Tobold's Blog
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Should all alts be able to start at level 60 in WotLK?

Details about the next World of Warcraft expansion, Wrath of the Lich King, are still sparse. But from the initial announcement it appeared as if the new class, Deathknights, would not have to start the game from level 1. Instead they would directly start at a higher level, with 58, 60, or even 70 being mentioned as possibilities. Let's say 60, just to spare me the effort of writing "58, 60, or 70" or "a high level" every time.

Now there are good arguments for and against having new characters start at level 60. The advantage is obviously that if you are mainly interested in the endgame, starting at level 60 saves you about 200 hours of leveling from 1 to 60. The expansion adds little or no content for levels 1 to 60, so the option to skip those will be welcome to some. The disadvantage is that a level 60 character already starts with a large number of spells and abilities, and 51 talent points. Not having gone through the leveling process, players don't get the time to learn these spells, abilities and talents slowly, but have to start learning to swim at the deep end of the pool.

But now lets say we are okay with Blizzard's decision that Deathknights start at level 60. Then why would somebody making a Deathknight alt start at level 60, while somebody making a warrior alt, or an alt of any other class, will still have to level up from 1 to 60? The *option* to start at level 1 has to keep existing, for players new to WoW, or fans of the old world for example. But if we can start level 60 Deathknights, why not give us the option to start level 60 priests or other character classes? As I said, there are good arguments to start all classes at level 1, but if one class gets the option to start at level 60, then why not all of them? The same arguments that speak for allowing Deathknights to start at level 60 should surely be valid for other classes as well!
DAoC had a similar idea as this. Once you had a character on your account reach level 50, you could make new characters starting at level 20. If your server was a "low population" server then your alts could actually start at level 30.

I found a few problems which this. First is that a lot of people didn't have any clue how to play the class they where making, and mid-level encounters generally assume you have some idea what your doing by that point. This seems somewhat moot in WoW as I see people at level 70 who have no idea what the hell their doing.

The thing that I got most annoyed with DAoC's system is that it basically screwed everyone who Didn't have a level 50 character over. How So? Well DAoC was a great deal less solo friendly then WoW is. So if you where a new player, or simply someone who never had a character that hit 50 and your making an alt, your basically going to be leveling alone from 1 to 20. Why? Because the vast majority of people did make it to 50 and aren't new players, so they just skip all their alts to 20 or 30.

Now because wow is so solo friendly you wouldn't really be screwed if everyone started at 20 and you didn't. In fact everyone starts at level 1 now and I STILL can't find a goddamn group for any of the low level instances on my alt, so I generally just have someone from my guild run me through them, and then I get on my 70 and run their alt through one.

It is worth noting that the entire endgame of DAoC was originally PvP, and you had to basically grind through a bunch of sub-par PvE to get to it, which is perhaps why Mythic chose to implement that system.

I think people in wow would be much more willing to grind another character from 1-60 if blizzard would just implement somewhere new to do it in. I love leveling from 1-20 in the blood elf land because I haven't done it as often as other places, there's less mindless running around and the quest rewards tend to be a great deal more useful then the other starting zones. And I always get a feeling of letdown every time I get a character to 20 and have to leave the new zone to go back to the same old zones I've leveled up in like 15 times now.
If blizzard is gonna stick to the plan they have now that is causing the Game to Dry Rot then I think they'll have to if they don't want increased Churn. I've got my priest to level 20 and even though i'm doing the horde quests that I've never done and have the increased leveling speed, It just seems like it will be an eon before I get to a point where people are interacting with each other. If I didn't have friends that like to group and run instances I'd never make it.

The game was designed around people learning to play thier class solo and in groups as they level. The fact that most are only soloing is really killing the community. Along with the fact that there are no real rewards for a well geared character to group with someone who's not and help them out.
That's something I've been rooting for since DK has been announced as starting at a high level. Let endgame player unlock the possibility to create high level alts. Going 1 to 80 to have another arena-fit toon or a needed class to plug a hole in your raid will become more and more of a pain.
"The expansion adds little or no content for levels 1 to 60, so the option to skip those will be welcome to some."

Is this confirmed? The game will truly be dead if they have no plans to expand the low-level content.

