Spoiler: A lot has changed. It can feel daunting to jump into a huge world of which you know very little, and World of Warcraft is gigantic. You will feel overwhelmed if you just rush in. As a returning player who used to write for the freakin’ World of Warcraft magazine (RIP), even I find it hard to figure out exactly where to get started adventuring if I haven’t played the game for a while.
Unfortunately, the BfA prepatch took away more than usual--having an entire expansion balanced around an ultra-powerful weapon that abruptly turned into a dead stat stick made the end of Legion particularly depressing--and offered very little in return. The patch didn't flop because of bugs; it failed because it's boring, unrewarding, limited, unambitious, and actively feels like it's punishing players at a time they should be celebrating.
And... that was it. New NPCs offered a glimpse of some truly amazing armor and weapons, none of which are currently available to players (and datamining suggests it may be a while, if ever, before they are.) There were no new appearances for players to farm, no items or pets or toys or titles to obtain, no achievements to complete. There was no repeatable, truly farmable content.
A "stat squish" and "item squish" was implemented to lower the numbers used in the game, e.g. a legendary item previously with a level of 1000 reduced to 265. Unique class-specific buffs are added back, i.e. mages' Arcane Brilliance and priests' Mark of Fortitude. Titanforging—a random event that raises the initial item level of an item gained via drops or rewards—is still in the game; however, if the item is one of those affected by the Heart of Azeroth, then that item cannot be titanforged.
As always, I will monitor and update this guide as new information comes in. If I've gotten anything glaringly and completely wrong, just tell me with as much data as possible. The idea is to find the fastest possible leveling method, NOT to argue about how good or bad individuals are. If you have hard data, post it! If you have an idea, let the thread know so we can test it!
If you’re a returning player, consider paying for a month’s worth of playing time—a mere $15—and using the game’s newer Class Trials to see if you still have that spark for higher-level play. While you can also go the “Starter Edition” route for a free, limited romp through Azeroth, you might need a little more than the newbie zones to help you decide whether you want to play through the game’s latest expansion.
At 96 the standard wisdom is to immediately drop what you're doing and proceed to Spires of Arak and do the quests to unlock the Inn, granting a further 20% experience bonus while in that zone. You'll want to do that eventually anyway, but I'm not sure it outweighs the quest experience from Gorgrond. However, if you decided to go to Spires immediately at 96, restrict yourself only to bonus objectives and again leave Treasures until you're 100+. Make certain that when you being the quests to unlock the inn, you speak with the quest NPC to also learn Archaeology, since it's required to collect several of the treasures in Spires.
It’s a good thing that the previous expansion, Legion, was the best in the game’s history because Battle for Azeroth is coasting on its success. The major class redesigns that happened then remain in effect (though some are a little worse, and some a little better), and the combination of World Quests and Mythic+ dungeons means there’s always something to do, no matter your skill level or how long you can play.
My second most anticipated new feature in the Tides of Vengeance update is the Battle for Darkshore Warfront. It’s the second cyclical battle between the Horde and Alliance, in which each faction takes turns gathering resources, fighting in a pitched raid battle and then controlling the Darkshore zone. In what I hope will be an improvement to the Warfronts feature, the controlling faction will gain access to diverse world quests in the zones they control, rather than the “kill x of y” quests from when it first launched.
After completing your island expedition and second foothold, head back out to your third and final zone to quest in. Note that any legendaries you were using to level have become inactive and are merely stat sticks now. Feel free to replace them with quest gear as you obtain it. Before heading out, feel free to send your three champions out on new missions!
Dark Iron dwarf - "Known for their fiery tempers and fierce determination, Dark Iron dwarves have a turbulent history with the other clans. A failed coup in Ironforge ignited the War of the Three Hammers, and many of the Dark Iron once fought in the service of Ragnaros the Firelord. Though one faction is pledged to Queen-Regent Moira Thaurissan, others refuse to stand alongside their kin. The Alliance seeks a united Dark Iron clan to harness the power of Azerite and aid their struggle against the Horde."
Meanwhile, on the island continents introduced in the Battle for Azeroth expansion, players level 110 and above who have unlocked world quests can participate in Faction Assaults. These special events, alternating between Alliance and Horde territory, will give each faction a chance to band together to defend their territory or invade their enemy’s via a series of world quests. The prize? Survival! Also faction, gear and gold. Maybe even some pride.
A Mythic+ dungeon is a much more difficult version of the original, and loot doesn't drop directly from bosses; instead, a chest will spawn at the end containing a number of items that will increase depending on how quickly you cleared the zone. The level of this loot will increase based on the difficulty level (Keystone) of the dungeon you completed, starting at 345 and scaling to 370 for a M+10 or higher.
For your tank... I'm assuming you meant which race should you be, not which class, since you seem to want to be a warrior! Well, if you were Horde side I'd recommend Tauren for the health buff. But honestly, I *never* pick a race based on the racial features - only based on the flavor. If you are going Alliance side, I am quite partial to dwarf warriors myself but pick whatever seems most fun to you!
