Cata druid leveling: 1 to 20 is more fun

So, I wanted to take a break from my regularly scheduled crying about how frustrating high level healing is on Beta (especially with the 84 & 85 quests not itemized) to talk about something much more exciting – druid leveling from 1 to 20!

So, now we have 4 different races to choose from when leveling a new druid, which gives us 4 starter zones: Night Elf & Worgen for the Alliance, and Tauren & Troll for the Horde. Trolls even have a new level 1 to 5 starter experience that I tried out a couple times and have had a lot of fun with.

The new talent trees are actually better for people who are new to the game and starting out leveling, since it will be harder to make the wrong decision (like going and putting 10 points in each talent tree at the start), as there should be fewer bad talent traps for people to fall in.

The biggest improvement for druids, however, is the level at which we get early abilities in the 1 to 20 level range.

Leveling 1 to 20 as feral in Cataclysm:

  • You still have to caster level from 1 to 8, which shouldn’t be that bad, given the staring area questing improvements and having pretty much unlimited mana.
  • At level 8, you get: Cat form, claw, Rake, & Ferocious Bite.
  • At level 10, you get mangle
  • At level 15, you get: bear form, maul, growl, & demo roar (engough tanking abilities to start tanking).

Leveling 1 t0 20 as balance:

  • From 1 to 8, you pick up: wrath, moonfire, thorns, roots & starfire.
  • At level 10, you get Starsurge from the talent tree.
  • At level 20, you get insect swarm.

So, both feral & balance druids have enough spells & abilities to level fairly quickly up to 20 and beyond!

For feral, getting cat form at level 8 is a HUGE quality of life improvement, and you still get bear form at the level where the random dungeon system opens up and you can start tanking. I have had a lot of fun leveling a lowbie troll kitty druid up to the mid/late 30′s just because cat form has been so much fun for leveling through all the new & improved quest zones.

Balance druid leveling hasn’t been changed that much, with the biggest improvement for leveling coming from having starsurge as our level 10 balance spell. The knockdown effect helps with survivability, since it reduces the damage you take. As a cooldown ability, starsurge has higher burst damage and will help to break up rotations so that they feel less spammy. They also gave us starfire earlier. In addition, insect swarm is trainable now, rather than a talent, which means you actually get Insect Swarm earlier now than you used to, as well.

They seem to be front-loading a lot of our damage abilities so that we have access to more buttons sooner for feral & balance. An earlier cat form means that feral druids can now actually be feral druids sooner, and overall the changes to leveling design will make druids actually fun to level from 1 to 20, rather than the first 20 levels being what you wanted to get past so that the fun could start.

So, at the very least, I’m excited to start my new worgen druid when Cataclysm comes out in a few months. I’ve even avoided doing alliance leveling quests from level 15 to 60, so that I could have some fun surprises in store for me when I started on my leveling adventure. This is the one thing I am really excited about.

7 Comments

  1. Posted September 7, 2010 at 11:03 am | Permalink

    I really liked getting access to cat form at level 8, and it’s actually a significant boost for making it easier to level as well. Once you hit level 10 and pick Balance it evens back out again, but I did like having cat form early on and being able to play with it as well.

    A big change in the leveling process that I find worth mentioning is that Thorns has turned into sort of an defensively-offensive cooldown. It only lasts for a few seconds now instead of being a 10 minute buff, and the damage on it has been increased so that it’s far more useful than it is in the live version. I don’t think I’ve used it yet in cat form (I’m only in my teens though), but as Balance it’s really helpful for when you have multiple mobs beating on you.

    • Lissanna
      Posted September 7, 2010 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

      I actually haven’t played with my lowbies since they changed how Thorns works, but since we get it at level 5, I can actually see how it could really be helpful for the early levels, too.

  2. yuki
    Posted September 7, 2010 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

    how do you think leveling is gonna change by getting all these moves so early in your 1-85 c”career?” For balance about the only new offensive moves from then until 85 are gonna be typhoon, starfall, mushrooms, and hurricane. (4 moves over 65 levels)

    Does it feel boring to have to go so many levels without getting new moves( as opposed to how on live you get them more gradually)

    • Lissanna
      Posted September 8, 2010 at 8:15 am | Permalink

      You also get Moonkin form, Force of Nature, Solar Beam, barkskin, cyclone, & nature’s grasp as you level past 20 – so that’s more like 10 more abilities.

  3. Posted September 7, 2010 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

    I’d hate to complain that the 1-20 leveling experience was a grind, but I honestly felt like… well… it was a grind. I’m really looking forward to all the goodies coming our way!

  4. Posted September 7, 2010 at 10:40 pm | Permalink

    Since I want a Worgen druid in Cataclysm, I went one step further and rolled a Worgen warlock to level 17, instead. I don’t mind seeing the same quests again when it goes live, but I’d like to have the surprise of game play at those early levels.

  5. Posted September 9, 2010 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    I’m WAY more excited than I should be about the Worgen druids. I’ve been a devoted Horde member for years and that’s the one change that would even make me re-roll or consider a faction change – lol

    I just could never see myself being a Night Elf. :)