On the subject of starting at higher levels, why not let people start where they want to - 10 if they want to skip the starter, 30 if they really dug STV, 40 so they start with a mount, or 60/70 for endgame. You could require they go through the early stuff once, as in DAoC.
David, it's confirmed that Wrath will add no low level content, it is purely a 70-80 expansion. Blizzard has little to no desire to 'move backwards' (as they see it) other than creating starting zones for any new races they add.

I think that allowing players who have reach a level milestone with a character (60, 70, or 80, whatever) to start alts at a higher level would be a great idea. If they're doing it with DKs, they should do it with everything.

Yes, people won't know their classes well at 60, but by the time they catch up to the 70+ crowd (where the majority of players will be) they'll have had the chance to learn the class if they're capable of doing so.
I'll pull out my crystal ball and predict if they don't allow something like that for new players. Assuming WOLK doesn't touch the old zones. That churn will begin to turn negative in the US and EU.

It'll be like EQ. You start that game now and you are so far behind you feel like you'll never ever catch up.
I was thinking that starting toons at a higher level is impractical from a profession point of view but then wondered how is Bliz going to handle professions for deathknights at 60?

I cant imagine a pack of deathknights farming linen cloth to get their tailoring up.
I wouldn't be surprised if Blizz hadn't planned something along these lines.

But it will require reworking some of the leveling/old content. Some crucial class abilities are linked to quests. Having lvl 60 warriors without defensive stance can be quite embarrassing.

Most druid forms are quest linked too, or shaman totems. So this isn't completely trivial.
I agree that allowing players to create high-level alts without restriction will likely cause a flood of noobitude in BC dungeons. One possible way to avoid that problem (while still pleasing the masses) is to allow insta-50 character creation only for those classes which you already have a level 70. That way, you would be able to experiment with new racial abilities, profession combinations, etc. on a class you already know inside and out.

For example, I have a 70 Dwarf Priest and 70 Troll Rogue on different PVP servers. I would really like to create a Priest on my horde server to play with some of my buddies there. Since I’ve already experienced the 1-70 experience twice, I’d love to bypass 50 levels of trash gear and stale instances to get to the fun. Throw a priest a bone, Blizz!
There's even another aspect to this you have not mentioned. Currently you have to be level 50 (and get a summon to Shatt) to train to 375 tradeskilling. The purpose behind this is to prevent you from creating level 1 alts with maxed tradeskills.

Once you unlock DKs, however, they will be able to skill to 375 (and if starting level is 60 probably to whatever the new cap is as well) without a single point of xp. Blizz will need to remove the level restrictions on tradeskills as a result or see a HUGE influx of min level Dk tradeskill alts.
If they let you start an alt at 60, then they should make all my current, less than level 60, alts 60 too.

All of a sudden, everyone and everything is 60+.

That will allow Blizzard to absolutely blow off all the content 1-60. It would be irrelevant. Azeroth will become nothing but the home of 70-80 Northrend. Azeroth, Kalimdor, and the Eastern Kingdoms will be relegated to where people mingle.

Does that sound like a good idea?

To allow a new alt to start at level 60 absolutely robs everyone who's done the 1-60 stretch.

Yes, Deathknights start at 60, say. But that's a reward for having reached 80 and doing some really tough stuff first, no?

Right, nobody is going to start a Warrior over at level 1. Or are they? The 1-60 content has kept millions entertained for over three years now.

If you want to start at max level, Guild Wars offers that option. This isn't that game.
There are a few arguments for letting Death Knights start at level 60 that don't apply to other classes.

1. Death Knights are designed around starting at 60.

Their abilities will be introduced to them at that point, and they won't have to worry about missing subtleties of the class. (Just imagine starting a Warlock at 60 -- 40-ish abilities, which are all situationally useful.)

Even as it is there are people who make it to 60 without knowing some important aspects of their classes. I've had to explain to Paladins the importance of Divine Intervention, and I've seen Warlocks who don't Life Tap.

2. Death Knights are supposed to feel particularly "epic" -- no killing kobolds for candles.

From what has been said, we can think of the Death Knight story as being a "journey to redemption", in comparison to the normal character's "journey to greatness". It's a thematic difference, but it's valid.

That said, I think it would be a nice addition if, once you'd gotten a character to max level, you could choose to start more characters of that faction + class at, say, 60. A nice way to join friends on another server, or experiment with other directions.

