WoW: Lich King player hits level 80 just 9 hours after “Classic” server launch

Naowh explains how he got to level 80 in Wrath of the Lich King Classic in just a few hours.

When it comes to World of Warcraft‘s long-demanded “Classic” servers, players understandably want an experience that’s identical to the MMO experience they remember from years ago. At least one player has taken that concept to an extreme this week, using years-old exploits to reach the level 80 cap on Blizzard’s Wrath of the Lich King Classic (aka Wrath Classic) servers mere hours after they launched.

Stream Naowh and his compatriots at Echo Guild announced their level 80 speedrun achievement on Twitter early Tuesday morning. As Naowh explains in an accompanying video, the rapid leveling takes advantage of a bugged Icecrown boss that continually spawns mobs of undead zombies. A player can “tag” those zombies with a single attack, then get full experience for defeating all the zombies when the next mob spawns in.

Naowh said he practiced this method in the live retail version of World of Warcraft before the launch of Wrath Classic servers Monday. “It’s still the same to this day in retail,” Naowh said. “I’m surprised no one has noticed this.”

Naowh combined this feat with another that makes use of four dead level-one characters in his group. Since these low-level players can’t receive experience from the high-level mob, all the group experience from the fight goes to Naowh. Together, these exploits let Naowh gain experience points at an astounding rate of 1.8 million XP per hour, letting him make the usually grueling run from level 71 to 80 in just under nine hours.

The most things change…

Naowh’s exploit-driven push to level 80 brings to mind similar methods used when Wrath of the Lich King came out in 2008. Back then, a popular player named Athene was banned from the game after hitting level 79 during a 13-hour post-launch marathon play session.

Athene’s strategy wasn’t exactly the same as Naowh’s but made use of a similar mob-tagging bug that let players get full “solo” experience points for mobs that are actually destroyed by an entire high-powered group. Athene loudly claimed that the mob-tagging method they were using was not a bug, saying its use “was confirmed by Blizzard GM Aegeoth to be perfectly legal in the game.”

Enlarge / Back in 2008, Athene claimed they got pre-approval for a similar mob-tagging exploit before being banned.

Hours after Athene’s ban, a player named Nymh became the first fully confirmed player to hit level 80, an achievement we wrote about on Ars Technica at the time. That led to widespread community discussion of whether Athene’s ban was justified and whether mob-tagging abuse really counted as exploit abuse.

Blizzard, for its part, seems to have recently implemented a “stopgap fix” to prevent Athene-style mob-tagging in Wrath Classic. Perhaps recognizing this history a bit, Naowh acknowledged the possibility that Blizzard might revoke his own record and reset his character for using other exploits to power-level.

“People are doing all crazy type of mob-tagging… and shit, and they’re allowing that,” Naowh said. “If they want to set an example and roll me back because I did something sneaky, I’m not gonna be mad about it… It’s really pushing the limits. If Blizzard feels like it’s too much, I’ll take it. …It’s up to them.”

For now, though, Naowh can revel in having the first level 80 character on the Wrath Classic servers at a time when countless other players are still patiently waiting in queues to log in. And if that achievement reset happens, Naowh says he’ll simply see it as another achievement. “Imagine if we get world’s first [level] 80 rollback as well,” he said. “Then we’d get two world’s firsts in one day!”

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