Guest Post: Does Leveling Faster Make Leveling Better?

This week, the lovely Oestrus was nice enough to write a guest post for me. Be sure to go check out her blog, The Stories of O, where she shares her stories and thoughts on being a raiding holy priest and about World of Warcraft in general.

The other day, some blue posts were released that attempted to address the concerns that many players have voiced over how the leveling experience seems to drag past level 60 and going into Northrend.

Here’s what Nethaera had to say:

“We know that for many who have gone through Outland and Northrend before, it may not be as fun as the first or second or even third time you’ve gone through it. We understand but also believe that in general, the quest flow is much better than what was available in original World of Warcraft. Between that and the increased rate of experience gain, you should be able to go through these areas relatively quickly. Would we like to update Outland at some point in time? Sure. It’s a possibility. But it’s not on our immediate radar. There’s still a lot more to be done in World of Warcraft.

We do appreciate those who have given constructive feedback on their feelings on leveling from 60-80 and as I mentioned earlier, we do have accelerated experience gains for these levels. As someone else mentioned earlier in the thread, getting flight early on also helps with getting around these areas and completing quests in a more efficient way if that’s what you’re looking for.”

Here’s how I interpreted it:

“We are too busy to do all of that, but not busy enough to create more heirlooms to throw at you.  That way you can breeze through these zones so fast you won’t even know there is anything wrong with or missing from them!”

In my experience, people who like to level alts like the experience of leveling them.  People like doing new quests they haven’t done before and may even roll a character with a different faction or of a different race  to begin in a new starting area, to do just that.  They like seeing how a certain class handles different situations and may purposely put themselves in sticky situations to see if they can make it out in one piece.  We like knowing that we’re making a difference and impacting the storyline, with each instance that we clear or quest that we complete.

I don’t feel that making the experience go by faster is necessarily the answer.  I remember recently purchasing the heirloom helm and purposely not wearing it, because I was already going through the Blood Elf starting zone so quickly that quests were turning green and gray before I could even get around to finishing them.  I felt like I was being rushed into the next zone and I didn’t enjoy that.  Right now, I’m just using the heirloom cloak and I may put the helm back on once I get into the later parts of Northrend and the new Cataclysm zones.

Giving us more heirlooms to get through the zones that clearly need work is not going to help people ignore what’s wrong with these areas.  Granted, Northrend is in much better shape than Hellfire Peninsula and the zones from Burning Crusade.  I would have to say that areas from the latter would be in more need of work or touching up than the ones from the former.  But you can’t deny that it’s mighty awkward to be completing quests which are there solely to help you prepare for bringing down Illidan Stormrage and his allies and the Lich King.  You can only suspend disbelief for so long before you ask yourself “Why am I doing this again?”

Even if they decide not to change the quests objectives or rewards, they can at least change the reasons why we do them.  They can at least allow the NPCs to be aware of what is happening on the other side of the Dark Portal.  The Blood Elves would have some opinion on the fall of Kael’thas and the NPCs in Dalaran might have a clue as to why their city doesn’t have any portals to major cities anymore.  You could still keep most of the same quests, but have a different motivation behind them.  Instead of needing to kill 20 Bonelashers just because they make people sick, you could change the quest to say that they’re preventing efforts to clean up the Bone Wastes and people are scared to travel through there.

I also think it’s strange that Blizzard seems surprised that people are voicing concerns with post Kalimdor/Eastern Kingdoms leveling, especially since they really went out of their way to promote leveling in most of the previews for Cataclysm.  This was done by promoting the creation of new race/class combinations and with the introduction of the Goblin and Worgen races.  While we certainly can pay to take our existing characters and make them any race that we want, others were excited about the idea of exploring Gilneas and Kezan or starting a character of a previously unavailable race or class combination from scratch.

They sold us on the idea that leveling would again be fun and interesting and now they don’t understand why we don’t feel that may be the case.  What did they think was going to happen?  Did they think we were just going to take our characters to 60 and then stop?  Pick up another alt and then do the same thing all over again?

Currently, I do not have any plans to take my warlock past level 60.  I don’t have it in me to put myself through another round of quests I have done far too many times just to get past that point.  I have other starting zones I would like to see and other areas that were radically changed by the Cataclysm that I would like to experience.  I really don’t know what I’ll do with my alts, once I have explored all of the new areas that I had wanted to see.  I’ll probably work on their professions or find a buddy or two to farm instances with.

