The key problem discussed through all approaches to current leveling is that it is outdated. The key problem is that it buries itself under its own weight – inevitably so granted the age of the game.
When we talk about leveling, it addresses multiple features. I will need to list its core ideas and try to give my own solutions:
Natural Gating to Endgame (raids, M+, PvP)
Why outdated: Access to endgame activities is gated behind the item level. A fresh 120 has no access to BfDA or Uldir as much as a 100.
Solution: We may just go with ilvl gating from max level.
Natural Gating to Old Content
Why outdated: all expansions except the previous one are perfectly soloed up to the final boss – and are intended to be that way. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a mantid pack lvl 90 in Heart of Fear or a ghoul pack lvl 80 in Icecrown Citadel as long as you take it out with a single Chain Lightning. Level 80 or level 90 bosses have no difference.
Solution: All the past raid content – yes, including the previous expansion – should be tuned into the very same level – say, Pandaria or Draenor level by BfA standards.
The borders between expansions are being washed away. Cata/Pandaria and WotLK/TBC share transmogs, and you could tmog into Ahn’Kiraj gear at level 1, so this too is not an issue.
Learning Your Class
Why outdated: we have character boosts and trial toons, we have major class revamps in random expansions, we have talent system upgrades, and what not. It doesn’t matter if I leveled and played my ice mage through freeze-and-shatter style in Pandaria – now it’s a proc-based, shard-saving thing which has nothing to do with it.
Solution: the entry scenario should teach you the basics like it does now for the trial character. Throw in class trials to learn the basics of group content (positioning, tanking, healing, AoE damage, burst damage, target switching, crowd controls). Throw in training grounds like Serenity Peak for monks to learn the interesting class perks! And after that you’re good to go. Demon Hunter starting questline gives an excellent example of teaching you everything in the course of 2 levels – although the starting experience should of course be less story-based, more training ground based to avoid outdating.
Seeing the Story
Why outdated: well, it is, and it is not. If I were a developer, and I acknowledged that some players come to my game just to bash skulls in PvP, I’d hate them not to be aware of what is going on in my world.
The core problem is: replaying the stories on alts is not encouraging on an N-th number. It’s fun and engaging on your main, although very exhausting (reading all the quests, struggling with shortcuts, ending up in bottomless pits and mob crowds, and having no idea of the whole path). It’s better on second alt, because you go through a now-known path with a feeling of where it ends. It starts to become tiresome at the third and on.
Also, after Cataclysm I cannot return to the old stories, and the world is changing ever since. It was extremely weird to level my warlock in Arathi and hear invisible players looking for group to farm current rares!
Also, a new player could never even leave the capital and level through dungeons only. There is the big world for you.
Sollution: it should work in the same manner as pre-expansion scenarios. The obligatory piece is playing through the current lore once. Complete your Loremaster for the current expansion, and get your access to endgame. Logging in on an alt? Talk to an NPC and say: I’ve seen it before and cut through to the endgame. After this talk, you should get all the credit for content completion: a comparable chunk of reputation, tmog quest appearances and all (but you cannot go back and do the quests then).
So, Where Has Azeroth 1.0. Gone?
It’s all there in Caverns of Time.
I’ve previously mused about that your current characters – especially allied races, or demon hunters, or Pandaren – have not been able to experience the fall of the Lich King, or the opening of Ahn’Kiraj, or whatever. If you start an alt in BfA – you’re not liberating Stratholme from the undead Scourge. You are being told about it. It’s not your endeavour – it’s a glitch, a trance, a time-travel – name it. You reminisce the stories of the past to understand the feats of strength of your faction (and now we know that lorewise the Horde killed Magtheridon and the Alliance killed Lady Vashj, so it may not be even your faction).
So, how this works: you talk to a Zidormi or any other -ormi/-ormu dragon. She/he asks: what do you like to see (the options are all the expansions) – and you’re transported there through space and time to farm the old raids, see Dalaran in Crystalsong Forest, or an endless battle for the Barrens, or a night elf outpost in the middle of Silithus. Or walk Teldrassil. You can play through any questline that was available during the time (granted you haven’t already done it). And it will scale to your level!
The real world, the current world, is now opened for the changes. Any changes.
We may finally alter the world according to the plot without looking back. We can change the dungeon and raid areas to their current state – as Blackrock Depths are now an Alliance-friendly domain of Dark Irons, and Uldir is safe.
We can remove Dalaran from Crystalsong Forest and put a Lich King’s necropolis there instead. We may end all the never-ending, outdated battles and see the world calm due to our efforts: from the exterminated minor trogg/murloc threats to making Eternal Blossoms in Pandaria bloom again.
- A complete revamp.
- Azeroth 2.0.
- A peaceful one – where we have brought peace.
- And with the new scars and battles where they appear.
And back to leveling, here’s a resume:
- The game without levels.
- Every character starts at “level cap” (actually without a level)
- Every character goes through an obligatory class training scenario.
- A racial acquaintance might be added in the manner of allied races.
- You will need to play through the current expansion’s Loremaster once to get access for the endgame.
- All alts may skip the story and go into endgame afer that.
- All old content is available through Caverns of Time, tuned 2 expansions back (raids/dungeons)/current level (loremaster)
Have I missed anything? :) Let’s discuss.