Level has a few meanings that apply to World of Warcraft:
- All Player Characters, mobs, NPCs, quests and items in World of Warcraft are assigned a level. This is the way that the game categorizes their overall effectiveness, power, usefulness, strength and challenge. This degree of comparison is in no way exact and considered more of a guideline.
- The level of a Player Character, Mob, or NPC relates to a guideline to expect similar abilities, attributes, equipment, and powers when around the same level. As such, creatures of similar level should fight at about an equal footing and one will not easily defeat the other (ignoring skill and other factors).
- The level of a Quest or Item determines the required Player Character level needed to pursue that quest or equip that item. Quests of similar level should be of similar difficulty to complete and items of similar level should have similar stats.
- Degrees of advancement in skills (professions) are sometimes called levels. For example, one may have Journeyman skill level which is better than Apprentice. Or one could say that you need at least 50 levels (points) in Skinning, before you can train Journeyman Skinning.
- Spell ranks are sometimes called levels (but this is more rare).
The maximum level in the original World of Warcraft is level 60. In the expansion The Burning Crusade the maximum level was raised to level 70. In the second expansion, Wrath of the Lich King, the maximum level was raised to level 80. In the third expansion, Cataclysm, the maximum level was raised to level 85, while it was raised further to level 90 in Mists of Pandaria, it will be raised to level 100 in Warlords of Draenor.
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 congratulates your character on reaching "the 80th season of adventure" in an in-game mail.
Some comments on general levels:
- Characters under level 10 are usually considered newbies.
- Most players only begin to master their class starting around level 20.
- Even though it may seem like a long way to 40th level, below that might be considered "low level", since you can reach up to level 90(current cap).
- Training gets progressively more expensive as levels increase.
- 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. And so on...
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 & 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 (90), instead of experience, you will be awarded 6 copper per exp point.
Hit & 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.
There are six basic skill levels:
- The maximum level into the game is 255. It is only attainable with GM commands.