Most folks consider levelling a character to primarily be a PvE progression through the game's content. After all, you complete quests, gather gear, collect gold, and slowly move up through the levels. Having heirloom gear makes the process faster, and the occasional zone-based daily quest can make it even a little easier.
But there is another option. Either as a primary way of advancing your levels, or simply as a break from so-called "normal" leveling, you can hit up a battleground and collect experience. Player vs. player isn't for everyone; it can certainly be frustrating while you learn the ropes.
To help you make the decision whether to spend time leveling in PvP content, let's examine some of the pros and cons.
Pro: You get clearly defined beginnings and endings.
One of the challenges while levelling a new character is deciding when it's time to stop playing and go to bed. Sure, not everyone has this problem. But when you're doing quests and chain-farming dozens of mobs, you don't tend to have clear delineations in your play time. There's always "one more quest" or "one more pack of mobs."
The PvP side of the game doesn't work that way. When the queue pops, the PvP match begins. And when the game is over, you clearly know. You're unceremoniously booted from the battleground, after all. This means that if you just have time to play for a half-hour or so, a PvP match could hit just the right spot.
Con: You have to win for it to feel productive.
Experience points are granted in the battlegrounds for successfully completing objectives and winning the match. You get experience points in Alterac Valley, for example, by taking towers. In Eye of the Storm, you get XP for capturing the flag. The good news is that you generally get pretty decent XP when you successfully do these things.
The bad news is that you do have to be successful. If you're not winning or pulling off the objective, it will feel like your XP grind slows to a halt. A losing match feels like it's worth almost nothing.
Pro: PvP is dynamic.
While WoW has a lot of fun and engaging quests, PvE can sometimes feel repetitive. Battlegrounds don't usually have this problem, since every match will be different according to who is on the team. Most folks tend to feel like PvP is interesting for that reason.
Of course, if you're not into PvP as a playstyle, then you probably won't feel quite so intrigued by each match.
Since the legend of The Barrens chat has mostly gone away, most of the zone general chat channels are fairly considerate. You don't tend to find as many people chewing each other out in Westfall general chat. Sure, the trade channel can be a little rough, but you're not often in that channel when leveling.
Battleground chat, however, is fairly unforgiving. Maybe it's the competitive nature of BGs; I don't know. But you occasionally get people in the chat channel who feel the need to belittle teammates, spew vindictives, and otherwise just be petty. If you don't have a thick skin, the vitriol can wear down your interest in BGs, if not your faith in humanity.
Pro: You get honor points.
You can collect honor points in the battlegrounds while you're leveling up. It's not enough to equip a full set of PvP gear when you hit level 85, but it is enough to give you a pretty good head start. Also, it feels pretty cool to be level 40 and already have thousands of honor kills.
Con: You get less gear.
Even though you get -- and can spend -- honor points as you're leveling, it's not enough to keep you in PvP gear that's equivalent to leveling through PvE. If you only rise through the ranks by duking it out in battlegrounds, you'll find yourself well behind the curve. And that's just gear.
Gold is virtually nonexistent in the BGs. Sure, there are a few quests in Alterac Valley that offer a piddling gold reward, but you won't always be in AV. More importantly, if every person in AV did those quests, there'd be no one actually, you know, fighting. At that point, you might as well be doing PvE.
A few tips for PvP leveling
The best advice for someone who wants to spend time in battlegrounds while leveling up his character is: All things in moderation. Sure, rock out the BGs, but try and do some world questing along the way. The gear is helpful, and you'll definitely need the gold.
- Keep it random. Keep using the random PvP tool, even if you'd prefer a certain BG. Presumably, you're leveling in PvP because you would get bored in PvE, so the random aspect might help.
- Focus on BG objectives. Sure, it can be tempting to fight in the road. There's candy in the road, after all. But you don't get XP by burning down that blood elf on the path; you get it by completing objectives. Focus there.
- Stay chill. PvP can be very, very frustrating. People in PvP can be even more frustrating. But keep your wits -- and your cool -- about you, and don't freak out. Just take your time and enjoy.
Visit the WoW Rookie Guide for links to everything you need to get started as a new player, from how to control your character and camera angles when you're just starting out, to pulling together enough cash for mid-level expenses such as mounts, to dungeoneering and travel tips for lowbies.