Or maybe, just maybe Blizzard will clue into the things lacking with the later stages of the leveling process and take the time to realize how important and how taken for granted the leveling process is and take some time out of their schedules to make such a thing fun and worth doing again.

Go check out The Stories of O. Thanks again Oestrus!

13 responses to “Guest Post: Does Leveling Faster Make Leveling Better?

  1. I have a mage sitting at 47, a warlock and priest both at 72, a DK at 65 and a paladin at 61, and I have very little desire to go much further with any of them (maybe the pally because she’s fun, but that’s it). Is it stale content? Sure. Do I relish the idea of going through Dragonblight and Sholazar Basin again? No, not at all.

    But I look at the problem a little differently. I wish that with Cataclysm, Blizzard would have rationalized the amount of XP necessary to go from level 10 to level 11 versus that necessary to go from level 70 to level 71. It took the devs just as much time to design Durotar as it did Sholazar Basin, it requires the same amount of server resources and development resources, so why am I spending an hour in Durotar and a week in Sholazar? I can go from 1 to 60 in the same amount of time it would take me to go 60 to 70. To me, that’s whackadoo and Blizzard should look at fixing it.
    Stormy recently posted..The First Five

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  3. First off I have to say I am the opposite of what you said. I despise the new questing and when I make a character I can not wait to get to BC and wrath content so I can start enjoying playing again. I do not like the lack of choice in the lower level questing areas now. I like being able to skip a quest I do not like in BC and LK. That is the one reason I like them better. I play the game the way I want to play the game and not the way they tell me to.

    I like to level alts. I like to see how fast I can level them. I do so with and without heirlooms depending on the realm I am on. My desire is to level from 1-85 in less then 4 days with no bonuses at all. I think it can be done.

    With that said, even though I love doing it, I believe it is horrible for the game over all. Leveling an alt should be fast, sure. We have all done it before and quite honestly doing it again even with a different characters offers us nothing new really. I have 8 hunters, I am not going to learn anything new leveling a 9th so I want it as quick as possible.

    However, for the new player I believe that leveling is an important thing. Even more so if you have never looked at forums or anything. You get to know your character and your characters abilities. You face challenges where you will die and it tests you to use your mind to complete the task at hand. Let me see what other abilities I have that could help me here.

    My first character, a hunter, took me 30 days game time to level. I knew nothing about it. I did not even look to the forums until I was in the 40s and started to have aggro issues with my pet. (found a great article that explained it too, it wasn’t me doing something wrong)

    In the end, when my Hunter finally reached max level I was comfortable with my Hunter having spent so much time with it. I was completely knowledgeable of basically every skill I had because I needed to be to get past some of the tasks I have been put on.

    I was capable of going into a top level heroic with full confidence that I could do my job and do my job well because I had just struggled through 30 days of playing and I knew my class. I pulled top DPS, never came close to pulling aggro, never ninja pulled, used everything in my arsenal to it’s fullest ability. All of this because I spent 30 days leveling and learning.

    I died countless times doing quests that should be easy, once you know it of course. Leveling being hard and making it take time made me a good player.

    With the redesign of the old world us players that have been through it a dozen times already have something new to go back for and that is fun, for a short time.

    What blizzard seems to have forgotten is that new players now go through this content as well. There is now no challenge in leveling up, all the quests are easy. There is no exploring and trying to find where your next quest is because it is all laid out for them. There is no learning curve any more. New players will never learn their class leveling up if leveling is fast.

    I see no problem with heirlooms for people that have “been there, done that” but the over all quest progression is way to fast for the new player and all that means is we have more and more people that might have started the game entering heroics with no clue how to play their class because they never where challenged while leveling and they never got a chance to learn their class.

    I think leveling needs to be slowed down a lot. Increase the bonus from heirlooms if need be to 20% or even 25% instead of 10% and decrease the experience from quests and kills so those without it take longer to level. So if you want to burn through it you can, but make people that are doing their first trip thought earn their way to 85. Now it is just gift wrapped.

    In the end, for people that have done it before leveling will never be fun or interesting unless you do what I do, create your own challenge. Speed level for a challenge. Leveling naked is fun as hell. (I suggest a disc priest for that) Level only through PvP. Level only through dungeons.