(I say restrict it to faction + class because it's important to (a) learn to play that class, and (b) learn about the shared culture of your faction -- the notable quests, the NPCs, and so forth.)
(I say restrict it to faction + class because it's important to (a) learn to play that class, and (b) learn about the shared culture of your faction -- the notable quests, the NPCs, and so forth.)

which is what is not happening now. People are mostly soloing to 70 and it shows when you pug. If they don't revisit the old content they might as well just erase it and start the game at 60. If they don't churn will get higher as people log in start thier game and realize that they have to solo to 80 to start the "real" game.

I vote for revisiting old content but the devs have made it plain they'd rather do anything else.
As someone who has just cancel there account for the 2nd time. I really want a high level Pally. But i just can't face the 2-3 month grind to get them up to 70. Using in content i have done god knows how many times.

Been playing mostly since the beginning, the 1-60 game holds very few surprises left for me. And I just can't face it again, just the thought bores me.

The only way i'll come back for the next expansion is that if you can start, at higher levels.

For now, I'm moving house ( painful enough experience ) and playing other games..
actually I was thinking that if a death knight would start at say level 60, what makes you actually think it gets a full talent tree and 51 talents to start with. If it starts at 60, it could start with a cut off talent tree and no skills or talents to boast with, slowly moving upwards gaining skills and talents introduced just like for the rest of us.
It would be nice if Blizzard would revitalise the older content, like what the did with Dustwallow Marsh.

Add some new quests, maybe a new village or so and up the rewards a bit to make it more enjoyable for people that have already run through it.
The reason DKs can be at 60 while others can't is because DKs will be designed that way.

What I means is that, as you pointed out, starting a level 60 priest would be extremely overwhelming. So many spells. So many talents.

But the DK can be designed to 'teach' and ease players into learning to play a DK. The other classes don't ahve that.
I would love to be able to start new characters at 60. It's far enough behind on the curve that even then it would take some time to reach the new cap and "fill in" for needed raid spots, but for people dedicated enough to raid, you'd think they'd be dedicated enough to learn the new class too.

And really, what kind of argument is that? "We can't let you start at 60 because then you'd be sure to suck," seems very elitist, and only matters when it comes to end-game raid content. There's no guarantee that by starting from level 1 my skill level will be any better anyway, as proven by the large number of people who just aren't as savy with their class as others.

The impact to the economy might be more noticeable, but there's a big difference between 5 new players jumping in at 60 than it is for a single, established player to have 5 alts at level 60+, simply because that single person would have to divide his playtime between all of them anyway. Since no one has infinite play time, there is still an opportunity cost for that player to be alting it up.

An alternative solution might be to revamp the quest rewards from 1-60 to be more inline with BC content. As BC already reset the gear content for the 60 end game, and Wrath is set up to do the same to BC, revamping the old-world gear will speed up leveling while still allowing people to "learn" a class from the beginning.
i think its a shortsighted move by blizzard to focus on endgame only and neglecting the development of old areas.

the strength of WOW is from 1-60. thats the reason WOW got soo popular.

focusing only on endgame will kill WOW. i hope the current dev is replaced by one that is not a raid leader..
To allow a new alt to start at level 60 absolutely robs everyone who's done the 1-60 stretch.


Did you enjoy yourself on the 1-60 stretch? Or do you feel that it was a waste of 500 hours of your life? If you did enjoy yourself, no other person can take that away from you. If you didn't enjoy it... well, if you want to pay $15/month to be bored, it's your money.

As it is, 1-60 is more difficult than 60-70, at least when it comes to grouping & dungeon quests. If most of the server population is off in Northrend, 1-60 becomes that much more of a challenge -- if I wanted a game with only NPCs and no people to interact with, there are plenty of single player games I could be playing.

Now, they don't need to eliminate 1-60 (or 70). But there are things that could be done to speed it up, like, say: improved quest rewards -- gold & xp, increased rest bonus for low-levels, incentives for levels 60-70 to visit old-world instances (so there would be people spread around the server more).

But we seem to be finding a class of WoW Curmudgeons... "Back when I was a level 1, Hogger was the scourge of Elwynn. Why, we had to fight him barefoot! in the snow! with one hand tied behind our back! And it was uphill, both ways, to turn in his claw. You kids these days, you have it easy."
Hogger probably isn't even elite any more. :)
Guild Wars.
The reason Blizzard can justify starting Death Knights at a higher level is because in order to roll one, a player has already done the level grind, since a high-level character is required to roll a Death Knight in the first place.

