A Lowbie's Guide to Leveling Up Fast
It's what most new heroes want most--more powers and more effective powers. Since those developments only come about through leveling up, it becomes almost a race to level 10 and beyond for those struggling through Atlas Plaza and the surrounding areas. You want to level up, and fast!
But wait! You'll need to be careful. Characters that level up too quickly can easily become suspect, especially to developers, who might disable your account should they see such activity. Too-fast leveling can mean someone's discovered how to "game the system," making it unfair for everyone else, and developers want to ensure that players are still having fun, not just leveling up and selling off the character.
Also, if you level up too fast, you'll end up choosing powers and enhancement slots faster than you can really think about it; you'll likely stand at Ms. Liberty for a half-hour or more, trying to puzzle out which power to take next, and you might end up very confused about how to play this new hero. Leveling up fast is a bit like balancing on a tightrope--not too slow, so that you see enough progress, but not too fast, so that you don't get locked out of your account or get frustrated playing all the new powers.
So, without further ado, here are the Do's and Don'ts for lowbies looking to level up fast:
Play in big teams, whenever possible.
Playing solo in Atlas Park seems pretty fun at first, bashing the bad guys and getting some items and inspirations. But you'll have a lot more fun (and get XP faster) if you play in teams of seven or eight heroes.
Playing in a team of this size actually grants each member an XP bonus, and if each member is participating in the carnage, helping defeat enemies, people will start leveling up like crazy. An additional bonus is that you will learn more of how to work with other heroes, as well as maybe make a few friends from the teams you're in.
How do you get a big team together? Simply watch your Broadcast and Request Chat messages for other lowbie heroes looking for teams. Note the names and levels of the characters, and type a quick team invite to those whose levels are fairly similar to yours. (To invite a character, type /invite [CHARACTER'S NAME] into the chatbox.) Make sure you have at least 7 people in your group at all times, and preferably 8, so that you'll lock in that XP bonus.
You'll also want to pay attention to the archetypes of the players looking for teams. Build a balanced team--damage-dealers (Tanks/Scrappers/Blasters), healers/buffers (Defenders and some Controllers), and enemy neutralizers (Controllers and some Defenders). A balanced team will take on large enemy spawns much better, especially if the team moves as one unit through missions, not letting any one hero get isolated and overwhelmed.
Learn more about how to pull together a balanced team on my Creating and Leading a Good Team page.
Use the Sewers for an ideal level-up-fast zone.
The developers got rid of all the farms and meow mishes in the AE building, but there's one zone in Paragon City that acts pretty close to a legal farm: the Sewers. Located farthest south in Atlas Park (check your map for a red dot with a black-and-yellow striped box around it), the Sewers provide endless spawns of level 3-10 baddies for your pwning pleasure.
However, the Sewers must be used with caution. If you are on the low end of the level scale (level 3-5), don't just run willy-nilly through the various tunnels--approach carefully, otherwise you may find yourself in the middle of a group of purples! It's also not the place for solo play, because the Sewers provide quite large enemy spawns (10-15 baddies in one place); no one lowbie can take that kind of group on, no matter how much damage you deal or how much you heal for.
The Sewers are best attacked with a larger team of at least 6 people (and preferably 7 or 8, to get an XP bonus). Play carefully, and know that your hero will get a workout, as will the rest of your team. Also, be warned that it can be a little tricky leaving the Sewers--enemy groups spawn fast, and you'll likely have to fight your way out as you fought your way in. But hey, if you've got the team together and you're looking for XP, it's a good way to double up!
Whenever possible, take on baddies that are one level above you or higher.
Whether you're in a solo mission or just out street-sweeping away the baddies in a hero zone, look for yellow, orange, and even red bad guys if you're looking for more XP per kill. These baddies will be one, two, or three levels above you, and will provide you with a strong challenge as well as more XP when you defeat them. (But no matter your archetype or damage output, never go toe-to-toe with a purple when you're soloing, until you've leveled up enough to take more of your powers, and even then, be careful.)
