. Westfall and Redridge are also fun, and introduce lore figures Vanessa VanCleef and Colonel Troteman (whom we meet as Marshall Troteman in Mists of Pandaria). Horde-side, Silverpine is a zone you don't want to miss, and early Hillsbrad Foothills has many player favorite quest chains such as Welcome to the Machine and the Plants vs Zombies-style challenge.
Zones for level 20:
- Loch Modan
- Early Wetlands
- Redridge Mountains
- Early Duskwood
- Silverpine Forest
- Early Hillsbrad Foothills
The early level 30s mark the first time the game really begins to open up, zone-wise. Prior to that, the game generally steers you fairly smoothly from any given starting zone to its neighboring zones with continuous plot arcs to keep you hooked. After the third or fourth zone beyond your starting zone, however, you have some choices to make. Alliance questing in Stonetalon will give you breadcrumbs to either Desolace or Southern Barrens, which lead you on in differing directions. Horde questing through Arathi Highlands will provide options for both The Hinterlands and the Western Plaguelands. If you're the kind of player who wants to explore as much of these areas as possible, this is the time when PvE-purposed experience locking really starts to become attractive.
If you locked at 20, by the time you get partway through Ashenvale, Wetlands, Duskwood, or Hillsbrad Foothills, you may have needed to turn experience on again to survive the quests. All of these zones, but especially Ashenvale, can easily carry you through to level 30, even though they're listed as 20-25. If you're not careful, you can level yourself out of their followup zones, many of which are definitely worth seeing. Thus, level 30 or so is another good time to lock experience. Some classes may want to wait until a little later depending on when certain abilities become available-at level 32, for example, hunters gain Feign Death and monks learn Spear Hand Strike, both useful for solo content. Make sure to take a look at your toon's early-thirties abilities and see if there's something worth learning before you make the trek to Behsten or Slahtz.
Zones for level 30:
- Blackfathom Deeps
- Stormwind Stockade
- Scarlet Halls
- Scarlet Monastery
- Razorfen Kraul
- Maraudon - The Wicked Grotto
I hope you enjoyed this introduction to turning experience off in the name of quests, dungeons, and story. Tune in next week for part two, which will cover levels 35-59!