Buffs. Food/Flasks/Scrolls/Potions/Elixirs are a small, but noticeable, buff to your killing speed and survivability. If you have a max level character that can already supply you with cooking or alchemy, you'll be very well off, because the AH is a cesspool for this. I can't really give you specific foods or potions to look for, since each AH is going to have different supplies. Generally speaking, lower level foods are going to only last 15-20 minutes until you can buy the more powerful versions at 60+. Look for anything that adds versatility or your primary stat, and buy stacks for each level range(1-60/70/80/90/100).
REALMS Aerie Peak Aman'Thul Area 52 Arthas Baelgun Barthilas Blackrock Bleeding Hollow Burning Legion Cenarius Dalaran Darkspear Earthen Ring Emerald Dream Frostmourne Garona Garrosh Hyjal Illidan Kel'Thuzad Kil'jaeden Korgath Lightbringer Mal'Ganis Moon Guard Proudmoore Ravenholdt Sargeras Saurfang Shattered Hand Stormrage Stormreaver Thrall Tichondrius Turalyon Wyrmrest Accord Zul'jin Aegwynn, Bonechewer, Daggerspine, Gurubashi, and Hakkar Agamaggan, Archimonde, Jaedenar, and The Underbog Aggramar and Fizzcrank Akama, Dragonmaw, and Mug'thol Alleria and Khadgar Alexstrasza and Terokkar Altar of Storms, Anetheron, Magtheridon, and Ysondre Alterac Mountains, Balnazzar, Gorgonnash, The Forgotten Coast, and Warsong Andorhal, Scilla, Ursin, and Zuluhed Antonidas and Uldum Anub’arak, Chromaggus, Crushridge, Garithos, Nathrezim, and Smolderthorn Anvilmar and Undermine Arathor and Drenden Argent Dawn and The Scryers Arygos and Llane Auchindoun, Cho'gall, and Laughing Skull Azgalor, Azshara, Destromath, and Thunderlord Azjol-Nerub and Khaz Modan Azuremyst and Staghelm Baelgun and Doomhammer Black Dragonflight, Gul'dan, and Skullcrusher Blackhand and Galakrond Blackwater Raiders and Shadow Council Blackwing Lair, Dethecus, Detheroc, Haomarush, Lethon, and Shadowmoon Bladefist and Kul Tiras Blade's Edge and Thunderhorn Blood Furnace, Mannoroth, and Nazjatar Bloodhoof and Duskwood Bloodscalp, Boulderfist, Dunemaul, Maiev, and Stonemaul Borean Tundra and Shadowsong Bronzebeard and Shandris Burning Blade, Lightning's Blade, and Onyxia Caelestrasz and Nagrand Cairne and Perenolde Cenarion Circle and Sisters of Elune Coilfang, Dark Iron, Dalvengyr, and Demon Soul Dawnbringer and Madoran Darrowmere and Windrunner Dath'Remar and Khaz'goroth Deathwing, Executus, Kalecgos, and Shattered Halls Dentarg and Whisperwind Detheroc and Shadowmoon Draenor and Echo Isles Dragonblight and Fenris Draka and Suramar Drak’Tharon, Firetree, Malorne, Rivendare, Spirestone, and Stormscale Drak'thul and Skywall Dreadmaul and Thaurissan Durotan and Ysera Eitrigg and Shu'halo Eldre’Thalas and Korialstrasz Elune and Gilneas Eonar and Velen Eredar, Gorefiend, Spinebreaker, and Wildhammer Exodar and Medivh Farstriders, Silver Hand, and Thorium Brotherhood Feathermoon and Scarlet Crusade Frostmane, Ner'zhul, and Tortheldrin Frostwolf and Vashj Ghostlands and Kael'thas Gnomeregan and Moonrunner Greymane and Tanaris Grizzly Hills and Lothar Gundrak and Jubei'Thos Hellscream and Zangarmarsh Hydraxis and Terenas Icecrown and Malygos Kargath and Norgannon Kilrogg and Winterhoof Kirin Tor, Sentinels, and Steamwheedle Cartel Lightninghoof, Maelstrom, and The Venture Co Malfurion and Trollbane Misha and Rexxar Mok'Nathal and Silvermoon Muradin and Nordrassil Nazgrel, Nesingwary, and Vek'nilash Quel'dorei and Sen'jin Ravencrest and Uldaman Ravenholdt and Twisting Nether Runetotem and Uther
XP Potions: The Elixir of Rapid Mind and Elixir of Ancient Knowledge no longer drop. They can be bought on the AH still but are way to expensive for it to be worth it. The Excess Potion of Accelerated learning is available from your garrison quartermaster but only works for level 91 to 99. As of Patch 8.1 you can also buy the 10% XP Potion Draught of Ten Lands.