Thursday, February 23, 2012

Cataclysm Miscues: IX: Leveling

This is the ninth in a series of posts about the little things that cataclysm messed up on this expansion.  These little things are things that mostly go unnoticed or are easily overlooked because they are usually not game breaking but they do leave you having that feeling of something being off.

Past posts:
Cataclysm Miscues: I: Healing & Mana Potions
Cataclysm Miscues: II: Hemet Nesingwary
Cataclysm Miscues: III: Targeting
Cataclysm Miscues: IV: Professions
Cataclysm Miscues: V: Flow
Cataclysm Miscues: VI: The Gap
Cataclysm Miscues: VII: Stats
Cataclysm Miscues: VIII: Gems

Isn't Leveling Supposed to be Fun?

Cataclysm made many miscues that can be summed up in one word but none where that one word means so many different things all at once.  Leveling is one of those words.  The revamped leveling of 1-60.  The leveling of 60-70 left as is, and then adjusted.  The level of 70-80 left as is, and then changed twice.  The leveling of 80-85.  The leveling of professions.  Every step of the way, anything you can pin the word leveling on was a miscue of cataclysm.

Let us start at the beginning.  While the old world revamp is not actually a part of cataclysm content like people like to think it is because you do not need the cataclysm expansion to experience it, it was introduced in cataclysm, so all the problems that are attached to it are cataclysm problems.

The leveling speed from 1-60 in the revamped world is so out of whack that you can basically level and miss the entire story they are trying to tell.  If you are a once a week player and queue up for a dungeon when you come on one Saturday you can conceivably get up to three levels in one dungeons effectively missing nearly an entire leveling zone in the matter of a 30 minute dungeon run.

The experience offered in low level dungeons is out of line.  It makes you miss out on the whole history of the game.  You do not get to experience any of the story, of the beautiful landscapes they designed, of the travel that makes you feel as if you are part of the world.  Leveling is just too fast.

Even if you are a daily player that does not do dungeons you are missing out on a lot leveling now.  Questing is effectively the best way to level.  The quests offer huge chunks of experience and if you kill everything too and from the questing area then each big quest area you work on could be a level in itself.

With no rested, no guild bonus, no heirlooms and no experience, you will still out level a zone well before you are anywhere close to finishing it.  They decided to speed up leveling but they did not adjust the zones to keep with the new faster leveling pace.  The zones should have been redesigned to not have half their quests left undone, or done as limited experience quests because you out leveled the zone.

Now add to the speed leveling that is offered in the old world now with the advent that they have added what seems like 100s if not 1000s of rare creatures to the world, all that gives more experience then turning in a quest does and a respawn rate that allows you to camp them to level if you want to because they reappear so quickly.  Makes one wonder why they call them rare creatures when they are anything but.  Perhaps they should be called what they really are, level jumpers.  Kill a few rares and jump right past a level.

Another side effect of leveling that quickly that cataclysm seemed to have missed was the leveling of professions.  Lets start with gathering professions.

Picking the right gathering professions, skinning in an area with lots of animals, mining in an area with lots of mountains or herbalism in an area with lots of grass and you are fine, you will level that as fast as anything could possibly level.  Pick the wrong one and you will be stuck behind for a while.  You might even need to go back.

For example, roll a tauren and skinning and you will be 75 before you can even train to get the next level.  Pick mining and you might be in trouble unless you go out of your way to level it.

When leveling took more time every gathering skill, even if you did not pick a starting area that is advantageous to it, would keep up with your leveling.  Now that the speed of leveling is so fast, if you pick the wrong profession for your starting zone, you can find yourself in the pinch of needing to go back to gathering in an area that offers no experience just to catch your profession up.

That is not as bad as it sounds when you compare it to crafting professions.  There is no crafting profession that can come close to keeping up with the speed you level now.  When we got the patch that changed the leveling speed of characters no patch was given to changing the leveling speed of professions.