My only gripe with this is that the Death Knight should /replace/ the character that unlocks it, with maybe a probationary phase to revert back if the Death Knight isn't fun. A sort of "try before you buy", if you will.
Hogger is still elite!
his reign of terror continues...
To allow a new alt to start at level 60 absolutely robs everyone who's done the 1-60 stretch.


Did you enjoy yourself on the 1-60 stretch? Or do you feel that it was a waste of 500 hours of your life? If you did enjoy yourself, no other person can take that away from you. If you didn't enjoy it... well, if you want to pay $15/month to be bored, it's your money.

As it is, 1-60 is more difficult than 60-70, at least when it comes to grouping & dungeon quests. If most of the server population is off in Northrend, 1-60 becomes that much more of a challenge -- if I wanted a game with only NPCs and no people to interact with, there are plenty of single player games I could be playing.

This is why I said they need to either just let everyone start at 60 or accept that there will be much bigger drop in subscription rate.

With their model of expansions they are rapidly makeing a VERY VERY long solo game that gets you to the group game. Problem is after people solo for a long time they get used to soloing and a lot of them never do the grouping that would be beneficial to them.

I really wish they'd remove the EP grouping penalty. That would do more to encourage grouping at low levels than anything else.

But I agree. If the game continues to be more and more solo there are solo games that have better stories and are more entertaining. WOW's big draw is that it has a good story, a well polished world and other people to play with. Take away any one of the 3 and it's not worth 15 dollars a month.
To the person who mentioned Guild Wars...

I don't play games where I can't jump and everything is a linear path =/
Here's a crazy idea: When they release wrath of the Lich King, or any other expansion, they should increase the level of all zones to the 60-80, or 70-80 level range. 1-10 zones might be changed to, say, 60-63, 10-20 would be 62-65, 20-30 would be 64-67, ...outland would be something like 70-75, and Northrend would be 75-80 (for a 60-70 game). Quest rewards for early areas would be increased to work with the new expansion, with some of the experience reward shifted to gold perhaps, but still enough experience to level up quickly.

Zone progression would be changed to rely on completing a particular 5-6 quest line, with plenty of side quests available to fill out the zone's character, or provide gear rewards, etc., to help newer characters get solo experience with their abilities, and fill out the zone in general. skill quests for hunter pets, warlock pets, druid forms, etc. would likely be kept, just similarly updated to the higher level.

Professions would start at level 300 (for a 60-70 game) or 375 (for a 70-80 game). Material conversion skills (Similar to the leatherworking "light leather to medium leather" skills, though with a better conversion efficiency) would be included ot allow materials to be updated, or material would be automatically changed to later ones, or older material like linen or silk would be folded into new recipes, to keep them valuable.

Characters that were below the "low level" would either be automatically updated to the required level using conversion formulas for level updates (Level 50, say, would be changed to level 70 in expansion, 400 defense would be multiplied by some number and would add stamina and/or strength, +intellect would be multiplied and add some +spelldamage & healing, etc.) or would simply have their name saved, and people given "gear points" to rebuild their gear upon getting the expansion.

Instances would be adjusted ot their maximum levels, probably with a required order so that you would need to do one of (shadowfang keep, Deadmines, Ragefire chasm, Wailing Caverns, Stockades) to do (Blackfathom deeps, gnomeregan, razorfen Kraul), twhich would be needed for (Scarlet monastery, Razorfen Downs, Uldaman), etc., to give people experience with simpler instances before more complex ones. Instances would have experience greatly increased, to make them a useful levelling method compared to soloing, to help out less used soloing healing/tanking/support specs.

As another, side change, some quest rewards would allow cheaper talent respecs (so that a quest reward might be something like: 10 gold, 50 silver, 5,000 experience, and a 3% reduction in respec costs, or a 1 day speedup in respec cost decay.) Talents would probably be given by a quest at the end of the starting zone, and would be similar to pet quests, form quests, etc, in that it would give people a chance to try out the different specializations, than give people however many talent points they would have at that level.

As another person who has canceled their account twice (once out of boredom with leveling, once because time spent playing to level was eating into other things in life), and who has played all the classes up to a medium level but none to a higher level, there is some self interest in this idea, though it is designed for improving a lot of problems areas in the game, though hopefully not causing a bunch of other issues in it.
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