World of Warcraft is a 14-year-old game and it’s had multiple expansions added that make the prospect of leveling to 110 for a new player a daunting experience. For those who have been around for a while, leveling an alt had become tedious necessity and one to be rushed through via dungeon runs, battlegrounds and with the use of heirlooms. However, in 7.3.5, that changed with pre-Legion zones scaling up from, for instance, 10 to 60 with players able to choose how and where they’d like to level up. All good and fine, but...is it as great as it seems on first blush? Let’s take a look.
New Leveling Experience Pros
As a completionist wannabe, the addition of Allied Races and the new heritage armors alongside the revamped leveling experience seemed like the perfect way to go. I eagerly started up a Nightborne Monk, got her through the initial quest to bring the race to the Horde and began my journey at level 20 where all Allied Races start level-wise.
The slower pace of leveling experience feels pretty great. I spent my earliest levels going through the Forsaken zones in Tirisfal, Hillsbrad and the Plaguelands. For the first time in years, I wasn’t out leveling the zones I was playing in and I spent a lot of time reading the quests. All this made the game feel new in ways it hadn’t for many years.
The flexibility to move from zone to zone to level where I want is a huge plus. After finishing the Plaguelands, I wasn’t as interested in where the story was headed next, so I jetted off to revisit locations and storylines of interest to me -- in this case to the Barrens to learn more about the events at Camp Taurajo and Theramore. Later, it was off to Stranglethorn to revisit the Trolls and then I headed to Northrend. That type of freedom is amazing.
New Leveling Experience Woes
While all the above is well and fine, there are, in my opinion, many more woes to the “new old-fashioned way” than there are pros.
Most glaringly, it is in this new leveling path that I quickly discovered how disastrously awful the pruning over the past couple of expansions has made many classes feel. It didn’t take long to realize how integral Legion’s artifacts are to “decent” gameplay. In fact, the three primary abilities I was using at level 40 are the same ones I am using on my current Legion Monk at level 110. Of course, there are a few gaps here and there, but overall, the ability rotation is the exactly the same and will be the same with minor additions for the next seventy levels.
I can deal with rotational issues, but what really hurts is you see how utterly dependent abilities and effective gameplay are tied to the Artifact and piles of whatever secondary stat most benefits that class. For instance, Mastery is crucial for many classes, but it doesn’t even kick in until after level 70. My Monk tank’s healing ability that is essential for longevity in a leather wearing class doesn’t arrive until level 75. In the latter case, artifact passives greatly enhance mitigation, survivability and healing for Brewmasters and without them, she feels gimped as a tank.
The thing is with the “new” way of leveling is that the entire experience feels unexciting. I mean, when earning riding or flying is the most thrilling thing to look forward to, something is wrong. Even earning the next talent row is pretty dull as it’s either “another passive” or, if an actual active ability is present, it’s uninspiring.
What it all comes down to is that leveling should make you feel stronger but, in all honesty, the way it is now, you simply don’t. Leveling in these agnostic zones that can be played through for 50 levels means that monsters and enemies essentially level with you. It effectively means that it takes as long to kill them five levels later as it did when you first entered the area.
Let’s also not forget that the story is utterly broken with the new system. Gone are the days where players worked through the story as it progresses in lore, the history of Azeroth, as it were. While many players don’t care, an equal number do and, to be honest, new players should care. With leveling as it is, the “coherent” narrative that is World of Warcraft is utterly trashed.
Quite frankly, I burned out leveling the Monk at 60. It just felt dull and uninspiring after those 40 levels with yet another 50 to go. Add in what appears to be completely broken balance in Warlords content, I just don't want to right now. While I’ll get her to 110 eventually, I remain undecided if I’ll have the strength of will to go through it again for other Allied Races just to get their heritage armor that I may or may not ever wear.
So, there you have a few thoughts about the “new old fashioned” way to level fresh toons in World of Warcraft. Do you feel differently? Leave us your thoughts in the comments.