Image from En Masse, kind of used everywhere on their page for XP boosts and leveling, like here.
People say that leveling is a tutorial for end game but that’s not really the case. Dungeons are mostly 3-man and don't require the dps/heal/tank trinity, there's no pressure to not die, and a lot of classes are fundamentally different in their skills during leveling vs at 65. But you can have fun going through the story and doing side quests along the way. Once. Doing this repeatedly after completing the process with one character is not a desirable task.
Want a more detailed breakdown of how to quickly level to 20 so you can start running dungeons? Read this supplemental post.
Step One: Get Off Stepstone
There are some options for leveling to 65 but they all start with getting off stepstone. There are no optimal ways to do this. It will take about 20 minutes to go through the storyline and ride a pegasus to Velika. You should be around level 11 to 13 (depending on buffs) when you get off Stepstone and are free to choose how you want to proceed.
If you're leveling your second character, you like to know that there is a banker available in the town before you talk to the researcher and follow Anya into the storage cave. You can grab some consumables at this point if you like killing the argons that you aren't supposed to kill as part of the story. It won't break anything and the story progresses normally even if you kill them.
Step Two: Pick a Leveling Path
Now you need to get a steady supply of experience until you hit 65. You can run dungeons, kill BAMs, complete quests, and fish.
You can’t start queueing for dungeons until you hit level 20 and you have the minimum required item level (a weighted sum of your gear level). Running dungeons is the fastest way to level. Dungeons also depend on other players, so your downtime between dungeons will dictate your time to level 65. You'll want to try queueing when your server's peak population time is on, otherwise you may see queue times in the excess of 30 minutes to an hour. If you find people who are leveling at the same time, try to stay with them and keep dungeoning together so you don't have to wait on a queue.
How to stick with a party while leveling
First and foremost, make sure everyone is on the same page. Ask your party if they want to stick together. After the last boss is dead, reset the dungeon if you haven't all out-leveled it yet. The party leader (the party member with a crown next to their name) will type "/reset" into the chat. everyone else will have to approve. If you don't reset, the instance will be the same when you re-enter it with all the mobs and bosses dead.
If you are going to the next instance, you won't be able to use instance matching (IMS) to get automatically teleported. You can either use the vanguard teleport or buy a dungeon entrance teleport. Open you vanguard request and click on the banner for the dungeon. Another window will open and you can teleport to the dungeon entrance with one of the window options.
You can attack BAMs as soon as you leave Velika, though it’s not recommended. Kill regular mobs until you are around level 16 or 17 then you can take on the basilisks near Bastion of Lok more easily. You will have access to Vanguard Requests once you hit level 20. From the request list, you can quickly find BAMs appropriate for your level. Look for any requests that require 5 kills to complete. The first BAMs you’ll have a request for is the Basilisks near Bastion of Lok, then Nagas and Kumas in “Clean up Godric’s Farm”. The level requirements usually overlap by at least 1 level. BAMs are a decent way to level until around 45 when their experience value starts to drop off. They are also an excellent filler while you are waiting for a dungeon queue.
A Note for Dungeons and BAMs
You'll want to have some kind of XP booster on if you are actively dungeoning or killing BAMs. You can acquire them from the broker by searching for "XP". They come in different durations and boost amounts. Relative to the cost, it's best to just grab a 100% boost. Pay attention to whether or not the time is in-game only or real-time. I think only the 7-day and 24-hour boosts are real-time and the other ones are in-game time only. For both Dungeons and BAMs, it may be useful to read up on:
- A List of All The Dungeon and Solo BAM Vanguards from 20 to 65
- [Future Article] PvE Crash Course, or all the things you didn’t realize while leveling
- [Future Article] An Overview of Different Dungeon Mechanics
The Story Quest can be followed using the red exclamation marks on the map. You will level faster than the questline unless you avoid killing anything outside of requests, and even then I think you'll outlevel the storyline pretty easily. However, the story quests are gated based on your level so you can choose to skip a portion of the story if you find yourself gaining experience slowly because of the level difference between you and the quest. One strong recommendation is to finish the first Story Quest through Bastion of Lok because you will get a flying mount upon returning to Velika. You used to not get the mount until level 65 before this change was made.
These are generally not recommended unless the specific quest has a high XP reward and doesn’t appear to take too long. You can tell if the XP reward is high if you compare it to the Vanguard Request reward for dungeons at your level.
It takes a bit more than 2500 fish to level from 12 to 65, depending on your fishing rod level. The 2500 number is based on a Tier 6 rod with a bit more Tier 6/7 fish than Tier 8. If you are starting from scratch, this is not viable. You can’t craft until 65 so you have to rely on purchased level 1 bait or load up on fishing worms if you have fished on other characters and have a lot of Angler Tokens available.