World of Warcraft’s leveling sucks. If Legion portals hadn’t been such a Metsend [[play off of godsend and Metzen which likely does not work visually, but I will leave it anyway]], I would’ve long given up my dream of having a max level Goblin Warrior. Here are my reasons why it sucks and how I would fix each problem:
You get your abilities far too fast.
I am sure you can dig up some posts where I complain about MMOs starting out too slow. I am sure those posts would be about World of Warcraft. I used to hate how long it took for your character to really get any sense of identity. With the older talent system, it took forever to unlock class-defining abilities, and you were otherwise stuck with depowered versions of skills your spec rarely used.
With the Great Pruning for Legion, WoW features a lot less abilities than it used to. While you may think I am against this, I actually love it. If EverQuest II cut skillbar bloat this much, it might actually be a playable game for once.
Classes in WoW now unlock the vast majority (95%+) of their abilities by the mid-30’s. It is great. The game is more fun at lower levels than it ever was before. You have an actual rotation to work on, rather than a couple of buttons you may be so lucky to spam. There’s just one problem with this setup: Ieveling becomes a lot less fun when new abilities aren’t around every corner.
You could say Blizzard is damned if they do and damned if they don’t. You may even want to call me a hypocrite. Whatever it may be, this problem has a classic solution. Blizzard needs to reintroduce ranks for every ability and passive. While every class would still unlock all of their buttons early on, over the course of the 70+ levels still left to go, ranks would add an extra drip of dopamine in the form of upping the effectiveness of abilities/passives already acquired.
Non-Dungeon Content is useless.
This is hyperbole, but at its core, it is totally true. While there are some players playing MMOs to solo or who avoid multiplayer-content for a variety of reasons (anxiety, schedule, low population server with low demand class, etc.), that is not the case for the majority. Most people leveling in World of Warcraft want to do so quickly and effectively. The only time any of the players stops to smell the roses, it’s because they’ve put off leveling Herbalism for a while.
Now, I am not an advocate for quest-based grinding or the shopping list at a quest hub style MMO, but I find it curious that Blizzard has not addressed this. You may think this a poor analogy, but when a large portion of your content goes unseen by old and new players alike, ala raiding back when it was exclusive to the 1%, then changes need to be made.
Questing in WoW is just that sort of content. There’s no point to it really. Even if you do try and level exclusively by questing, you often outpace the content entirely which leads to less challenging gameplay and less fulfilling rewards (less experience or gear no longer useful).
Sans crazy leveling events like Legion Invasions, it is best just to spam dungeonfinder over and over. That is boring. I personally prefer variety, but short of getting more public events more often, I am not partial to going back to quest grinding either. That said, I think it is time World of Warcraft breaks out the ‘s’ word and does it all over its outdated content.
The ‘s’ word being scale, not shit. Blizzard should scale everything so that we can do content whenever we like and not have it be completely trivial. Hopefully Legion’s scaled zones will prove that is the way of the future and the past, and we get a nice grand reshaping of Azeroth once again.
Why so many levels? Why so much gear?
There are far too many Blood Elves in World of Warcraft. Likewise, there are too many levels and that includes item levels as well. Even if levels are relatively short, you still have to get through 100* (*110 soon) to reach all the other players.
Normally in MMOs I love getting gear, even at lower levels while I am progressing toward the top, but World of Warcraft is the exception to this. I either level too fast to have all my gear slots at an adequate level or I out-level that cool new thing I looted the last time I played too quickly. Getting gear at any level beyond the max just doesn’t feel as rewarding as it once did.
Further complicating matters, heirloom items are even easier obtain and use on alts. These items scale to your level and never break. They also offer powerful bonuses that make grinding easier or quicker.
I loved heirlooms when they were first introduced, but now that they cost gold to obtain and they are more numerous, the temptation to obtain them and abuse them is far too strong. At least when leveling up itself was slower, it was nice to have some guaranteed filled slots in addition to what you can earn while questing/running dungeons at your level.
I think World of Warcraft would benefit greatly from a big crunch. Condense the game back down to sixty levels, make it level longer, but also reduce the gap between obtaining skills/passives and talents. Furthermore, a nice item level crunch and normalization would make gear progression while leveling more fun again. Plus, if you scale dungeons and their awards anyway, there will be a huge mix of content to do at all levels.
You may think that since World of Warcraft is so old, everyone who wants to level has already leveled everything they want already. I don’t believe that’s the case. I also know there are people out there who enjoy leveling characters as much, if not more than, playing WoW as its most vocal minority insists it ought be played: at max level.
Blizzard is sitting on hundreds of hours of content that is going under utilized. The game’s leveling grind will need a serious rework if they want to make this content great again, but doing so is within their power. Furthermore, they could just as easily add a prestige system to PvE as well. PvP has a minimal amount of content, but Blizzard expects players to honor grind over and over to unlock all of its awards. Why not do something similar with PvE?
I am grateful Legion Invasions exist. I am not sure I could do the leveling grind in World of Warcraft again. It is mindless, boring, antisocial, and the only hook is reaching max level. I wouldn’t mind an excuse to revisit a revitalized and reinvigorated leveling grind. At the very least, scaled dungeons so old content never goes away would be a plus. Timewalking is okay, but not quite far enough.