Returning Launch player looking for solo/leveling class suggestions

I played at launch but left when there was no real endgame to do. I wanted to give the game another shot since it still looks great for such an old game.

If i really get hooked i will likely find a guild and do more group stuff, but just starting back i want to make sure i have a good solo leveling character.

The classes in order of interest to me are:
1- Bear Shaman
2- Herald of Xotli
3 - any of the soldier classes and Tempest of Set tie here

Are any of these excellent solo levelers?

All of these aren’t too bad for low-level-soloing.
BS has good survivability and decent damage
HoX has better dps incl. bigger aoe than bs, but no heals
ToS has nice (aoe)dps, but feels a bit squishy sometimes although he can heal
Guard dps is the lowest in game, but good survivability, with polearm you can fight more enemies at once
DT gets op at lvl 80 and decent gear, but felt a bit boring on lower levels
Conq has decent dps with good survivability

How important is aoe grinding to the leveling process? Does the game now have enough questing to get you from 1-80 or is it like it was before i left after launch where there large swaths of levels with no quests and all you can do is grind to progress?

If there are large chunks of levels that have to be grinded out, than having the AoE of the HoX or ToS might be better than the bear shaman, but if there is enough quests than bear shaman might be better because im leaning that way the most lol

You have some additional zones at different levels that haven’t been existing at launch (e.g. gateway to kithai (lvl 20-40), coast of turan (50-55, but needs expansion pack), ymirs pass (55-60), tarantia common districts (75+)).
There might still be some small gaps, but in general there should be enough quests to reach lvl 80.
Aoe is just for the option to fight more enemies at once, e.g. when you accidently pull too many.

Does bear shaman have no aoe, or just limited aoe? Im leaning more to that class to be honest

No real area-attacks, but if you place the enemies properly, you can hit multiple with the 2handed weapon.

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You might run into a gap of 1/4 of a level or so if you leave an area too early, but more likely you will skip whole areas. Notice that a sub comes with +30% leveling speed. Either way there will be no need to grind.
BS has enough range to hit 3 or more mobs, if positioned correctly, bot BS and HOX are melee, and melee combat is by far the most interesting playstile in AoC, because it is kind of unique, easy to learn but hard to master.
Also BS and HOX both are unique-ish classes, a melee combat healer and mage.
I would recommend BS, it gives you melee combat, good survival, good odds to find groups as healers are always welcome, and if you plan to do groups a tank might not be the best choice for your first class, as the responsibility for a sucessful dungeon/raid is heavily depended on the quality and knoweledge of the tank.
First recommendation not HOX, because in end game HOXes are the least of the 3 mages who will be welcomed to a group/raid, both other mages bring more to the table as a class, and most players are not skilled enough to use the full potential of the HOX.
You will be fine with any class for solo play - guard beeing on the very low end of the experience.

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Bs is one of best. Very good vs booses. Conq is also great. Hox may have hard time vs. higher lvl bosses