I had an opportunity to hop back on my baby Druid and do some leveling this past weekend, and finally hit that level 30 threshold. I wish I had the option of starting a new character off at level 58 like Death Knights because the under-60 experience is still simply abysmal. Being able to level in dungeons and battlegrounds helps tremendously but most of the pre-60 dungeons are in desperate need of overhaul and the XP earned in battlegrounds can be hit and miss. If you win a match you can earn a worthwhile amount of XP, but if you lose you can leave with virtually nothing for your time and trouble. As I write this I'm trying to formulate a list of dungeons I actually don't mind running and the only one I can come up with is Scarlet Monastery. The rest are long, convoluted messes that are often way more trouble than they're worth. And anyone that already has a high level character and has experienced the content available in Outlands and Northrend makes this lower level experience all the worse.
For much of the 20-30 bracket I ended up finishing up quests in the Barrens then moved north into Ashenvale. While Ashenvale does have two flight paths available (one on either side of the zone), but the zone is so large I really wish they’d add one somewhere in the middle somewhere. As far as the quests go, most of them were completely new for me and they took a little longer than they probably other would have as I had to actually read the quests, and at times had to consult wowhead to figure out where things were actually located. And of course with the large zones comes along the travel. I spent considerable time just running around the zone to complete everything.
It’s zones like Ashenvale that make me even more thankful for cat form. Being able to run just a little faster and being able to kill things just a little quicker takes some of the edge off. A typical fight would see me opening with Claw, then Rake, then applying a 2-CP Rip and either auto-attacking or using Claw again until it dies. On an odd occasion I’d need to change into bear form when I pulled multiple adds, and then it probably wasn’t exactly necessary as I could have simply killed things one at a time. But that highlights the biggest problem with the Druid class at this level, and becomes especially apparent on dungeon runs. Several other classes have AOE attacks by this point, but the Druid’s only AOE attack is Swipe. And that is only available in bear form. On a dungeon run, switching into bear form is often cause for comments by the tank or the healer and explaining that my only AOE attack is in bear form isn’t always enough to calm the storm. When speed is of the essence, and lets face it, when isn’t it; a viable AOE ability in cat form would be very nice.
In terms of PVP ability the class still lags behind many of the other classes at this level as well. It’s virtually impossible to beat a Hunter, Warlock, Shadow Priest, or Paladin at this level as the Druid simply has not counter to many of the abilities these classes have in this bracket. Especially the Hunter and Warlock, so I rarely even try to overcome them any more – Feral Charge (Cat) not withstanding. Having Pounce available at a lower level might help, but short of that a level 20 to 30 Druid has very little in the way of avoiding death to kiting. As the lower level brackets are full of Hunters you should steel yourself for the feeling of frustration. On the flip side the Druid continues to be the best flag carrier in WSG! Although without bark skin or feral regeneration, running flags is necessarily an endeavor in avoiding any opposition. At the higher levels where I have those other tools available I can withstand some abuse, but that threshold to withstand punishment is very thin in my current bracket.