    You have to make your own challenge to leveling for fun. Blizzard made it fast thinking that was fun. They where wrong on both fronts, the new and the old player. There is no way to make leveling an alt fun, that is not blizzards responsibility, that is yours, the players.

    I just hope they do not make BC and LK linear like they did the old world and Cata. That killed leveling for me. Part of my fun was doing what I wanted to do to level. I do not have that choice with linear questing. Less choice = less fun.
    TheGrumpyElf recently posted..Born- Warrior Stats- 4 Days 13 Hours

    • Hey there GrumpyElf,

      It’s interesting that you would bring up a lack of choice and new low level zones, because I actually feel like at times I have too many choices.

      So I started off as a Blood Elf in that particular starter zone. From there I went into the Ghostlands and things went by very fast. At that point, I was only using the heirloom cloak and nothing else. Eventually I had to decide if I wanted to go to Azshara, Silverpine or somewhere else. I chose Hillsbrad. While doing Hillsbrad, the board in Undercity offered me two more places. I could go to Arathi or Northern Stranglethorn. After that came the Hinterlands or Southern Stranglethorn.

      Should I do the quest that just turned green or hold off for yellow quests? Do this elite quest or that one? I feel like I’m always having a decision to make and that’s not a bad thing. I understand the criticism that the zones themselves are seen as linear, but you can change that up a bit by going to a different zone. In fact, I fully intend on making another alt to see all the zones that I missed, because of the ones I chose to go to.
      Oestrus recently posted..Guest Post- Does Leveling Faster Make Leveling Better

  4. I levelled up a bunch of Alts to 80 by the end of Wrath. I just wanted to get to 80 as quickly as possible without doing any quests.

    But I’m one of those guys that prefers grinding Mob XP to quest XP. I hate questing, especially the Cataclysm style go pick up 10 of those, 10 of those, and 10 of those on the ground.

    I usually AOE farm, (it was very fun and very easy as Affliction) or Dungeon Finder farm(very fun as Paladin).

    Outland goes by in a flash so I don’t find it too painful, but arriving off the boat to Northrend is like hitting a brick wall. Not fun at all for 9th time.
    Alacran recently posted..Alacran’s Resto Shaman Healer UI

  5. I am torn on this issue.

    At low levels, I do not think that faster = better. I’d like to do all the new quests in the redesigned zones on my low-level alts. However, because of the speed of leveling, I feel like I’m missing most of it. I started questing in the Northern Barrens, did a few quests, ran a random or two, and then all the quests were grey for me. I finished off the area with 17/70 quests done. It really breaks up any sense of story or continuity. I’ve had the best experience with the new low-level zones on my 85 druid, going back for the achievements, which is kind of sad.

    For the level 60-80 experience…hmm. For some reason I’ve never gotten tired of leveling through Outlands. I like to go right up to 60 in Azeroth so I can skip HFP, but I’ve always loved Zangarmarsh and Nagrand. I do think they could use some updating in terms of motivation, as you mentioned, but overall my leveling experience in Outlands is still positive. Coming to Northrend is where I hit a brick wall. I’m not even sure that redesigning the quests there would make a difference though. Once I hit the 70s I just want to get to max level already.

    I really like Stormy’s idea of eqaulizing the leveling experience. I’d love to spend more time leveling through the new Azeroth zones without out-leveling the quests and have the 60-85 experience go a lot faster.

  6. See, I actually enjoy the speed at which I’m going through things – though this is without heirlooms, for the most part. I feel like I’m levelling at a nice clip, and if I get a red quest, by the time I finish the easier ones, it’s yellow and I don’t have to panic that my squishy mage will be smooshed.

    But once I hit Outland… yeah, that’s where the problem starts. I think I’ll probably enjoy Northrend, at least well enough, but HFP especially just IRRITATES me and getting to 68 so I can ditch Outland for the frozen north just doesn’t go by fast enough.

    Granted, I haven’t levelled through Outland yet with the increased XP gain, but that doesn’t address the problem of me… really not enjoying the quests, mostly. I think a lot of that is that I am NOT a Vanilla or BC baby – I’m a Wrath baby, the big story that I remember is Arthas and the Scourge. That’s probably part of why enjoy Northrend over Outland – I had some investment in the story the first time I went through it, whereas in Outland… it’s always been like being back in time, a bunch of events that I can’t actually influence at all, because it’s already been written. So it’s just not as interesting. Even a few fleeting references to what’s actually going on in Azeroth, both in Outland and Northrend, and taking out the things like “we must defeat Illidan/Arthas” would make it SO much more engaging, because it would feel like I’m actually doing something in the present.

