Before this week’s 7.3.5 update hit, leveling a freshly-made character in World of Warcraft as an experienced player was little more than a chore to do before getting to the good high-level stuff. With the introduction of level-scaling and changes to experience point requirements and monster health, leveling up is now a more enjoyable experience.

Prior to update 7.3.5 it was far too easy to level up a new character. The experience needed to advance from one level to the next was too low, resulting in players out-leveling the story quests in each zone, moving on before getting the full experience. With low monster health and high player power (especially when players were outfitted in ridiculously powerful heirloom gear), creatures dropped like flies. Combined with easy experience gained by joining parties in the dungeon finder, the first 60 levels in the game flew by.

That’s no longer the case. I started a level one gnome warrior named Jerboa on Tuesday afternoon. With the hours I’ve put in since, she should easily be at least level 40 by now. But there she is, level 22 and loving it.

A good part of the reason it’s taking me so long is the new level-scaling system. Now that zones and their quests scale with the players level, I’m spending more time questing and less time hopping into random dungeons. And with the experience point requirements to level increased for levels 1 to 60, the random dungeons aren’t nearly the level-fests they once were, making questing a much more attractive prospect.

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Another fun effect of level-scaling is that every enemy aggros now. No longer will gaining a few more experience levels render lower level creatures in a zone near-passive. There are no lower level creatures.

OMG BEAR! RUN FROM BEAR! BEAR SO HUGE!

Blizzard upping the health of creatures in those early zones has had a profound effect on how low my health bar gets. Even decked out in a full set of heirloom gear, my little fury warrior hasn’t one-shot much of anything in her 22 levels. Mobs that survive longer hit more often, hence my dangerously low health in the screenshot below. Players have to be a little more mindful now. That’s a good thing.

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Experienced players who’d rather speed through the leveling process can still roll a healer or a tank and spend the whole process running random dungeons. If they’re really in a hurry, they can always buy one of those boosts to level 100 Blizzard offers.

But I’m enjoying the slow and steady grind. I’m visiting zones I normally would have skipped and exploring quest lines I’ve historically bypassed. Leveling has changed a great deal with this week’s update, but in many ways it reminds me of the good old days, when growing into one of Azeroth’s legendary heroes was more of an adventure.