WoW: the new levelling experience

When the random dungeon finder was first introduced to the game, I described it as feeling like a sugar rush. OMG! Dungeon! Zoom zoom. Quick, don’t stop. Moar dungeon! No waiting around!

The new levelling experience feels like a concentrated version of the same thing. It’s fast paced, a lot of the old pacing elements (like travel time) have been cut back or removed, and you’re moving quickly between one awesome story and the next. Blizzard had said that they were keen to bring the Northrend experience back to Azeroth and that is what they have done. There are vehicles, cut scenes, cool storylines covering entire zones, interaction with NPCs, and lots of it.

The lower level game has also been tuned for newbies. It’s intended that a new player, without much experience of MMOs and possibly who prefers to solo should be able to work through the questlines and easily level enough for the next zone in the series.

So if you are whining about how easy it is, then maybe you aren’t the target audience. Maybe you have even forgotten what it was like to panic every time a mob attacked you, freak out any time you thought you might be lost, and not really understand how the genre works yet. Sit back and enjoy the ride, the stories and quests are still fun and we get our harder content in a week or two.

This means that anyone who does know the game, who does do instances and/ or battlegrounds will level very quickly. Even without heirlooms, my test hunter has been almost outlevelling content in her zones, and I preferred not to skip any because why miss the new stuff? Having said that, the warchief’s command boards in the capital city do a great job of directing you to a suitable zone for your level if you do get ahead and aren’t sure where to go next.

I think this does leave the question that if WoW (at lower levels) is too easy for experienced MMOers who like this style of game, where else should they be heading? Rumour has it that Blizzard’s next MMO is to be a MMOFPS so that will have zilch for people who don’t like shooters. I’d imagine you guys should keep an eye on Guild Wars 2, since I’m not sure Bioware is going for a difficulty based approach on The Old Republic.

Blizzard have obviously noted this as an issue, because they responded today by nerfing instance xp (1-60). So clearly they are committed to balancing world quest xp for newbies, and instances are an optional extra. There was a time when the instances were the absolute pinnacle of WoW, the one thing where Blizzard blew everyone else out of the water. They’re still fine (I loved the new Shadowfang Keep) but the emphasis now is on the questlines.

Anyhow, I rolled a new forsaken hunter to check out the undead areas. It still feels odd that I have to roll a new alt just to find out what’s going on with my own faction but hey.

Welcome to the new girl

My screenshots of Phedra are a bit patchy. My excuse is … I was having too much fun. I’ve tried levelling a hunter before and got rather bored of it, so thumbs up to Blizzard for the redesign. I’m loving my hunter at the moment,  messing around with all my traps in Survival spec. It’s also great fun in PvP.

I didn’t use any heirloom armour for this experiment, just an heirloom gun.

catasheep1

Yup, it isn’t just LOTRO which features farm animals. These are some sheep in Gilneas. What was I doing in Gilneas?, you ask. Just an important mission behind enemy lines, don’t worry about it.

catalevel1

 

(Hope the captions on this are readable). I commented earlier this week that the forsaken theme has changed a bit, less gothic, more ick. Silverpine (level 10-20 zone) is more of a war story in which you aid your faction leaders to put down a worgen incursion, but it isn’t easy. There has been some brilliant work put into this zone, and along the way the character gets to learn more about the history of the forsaken and possibly a few hints about their future too.

The picture on the right here is from what will quickly become one of the most loved/ hated quests in the game: Welcome to the Machine. Don’t read the comments unless you want the spoilers but this quest plays on the metagame and will amuse experienced MMO players. It’s like those double entendre jokes that are put into pantomines to keep the parents amused. I have no idea what a newbie would make of it. (More on this one in a future post.)

And you will later encounter the featured NPCs again in Hillsbrad as you keep questing. Warning: Hillsbrad also features one of the grossest quests I’ve done, which involved killing infected bears and harvesting spider eggs from their backs – rather than looting the mob as usual, you actually click on the eggs. (It triggered my grossout response, anyhow.)

pvz

Hillsbrad is also the location of the Peacebloom vs Ghouls quests. If you’d been lulled by the ease of the quests up until this point, this is going to come as a shock because it’s quite tricky even for PvZ veterans. The singing sunflower is however totally adorable, if perhaps a tad inappropriate for an undead character.

drakecata

Oh, and I also got to ride on the back of one of those cool undead drakes that they gave to people for the ICC achievements.