Level has three meanings in World of Warcraft:
- Character level: all player characters, mobs and NPCs in World of Warcraft have a level, reflecting their overall effectiveness, power and ability. Player characters can increase their level through gaining experience, granting them access to new abilities, talents and more powerful gear. Higher-level characters have better base stats and generally make more formidable opponents.
- Skill level: degrees of advancement in skills (professions) are sometimes called levels. Skill level is required to perform profession or skill-related tasks such as crafting items or gathering resources. Skill level can be increased through performing relevant activities. See Profession.
- Item level: a scale for measuring the overall power and stat value of a given item. See Item level.
The rest of this page will deal with character level.
The level of a player character, mob, or NPC determines that character's base stats, and relative factors such as their chance of being struck by other characters, with the power and health of characters increasing as they gain in level. Fighting a character of much higher level will generally present a significant challenge, while fighting a character of much lower level will generally prove far easier.
However, level only determines each character's base stats. Mob and NPC abilities and strengths vary according to type and rarity. While the power of player characters may be roughly gauged by their level, gear, abilities and play skill can much a very large difference to a character's capabilities, and level should not be used as a direct measure of a player character's strength. Nonetheless, increased level provides an advantage for any character.
Level for player characters has additional significance. Abilities are made available to players as they increase in level; new areas become viable for questing and exploration; new talents are granted; and new dungeons and battlegrounds become available.
Most quests and items have a minimum character level, which the player must meet before accepting the quest or equipping the item. Quests of similar level should be of similar difficulty to complete and items of similar level and rarity should have similar stats.
Most player characters start at level 1; death knights, demon hunters, and allied races are notable exceptions. Players can increase a character's level by gaining experience points. This process is known as leveling, and will steadily increase the character's stats, grant them access to new abilities, allow them to access new quests, equip more powerful gear, and access more challenging content.
Player leveling is limited by the current level cap, and cannot advance beyond this level. Players below the level cap generally seek to increase their level through questing and other activities. Once a character reaches max level, they are able to access the end-game, where the focus shifts from gaining experience and learning new abilities, to tackling challenges and acquiring epic rewards. Player level can also be limited by not having purchased the latest expansion, or by running the game's Starter Edition.
A portion of leveling can be skipped by purchasing and using a Character Boost.
The characters and mobs you come across in your travels will have their difficulty (determined by level) indicated with a color.
- Skull (AKA "Level ??") is 10 or more levels higher (can also refer to a boss)
- Red is anything more than 4 levels higher.
- Orange is 3 to 4 levels higher.
- Yellow is always up to 2 levels lower or higher.
- Green limit changes depending on your level:
- Level 1-9: 4 levels lower
- Level 10-19: 5 levels lower
- Level 20-29: 6 levels lower
- Level 30-39: 7 levels lower
- Level 40-70: 8 levels lower
- Level 71-85: 9 levels lower
- Gray is anything below the lowest green level
Honor, PvP and XP
- Gray level players do not give you any Honorable kills
- Gray level quests give you a highly reduced amount of experience.
- At the level cap, instead of experience, you will be awarded 6 copper per exp point.
Hit and crit chance
- On Orange and above mobs you will have a greatly reduced hit and crit chance. And at the same time they will have a much increased chance to hit/crit you, and can cause crushing blows (you can offset this by getting a lot of +defense skill items and skills).
- On Green and Gray level mobs you will have a higher hit and crit chance than what is shown on your skill list, because their "defense" skill should theoretically be lower than your weapon skill.
- On Yellow Mobs your hit and crit chance is about accurate.
Patch 9.0.1 implemented a level squish, which reduced levels across the board in order to make each level feel more meaningful, and to make leveling rewards such as abilities feel less sparse. The maximum level at the time, before the full launch of Shadowlands, was reduced from 120 to 50.
Pre-squish Post-squish 1 1 2-4 2 5-7 3 8-9 4 10-11 5 12-13 6 14-15 7 16-17 8 18-19 9 20-22 10
Pre-squish Post-squish 23-25 11 26-28 12 29-31 13 32-34 14 35-36 15 37-38 16 39-40 17 41-42 18 43-44 19 45-47 20
Pre-squish Post-squish 48-49 21 51-53 22 54-56 23 57-59 24 60-63 25 64-67 26 68-71 27 72-75 28 76-79 29 80-81 30
Pre-squish Post-squish 82-83 31 84-85 32 86-87 33 88-89 34 90-91 35 92-93 36 94-95 37 96-97 38 98-99 39 100-101 40
Pre-squish Post-squish 102-103 41 104-105 42 106-107 43 108-109 44 110-111 45 112-113 46 114-115 47 116-117 48 118-119 49 120 50
Notes and trivia
- Characters under level 10 are usually considered newbies.
- Most players only begin to master their class starting around level 20.
- Elite mobs vary wildly in how much harder they are to kill than their level would indicate. Also, some non-elite mobs are much easier to kill than their level would indicate.
- Levels are just a guideline, so some types (classes) of creatures match up better against others regardless of their level. For example, a rogue-like mob might be much easier to kill than a priest-like mob, if you depend too much on your physical defenses; rogues do much better against casters than tanks; priests and paladins do much better against undead mobs than normal mobs; etc.
- NPCs such as trainers and questgivers rarely make direct reference to a player character's level. Notable exceptions are very early quests (teaching you, the player, about training new ranks of skills), and Rhonin who at level 80 (prior to the release of Shadowlands) congratulated your character on reaching "the 80th season of adventure" in an in-game mail.
- The maximum level in the game's code is 255. It is only attainable with GM commands.