Today’s Blog Post comes by the way of WoW Insider with their Community Blog Post that asks the question, “Is leveling too easy”?
For the question at hand, the short answer is yes I think that the leveling process has become too easy. But that is only because the process of leveling has stopped being an important aspect of the game for Blizzard over the course of almost ten years of designing this game. Join me in my time machine won’t you?
The date is November 2004, Blizzard Entertainment just launched their Warcraft MMO and everyone is excited. During those days leveling was a challenge, with no LFG service, no flying mounts, and (either by design or poor gameplay implication) the game developers put in place quests that took you all over the world (here’s looking at you Onyxia attunement) or it required an enormous about of grinding to complete. Back then getting to max level was a feat of strength and that’s not including the amount of gameplay you had to invest afterwards to become qualified for end game raiding content.
Fast forward two years and the players get the Burning Crusade expansion pack. Blizzard added flying mounts for max level players as a way to move around Outland in a quicker and more interesting way, but leveling-wise this expansion maintained the status quo. The quests were a tad more polished but the every major quest chain ended up in a 2-3 man group quest, which became bothersome if you play during off-peak hours or on a low population server and do not get me started on the crazy attainment processes for heroic dungeons and raids.
It would take another expansion for Blizzard to reevaluate what it means to level and where all the player based fun is actually place in World of Warcraft.
Enter Wrath of the Lich King and this was where Blizzard discovered that what the players wanted most from the game was not to level through zone after zone, but instead they wanted the end game content, players wanted to experience the game with their friends without the fear of one out leveling the other.
The Blizzard team changed the game to better accommodate that desire from the player base, with the introduction of Heirlooms, the removal of attunements and keys for heroic instances and raids, the LFG service, a new hero class that starts at level 55, and the decrease in XP requirements between the levels of 1-60. The players wanted to focus on the current developing story, not to be bogged down by old content and Blizzard has continued on that idea ever since.
Cataclysm offered us a major overhaul of vanilla content, with a much more stream lined in the redesigning of both quests and dungeons, the relocation of the Dark Moon Faire that gave us a quick way to level our professions, and the introduction of more heirlooms and a continued decrease in the XP retirement to get to max level. Mists of Pandaria we have the Dark Moon Faire Carousel and the almost overpowered monk exclusive enlightenment buff.
With my two most current characters I completely foregone the entire questing aspect and just run continuous instances decked out in heirlooms. The question now remains, on if it is a bad thing that leveling has become too easy?
All of the cool and new stuff are at the end of the leveling spectrum, and while I do not have access to the World of Warcraft census I am willing to bet that a majority of the active users (friends, family, guild mates, and almost everyone else you regularly socialize with) are at max level. With a MMO that has that sort of player demographic while commercially advertise the
death defeat of Garrosh as the last raid of the expansion I don’t think that Blizzard now or ever intends to have the leveling process the to difficult or event too challenging.I think Blizzard’s rule of leveling is to have the 1-85 experience be about practice and grinding, to get each player to use the skills and abilities for the class and spec that they picked.
Which is why I think that Blizzard has yet to create another class or race that leap frogs you through the majority of the leveling process like what they did with Death Knights or why they have not sold a premade level 85 characters in the Blizzard Store.
But what do you think, do you think the leveling process is too easy? Where do you stand on how much focus an MMO’s gameplay/game time should be on the character’s adventure through the leveling ladder? Leave a comment down below or in the comment section of the original post at WoW Insider.
Be MOP focuses on the Mists of Pandaria expansion of World of Warcraft with my own reflections about the current news and developments that happens throughout the game’s life cycle. Updates Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays