From all the things Ion Hazzikostas said yesterday my main point of interest was leveling issues. Here’s what was said:
The leveling-up experience in classic zones is pretty broken right now and not well tuned. It’s way too easy and it was neglected for a bit. Due to ability changes over the years, you basically feel invincible (even before heirlooms). You’re running around more vs actually fighting. The pacing of the game isn’t what it should be. They’ve been looking to fix this (even via hotfixes now).
Barriers of entry to new players – Blizz realized around the time of Cataclysm/Mists of Pandaria that it was a daunting experience for new players who wanted to play with their max-level friends. To help this, they made leveling through past expansions faster and faster…but now leveling isn’t paced correctly. With the addition of max-level boosts, there is less of a need to rush people through leveling, it can be a satisfying well-paced experience. You shouldn’t be out-leveling zones before you finish a story.
Potentially able to add flexible zone tech to old zones. They’d have a wider level range so you could stay in the zone without skipping the story.
So, it’s nice to hear that leveling is not exactly a result of making new players join their high-level friends sooner. Class changes were also added in the mix. And it’s nice to hear that developers have in mind to do something with it.
Flexible zones are needed like hell. I’m always struggling with the urge to finish a questline – and they became so awesome in Cataclysm, the EK/Kalimdor ones. But at the same time I’m frustrated to get a final reward for the epic storyline and see that it’s -1 intelect, -4 armor etc. I have to skip the zones. And it’s not enjoyable. It devaluates the meaning of questing and implemented lore.
New players might be even more frustrated – this issue doesn’t serve them well too! Same questlines might be boring for 5th or 10th toon, but new players simply cannot understand why the game is dragging them further, when the amazing story they’re in is not completed yet. And if they linger to see the story end, they will get some shitty reward.
Brewmastering through Darkshore (altoholism has no cure, mind you), I’ve reached level 15 only in the northern parts of the zone. No heirlooms, but there were one-shot kills, my kegs smashed all the mobs, and I kept running bored between the quest mob locations rather than fighting. When I tried to tank Ragefire Chasm, it immediately gave me level 17. Two more available dungeons, and the zone would be outgrown, even if I haven’t yet met Malfurion in its center! It sucks.
Fix this. Leveling must be exciting – which means it must be flexible. We must spend some time fighting mobs. Two or three mobs at once should be a problem. The rewards and experience must scale, so that we could see the storylines and yet move forward. If I’m level 25 and packed to my level by the end of Darkshore (which is currently 10-20), so be it. You may not see all the zones, yes, but that’s the more reasons to level an alt – through other areas. The choice and the diversity are awesome.