    I got Lisan through Outland pretty quick by treating the whole levelling process as a journey through the years of her life, from a 16-year-old trainee to a woman who was part of the assault on the Lich King’s citadel. But with the updates to the old world, I can’t even do THAT anymore. All I can do is maybe create some rip in space-time that catapults my character back in time when they hit Outland, and they have to catch back up to the present by playing through Outland and Northrend.

    Yes, this would be slightly easier to handle if I didn’t give my characters firm stories and personalities and timelines, but I can’t PLAY a character for long if I don’t have a story for them.

    Anyway, this rambledansen has been brought to you by thunderstorms and the number CHOCOLATE to say that I agree with you.
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    • I agree with your dislike of HFP. For my last couple alts I’ve stayed in Azeroth until level 60 so I could skip right to Zangarmarsh which made the experience much more enjoyable for me.

  7. I have to say, I agree with O and had many of the same thoughts when I read the blue post. Seriously? You went to all that trouble, and trumped up how awesome leveling was going to be and how everyone would want to roll an alt or three to experience everything and you couldn’t even be bothered to re-word the quests in Outland and Northrend? Or pull Moira out of Blackrock Depths? Or simply add Blackrock Depths to the Caverns of Time? Ooh, there’s a cop out idea for you, Blizzard! Just put Cromie at the entrance to the Dark Portal and have her send all adventurers back in time to experience battling the Legion. And then do the same for Northrend. That’s not a bad rp spin actually….

    I’m one of those people who level alts for the experience. I want that experience to be meaningful for my character because I’m experiencing the World of Warcraft through her. Not to mention that updating the quest dialogue would make the world of Azeroth feel a lot less static (at least to me). But that’s a whole other topic in itself that I’ve been fiddling with.

  8. At the moment, most of my alts are just “up to level 60” projects. It’s not the lore that’s killing Outland and Northrend for me, it’s the boredom. Doing the same quests for the 6th time… oh god no kill me now. I’d rather see all the new zones and then stop. Besides, I don’t have any motivation to get to 85 on a new character. I have 2 geared healers already, one melee/tank I could gear up if I wanted (I don’t), and both my healers can go ranged offspec. Yet, the only thing I really enjoy doing is healing… so my baby projects will likely stay that way – projects. The baby druid which is teaching me about feral and the new low level resto, the not-so-baby-anymore hunter who I PvP on… they keep me entertained and I’m happy.

    Oh, and getting back to the topic: leveling faster isn’t leveling better, but it makes it far, far less painful! Let’s be realistic, Blizzard won’t redo Outland and Northrend for a long, long time. I like having the choice of breezing through them as fast as possible.
    Jen recently posted..One month of Cataclysm

  9. I prefer a choice even if their are too many, too a lack of choice. Early on I tried running each race through their own lore. While I was mostly successful one place I absolutely failed was an undead. I finished the second zone and was at a loss, my only choice the barrens with Hillsbrad a good 6+ levels away and on a pvp server with Alliance that outleveled me by a dozen levels. The ability to go through tbc and northrend and reach 80l with out repeating a single quest on 2 separate characters? Great.

    Thats the downside of post 80 leveling. Your a Resto druid with feral dps and not a scribe? These are your zones too level in. No choice unless your willing to make the “wrong” choices.

    Can the leveling be too fast? Yes. I leveled a troll druid post 4.0 I deliberately did 2 things. I leveled on a server where i had no BOA, and I did not queue for rdf. This kept my leveling sufficiently slow that i was not forced to do grey or skip content.

  10. I actually disagree with the statement that, “people who level alts enjoy doing new quests.” Personally it is the opposite for me. I hate soloing and only level new alts to eventually experience raiding on them. In my perfect WoW world I would have a button letting me ding 85 immediately after I create a toon. I don’t really see the drawback to this, provided that you have already experienced that faction’s quests on your main/other character. If people enjoy the levelling then let them and maybe give them some feat of strength to show that they have levelled rather than clicked a button.

    Personally, I just don’t see why Blizzard does not allow experienced players to try out other classes/roles more easily. I believe it would increase the longevity of WoW and keep players playing a lot longer than they do currently in some situations.
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