The game begins at level 80. While there's a strong case to be made for this idea, there's no denying that quests are the meat and potatoes of World of Warcraft. WoW's massive web of quests propel its story line, overall game play and leveling experience. Over the years, Blizzard has adjusted leveling content to be faster and easier than ever before. Oddly enough, while it's fun to watch the levels fly by, the ease of leveling can make getting a handle on how to manage the never-ending flow of quests tricky to pin down.
Fortunately, today's new players have more quest management tools than ever at their disposal. Quest addons and an in-game quest tracking feature take the guesswork out of finding and completing quest objectives. For some players, these aids are a godsend. Here at WoW Rookie, we recommend that first-timers level without too many extra bells and whistles. We suspect you'll enjoy solving the puzzles and tactics more on your own (you can always turn to a site like Wowhead for tips if you're really stuck), and you'll build your skills in navigation, game systems and conventions, WoW lore and so much more if you put the pieces together for yourself.
That doesn't mean we don't have plenty of tips on how to make that process more enjoyable. Following the lead of our fantastic Class 101 series for fresh level 80 players, welcome to Questing 101.
Substance with style
Quest wrangling for a new player takes an entirely different direction than it does for an experienced player who's leveling alts. For first-timers, the aim is less about perfectly honed efficiency than it is a logical, effective flow that remains immersive and enjoyable. Let's call it "questing with substance and style."
First, take some time to think about the way you enjoy playing most. Today's game will spike your XP bar faster than you can complete all the quests in most zones. Settle on an approach to quests that fits your playstyle.
- Do you prefer to drift along and grab whatever exclamation points pop up under your cursor?
- Do you want to focus on working at a specific difficulty level (easy green quests, average yellow quests, more difficult orange or red quests)?
- Are there specific zones you know you want to hit along the way?
- Are you a stickler for completing quest threads and story lines?
- Are there certain quest rewards that would be pivotal pieces for your character? (You can look up all the quests in a particular zone on Wowhead.)
- How big a part will instances play in your leveling experience? (A full instance run with all applicable quests can inject a huge spike of XP into your bar. You may find yourself outleveling zones faster if you run a lot of instances.)
- What about any friends or family members you're leveling with? How do they enjoy questing?
- Your quest log is limited to 25 quests. Prune (or don't accept) quests that don't mesh with your own personal quest philosophy.
- It's just not possible to complete every quest in every zone before it's more worthwhile to move on to more challenging areas. Unless you're taking a completist approach, don't feel bad about pulling up stakes and moving on.
- Organize your quests by general area. While the in-game quest tracker will show you exactly where to go (more on that in a moment), you can make a lot of decisions yourself after reading the quest text. Plan to run all the quests that take you to a certain area at once.
- Familiarize yourself with things you should be killing and gathering. Quest objectives are now noted in tooltips when you mouse over most quest monsters or items, so you'll recognize that this is something that you need for a quest. This system isn't foolproof, however, so make sure you know what you're looking for.
- If you're stuck on where to go or what to do, consult your in-game quest tracker or a site like Wowhead.
- If you don't plan to run a particular instance more than once, wait until you're sure you've acquired all the quests before committing to a run. (Look up the zone on Wowhead for a complete listing.) Instance quest XP and rewards are simply huge; if you're planning to do the instance, you shouldn't pass up these benefits. Don't rely on groupmates to share the quests, since players repeating the content with alts often skip them.
- For a richer overall experience, don't neglect the spaces between quest points. Moving from quest objective to quest objective is fine for experienced players who've seen it all before. As a new player, you shouldn't hesitate to take the time to explore the game's nooks and crannies as you go. Wander the city streets. Explore a zone completely. Talk to all the NPCs who have dialogue options. Craft. Kill random monsters along the way.
- What's the difference between a yellow exclamation point and a silver one? How can you find low-level quests that are gray (no longer XP-granting) to you? Refer to Blizzard's quest basics page.
- Quest difficulty is shown by the color of the quest name in your quest log. Gray quests are trivial and not worth your time unless you're taking a completist approach. Green quests should be nice and easy. Yellow quests are average difficulty, orange quests are harder and red quests can be quite difficult for new players.
- You can abandon a quest with no penalty by clicking Abandon Quest in the Quest Log. If you want to pick it up again at a later time, you'll need to go see the quest giver again. Abandoning quests also destroys any special quest items associated with the quest.
- You can accept quests from groupmates or share quests they don't have by using the Share Quest button; Blizzard's quest basics page explains the details.
- At higher levels, you'll find quests that are repeatable, usually so you can boost your reputation with a particular faction. You'll also find daily quests, which you can repeat for money and/or reputation once every 24 hours. (Reset times vary by realm and generally fall in the middle of the night.) There are also normal and heroic raid quests, PvP quests and seasonal quests.
The in-game quest tracker
Blizzard puts the most popular and powerful quest helpers right in the game.
Enhanced world map The large world map is separated into four active panes. Quests are automatically tracked on the map and listed to its side. The quest log entry for the selected quest is located below the map.
Areas of interest Your map shows the location of your quests' points of interest (represented by blue polygons). If mobs populate a large area, the map will indicate the entire area. If you need to find one specific doodad, that'll be on there, too. If there are multiple spawn areas for a mob or doodad, the map will automatically locate the one closest to you.
Pop-out map A smaller zone map outside of the normal full-screen map helps you track progress and get your bearings.
Get more details on the in-game quest tracker features on Blizzard's quest tracker page. If you're looking for even richer quest management, check out these and similar addons:
- Even if you die during battle, you'll still get credit for killing a monster as long as it dies before you release. If you die while your group is still fighting, don't release your spirit, to ensure that you are considered "present" for the kill.
- Being in a raid group prevents the completion of regular quest objectives and reduces reputation grains from killing outdoor mobs.
- Once you've gotten all your quest items, groupmates will be able to loot any that drop during your given loot "turn," creating a situation where two party members using round robin looting can loot the same body.
- Sometimes quest-givers have little dialogues or scenes that play through when you turn something in. Don't walk away until you're certain they are done! Also, it sometimes takes a moment for followup quests to pop up. Be sure you look for new exclamation points.
- You can disable the slow scrolling of text when you are receiving a new quest in. Hit escape to access your Options menu, go to Interface, then Objectives, and now check the box for Instant Quest Text.
- You can link quests into chat by pressing Shift Left-Click on the quest name in the quest log.
- Getting skunked by the RNG? Once you reach Northrend and Wrath of the Lich King content, drop rates for quest items are progressive. The more monsters you kill, the higher your chance of receiving the widgets they drop.
New at WoW.com for fresh level 80s
Visit the WoW Rookie Guide for links to all our tips, tricks and how-to's. WoW Rookie walks you through all sort of new-player concerns, from game lingo for the beginner to joining your first guild as a mid-level player and on to what to do when you finally hit level 80.