None of the crafting professions is worse than leatherworking.  Do to the absolute insane amount of leather it takes to make one piece of gear to level and you leveling so fast that you never actively build up a stock pile, if you wanted to level straight through you would be stuck leaving your leatherworking behind and coming back for it later or spending gold on the market to play catch up.

Most other crafting professions are like that as well.  Of all of them the only two that are not totally horrible with keeping up with it as you go are inscription and alchemy.  Unless you happen to dungeon or PvP a lot, then no herbs for you.

There is another little miscue with profession leveling in cataclysm most might not even notice.  It goes back to the gather professions on your first trip through the basin in wrath content.  You can, and will, level any gathering profession to max 525 while in the basin doing the Nesingwary quest line.  I don't mind it at all really but think about it for a moment.  Is there any reason why you can level to the maximum of cataclysm content, or very near it, in an area that is meant to be 4 levels before the end of the previous expansion?

When leveling was changed it was left untouched in BC and wrath content.  This left people, even more so new people, with a bit of a culture shock.  Going from the blazing speed leveling that the old world was to a more balanced and intelligently designed questing scheme could throw some kinks in the works for people.  Lets not even get into the fact that there were elite quests in those areas that where meant to require skill and thinking, something the old world completely removed from the leveling process.  That is a whole different story.

So that as well was one of the miscues of cataclysm.  Develop a new leveling standard and then not make it game wide.  They should have released catalysm with an updated speed of leveling in BC and wrath at the start, there was no reason not to.

When they finally noticed their mistake they made two changes over time. One was a blanket reduction to the amount of experience needed to level and the other was removing all the elite quests by making those quest mobs normal mobs.  This was another miscue of cataclysm.  It would have been more effective to change the experience awarded by the quests instead of making a blanket reduction to experience needed.

For an example of how this was a major miscue all we have to do is look at BC content currently.  Being BC and wrath still use the hard quest designation that seems to have been removed from the old world questing that meant you get too many levels in one area.  If they wanted to speed up leveling the best bet would have been to adjust the quests themselves.

It is quite possible to get to level 64 or 65 in hellfire alone meaning that you might do a few quests in nagrand or terokkar and be at 68 and moving on to northrend.  It was, and is, quite possible that you would level through BC content now and never even notice that zangarmarsh, blades edge, netherstorm or shadowmoon was even there.  Even in the few cases that you might have ventured into zangermarsh or blades edge it is quite common for someone that is leveling in this new design to have never even entered netherstorm or shadowmoon.

The last leveling miscue of cataclysm was the new cataclysm content itself.  We where told that even though we would only be having 5 levels it would be the same experience as leveling 10 levels where in BC and wrath.  We where lied to.

Even after two series of nerfs to BC and wrath leveling, one for experience needed to level and one removing all the elite quests, it still takes longer to level 10 levels in BC or 10 levels in wrath than it does to level 5 levels in cataclysm.

The 5 levels that felt like 10 that we were promised was about as off target as saying that elton john is a ladies man.  It is a flat out lie.  Cataclysm content seems to follow the idea of the redesigned old world, where leveling is merely an inconvenience and no longer a meaningful part of the game meant for fun, lore and exploration.

So if you are playing cataclysm, like it or not is irrelevant, and you ever felt like some things just did not seem right then perhaps this is one of those things you subconsciously noticed.  While not game breaking the leveling process is one of the miscues of cataclysm.


  1. I'm leveling a troll druid on a new server now with skinning/LW. He's level 66. Skinning has been easy to keep up, but I just went back and powerleveled LW from under 100 to over 300 in a couple of days. The amount of skinning required was considerable.

    In general, it's best to level the crafting professions afterwards, and instead sell your gathered mats as you level. It may also make sense to level an enchanter in parallel with a crafter, so you can DE the useless stuff instead of auctioning it (presumably, to someone else leveling enchanting).

    1. I know that and you know that. For someone new to the game the profession leveling compared to the character leveling is dreadfully horrible.

      If they make things horrible for new players they will not stay to create the next generation of players and the leveling process should always keep them in mind first. Make leveling fun for new players.

