How I learned to stop worrying and love level 70

Matthew Rossi
M. Rossi|04.20.11

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How I learned to stop worrying and love level 70
It all started on a lark. Some friends wanted to run BWL, but for whatever reason I said, "Hey, why not do Black Temple instead?" In my opinion, BT is one of the best instances in the game, with some fantastic architecture and art and really excellent boss design, both visually and in terms of what the designers did mechanically at the time. The Reliquary of Souls encounter is still fascinating to watch, and I'm kind of a fanboy for Teron Gorefiend. To be honest, I still find myself wondering if Illidan was being controlled by Gul'dan, considering that Gorefiend, Gul'dan's first death knight, ended up gravitating to the Temple.

On our way to the Black Temple, as a lark, I asked if I could bring my level 70 warrior I'd started the week before Cataclysm dropped in order to test the new talent spec and leveling changes. Oh, and because I have a problem. I figured what the heck, I could maybe snag a couple of pieces of gear that would last into the mid-70s if I ever played her again.

Six drops later, I'd locked her XP gain and run Hyjal, Karazhan, ZA and Sunwell on her, and I am probably going to do so again.

The hazy glow of nostalgia

Some of it is undoubtedly nostalgia. The Kara and ZA runs were done with no level 85 characters, in full PuGs with other level 70 players with XP turned off. In fact, it made me a little sad for the first time that the level 70 version of ZA is going away, because we easily did a full timed run with all level-appropriate characters (if admittedly ridiculously well-geared ones). I was surprised to realize that none of the level 70 epic gear originally purchasable via Badges of Justice is available to level 70 characters anymore unless they queue in the DF for random Wrath dungeons. All these items require justice points, and those aren't available in BC era dungeons, not even heroic ones. If you want a Blade of Harbingers at level 70, don't hold your breath.

Honestly, though, I've always thought that Onslaught was the best-looking DPS warrior set. If we had cosmetic set options, I'd always be tanking in Wrath and DPSing in Onslaught. Once I realized I had started to accumulate a pretty solid set of gear for level 70, I realized, why should I level up another 85 warrior? I've got three of those. With there always being a mix of players around willing to run their terrifying juggernauts through old content, why not reap the benefits and put together a solid-looking, powerful set of gear I could hang out forever in?

This used to be my playground

World of Warcraft itself always has to move forward. But while I enjoy new content, I'm also enamored of the older content I had good times running, and I see no reason not to go have fun romping about in those old playgrounds. Some of the art and scripted events in these dungeons remains among the best ever produced in the game. I defy anyone to tell me Karazhan isn't a fantastic-looking instance. Making a pit stop in Magtheridon's Lair is still excellent fun (it might be the best use of a single large room for a raid encounter), and Tempest Keep is still some sumptuous eye candy.

Frankly, though, the highlight of my day was either BT's long run up to Illidan's rooftop chamber, or riding up the slopes of Hyjal and trying to figure out where I was in relation to the level 80 leveling zone. How time has changed you, Hyjal.

It doesn't make me feel bad that I queue up for a random Wrath dungeon and absolutely tear the roof off the sucker while the tanks and healers and other DPS in their heirlooms keep asking me what shoulders those are that I have on. Those are Onslaught Shoulderblades, my friends -- and yes, they do look awesome. It's even possible and fun to queue for old BC heroics, although I admit it's not a very happening scene most of the time. I get a couple a day at most, and most are Magister's Temple cause people still want the riding chicken. Luckily, there are a few excellent drops in there.

A moment in time

In the end, for this particular character, making the choice to freeze her XP and just run the BC content has been the best possible decision. It allows me to revisit some of my favorite content and collect the gear I had (and in some cases wanted but never got), and it gives me some completely selfish, completely self-oriented things to do in World of Warcraft.

At the moment, I'm working on the various BC reputations like Ogri'la and the Shattered Sun Offensive. I'm not trying to maximize my rep gains or feeling at all constrained to get there for the raid; this is just for me, when I have time. Same with the old raids; I go on PuGs when I can, I let friends run me through when they're amenable, and I otherwise just chill out. One more BT run and I should be exalted with the Ashtongue Deathsworn.

I don't know if I'd want to play this way full time, but it's fun as heck.
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