Depending on your archetype, you'll be able to take on differing levels of baddies. A solo lowbie Defender or Controller, for instance, is much better off dealing with one yellow at a time rather than a whole bunch of them. Lowbie Blasters and Scrappers can typically take on two yellows, or a lone orange. Lowbie Tanks can take on a group of three yellows, or a couple of oranges, or a solitary red. Play this carefully, though! Try to pull only one bad guy at a time if possible, and see how your hero handles the damage; if fighting one yellow is almost too easy, try two next time, and so on.
In a team setting, taking on baddies above your level will be a little bit easier. If you're in a large team, the greater XP gain from higher-level enemies will be magnified still more by the XP bonus you get from being in a big team. Playing in big teams will trigger more higher-level bad guys to appear in missions as well, so you'll all have more opportunity to get great XP.
If you have no other missions to do, play Radio Missions.
Radio Missions are available in every zone except Atlas (to my current knowledge). To get access to the Radio Missions in a particular zone, visit the Detective contact (noted on your map as "Detective _____"), and he/she will give you access to the Police Band frequencies for that zone. If you are too high or too low-level for the missions in that zone, the Radio won't work. Find out which zones work for your current level on the Paragon City Zones page.
The missions available through the Radio are quick one-shot missions involving rescues, item collections, defeating a boss and his/her minions, and other pretty basic stuff. These can be fun solo missions, but they're the most fun when you do them with teams--every member of the team can call in and get one radio mission each, and then the team can go through each one in whatever sequence they wish, choosing what types they want to play.
The Radio Missions with the most XP opportunities, especially for teams, are usually the ones in which you have to fight a boss and minions, but the Rescue missions are also pretty enemy-rich.
Log off in Police Stations to get an XP Bonus.
The Police Station's logout bonus is that you get 15% more XP per kill while the bonus is active. To know if it's still active, look for a yellow circle with the letters "XP" at the top right of your screen, where all your status effects, active powers, etc., are listed. If you pair this XP Bonus with playing in a big team and/or while defeating yellows, oranges, and reds, you'll likely get a lot better XP overall.
Writing a AE mission just to farm certain bad guys is a BIG no-no.
The AE mission creator won't let you make a mission with just bosses anymore, but players who are looking to level up way too fast are always trying to come up with new ways to create a "power-leveling" mission. Don't do it; it's a good way to get yourself banned or get your account disabled.
Power-leveling might sound good, but it actually can hurt you when you go to the Trainer to finally level up. Suddenly, you're having to pick a power, then 2 enhancement slots, and then another power, then 2 more slots, and then another power, and on and on. Pretty soon, you forget what powers you took at which levels, why you put 3 enhancement slots in this power when you should have put them in that one, and it becomes a huge mess. You could end up so frustrated with the character that you delete it because you don't know how to play all the new powers, or how to make them work more effectively.
Don't wait around for a team to form itself--make one yourself.
It's fine to put out a request in Broadcast Chat or Request Chat for a team, and indeed it's necessary to advertise that you want to play on a team, so that other players know they can invite you. (Learn more about how to advertise yourself for a team on the Shortcuts and Tricks from CoH Vets page.)
But if no teams seem to be forming, don't just mope around in Atlas Park; put out a Broadcast message that tells the level range of team you're building and what kind of heroes you're needing to build a balanced team. Like so: "team forming in atlas, levels 1-6, need tank, healer, damage-dealers, meet at City Hall". You can also add what kinds of missions you're running, like if you're going to do a Sewer run, or if you're doing Radio Missions in Steel Canyon, or maybe trying to complete a mission arc. Also, giving a meeting place lets players talk to each other a little bit before beginning the mission, as well as showing you who to invite to the team. (You can also ask interested players to send you Tells by saying "pst if interested," but keep in mind that people playing on free Trial accounts cannot send Tells--they can only receive Tells.)