Travel facilities, quest simplification, loot retooling, mechanic changes, etc, have all been tuned to reduce friction of rapid leveling – but they have achieved a system that satisfies nobody.
Playing Old-WoW has been reduced to playing a slot machine that gives you a quarter back for every 4 spins of the wheels. It’s just there to distract you until the main show.
The reward-set for the starting quest hub in each leveling zone is un-special, and the pacing is such that you’re out-leveling the quests before you’ve finished the first gear set. At this stage, you need to fight yellow/orange mobs to get off more than 2-3 attacks, and you know that if you just went to the next zone you’d be having more interesting fights with better gear.
Crafting items during this phase are essentially pointless since if you try to gather the materials to make something useful, you’ll either get a better random-drop while you’re or out-level the item from bonus exp/etc while you’re working on it.
Despite all this, with 100 levels to reach end-game content, leveling is still. too. slow.
So now the majority of WoW’s legacy content is unpleasant either way:
. Nothing lives long enough for you to develop a “rotation” or learn the deep mechanics of your class,
. Progress rate eliminates value in rewards, drops and crafted items,
. Progress rate eliminates value in interacting with the lore you are traversing,
. Travel access decouples you from rich environs lore is set in,
. Zones have been reduced to quest hub sequences making gameplay dependent on travel access – WoW today feels more like SWGs early mission system than the rich questing experience of the release game,
– Compare with Suramar!
. Exploration is made pointless,
. Progress rate makes zone-completion counter-productive,
. Many zones/quest lines handle co-operation poorly,
. Progress gating makes it counter-productive to group up since you are still limited to content tagged level-appropriate,
– Misses out on opportunity for guilds to put together “hard mode” levelling groups that could race through content above their level for faster exp turn around and more challenge,
. Crafting is largely pointless: the time (and bonus exp) it takes to gather your materials often sees you out-level any item that would be useful,
. Lack of useful crafting/drops makes interaction at these levels (e.g auction house, crafting, etc) largely pointless
I posit that we need to use different levers and switches to allow rapid character progression and try to restore leveling to a more vanilla pace and character:
. Make it easier to get heirloom gear,
. Add bigger exp bonuses to heirloom gear,
. Target dungeons and raids for power-leveling,
. Dial-back the progress rate of world questing, leverage the “Chapter’s” concept seen in Legion and perhaps a “Lore” counter two; progress bars are awesome,
. Dial-back the stats across loot drops in world questing,
– Re-add some challenge to leveling,
– Re-add some value to crafted items,
– Re-add some value to rewards,
– Re-add some scope for stat tinkering during leveling,
. Tune up the difficulty of world questing mob encounters by 5-50% for longer fights and more opportunity to experiment with your skills, stats, etc,
. Re-factor some of the world-questing story-lines so that you come back to places more often:
– Currently you do 3-4 quests for “Jim” in “A town” who sends you for 3-4 quests with “Sue” in “B town” who … next zone,
– Originally you’d go back to “A town” to see if new quests had opened up; this largely went away to speed up progression rate,
– Gives you more reason to be involved in the area and designers chance to give an npc richness that might endure longer,
The goal, then, is to allow recapturing some of the richness of playing and developing *a character*. If you want to kick-back and roam the hills, slowly gathering bear pelts, take off your heirloom gear and have at it. But if you just want to be a healer for your raiding group and need to get it done, throw on your heirloom gear, run a bunch of dungeons or maybe a couple of raid instances, and you’ll be set.
I think it might also be a good idea to consider allowing a *free* choice of starting a toon at Wrath or BC.