I made it to level 70! Alaurai reached this milestone last night.
When I was about halfway through level 69, I decided to leave Outland and try Northrend. Now I wish I'd done this as soon as I hit level 68!
Not only do I find Northrend a much more pleasant place to be, but I'm acquiring XP at almost twice the rate I was in Outland, and accumulating gold faster as well. And the gear is hugely better than what you get from the quests in Outland. I've replaced all my weapons and most of my armor with stuff I've acquired just in the few quests I've done so far.
At level 69, I have been (easily) killing mobs of levels 68-71 and getting 1800 to 2000 or so XP, compared to about 900-1100 in Outland. Quests are yielding as much as 25000 XP. The last couple of levels in Outland were a real slog, but in Northrend I whipped through that last half of level 69 in a few hours.
For the past several days I was finding the quests in Outland (particularly Netherstorm) to be either tedious or annoying, or both. So far the quests in Northrend have been much more fun. For one thing, some different things are happening; for example, for a couple of quests in Valiance Keep, when I attacked some mobs, the guards came and helped me! This is different.
Also, questing is a little different from Outland, in which some quests are way too easy, some are confusing, and others are ridiculously hard (mostly as a function of how densely packed the mobs are). So far in Northrend the quests have (mostly) been straightforward, with a reasonable degree of challenge. Maybe I'm just feeling good because of the rapid progress the additional XP has allowed me to make, but I'm enjoying the quests in Northrend a lot more.
By far the best thing, though, is the scenery. I've never liked Outland that much. Aside from Nagrand - which has its own weirdness - much of Outland is strange. I don't really like being there. Most of it is dark and oppressive. Death and demonic - dare I say satanic? - imagery abounds: Hellfire Peninsula with its rumbling earth and roaring gouts of flame; Terokkar Forest, monochromatic and gloomy, littered with crypts and spiders, haunted by the skeletal and the undead; Shadowmoon Valley, dark and menacing, with demons everywhere.
Then there's Netherstorm, its stark and desolate landscape littered with weird domes containing lush green oases, connected by strange transparent pipes beaming who-knows-what all over the place; static electricity making your hair stand on end. Even sunny and green Nagrand, with its floating rocks, is bizarre.
And wherever you are in Outland there is the constant risk of a fatal fall off the edge of the world into the twisting nether. Twice I had to resurrect at a spirit healer because there was no way across the nether to the island where I'd died.
Northrend, by contrast - so far, at least - is gorgeous. Just beautiful, with nothing weird at all (aside from floating Dalaran, which I can live with). When I took the icebreaker from Menethil Harbor to Howling Fjord, I was stunned at the magnificence of the fjord and the land around it. My friend Trojanne took me to Vengeance Landing on the rocket, but I'd never seen the fjord itself until the icebreaker brought me in to the harbor at Valgarde Port. Stunning! And the town itself is lovely, as is the countryside.
After slaying a few mobs outside the north gate I rode west and found a village fortress called Westguard Keep. Picked up the flight point, of course, and flew back to Valgarde. Lovely flight!
At Valgarde I boarded the ship back to Menethil, flew to Stormwind, and took the other icebreaker to Valiance Keep in Boorean Tundra. I'd been there before, briefly, at level 50 something, when I tried to follow some advice I'd gotten on WoWWiki to swim to Unu'pe - and got eaten by sharks.
Now, at level 69, the trip to Unu'pe was easy: just a short ride along a nice scenic road. I only got accosted by two mobs along the way; one I just ignored, the other I killed just for the fun of it. Stopped and killed a few more so I could fish a school of some kind of arctic fish from a pool just off the road.
The reason to go to Unu'pe is simple but compelling: from there, you can catch a turtle ferry to Moa'ke Harbor, and another from Mao'ke to Kamagua. Getting the flight points at these harbors opens up flight across the entire southern portion of the continent. And from Moa'ke you can fly to Dalaran, so once you've made it to either Unu'pe or Kamagua you can always fly to Dalaran to get another hearthstone, in case you ever accidentally lose yours.
The landscape across southern Northrend is just glorious. It's graced with magnificent stone castles; picturesque ships ply the coast, and icebergs floating offshore complement the beautiful shoreline landscape. I first saw the coastline from the turtle ferries - which have a great, unobstructed view from the stern - and then from the air when I flew all the way across the continent. The flight's not cheap: almost 2 gold! But really worth it.
I've been auctioning madly and within a couple of days should have more than enough for the 4500g artisan flight training at Honor Hold plus an elite flying mount. But this isn't that essential at this point; since I can't fly in Northrend until level 77, the only place I can use the extra speed (280% vs. 150% for the regular flying mount I already have) right now is in Outland. And who wants to be in Outland?
I'm looking forward to playing with my friends in chilly Northrend! (It's so cold, you can see your breath, and that of other characters as well.)