As late as possible. Early on, you’ll want to follow the missions in Battle for Azeroth right up until you get the option to send a follower on a two-hour long quest. As soon as you get there, stop doing the War Campaign missions. You can come back to them once you have reached something like 119 and a half and finish leveling with those if you want. If you don’t use these missions to cap off your leveling journey, then they’re the first thing you’ll want to do once you reach max level.
If you need the abridged version, because you’d rather spend an hour in a game than hearing someone talk about a game, you can also check out the excellent “New & Returning Player Guides” series from YouTuber (and World of Warcraft expert) Bellular. And you probably even skip the bits about ”how to purchase” or “how to install” the game, saving you even more time for new World of Warcraft adventures:
Level 120 comes and goes. Island Expeditions have unlocked, but it turns out they’re not much fun, and the most rewarding versions are only accessible to premade groups. You turn to Warfronts only to realize they’re not available this week. Fine. You can always grind out better gear. Except as you do, you notice your new gear has higher Azerite requirements than your old gear, which means your shiny new items have fewer unlocked traits than what they replaced. Discouraged, you decide to roll as one of the cool new Allied Races. Except you can’t because they’re all locked behind reputation grinds.
Despite all of these problems and this laundry list of glaring systematic issues, the crowning achievement of Battle for Azeroth’s endgame is that it still remains enjoyable all due to those two pillars of raiding and dungeons. That won’t last forever. As the expansion goes on, and the grind necessary to progress becomes even more demanding and the time spent in content that simply isn’t fun increases, it will be harder and harder for raiding and Mythic+ to carry the expansion along.
Hopefully, you have a good idea how you want to begin your endgame experience in Battle for Azeroth. A whole new set of content will drop on September 4 when the Uldir raid opens up and the PvP season begins. That also marks the beginning of Mythic+ dungeons in BfA. Even after that happens, many of these tips and strategies for gearing up will still be the best sources of early gear for your new 120 characters.
Special mention is the Darkmoon Faire Top Hat and WHEE! buff. While not always available due to the DMF being inaccessible most of the month, if you happen to be leveling when the DMF is running, it might be worth your time to go and get these. AFAIK they do stack with heirlooms, although I have not personally tested it. Fair warning: These buffs do NOT stack with each other, and the hats disappear after the DMF goes away later in the month(unless you only log in when the faire is running).
Allied races: Our new allies will join the factions and players will be able to unlock the ability to play their race. There are 6 planned for launch. Horde: Nightborne, Highmountain tauren, Zandalari troll. Alliance: Void elf, Lightforged draenei, Dark Iron dwarf. Additional races are planned for the future. Receive a Heritage Armor set, if you level an allied race character to level 110.
Island expeditions - Set sail for the previously unmapped isles of Azeroth. Battle in groups of three as you race against cunning rival intruders—or enemy players—to collect the island's resources. Constantly evolving challenges await as you traverse frozen landscapes near Northrend, open the gates of an abandoned Gilnean castle, navigate a war between elementals and more. Can be done either in PvP or PvE against advanced AIs.
And, of course, there are plenty of in-game addons you can use to make your adventures in Azeroth even more efficient. Try checking out Azeroth Auto Pilot, which points you where to go, handles all your NPC discussions and quest turn-ins, and automatically sells your junk gear (among other features). Deadly Boss Mods is still a must-have, so you don’t die in dungeons quite so quickly. Pawn helps you tell whether the gear you’re getting is actually an upgrade or not. World Quests List gives you a much better way to see what’s happening in your zone (and sort for the rewards you’re prioritizing).
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