Pete at Dragonchasers and Spinks at Spinksville have been debating the pros and cons of WoW’s new leveling experience. Is it too fast? Is it too simple? Does it hold your hands and promise you long walks on a moonlit beach?
In my experience, the leveling seems to be going by fairly quickly. However, I don’t think that the leveling itself is going that much faster than it used to, as much as the new story and the new quests are making it SEEM like it’s going by faster.
Back in the day, when every quest was “go kill 10 kobolds” or “go collect 10 boar gizzards, 5 bear lungs, and 5 eagle beaks”, leveling was tedious. Only 1 in 4 boars would drop a gizzard, which meant you were spending 4 times as much time grinding out those boars to finish the quest. Plus you had FedEx quests that would take you from Westfall to Stormwind to Darnassus and back. Again, it was a time-sink, and it took longer to level. To be very honest, I struggled with boredom in many zones due to this. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed the leveling process, but sometimes my short attention span would kick in and I would find myself tabbed-out of the game, looking up reruns of Kids Incorporated on YouTube.
These days, every boar drops a gizzard, the FedEx quests have been removed completely, and the quests themselves are so much more interesting and fun that I’m not constantly checking my xp bar to see how long it is until the next level. I’ll just be playing, having a blast, and suddenly realize that I’m 4 levels higher and need to go train. Am I leveling faster? Well yes, because I’m not distracted or spending my time puttering around at the Auction House. I’m playing through the quests and having such a good time doing it that I forget what time it is or how long I’ve been playing.
All that said, does the new player experience hold your hands a bit too tightly? WoW was due for a “new player experience” revamp. I think they’re counting on folks getting friends/family to play, particularly the social gamers coming from Facebook (just look at the cross-Facebook marketing with the Darkmoon Faire website). Those folks will likely need those extra tool-tips and hand-holding, at least starting out. For WoW and MMO veterans, it does seem like overkill, particularly if you get the “Beginner’s Tool-tips” option turned on (you can turn it off in the Options menu).
The one aspect of the NLE that I’m not very happy with is the simplicity of the low-level dungeons. I ran Deadmines on-level at around level 16 or so, and even with a Dungeon Finder PUG it seemed ridiculously easy. We blew through it in about 20 minutes. Compare that to running it on-level 6 years ago, when you’d likely be in there for 1-2 hours and had to methodically take out every patrol and use heavy CC. That bothers me a bit, because as a new player (particularly one with no previous MMO experience), it’s deceptive in regards to what exactly a dungeon IS. It doesn’t do a lot to teach those new players how to best perform their role in a group or to improve their skills. I would rather see the low-level dungeons at the same difficulty as the old versions, but with tool-tips to walk players through such concepts as crowd control, aggro, and watching for patrols. It’ll be interesting to see how the “Cataclysm Generation” transitions from the 1-60 content to Outlands, Northrend, and beyond.