      Us old timers will level alts no matter what. You should not need to be a skilled or smart player to make the most out of leveling.

      A new player will waste hours and hours on end killing beasts that offer no experience just to catch up on their leatherworking. This is not fun design. Said new player might just quit saying the grind isn't worth it. Professions should not be a grind, they should level with you at a reasonable pace.

  2. I stand by my opinion that the revamped levelling was one of the best things about Cataclysm simply because it injected some fresh life into the levelling game, but nonetheless I agree with all your criticism. They could have done it so much better.

    The profession levelling was probably the worst for me personally. I've always been the type of person who likes to level all her professions on the go, and as you said, in Cata that's just not feasible. I rolled a human hunter with skinning and leatherworking but gave up on her after doing three circles of Duskwood to kill grey mobs for leather and still not getting remotely close to catching up to the right LW level.

    1. The hazard with that line of thought is that it comes from the perspective of someone who already did the leveling grind, multiple times.

      A new player doesn't know any better, and in fact, by implementing Cata style leveling from 1-60, it makes Outlands and Northrend seem more dismal. While this isn't a problem for you or I, for a new player, who suddenly finds the enjoyment of their character nose diving, it can easily be the straw that breaks their back.

      Regardless of all the flaws of Vanilla leveling, players on their first characters who stick with the game tend to enjoy it. They certainly got sick of it on their fifth alt, but that's the nature of repetition.

  3. Oh, and I think the number you're looking for is "IX". ;)

    1. Nope, was going back to four so it did not make the number look that big. ;)

      Yeah... that's the ticket.


  4. While I agree for the most part with your analysis, the one thing I do want to add to is the 'we we're lied to' part regarding 80-85.

    You can blame the PTR Forum feedback for that one.

    You see, when they set out to create Cata, Blizz had the intention to make it take as long as 10 levels previously. So they made the Cata mobs harder, the pulling more dangerous etc.

    I don't have the direct quote at my fingertips, but the basic message was ''Yes, you will have to watch pulling multiple mobs and use bandages at times, and use food & drink after several encounters''. People looking for a more challenging levelling experience and the 'journey, not destination' crowd liked it. Having to watch your character and his environment again whilst levelling, woot!

    The mailboxdancers et al. however weren't amused. 'Levelling isn't meant to be challenging, it's merely a road to the end-game, which is the only important part because it is challenging!'' was their critique in long, long Threads on the PTR Fora.

    And so, probably realising they had been fuelling and nurturing their player-base to think like that, they nerfed Cata levelling.

    Of course this would later affect the reception of Cata Instances and esp. Heroics after Cata went Live (the pre-nerfed levelling would have prepared people much better for it) but ''we we're lied to'' is I think in this case being too harsh, it all boils down to the 'End-game is King' mentality that is so pervasive in WoW.

  5. I disagree with your comment about leveling from 80-85. I think it FELT quicker than 60-70 or 70-80 because the quests and story were just...better. I can usually get through 60-70 fairly easily, 70-72 (or 73) without must stress at all. But the second I have to go to Dragonblight my leveling comes to a screeching halt, leaving me rear-ended by every car on the highway. Venomspite (horde only, YEAH!) is just SO DAMN BORING. "Go kill people. Great, now go kill more people. Finished? Here are more people that you need to kill...." I never thought I'd miss a "go collect stuff" quest, but by the time I'm done in Venomspite, I LONG for a series of fetch quests.

    You've talked about it before, but even going through Deepholm for the 9th time doesn't bring me as much anxiety as going to Dragonblight. It's so bad for me, I'll finish HF, go to BT and do quests there, and then move on to Sholazar Basin or even Stormpeaks (another zone I don't care for all that much).

    I'm not really sure why my hatred for most Wrath zones, but there story just doesn't feel "right". It feels like there's a story here, but it's just here, for you to look at in passing. It might just be that I'm excited to be in Cata zones, so I get angry about being in Wrath zones, but I don't think so. I could very well be wrong though