Tuesday, October 09, 2007
Fast forward WoW
Verilazic kindly sent me a link to the WoW forums and a copy of the plan the Blizzard devs published there on mid-level content:
As many of you already know we've been working on changes designed to improve various aspects of leveling for those making their way to level 60. These improvements, available in patch 2.3 will come in many forms and should significantly contribute to a more fluid and enjoyable leveling experience .The good news is that this is already coming in the next content patch 2.3, and that there will be new level 30-40 quests in Dustwallow Marsh to fill the infamous "Stranglethorn Hole".
The first notable change was to simply reduce the amount of experience needed each level by approximately 15% between levels 20 and 60. Please note that when the patch is released, characters affected by this change will remain at their current level percentage. For example, if a character had exactly 50% of the current level's total experience before this change went into effect, the character would still have exactly 50% of the current level's total experience; only now fewer points would be needed to level.
Questing plays a very large role in World of Warcraft, especially while leveling and we felt that improvements to this front were necessary as well. Experience gained for completing quests (on average) between levels 30 and 60 is being increased. The increase becomes more substantial as you make your way towards 60. Additionally, many outdoor elite mobs will become non-elites, making many quests which were previously too difficult or required a group much easier and offer the same rewards (in some cases better!). A good example of this change would be Stromgarde Keep in Arathi Highlands, which will become a solo friendly environment when patch 2.3 goes live.
We've also added approximately 60 new quests in Dustwallow Marsh. This should help players who find themselves lacking quests in the 30-40 range. The Steamwheedle Cartel is building the new town of Mudsprocket in south-west Dustwallow Marsh, so you'll have to wait until construction is complete to learn more about these changes.
We're making other improvements to pre-bc leveling dungeons that players will likely find most agreeable. The level range for most every dungeon is being adjusted so that there is a much smaller range between the level of mobs found early in the dungeon to those found towards the end. For example, Shadowfang Keep is currently designed for levels 18-25 which means that right now, players who are towards the bottom of that range (18) will find it nearly impossible to complete the dungeon, while players towards the top of the range (25) will find most of the dungeon trivial. Using our new model (similar to what you'll notice with Burning Crusade leveling dungeons), Shadowfang Keep is being retuned for levels 18-21.
We also want to make running a leveling up dungeon more worth while. In addition to increasing quest experience for dungeon quests, we're also upgrading all pre-bc dungeon boss drops to blue quality items.
The bad news is that the major change is Blizzard pressing the fast forward button on World of Warcraft between levels 20 to 60. I don't know how you experienced it, but for me WoW was never too slow to level up. In fact WoW was the first game where it happened that I was just happily playing and questing when I suddenly got surprised by dinging another level, I just hadn't watched the xp bar. 15% less xp per level *and* significantly more xp per quest means that leveling up to 60 will be around 25% faster.
I can see how Blizzard might feel that this is necessary as they are increasing the level cap with each expansion. We'll end up leveling from 1 to 80 in the same time that our first characters took to level from 1 to 60. My first character had 21 days played when hitting level 60. The second level 60 was already down to 13 days played. I'm sure experienced players will be able to do 1 to 80 in less than 20 days after the Wrath of the Lich King comes out.
But somehow that feels wrong. It sounds like Blizzard is sending us a message saying "our mid-game sucks so much, we want you to be able to skip it". Which is strange, as I had always considered the lower and mid level game to be the strong point of World of Warcraft. The most complaints you read about WoW are about the end game, so why would you want to speed up people reaching it? It looks suspiciously like catering to the raiders who want to level up an alt quickly for raid purposes. And there I would have prefered an optional /level command to making the game faster for anybody, whether he wants it or not.