Laura mentioned reading a post on the official forums about two guys who leveled their characters over the July double-XP weekend in 23 hours of gameplay. Being the competitive player that she is, Laura had to beat that record. When I heard this, I knew I had to jump on board. There were some Republic classes that I had not played through yet, and I needed my fourth class buff. When I agreed to run with her over Thanksgiving, Lee joined in, too.
The concept is simple: skip all class quests and do only planetary quests with a max-level character leading the way. Because we have a level 55 buddy killing all the mobs for us, we were not going to gain XP from kills. However, the theory was that the double XP from the completing the quests would more than make up for that. And because we had a level 55 escorting us, we would be able to clear areas quickly, and we would be able to complete every heroic quest without any difficulty. Speed and efficiency were the key elements.
Everything we did centered on maximizing XP in the shortest length of time. That's not to say that we didn't run into any snags. We found that if we did every planetary quest, we would ultimately lose XP because we would out-level the planet before we finished all the quests, and keeping our characters geared would be impossible. In the later planets, the lower-level characters ended up being zero help to the max-level character. If the low-levels ended up taking aggro, then they would die, wasting our time. (Isn't that right, Lee?)
Fortunately, we made a few provisions ahead of time to help strengthen our efficiency and maximize XP.
Although during the course of the leveling process you will earn one-hour XP buffs, these will not be enough to carry you through the whole time. In fact, you're likely to not have any XP buffs in the beginning, so buy some off the Galactic Trade Network. If they are too expensive (as they were on our server just before double XP weekend), buy them with Cartel Coins. Even though you are buying XP buffs, I do suggest using the ones you earn because, unlike the buffs you buy from the GTN or Cartel Market, the awarded buffs cannot be traded. This would turn into about five hours of XP buffs wasted.
Exploring XP buff
If you have this buff unlocked in the Legacy panel, you can gain up to 30% more XP from unlocking new areas on the planetary map. Normally, I recommend that you take this Legacy buff anyway, but it becomes especially important during double XP weekend. And since no other buffs would be applicable to this kind leveling process, it is more than worth the credits or Cartel Coins you will spend on it.
Obtain your ship
We knew that we would be running different types of characters with different starting worlds, and since the goal was to do only planetary quests, we were better served by getting our ship before the weekend started. On Wednesday, one of my characters had leveled only to 12, and we lost a few hours because I had to be carried through my class quests on Coruscant before we could begin the real leveling process.
Money for speeder training
Obviously, the max-level character will be have gained Speeder Piloting III, and if you're not careful, she will out-run your low-level characters a lot. Thankfully, BioWare has made it possible for a player to gain these speeder piloting skills a bit earlier than they were when the game launched. At level 10, you can earn your first speeder; at level 25, you can upgrade; and at level 35, you can upgrade again. Make sure you have enough credits or Cartel Coins ahead of time to purchase these. You don't want to make the max-level character wait, do you?
Max out your inventory
I had not considered how much junk we would accumulate so quickly when running through the planetary quests only. Usually when leveling with the story quests alone, you are called back to a base of so sorts often enough that inventory management isn't an issue. And you are also gaining credits on par with purchasing inventory space as you need it. However, speed leveling causes monetary hiccups. I would suggest nabbing as much inventory space as possible upfront before it becomes a problem for you as it did for me.
Lastly, SWTOR offers three different portable training items that come in the form of statues: Darth Malgus, Satele Shan, or Dr. Oggurobb. Darth Malgus works only for Imperial characters; Satele works only for Republic characters. And although Dr. Oggurobb works for either faction, it is available only if you preordered Rise of the Hutt Cartel. These might be a bit difficult to obtain, but they are worth it when you consider the time that you save from not having to track down a trainer as you're leveling. As an added bonus, only one character in the group needs to have one because once it's dropped, anyone in the area can use it.
Part of the reason we could level five characters is that I was multiboxing. I happen to have two SWTOR accounts subscribed, and I can log in two accounts at the same time. I hotkeyed follow, and one of my accounts was able to gain experience just by being there. This might seem to be an advantage, but many times having the fourth character that I would have to pop over to made looting crates and clicking on nodes a pain. You are welcome to give it a shot if you want, but if you're looking for efficiency, I would advise against multiboxing.
There you have it. The next time a double XP weekend rolls around, you will be ready. If you have any questions, I will happily answer them in the comments. I'll see you next week, and happy leveling.
The Hyperspace Beacon by Larry Everett is your weekly guide to the vast galaxy of Star Wars: The Old Republic, currently in production by BioWare. If you have comments or suggestions for the column, send a transmission to firstname.lastname@example.org. Now strap yourself in, kid -- we gotta make the jump to hyperspace!