The leveling process now has a lot of issues, some of which I do plan to discuss in this post but I am sure I will be missing out on some of them such as professions and the such, but the over all questions is what do you think leveling will look like next expansion? I'll share my opinion first, because that is what I do here.
Lets first go over the leveling experience and how is had downgraded, in my opinion, over the past few expansions.
The complete overhaul of the old world leveling experience in cataclysm messed up the continuity a great deal. This one major redesign of the leveling process is where leveling started to go downhill as I see it.
Where you used to level from vanilla to BC to wrath, when cataclysm came out you quested from cataclysm, to the far past BC to the not as far past wrath and back to the current time cataclysm. The situation only got worse with the following expansions by making it even even more convoluted of a leveling process when looking at it from a pure story perspective. To a new player there was no flow, no rhyme and reason to the leveling process at all. And there is a reason for that feeling. Blizzard designed it that way, on purpose or by accident because they did not think ahead, I'll let you decide, but either way, it left things feeling off when leveling. When they redesigned the old world leveling for cataclysm for no reason other than to redesign something that only needed updating, not redesigning, it was the first step in a series of steps that further ruined the leveling experience.
They should have left well enough alone I believe. Let us start in vanilla, as if we are starting in the past and catching up to current times, and let us level though the past to meet everyone else at max level in the here and now.
One thing cataclysm did have done well, for the most part, however was that the skills people got while leveling still made sense as they got them. Sure low level tanks and healers did seem a little slow to get the key things they needed to do their role to the best of their ability, but it was not exactly horrible, just not great.
When mists came out they changed a lot of abilities, removed some, added others, and also managed to add modifiers to certain abilities. This had an impact on the leveling process, quite a huge one in some cases.
When leveling a healer or a tank now you were even more put on the spot. Some classes not getting AoE as a tank until you have been trying to tank dungeons for 20 or so levels already. Some healers not only getting no AoE heal for what felt like an eternity, but not even getting their second heal until they were well into their leveling journey.
And it was not only the tanks and the healers that felt some discomfort with how the talent changes effected the leveling process, damage dealers did as well. Some classes not getting key abilities which would be the central focus of their entire game play until very late in the game. Or other classes using abilities for a good 10 or more level, like primal strike for shaman, which would otherwise have no place even being considered as something they would use. Or in the case of hunters having two of the specs us a focus generator, namely steady shot, nearly their entire leveling process, only to have it removed as they got close to level cap.
The entire experience could be confusing and frustrating to someone new and most definitely an issue for those that never look outside of the game for information and have no one in game to lean on asking questions.
All that was only when mists came out. When warlords came out we had to deal with many other abilities being cut in the great pruning of 2014. Lets forget all the max level players that saw abilities they loved removed but think about what this post is concerning, the leveling process.
After the pruning of abilities the tank and healer issues I mentioned before got even worse. The damage dealers had to deal with getting abilities that modified spells they had not even learned yet. Sometimes you might even find one spell modified twice before you even got it.
Each time the abilities are shuffled around and changed or removed or even added, the leveling process takes a beating and with the changes in warlords it has never been more evident. cataclysm might have screwed up the "feel" of leveling to the point I don't think they can ever fix it without a complete reset of the game from level 1 where they put the story line back in the order is should be, but warlords put the second nail in the level coffin in my opinion. The issues that came with mists were not good for leveling, but not as bad as what happened with cataclysm and warlords.
Now when leveling a fresh character not only do you not have needed abilities as you level, not only do you get modifiers for abilities that you do not even have yet, but you go spurts where you get 3 abilities in 6 levels and then none for the next 10 levels leaving the leveling process completely uneven and presumably less rewarding because a new player is not seeing themselves grow as much as we did back when we got power boosts more often. Even the old style of 1 point that you could put into something as lame as +1% critical strike was more exciting than getting nothing at all, which much of the leveling process is now thanks to pruning.
But what will happen next expansion. Can it really get worse for the new player leveling a player for the first time. Can it really get even less rewarding.
With the gaps in ability gain and the feeling that we do not get much more power as we level as it is right now what will it feel like when we have even fewer abilities which will most assuredly translate into even fewer abilities being given to a new player as they level.
Looking at my favorite class alone, which is only one of, well, all classes getting a hatchet job done to it, I am losing more than half of my abilities. If there are such huge gaps in getting abilities as it stands now what will it look like when there are that many fewer abilities. Will even more classes enter dungeons the first time without even the basic tools they need to fulfill their role. Will we see even more classes having to deal with getting abilities that modify spells they will not even have for another 30 levels.
I'll be the first to tell you my opinion is that the cataclysm revamp of the old world was a complete waste of time and resources. But I will also say I believe that the leveling process needs to be fixed. I hate suggesting that they allocate resources to fix something old like that, but it needs to be done.
Why is that you might ask and the answer is simple. If the game never intended to get new players and it was just me, you and the other person leveling alts for the rest of forever, it would make no difference if they fixed the leveling process. We have all been there and done that. It does not matter it is out of order. It does not matter we get out abilities in a screwed up order because we know what is coming later to even it out. But if they want new players to join the game and more importantly new players to fall in love with the game and to get attached to it like I did or you did or that other player did, they need to fix the leveling process.
The leveling process needs to be more than a mash up of left over parts from expansions past. It needs to have a story that moves in a linear way and not jumping all over time, like the remake of the old world did when cataclysm came out. It needs to give players at least the most basic of the tools they need to accomplish tasks once the game opens up them for them, such as tanks and healers having the needed AoE abilities at level 15 for when dungeons become active. It needs to give abilities in a understandable order and not give you abilities that modify a skill you do not even have yet. And last but not least, it needs to let the player feel that each level is a step forward in power instead of having to wait 2 or 4 or even 10 levels before they get a new ability that makes them feel as if they are getting a little personal progression as they level.
So what do I think leveling will look like in legion?
Unless something major changes I think it is going to be downright horrible. The worst it has ever been. I think it will not be something that can keep a new player playing and in the end, for each and every one of us, keeping those new players matter. They might be your next friend, your next raid super star or heck, even just another subscriber paying them which in turn keeps the game running. But they will be none of those things if they get bored because the leveling process does not feel rewarding or fun enough to keep them involved.
If you ask me, we need to go back to a point system when level and each level lets you assign 1 point into something. Blizzard says they removed it because there is nothing exciting about putting 1 point into +1% critical strike. Maybe they are right. But one thing is for sure. I would rather go 4 levels with adding +1 to four different secondary stats than going 4 levels with absolutely nothing. Which it seems we will be seeing a lot of in legion.
Just one elf's opinion, what is yours?