Should pandas start at level 1? Blizzard’s MoP dilemma

Let us fast forward a few months (I’m being generous with the estimates here) to the launch of Blizzard’s funky new WoW panda-themed expansion, Mists of Pandaria. There will be plenty of new stuff for old, new and returning players alike to do. A new race (pandas!), a new class (monk!), pet battles (pokemon!) and an entire new continent of zones (pandaria!).

So how many people will really want to roll a character with the new race and/or class and level from 1-80 through Kalimdor/Other Continent, Outland, Northrend, and Cataclysm before being able to check out Pandaria?

In previous expansions, this has also been an issue but not to the same extent that it will for MoP. In TBC, players were still generally expected to be hardcore enough to not mind powering through the older levels with a new blood elf or draenei, plus the races had their own new fancy starting zones. In Wrath, Death Knights started at level 55 so only had to level through Outland before they could join the Northrend party. In Cataclysm, the vanilla WoW continents had been streamlined and updated so there was plenty of new low level content to see, plus xp in Outland and Northrend was boosted.

But this time, even if Blizzard provide a new 1-20 zone for pandas, there is a lot of content to get through before people can explore the rest of a level 85+ Pandaria. So I wonder whether, as with death knights, they will provide a higher level starting option. Perhaps the best solution would be to let players choose if they want to start their new pandas or monks at level 1 or level 80, but that might require two different sets of starting zones for the pandas, and it isn’t clear what sort of starting zone the non-panda monks might get — whether they’ll stick with their current racial zones or provide a new class based sequence as per death knights.

Would you want to level a new panda or new monk from 1-80 before taking it to Pandaria?


15 thoughts on “Should pandas start at level 1? Blizzard’s MoP dilemma

  1. Starting pandas at 80 brings with it a host of other problems – mostly because pandas can be more than one class. If the zone is supposed to introduce your class (like the DK zone does), you’ll need to have it customized for each class. If it doesn’t, and you just start out with level 80 abilities, new players are going to be going WTF are all these buttons?

    And then there’s the question of race change – if you could start a Panda Warrior at 80, but you really want an Orc or Night Elf, why wouldn’t you start off with a Panda and race change once you get out of the zone (or to level 90?) Panda classes would have a distinct advantage, non-panda classes would be screwed.

    I think the Scroll of Resurrection was floating how to get characters to 80. I have a feeling we’ll see a fast track option appear in Mists – level someone to 20, then boost them to 80 via a fee or reward program or something.

  2. The obvious solution, to me, is to give players a choice. Have a starter zone that takes them to level 20, then they can decide between “entering the temple of enlightenment” (quest that insta-levels them to 85) or “making their own way in the world” (get transported to the old world to carry on levelling).

    Of course, as that involves A) player choice and B) not screwing players over for yet more money in a full subscription game I can’t see Blizzard doing it that way…

    • I think you may be right and that would be a good plan. It would however kill the lowbie zones (20-80), many of which only got revamped last expansion.

  3. I would like to know why Blizzard, while revamping the old world, didn’t just make it go from 1-85. That trip to Outland and then Northrend has to be baffling for new players.

  4. I think Blizzard needs to make up their mind about leveling content in general. On the one hand, they spend all this time and effort in Cataclysm redesigning the 1-60 content. But on the other almost every aspect of the game itself drives you to the endgame as quickly as possible and invalidates everything that comes before it. That said… all I would want to skip is Outland. Between the 1-60 revamp and the smoother questing models of Northrend and the Cata zones… Outland sticks out like an ugly sore thumb of outdated and boring quests.

  5. I like the temple of enlightenment idea. However I think this is a non-issue. I will start a Panda (IF BLIZZ ADDS A SLOT WHICH I HOPE THEY DO BECAUSE I THINK YOU NEED ONE SLOT PER CLASS PLEASE!) and enjoy the Panda experience from starting.. and at the same time I will take my main and level him up through Pandaland and enjoy that experience too. If Blizz does not add a slot or if I decide that it is too boring to level my 20 panda then he/she will probably languish and die while my main characters enjoy the new content. Once we run out of new things to do I level alts and things like that.. or maybe level some for the professions…. Should be fun to have a ton of things to do on a bunch of different characters.

  6. I’d rather them simply put in the time and have Pandaria run from 1-90. Running a F2P alt, I’ve learned that the first 10 levels run by so quickly now you barely have time to blink. There’s not much class learning either. This also means it doesn’t take as much work to create a 1-10 or 10-20 zone as it used to. The zones can be horrendously sparse and we won’t even notice. As I ran another alt through Ashenvale, I noticed we were leaving a number of questlines unfinished. Old zones, even revamped zones, are over-XPed right now. Pare it down and give us options.

    Matt’s comment is a good one — Outland and Northrend don’t make a lot of sense if you didn’t hit them at release, and feel like ghost towns. A 1-90 Pandaria also help there, and would also likely have mid level zones that are fairly well populated, if only by curious, recently dust-covered alts.

    Careful planning could work new content in tandem with the traditional leveling zones. Maybe there’s just enough stuff in Pandaria to hit five out of every ten levels, but you have some means of essentially teleporting (dragon flights seem to be the recent favorite) from Pandaria to traditional zone and back.

    This would also mean that you no longer would have to go from 20-85 as if you were on rails when you run a traditionally raced alt. Give us more options for *every* alt, and make Pandaria worth a sustained look.

      • It would indeed be awesome. However, the last MMO expansion I can think of that added content for the entire level range was DAoC’s Shrouded Isles, and that was what – 10 years ago? I don’t think Blizzard are committed enough to the levelling game to put that much work into it.

      • I really don’t think it’d be as large an undertaking as it seems. They’re all about immediate leveling now, which shortens their task. Even just creating adventuring hubs within Pandaria with teleports to the old worlds would reinvigorate things a little.

        So I’ve taken toons to 20 and my death knight just to 62 or so. The 20-30 zones and Outland are ghost towns. Putting in 20-85 quest lines in the expansion is the only way to make it worth leveling, imo.

        Or, as a better thought experiment: What zones (and what corresponding levels) were enjoyable enough that you’d run them again without incentives?

  7. Some good ideas here. I agree with Matt, I’ve done Hellfire Peninsular about 4 times more than is good for my sanity – I cannot grind hellboars even once more! The linearity of questing introduced in Cataclysm also makes leveling through Cataclysm areas a real chore as well.

    To be honest this question is fundamental to whether I play WoW at all in future or not (I’ll be in the beta for sure to make this decision before spending any more money) – I played WoW for the ‘World’ of Warcraft, i.e. to level characters, do crafting and the odd dungeon or heroic. I *never* played it to chain-grind instances via the dungeon finder. If Blizzard can fix the gear-progression / character power progression from 1-60 so content is at least vaguely challenging (without resorting to mini-games to sidestep the issue) then I’ll play a Panda through at least the first 1-60 levels.

    I’m realistic enough to not expect changes to Hellfire and Northrend of course, but if I’m enjoying the new race (Pandas are a race NOT a class 😉 ) and am not totally turned-off by the new talent system then maybe I’ll buy it.

    All that effort on rewriting the old world but they made leveling so light-speed fast that you could blink and miss whole zones :-/

  8. I enjoy leveling, so it wouldn’t bug me if Pandas need to level… but I’m with Cyn, the Scroll insta-80 looks like a prototype for a leveling fast(er?) track. I think that’s smart, to let players only interested in raiding to get there ASAP.

  9. you will and should level from level 1 … simple as that .. panda nor monk are a hero class like the DK – hence there will be no fast track leveling system. sorry to burst ur bubblez

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